Der Weltanschauung Magazine (The WorldView)
% Editor: The Desert Fox D E R %
% Co-Editor: Rev. Scott Free %
% W E L T A N S C H A U U N G %
June 15, 1991 Vol. 1, Issue 4.
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"Let us arise, let us arise against the oppressors of humanity; all kings,
emperors, presidents of republics, priests of all religions are the true
enemies of the people; let us destroy along with them all juridical, political,
civil and religious institutions."
-Manifesto of anarchists in the Romagna, 1878
The World View Staff:
The Desert Fox [Editor]
Rev. Scott Free [CoEditor]
The Sorcerer (REV)
Bryan O' Blivion
Der Grosste Ein
Table Of Contents
(A> Editor's Note....................................The Desert Fox
(1> Revenge Of The Thought Police....................Bryan O' Blivion
(2> Preface To The Retirement Of Sector Seventeen....The Sorcerer (REV)
(3> The Letter Of Retirement From Sector Seventeen...Sector 17
(4> What Ever Happened To The 'Real' BBS'............The Sorcerer (REV)*
(5> Words Of Caution: A First Person Perspective.....Modok Tarleton
-Articles Marked With An '*' Were Contributed And Not Authored By (REV)
Editor's Note: This issue is devoted to the history of 'modeming' in the
greater Houston area. Many of us have been around since circa 1985. We just
had the tremendous urge to put our thoughts on disk and share them with
the 'new-comers' to our infamous society. Granted there are many 'good'
users out there today, there will never be another time like 1985-1987.
So, those of you who are new to the cult of (personality) modeming world,
sit back and enjoy. Those who have been around for what seems like forever,
sink your teeth into this. You can relate. To those new guys/girls...don't
feel too bad. We still rule the world. And you are the Untermenschen of the
community...(Look that word up!) Also, I am sorry to say that I have taken
Rivendell BBS down because I have to do some projects for work. I felt kinda
bad about it, but then I just remembered that 95% of the users were 14 year
old file sponges. I am still in contact with the few great users that were on.
This magazine will not stop though. Please note the new main site...
The Dickinson Nightlight BBS. Have a nice day.
The Desert Fox
REVENGE OF THE THOUGHT POLICE: THE ASSAULT ON OUR
By: Bryan O'Blivion
please copy and distribute freely without legal restriction
(*=----( Written For THE WORLD VIEW Magazine )----=*)
" I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal enmity against
every form of tyranny over the mind of man."
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of
religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging
the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people
peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress
-----THE FIRST AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED
"The right of the people to be secure in their persons,
houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and
seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but
upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and
particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons
or things to be seized."
-----THE FOURTH AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED
Your floppies and hard drive are not covered by any
interpretation of the above. That's right, friend, you are going
bare of ANY constitutional protection if you commit your thoughts
to media instead of paper.
The Burger/Rehnquist Supreme Court, the enduring legacy of
the Nixon-Reagan years, has made a series of policy decisions whose
effect is to completely vitiate any reasonable expectation of
privacy as to person and effects. In a series of decisions over
the last two decades, the Justices have decided that police may
search any part of anyone's person (Terry v. Ohio) on a rationale
that the officer must protect his safety.
Gradually the protection granted to us all by the 4th
Amendment has been gutted. Nixon's justices have ruled that police
may search and obtain evidence from any vehicle, even a motor home,
without a warrant. The rationale for this abrogation of the
Constitution is that vehicles move quickly, and it is often
unexpedient to obtain a warrant through the normally legally
necessary procedure. Now their latest gift of wisdom is Supreme
Court approval of the routine police practice of coercing confessions
by any means that occurs to them. Evidence obtained
illegally, in violation of Constitutional right, is now legally
admissible in Court against an accused. They rationalize this
fascist travesty of the Constitution under a number of wimpy
doctrines, like a "good-faith belief" on the part of the police
that their actions are legal, or an availability of corroborating
evidence from other sources (once the confession is in their hands,
extracted by beatings and other well-known methods of physical and
mental torture, this part is easy).
The point of all this is that if you rely on Constitutional
protection from police abuses in the 1990's, you are whistling in
the dark. Ask Rodney King how much "good-faith belief" he got from
the LAPD as they administered their historic videotaped nightstick
lesson. The police don't carry those things just to play with in
their copshop locker rooms.
