Hi,
   Just in case you were curious, here is a bit about our site and the person behind it.

   Computer bulletin board systems, or BBB's as we call them, are by most authorities opinions, a key part of the history of consumer computer use, and many say BBS's helped usher in the widespread interest in the Internet. The operator of such systems usually was called a SysOp.. short for System Operator. While this term also applied to many other jobs it was most often applied to the operator / managers of a BBS. 

Picture of the first BBS - CBBS in Chicago built by Ward Christenson

 

 The first BBS's started 4 decades ago with Ward Christenson's "CBBS" board in Chicago (shown left) based on an S100 style system. The ones to follow it were done with many different types of computers - all before the IBM PC and Apple computers made their way into the public eye.

    Originally as a way to share messages and comments, then fun with early online games, and file sharing after better modem protocols came to be - the BBS evolved rapidly and there were many forms and uses for them. 

 

  The operator of this website, www.SysOpShack.com, started way back in the early 1980s with a part time BBS, but connected to other online systems back in 1978. Obviously a computer dinosaur by most standards, our SysOp, Mike Nichols, remembers very clearly trying to download programs to help get file transfers in correctly the first time - and it took many tries to get that first terminal program with Xmodem protocol.. but he will get to that part of the story later elsewhere on our pages.

   In those days if you lived in a small town, you would likely have to call long distance and pay so many cents per minute to connect to a bigger BBS in a distant city. Dial up modems were very slow and it could take half an hour to get a medium sized program in those days.. a video of 2 minutes of a cat playing with a dog today comes in today for most of us in a blink, but the same thing back in the 1980's could have taken many hours.

   The need was there for small town BBS systems to help local computer users, but of course there were not too many users either, so a town of 30,000 people might have a dozen computer users (and most of us were definitely "tech nerds" then. So one person would download a program or music file they liked, then share it on the small local BBS with others - allowing the community to share with each other. Online games came along soon after and at first were pretty darn simple and often text only - no fancy graphics of race cars or spaceships, but yet they still managed to capture the imagination and please the users of the early Bulletin Boards.

   With the Internet connecting so many places and systems together and most Internet providers not restricting your access even if you used it 24 hours a day connecting to far away places or checking local weather once a week, computer users could find the programs, files, ebooks, music, etc that they desired from many sources and it did not require a long distance call. Of course higher speed Internet connections helped quite a bit too... and with that as competition most BBS that were running suffered loss of interest and many of their faithful users were hard to be seen on the BBS anymore. So the great majority of BBS that were operating shut down. A few stayed on and even today 20 years after the peak BBS periods, there are a few hundred in operation - mostly for nostalgia. Some of these are connecting now through telnet connections on the Internet - allowing them to be connected to by anyone anywhere on the Internet (if they know how).


  So back to how SysOp Shack came to be. Our intrepid BBS fellow, Mike, who operated a number of BBS over the 80's and 90's thought it might be good to make a website that could help those who are still having BBS systems running and wanting to be found, and those who might be seeking such to get together. Toss in a message forum where old hands can chew the fat, or young coders can ask questions, and we have an idea that may help you learn more about a unique part of telecommunications history.

   We are just getting started - stay tuned and help spread the word, contribute your comments (and donations if you wish) and feel free to suggest new departments, features and content if you would. One of the best parts of BBS operation was the community spirit on many of the boards - lots of folks helping each other out and the shack here should be like that too. Thanks for dropping by!