Six Colors
Six Colors

by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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Harkening back to the era of the BBS

Fun story from Macworld contributor Benj Edwards over at Ars Technica about running a BBS1 when he was 11, which he still runs over the Internet now:

Even before I was fully ready, I jumped the gun and began advertising my BBS phone number on other BBSes. I started getting calls on the BBS phone line at night, which disturbed my parents. For some reason, I still had a conventional telephone (with the ringer turned on) sitting in my bedroom.

One night, the second line rang and my mom answered it. The caller heard her talking over their modem speaker and picked up the phone as well. I remember my mom telling the caller that I was only 11 years old and I was going to bed. It was very embarrassing, and of course, that person would mention the episode later to rib me: “I talked to your mom, and she said you had to go to bed!”

Benj is about my age, and there are echoes of a lot of my early computing history in his story—including the parents frustrated with me using the phone line. I frequented many a BBS back in the ’90s2, and even briefly helped my friend run one. That’s even where I got my start as a fiction writer, distributing the e-zine that said same friend and I ran for a few years. Quite the nostalgia trip.

In some ways, it kind of feels like the current fragmentation of social media harkens back to the day of the BBS, when you had small communities organized around particular interests (and, in those days, geography). Is Discord just a modern day BBS? Discuss!


  1. That’s Bulletin Board System, a computer you could log into by dialing via your modem, for you young whippersnappers among us. 
  2. Most prominently 4th Dimension and BCS here in Boston. 
—Linked by Dan Moren

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