William Rehnquist, currently the Chief Justice of the United
States, is a pathetic Constitutional scholar, and is a rather
dimwitted, frighteningly dangerous ideologue of a man. Doubters of
this harsh characterization are urged to read his dissenting
opinion in Carey vs. Population Services, a 1974 case that decided
the Constitutionality and legality of allowing clinics to make
available sex education and contraception to teenagers. Against
the then junior-Justice Rehnquist's wishes, the Court voted that
privacy rights of the individual did not allow the Government to
meddle in this sphere of a person's life.
Rehnquist always knows what he wants to do, but is often at
a loss to explain why in writing, backed up by some semblance of
legal scholarship. In the Carey case, he confined himself to
observing in his written opinion that the American revolutionaries
who died at the battle of Bunker Hill would have been displeased
had they known that their noble sacrifice only enabled youngsters
to obtain condoms freely. What an idiot. At my law school, we used
to tell Rehnquist jokes instead of Aggie jokes.
This is the man charged with leading the US Supreme Court and
with safeguarding the Bill of Rights. May God have mercy on us all,
because Rehnquist won't. Now that the Court is fully packed with
carefully selected Republican ideologues like Sandra O'Connor and
David Souter, I really don't see much hope for the defense of
historic Constitutional freedoms in the near future.
Which brings me to the point of this essay. If you are active
in cyberspace, or are otherwise on-line, you have no doubt heard
of Operation Sundevil and the atrocities committed under its name.
Liberties unguarded are soon lost, and the jackboot is now crashing
at the door of computer users like Steve Jackson, a science-fiction
gamer in Austin. Mitch Kapor, the founder of the Lotus Corporation,
received in the mail a strange diskette from an unknown source, and
later found himself explaining his possession of the disk to agents
of the FBI.
The Secret Service, accompanied by local mounties and the ex-
FBI raincoat men of the Bell security companies, are breaking down
doors and leveling pistols at those whose only offense is to
possess and publish information. This is the First Amendment under
siege as well, your right to speak, write, and print what you
think. Ask Steve Jackson, whose million-dollar company almost went
under because the federal agents seized, without a valid warrant,
his computers containing months of work on a gaming project. The
Secret Service came in and stole his property under an unsigned
warrant, which any lawyer will tell you is no warrant at all. These
individuals, acting under color of law to deny Mr. Jackson his
civil rights and right to due process, took every bit of hardware
and media available, down to answering-machine cassettes.
Fascist? Thought police? A violation of the spirit and letter
of the Constitution? You bet. Illegal? Not really, not right now.
Had the material seized been papers, presses, personal written
mail, instead of hard drives and BBS systems, caselaw developed
through the centuries interpreting the First Amendment would have
judged the actions of these lawmen grossly illegal. But the cops
are now behaving as if the First and Fourth don't apply, that
anyone smart enough to use and have a computer loses that
"privilege" by being suspected of some activity frowned on by the
Republican federal thought police. They seize all drives and
floppies, all computers and media, all tapes. In Sundevil, some of
these citizen's property has been kept by the authorities for
months without any charges being filed. Entire BBS's and
collections of E-mail are now in Federal hands: agents leisurely
page through thousands of legitimate, private communications with
the purpose of finding something to use against someone. Seizure
of unpublished documents used to be called "prior restraint" of a
publication, used only under the most extraordinary circumstances.
Even more appalling is the sentence meted out to BellSouth
crackers Riggs, Darden, and Grant by the much more primitive
crackers of Atlanta, Georgia. Although they only strolled the
system and did no damage, they were imprisoned and even sentenced
to avoid all computers for longer than the duration of prison
sentence. The government prosecuted these young men for wire and
computer fraud, and the terms of the sentence, if not cruel to a
devoted computer user, are certainly unusual. And unconstitutional.
Or consider poor Craig Neidorf, whose crime was to possess
valueless information on a Bell Operating Co. system. The case
against him had to be dropped when his attorneys proved that the
document was freely available and valueless. But Craig has a bill
for $100,000.00 for that acquittal.
Meanwhile, the President's son receives an administrative slap
on the wrist for defrauding depositors and taxpayers out of $1
billion. I understand, Mr. Reagan. Thank you, Mr. Bush. We are
beginning to get the point.
But it's 1991, the Repubs have been in power for decades now.
