Somewhere between the internet being used for serious use by the military, and the way it's used now, was the era of the B.B.S.'s!
(Bulletin Board Systems)
Young boys who used to play with erector sets, I hope I got that right, moved onto "hosting"
mini forums ( B.B.S.'s), through (usually) a single dial-up phone line
(and the brave boys chose that to explain to their parents) that attached to their computer.
Rudimentary, and a heck of a lot of fun, it was my foray, flanked by my buddy, into this medium. We frequented a small board, manned by a young boy named Brad, and were probably the only members over the age of 16. One at a time, you could chat online with the "sysop"(system operator, Brad in this case), play a game, leave a message on the "board", get kicked off, argue, have your poems stolen, download a reader or newsgroup, pretend you are a rabid monkey or hot princess. It was play!
The B.B.S. "virtual building" doesn't exist anymore but it did once in cyberspace.
Who would have thought that those cute little B.B.S.'s would grow into the monster internet that it is now. I remember when it was cute! Guess that's why animals eat their young.
The Old B.B.S. Building
I know the phrase is worn, but it really DOES seems like it was yesterday...
It was 1993, or was it 94', when my buddy and I happened upon, what used to be, the old B.B.S. building. I'm trying to remember all the details but, as I said, it was awhile ago.
I had an old 286 at the time, been through a lot of crashes, but it was a means of transportation for two bored housewives looking for something that hadn't existed before they arrived. You wouldn't recognize the block now, but at that time most small dives that peppered the area had single lines to get in... heck lucky if there were two, and they weren't necessarily the better joints.
and..believe it or not, most of the places were owned by minors! My friend and I were drawn to a place that had a sign saying that they served adults. How could we resist? It was the only place that served over aged women. We were somewhat naive at the time but...We went in...
The proprietor, he called himself a sysop, was a fifteen year old. He was so bright, yet alone and we couldn't understand why. What was his name again? Brad! Yeah, that was his name. Nice kid.And the place was so quiet...
You could hear a pin drop. I almost expected one of the throngs to stand up and whisper "I am a teenage male, I love my computer and (choke) I am an introvert. I'm sure all heads would bob in unison. I know I would say HERE, HERE! (sorry for shouting) Oh, and in the corner there was a cheap version of some video game and a message board, all well loved.
I think women were afraid to go in there, the men outnumbered them about fifteen to one. The truth is they were mostly kindly nerds, nothing to fear, and the worse that could happen to you was an occasional bout of a "Ping Pong" virus. I don't have to tell you what's out there now.And you knew everyone...
Okay, maybe not everyone, but most. I did get to know one guy there. You might of missed him if you didn't really look. He ended up being a close friend; stood up for him at a wedding years later, talented, loving, perhaps overlooked in a different venue, but what a beacon there.They say you never can go back...
Sure yah can, but don't expect things to stay the same. In this story they didn't.
The place had been taken over by a conglomerate: clean, slick, shiny, cold. There's even an e-bay next door, and though things seem pristine, there's an element that keeps popping up, hard to put an end to that.
The mix changed; there were plenty of women there and a hell of a lot of them bored housewives. I hear that those types make a piss pot full of money. I keep getting letters suggesting I might be interested in one. Interested?! Shit, I used to be one.
I did run into Brad, the owner of the old place. Get this, he is about 30 right now. Can you believe it? Ends up he had suffered from Tourrettes. Never would have known it. Talked about how cruel kids used to be, heck and we thought it was just teenage angst back then. Live and learn. There's a modern day lesson in there somewhere.Anyway...
My buddy is now a photographer, I'm no longer married and the beacon doesn't exist, at least not on this earth.
It's not the same, but then again, I'm not either. Besides, I wouldn't have met you if not for this journey.
Perhaps we can chat later. I'll throw in a virus check for free if ya get bored. ;
-}~It's not like I didn't pick up something from Walter Primate.
So, yes, I did run into Brad one day, the result of a search, and found that he indeed had Tourrettes when he was a kid. It gave a face to those I write to, or a least the realization, that what we see here is only scratching the surface. "People" are writing this stuff.
My buddy is the photographer of this site, the beacon the illustrator.
So started my love affair with the internet, evolving today, as I write, almost full circle...but as most of us know, there is nothing like our first love. For me, that was a simple B.B.S..