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Blessed Bees * last updated August 4, 2000

 
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Nostalgia
by Melissa Oringer
(c) Melissa Oringer, 2000, All rights reserved

Yes, we know you're waxing nostalgic - want pictures!

The internet wasn't always a commercial medium. It didn't always have a capital "I". When I got involved with the internet, it was through the world of BBSing.

It was 1993 and I was reading a magazine put out (at the time) by BAPA (Bay Area Pagan Assemblies) called the "Pagan Muse and Report". In the classifieds there was an advertisement for a Pagan BBS. Ergle? What's that?

I had a small laptop (Compaq Contura 386SX with a 250 mb hard drive and 8 mgs of RAM) that had an internal 2400 baud modem. My dad gave me some software called Telix (DOS based - this was before I ever used or needed Windows) which allowed you to use your modem to call and connect to another computer. And it would answer! The neatest part was that the person on the other end had used various software packages to create and interface that let you run their computer. What an incredible idea!

That BBS was a member of a network called PODSnet (Pagan Occult Distribution System), as well as some others (FIDOnet being the one I most remember). I was hooked. I took the handle "Liana" and dove right in.

And then I got my first phone bill - ouch.

I discovered Computer Currents, a local free paper (since out of business, I believe) that advertised hundreds of local BBS's. I found the part of the phone book that told you what prefixes were local as opposed to toll calls. And I settled in on a few favorite BBS's to call every day.

These networks allowed me to share throughts, dreams, ideas and opinions with hundreds of people whom I'd never meet outside of my computer screen. It was an "online community". I upgraded to an external 14.4k modem and gloried in the fast download rates. I grew an enormous sig file and BlueWave (a QWK mail reader) became my friend.

I decided that I wanted to form my own BBS. I called it "The Stage" and structured around a theatrical theme, naming various parts of the BBS after rooms in a theater. I became a member of FIDOnet, PODSnet and NIRVANAnet(tm). I took out my own ad in Computer Currents. I learned all about batch files and making the various engines that comprise a BBS (BBS software, mail tosser, file tosser, frontend, offline mail reader, etc.) work together and automated the maintenance as much as possible. It was a blast and I was doing it all on that little laptop.

For those interested in such things, I used Frontdoor/RA/Fmail as my basis.

And then the internet blossomed and became the Internet. More and more people were getting e-mail addresses and web access and URL's started popping up in advertising throughout the world. The Usenet grew even more enormous as popular culture discovered it, and e-mail lists became the rage.

Dial-up BBS's grew cumbersome to use and couldn't compete. Face it - access was from work, response was lightening fast, and it was a hell of a lot cheaper once the cost of an ISP came down. Bit by bit, the userbase dwindled and the remaining few were, well, not the best of the best.

So I finally shut down The Stage BBS. And started up web design. My first site was called The Stage after the old BBS and contained an online discussion forum. When I started this personal site, Blessed Bees, I gave The Stage a new look and it's own subdomain (http://stage.bbzzz.com) but it still lives in a manner of speaking. Traffic is low, but I just don't have the heart to take it down.

Screenshots

In rememberance of the bad old days of ASCII art, ANSI graphics (all hail The Draw!), echoes, and the beginnings of the smiley, here are the screenshots I took before shutting down the original Stage BBS:

Welcome to The Stage
Quote on the way in
The Lobby
The Script Room
Reading a Play
Backstage
Intermission
The Dressing Room
The Usher's Map
The Library
Exit Stage Right
Finis

(c) Melissa Oringer, 2000, All rights reserved

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