If it's on magnetic media, the national Gestapo can smash in your
door and seize it, S.O.P., no problem. All in the name of
protecting society against the dreaded "hacker". America, we have
a problem here. Check those words at the top of this article.
A few of us aren't resigned to this situation. We recognize
the enormous threat that these governmental abuses pose. We hope
that this injustice can be stamped out through the normal judicial
process, and freedom of thought can be preserved. Try writing to
yourself on your word processor, or to a friend, and pretend that
each and every word you write will become legal courtroom evidence
in the hands of a malicious prosecutor intent on proving that you
are an evil person who deserves punishment. Kinda kills your idea
for that novel, doesn't it? That is what the Founding Fathers were
Professor Laurence Tribe, the eminent Constitutional scholar,
considers this threat to American liberty so manifest that he has
called for the passage of a 27th Amendment to the US Constitution,
guaranteeing than no Constitutional freedoms will ever be abridged
by the government, even if these freedoms are practiced
electronically. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, founded by some
of the most brilliant people in modern computing, has been formed
in response to these threats against traditional, Constitutionally
guaranteed freedoms. The battle lines are drawn. But Gail
Thackeray, the Arizona prosecutor who put together the Sundevil
operation, is unrepentant. Her bleating justifications for these
crimes against the Constitution may be found in The Well, a BBS set
up so those who find themselves on opposite sides of this
controversy may exchange viewpoints. (Odd, isn't it, how electronic
digital media continue to offer assistance in helping people
communicate their ideas, even in these dark days...) The anonymous
sedans continue to pull up at the doors of computer users, some as
young as thirteen, and Ms. Thackeray's pets toughs, in the name of
the almighty Bell System, continue to level loaded pistols at the
heads of defenseless children and seize the private documents and
property of US citizens.
WHAT CAN WE DO?
Unfortunately, this current situation cannot be reversed
overnight. Even the Sundevil defendants will not have the
opportunity to defend themselves in an open Constitutional forum
until charges are filed and trial is had, which will apparently not
occur anytime soon. As of this writing in May 1991, none have even
been officially charged with wrongdoing. The authoritarians are
apparently still too busy "analyzing" and "investigating" the
illegally seized media to specify exactly, under existing law, what
is criminal about their contents. It appears that the thought
police are having a hard time even understanding what is on those
disks, judging by the delay in coming up with any evidence of
crime. Thackeray claims the delay is due to the time needed to
analyze the dozens of harddrives and thousands of diskettes
confiscated. We're waiting, Gail. While we wait I will note that
the police organizations of this country have never been accused
of being intellectual giants in any field, let alone that of
BE COOL: No one can defend vandalistic hacking that damages
data, or fraud by wire that illegally enriches someone. But there
is a big difference in trespass law between walking across
someone's vacant lot and burglarizing a building in the night.
Likewise there should be a differentiation made in computer law
between system strolling, harmless phreaking, and getting into
ARPANET for the KGB. The courts and laws are not yet sophisticated
enough to differentiate these activities since they do not
understand computers well. Mitch Kapor and the EFF are changing
that, though, in that they have assisted the Massachusetts
legislature in drafting a model computer crime bill. At least 36
states at this writing have state computer crime laws, and most are
like Texas': there is no distinction between harmless unauthorized
access, looking thru an open door, and serious wire fraud like
trafficking in stolen credit card numbers. The EFF bill recognizes
the classes of computer activity, and does not punish those who do
no harm. Hopefully we will see something like this law become more
BE AWARE: if you use a digital computer as outlet for your
thoughts or other intellectual product, conditions are such in this
country today that Federal police, acting under color of law but
without a warrant or other legal process, may kick in your door,
hold members of your family, including children, at gunpoint, may
physically abuse, interrogate, and threaten them, and will
certainly remove all electronics and magnetic media from your home.
So much for security of your person, papers, and effects, eh? All
computer users, whether or not they may be unfairly tarred with the
semantic brush of "hacker", or "phreak", face this threat. Spread
the word, the Constitution doesn't apply to us PC people anymore.
The taxes we pay are going to buy the guns the Gestapo brandishes
in our children's faces.
BE CAREFUL: Since the Feds have no qualms about reading innocent
people's mail, do not post any E-mail you would not want read aloud
in a court of law by a prosecutor intent on sending you to jail.
Warn others. Use data encryption technology to protect sensitive
private information. The government has enormous quantities of
information protected by this technology, which they carefully
guard from disclosure to the courts and to Congress. No encryption
method is perfect, but since the Feds seem to have such a hard time
even reading the ASCII files seized from the Sundevil victims, it
would probably take them until the end of time to crack a protected
file. Use programs like Norton's WIPEDISK to remove sensitive
material from media used for temporary storage. Some users have
even written "doomsday" programs, activated by a few unusual
keystrokes, that fill hard drives with zeros or otherwise overwrite
their files irretrievably, to be used as the door of their home goes
down under the jackboots. Learn to think and act as if you are
a Jew in occupied Europe, organizing secret resistance against Nazi
terror, with the penalty for discovery being instant Gestapo
punishment without trial, hearing, or other legal procedure. Hide
your information, keep it in your grandmother's basement, away from
RESIST NONVIOLENTLY: Our greatest hope for the future is the fact
that Constitutional abuses of this enormity usually bring about
their own counterbalancing reaction in time. The formation of the
Electronic Frontier Foundation is an example of this. Remember how
many years the treasonous criminal Nixon was allowed to degrade the
White House with his criminal activities, use the CIA to torment
Democratic political opponents, and massively violate the
Constitutional rights of others before the system acted to remove
him from power. Our Constitutional system does work, but it takes
a lot of time. In the meantime, you can:
Educate others about the nature of the threat.
Join the EFF. (see appendix)
Read, write, and E-publish what you write. This is still the
best weapon against tyranny.
Form networks of concerned users.
Note: One of the lessons of Sundevil is that the Feds will
characterize as a "conspiracy" what we users know is just a loose
electronic association of people sharing information. Names and
handles ordinarily used to identify these informal associations of
computer-literate citizens WILL be characterized as massive,
illegal, conspiracies. People's ordinary privacy-protecting online
handles will be used as evidence "proving" that the user is
operating under an 'alias' to mislead police investigators.
Remember that the cry of "conspiracy" was one of the Nixon regime's
principal weapons against those who fought for freedom of
expression and who resisted unconstitutional activity on the part
of the government.
WHEN YOUR DOOR IS KICKED IN:
The instant this occurs, you should monotonously repeat one
sentence, and no other: "I want to consult a lawyer." Give no
consents. Give no information, even in the face of open threats and
cajolery. The SS and other police will use any means possible to
get you to waive what remains of your Constitutional rights. An
individual who has had the experience of being personally
interrogated at length by agents of the Secret Service reports:
"They threatened to take my girlfriend, who suffers from
severe rheumatoid arthritis, to a separate interrogation room to
be worked over unless I signed a written consent authorizing them
to obtain all legally protected private records about myself,
including confidential medical and employment records. These
bastards do not hesitate to use mental, physical, and emotional
duress to achieve their ends. They locked another person I know in
a small room, alone, and took secret videos of him through the
ceiling. He frustrated them by snapping off the room light so that
the camera recorded nothing, which really pissed the SS agents off.
They stormed back into the room, turned the lights back on, and
warned him to sit still."
God only knows what they were expecting him to do. These guys
do amazingly crazed things, like holding children at gunpoint, and
judicially sentencing people not to use computers. (Maybe they will
soon start sentencing people not to read books or write anything
Remember, if you give voluntary statements OF ANY KIND, they
will be used as proof that you voluntarily waived your rights, and
will be twisted and distorted and used against you and your
friends. Tell them nothing. Do not help these fascists make any
case against you or your friends, no matter if you are promised
leniency or favorable treatment if you "cooperate". Do not
cooperate with illegal and unconstitutional activity on the part
of the SS, the Bell System companies, or the local cops. If they
ask you to give them information, this in itself is proof that they
do not have a legally prosecutable case against anyone yet.
Remember, they are trying to prosecute you, not "help" you.
Whatever statements you make will be distorted and used against you
personally in every way possible.
OBTAIN LEGAL COUNSEL AS SOON AS POSSIBLE IF YOU ARE
Ms Thackeray's thought police rely very much on the fact that
justice is a salable commodity here in America, and mounting a
legal defense against unjust accusation still costs thousands for
the victim. But a growing number of attorneys are waking up to the
magnitude of this threat, and are responding by making free or low-
cost representation available to those who are swept up by the SS.
In a proper case, I would recommend the filing of civil suit and
criminal complaint personally against those agents of the
government who break the law, who harass and oppress and steal
property without the warrants required by law. By suing these
people personally, we can put them in the same position of having
to hire a lawyer and demonstrate in court that what they did is in
fact lawful. I want to see how they like being forced to prove
their innocence in a court of law, at great personal expense.
Statutes prohibiting official oppression and abuse of civil rights
are available to prosecute these criminals with badges. I have no
realistic hope that the system will prosecute them criminally, but
a civil suit is another matter. Those who break down my client's
doors and seize their computers better have their paperwork in
order, or they will definitely face a civil jury. And I will do my
level best to see that these badge-carrying criminals are held
personally financially liable for the injuries and damage they
cause. The State courts are not yet under the total control of the
Republicans, and many State constitutions have been judicially held
to grant more protection to individual constitutional freedoms than
the US Constitution.
There is some hope, but it'll take work. America is a great
place to live. But meanwhile, the King's troops are among the
printshops, smashing the trays of type, seizing the presses, the
manuscripts; sentencing to prison the intellectuals of our modern
society. I cannot sit still. There is too much work to do in
rectifying this abasement of our American principles. And rectify
it we will.
JOIN THE ELECTRONIC FRONTIER FOUNDATION!
Electronic Frontier Foundation
155 Second St.
Cambridge, MA 02141
(617) (864-0665) voice
(617) (864-0866) fax
any William Gibson or Philip K. Dick novel
MONDO 2000 magazine
EFF Newsletter at your local BBS
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress -- Robert Heinlein
Farnham's Freehold --- " "
G.U.R.P.S. - CYBERPUNK Steve Jackson Games
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
BRYAN O'BLIVION is the Net handle of a Texas attorney who
has practiced law for more than 11 years in private law firms and
in governmental practice. He is a published (print) author, and a
computer user and programmer since 1968. He is not a Republican,
and takes his attorney's oath to preserve and protect the
Constitution of the State of Texas and The United States very
Disseminate this document freely
Preface: The Retirement Of Sector Seventeen
By: The Sorcerer (REV)
Greetings & Salutations,
If you are like me, you sometimes like hold onto all sorts of
seemingly useless stuff just to bring back a memory or two of "how things
used to be." Well, this file is one of those things. Written around the
time of the death of boards like Wizzardry and The Hall of Records (later
returned for a little while as Miskatonic University), or the slow
disintegration of Mines of Moria -- I was surprised to find I still had the
following file. This was about the time I dropped out of the modeming
community "for good" and purged many of my collected text files. Having come
back "for good" I thought I would present a little blast-from-the-past to the
present day community in the form of this, one of my now favorite, text file.
To those of you who were around to remember when Judy's list was only
1 & 1/2 pages, here is your chance to reflect back on the "good ol' days".
To those of you who are new ( relatively speaking ); here is a chance to
contemplate the state of the modeming community today and how it could be
better or how it could be worse.
By the by, if any of you ol' timers have any of the more interesting
text files from way-back-when, drop me a line. I would love to get a copy of
some of them. But, enough nannering, on to the file.
-=*)> The Sorcerer (Rev) <(*=-
[=] AN OPEN LETTER TO THE PIRATE COMMUNITY, 1985 [=]
[=] (*NOTE: THIS IS ALSO MY RETIREMENT NOTICE) [=]
[=] FROM: SECTOR SEVENTEEN [=]
An open letter to the Pirates of today:
You're probably wondering just what this text file is about, and why
someone would bother to type something like this up, right? Perhaps. Well,
it's mainly to say: I retire. Yup, you heard it, I'm done for. Why? Because,
Pirating isn't fun anymore. Most people don't make a big deal out of retiring,
I guess, but I'm going to...not because I want attention, or anything like
that, but because, before I go, I'm going to get a few things off my chest.
Before I begin, let me tell you about the "Good ol' Days" of pirating...a
time alot of you were never around to know.
Some of you might possibly say that I'm an old-timer. True-I've been
around since we all had Micro-modems and traded with Apple-Link. Anyone out
there remember that? I have my doubts. Yeah, we were all pretty happy when
DFX came out! I remember when someone first told me about this neat new thing
called a Bulletin Board System. Wow! That sounded pretty neat to me! I'll
never forget how neat it was when I logged on to my first board. (In
case some of you out there don't know what a board is, ask someone you know
who's been around awhile. They used to be alot of fun.)
Back in the days of Bulletin Boards, we used to have alot of fun trading.
Sure, it took awhile at 300 Baud, but we didn't care...it was fun. We got to
be pretty good friends that way, too. That was what most of the fun was...
making friends an meeting people with the same interests. But now the boards
are all gone. Well, that's not true...but what is true is that all the *real*
boards are gone. A real board was a board that didn't charge money, didn't
voice validate (because they didn't have to...), didn't get crashed, etc...
But then something strange started happening...a few people started crashing
boards. Nobody gave a shit about all the work a sysop put into his system
anymore...our little world of pirating, formerly inhabited by a group mature
enough not to do things like crash boards, was now being invaded by a bunch
of little kids with big boys' toys. (Sorry, but if the shoe fits, wear it.)
Well, we found away around it, and we were able to deal with those first,
initial problems. People found ways to make Net-works uncrashable, and later,
Apple-net came along, and it was uncrashable already. That solved that aspect,
and to solve the other problem, all the people who were basically elite got
Apple-Cats, and someone (namely the Red-Headed Phreak) wrote a 1200 Baud,
Half-Duplex transfer program. How many people reading this can even tell me
the name of it? Few, I would guess. Well, anyway, it was Disk-fer, and it
had to be about the greatest thing to come along in a long time! We were all
pretty excited with our new toy...the 1200 Baud modem. Disk-fer was it for
awhile...if you didn't have a cat and 1200 baud, no self-respecting pirate
would trade with you! Why waste all that time? Yeah, we were pretty cool...we
had solved it...no more little kids to bug us. (When I say "little", I mean as
in Maturity, not neccesarily age.) Times change, and so do people. Our little
pirating world was all happy again...these were the days of The 1200 Club and
MPG. (Anyone ever heard of Apple Bandit?) Yeah, things were all right then,
until, that is, everyone, and I mean everyone, started to get Apple-cats.
There was nothing left to do. Catsend lines started popping up...there was no
more eliteness to pirating. Anyone who had $250 could by a Cat and get all
the new wares. Course, Catsend was a nice program, but Catfur really did
it...Catfur lines work, Catsend lines didn't always work. Now there are Catfur
lines that anyone can call up and get all the nice new k-kool, rrrrrrad wares!
I'm afraid that this world is beyond me...it's outgrown me, perhaps. I'm part
of a generation that most of you people never knew. The fun in pirating was
to call up a friend and say "Hey, you got Print Shop yet?" and if they
didn't, you could send it to them, knowing full well that they'd return
the favor. Setting Megaterm to autodial a Catfur line isn't fun. Watching
it dial isn't fun. Waiting for it to dial and get through isn't fun. It
isn't fun to get something and not chat with anyone. It's no fun!! There is
is just something missing. It took me awhile, but I finally figured it out.
It's just no fun anymore.
It's no fun to call a board where half your mail is from some asshole who
doesn't even know who you are, and probably doesn't care, sits there and rags
on you for "posting on the wrong sub-board." OH YEAH? Well, I'm retiring as
soon as I finish this damn textfile, so I don't have anything to lose by saying
this. FUCK YOU!!! (That's "F","U","C","K" (new word) "Y","O","U"!!) For
those of you who are too young to understand what that means, ask your big
brother or mommy. (If she slaps you, you said it right.)) If you didn't have
30,000 some sub-boards on your stupid board, I wouldn't post in the wrong place.
Why do you even *have* a public board? You have such diverse sub-boards that
there is no such thing as a miscellaneous message anymore!!! Each one of them
gets about 1 new message per month! Yeah, and not only that, I wouldn't pay
$20 to get high access on your damn board anyway!! It's not worth it! Back
when I was around, people didn't run boards to make money. They ran them for
the fun of it!! I've been on boards 100x better than yours that ran on 2 disk
drives! So Just because you think you have to run your stupid board that only
uses 2 megs on a 45 meg Hard Drive doesn't mean that I'm going to pay for the
stupid thing! And, finally...a board is not good because of just the
board...just as important is the people on it...and your board happens to be
about 90% losers! So...Take your stupid board and shove it!
The Sorcerer (REV)
What ever happened to real bulletin-board systems?
First off, I'd like to make it perfectly clear that I cannot be
objective in these notes. These are observations, but they are from
1) a Sysop
2) a user of 8BBS, the greatest BBS ever evolved
3) a boy ... who's become a boyish programmer
4) an old timer....1977 was when I first started
using BBS systems.
5) the author of a BBS system
If you're expecting objectivity, then don't bother reading on. I have a
rather unique perspective on the entire BBS scene. I've been around since
close to the beginning, and I'm wondering what has happened. Have BBS's gone
the way of CB? the entire system in a slump? Is there anything wrong at all?
I'm going to try to present these questions and show how things have
changed...for the better, and for the worst.
A long time ago, in a city far-far away, two men had an insight. Ward
Christensen and Randy Suess wanted a way to leave notes and messages to
their programmer/engineer friends. Back then, modems were used by
field-engineers and some high-level executives to talk to their companies
computers. A 300 baud modem was extremely fast, as most people were using
110 baud TeleTypes. Ward and Randy developed the concept of the BBS. They
called it CBBS, for "Computer Bulletin Board System." CBBS was the first of its
kind. It was an enormous program written in 8080 assembly language. By our
standards today, it was kludgy and bug-ridden, but back then it was heavenly.
Users could enter messages and read messages... that was about it.
CBBS was a wonderful concept, but it was localized to the Chicago area.
Ward and Randy were the only ones who were running the program. Then Bill
Blue came along and wrote ABBS, which was designed to "emulate" the CBBS
system. I feel it was ABBS, rather than CBBS which made the real breakthrough.
While ABBS was much less powerful, and more difficult to use, it could be run
on a "universal" machine: --The Apple ][--
Anyone with an Apple ][ and a D.C. Hayes MM][ modem could run ABBS.
This program could be installed in a matter of minutes, and anyone could have
their own bulletin board system. Soon after the release of ABBS, several
other BBS programs (for various computers) soon followed. ABBS was the king
for many years, just because there were more ABBS systems than any other BBS
It is this time that I would like to refer to as the "Golden age of the
BBS." It wasn't as golden as you might think. Most Sysops would come home
every evening from work to find that their BBS had crashed because of yet
another bug. Even back then, user's logged in under false names and left
The one point that made that age golden was the users. Without
users, a BBS is just a program. With users, it gains a personality, and
if I may be metaphysical, a soul. The users MAKE the BBS. A Sysop may
have the greatest BBS program in the world, but without active users, he
just has a computer wasting line-current.
LIFE IN THE "GOLDEN AGE"
A user would think nothing of spending his Saturday helping "The Sysop"
find an intermittent bug in the BBS program.
A user would not only answer his or HER mail, but also butt into other
people's conversations and throw in his/her two cents worth.
A user would suggest improvements to make the system easier to use.
A Sysop would care for his BBS like a baby. He'd spend 2 hours each
night writing messages and playing with modifications to the program.
A Sysop would NOT restrict conversation to one particular topic...such as
A Sysop would tolerate kids who were just learning how to use modems.
He'd even give them a hand getting things working.
A Sysop would [on his own preference] diligently weed out obscene or
"pseudo-illegal" messages, -- or -- promote them as he saw fit.
Users would start clubs, such as the well known "Gabber Gang" and later
the infamous "Phone Phreakers" who figured so prominently into BBS history.
The government didn't try to restrict BBS users. It was just "us" against
tyranny (at that time "Ma Bell"). Although most users did not approve
of "Phone Phreaking", everyone talked about it, and was interested in it
for curiosity sake if nothing else. [Hard to believe, but true.]
Uploading and downloading of programs did not exist.
BBS's were few and far between. When I wrote the OxGate, the two closest
other CP/M based machines were Kelly Smith in Simi Valley (375 miles away),
and "Jim C" in Larkspur (100 miles away). People tended to congregate on
the local system.
WHAT HAS KILLED BBS SYSTEMS:
1) Program uploading and downloading.
People just get their programs and leave.
2) The technical clique's retaliation against "gabbers" who just used
the systems for personal communication.
3) Too many BBS systems in one area.
BBS's are still alive and healthy in low-density areas.
4) The loss of "anonymity" among BBS users.
The BBS used to be the place to escape. Where no one had to be
"themselves." Users such as "James Bond" and "Captain Scarlet"
were given free reign to vent their fantasies. Today, most systems
do not allow false names so they can keep track of users.
5) The anti-hacker movement.
More and more people today think the word "hacker" means "phone
phreak/computer crasher." All it ever meant was "great programmer."
You would feel proud if someone labeled you a "hacker."
6) The press' ignorance of the BBS community.
By trying to make a scandal out of all of it, they ruined a great
form of communication. In particular, the magazine "InfoWorld" has
done more harm to the BBS community than other press organization.
While they actively TRIED to HELP the community, they have caused
more harm in their mis-reporting of info.
7) Sysop's ignorance.
Quite frankly, the average quality of "Sysop" has dropped. Sysop's
are (on the whole) less active and less responsive than 5 years
ago. More and more of them are technically incompetent, they
couldn't fix a bug if it bit them in the nose.
All of these problems are inter-related. We can't solve any of them
until all of them are solved. From my descriptions it should be obvious that
the "golden age" certainly wasn't all gold. People like "James Bond" and
"Sam Daniels" had to be stopped, but the pendulum has swung too far to the
These observations are very general. I've noticed this swing, and it has
taken place on 95% of all of the system's I've called across America. It's sad
that these problems have stabbed us in the back, but it's not too late to try
and bring about a change. I don't have the answers, but maybe these
observations will prompt thought into this death of a virtual "art form" of
There is one possible solution to this problem... the acceptance of
children again. For too long we've been kicking off kids (both physical and
"kids at heart"). They've been disruptive, and caused fights galore. Many
have even tried to crash the systems they used.
"If there's any hope, it lies with the proles."
-- George Orwell, _1984_
Perhaps the thing to do is call a few local Commodore and Apple boards
and let the users know that they're just as welcome on your super-fancy 100mb
2400 baud RCP/M system as any of your so-called "serious users" . . .
"serious users" who can't even bring themselves to answer their own mail.
Words Of Caution: A First Person Perspective
By: Modok Tarleton
As far as any general impressions that I have about
telecommunications, they are mostly negative. It seems that the
only really interesting things that ever happen are the illegal
and potentially illegal ones. If one considers that the bulk of
present-day bulletin boards carry public domain software and host
conversations that literally consist of two people arguing over
the phone, this point can be easily
There are plenty of bulletin boards operating but over the
past 7 to 8 years, most of the interesting ones have gone under.
Instead there is an overabundance of fee-charging systems. Even
more frightening is the ever-expanding influence of major
corporations on the telecommunications world. Now one can
purchase anything from flowers to automobiles on services such as
Prodigy and Compuserve. A service like Prodigy, which is a Sears
business, isn't their to help you or inform you. Its basically
there to take your money! The same goes for fee-charging boards.
Although they might provide some service, it seems somewhat inane
to pay an outrageous fee to use someone else's system after
spending thousands of dollars on one's own computer equipment.
Telecommunications has turned into some kind of business men's
What is worse is that what is left is barely worth bothering
with. Many of the non-commercial bulletin board systems are
characterized by a few non-spectacular characteristics;
uninteresting conversation and infected software. The experience
is never complete without looking through the file directories
and finding old, infected copies of "lh113.exe" just waiting for
suckers to download and run.
One may ask the popular question, "What about the
underground?" The most valuable aspect of the underground has
been that one can access tons of interesting and controversial
information for very little money. Many of the best boards have
been and are like a computerized combination of Soldier of
Fortune Magazine, Byte and the Anarchist Cookbook. This is what I
consider to be truly radical and "underground." Many of you
remember Phrack, the Legion of Doom and that whole contingent of
very intelligent people. Those where organizations that typified
the kind of free spirit and resourcefulness that made the
underground great. The bad side of the underground is that much
of what is called the underground now is nothing more than a
social club for non-interesting people with vegetable like
personalities. These are often people whose sole existence seems
to center around 9600 baud modems and the latest, consumer
electronic trends. What intelligent person hasn't been pissed
off by jerks who insist on blabbing about their "neat-o"
equipment. The so-called underground often represents capitalism
and materialism at some of its worst.
One can also see this wanton consumerism in the "cyberpunk"
trend. I can safely say that science fiction authors who wrote
about the hi-tech/low-life never envisioned that their often
cautionary tales would be turned into trendy consumer product.
Super computers, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality are
all the rage amongst todays "hip" people. It all equals one
thing: money, money, money. It is all bullshit. In a few years,
the trend-seeking vampires will latch on to another consumer rage
and hopefully, the stuff with real value will be left behind for
those who actually care to use. Until then however, we must deal
with the constant threats of corporate invasion of our lives and
the general mediocrity that characterizes much of the modern
world. If you value your mind, you will avoid all such directions
in telecommunications and life in general.