Picture of Calling Bulletin Board Systems (BBS)
It's 1985.  The movie Back to the Future is still in the theaters and for the life of you, you can't fathom why Coca Cola would dare to change their formula.  It's time to fire up a computer and see if there is an electronic mail from friends and catch up on local rumors, but it isn't a Windows machine.  Windows 1.0 was just released recently.  Oh, and the Internet..  well.. symbolics.com is the only registered .com domain, and there isn't too much there if you aren't an educator.

Some of you just took a small trip down memory lane..  

This was the dawn of "pre-Internet" electronic communication.
Want to take a trip a bit further?  Yes, you can go home again.

This Instructable will teach you about Bulletin Board Systems, (BBSs) and the role they had before the Internet.  I'll also teach you how to build your own microcontroller based "mini computer" to dial BBS systems over the Internet.

Gone you said?  

No, there are hundreds of them all over the world which you can connect to without tying up a phone or running up a long distance bill.

Put on your Parachute Pants and your Members Only Jacket, we're going back in time.

Required Hardware:
  • Propeller board with VGA/Keyboard Output. (I'm using a Pocket Mini Computer)
  • A PS/2 Keybaord
  • A VGA Monitor
The Pocket Mini Computer kit has everything required to do this project and more, but there are schematics on the next page for those who want to "roll their own" Propeller microcontroller mini computer.   

More details about the Pocket Mini Computer can be found in this Instructable:

Jfieldcap7 months ago

Oh, and, the link to download PropLink is broken.

Jfieldcap7 months ago

Looks like this instructable might have useful info for getting my 1986 NEC multispeed laptop back on the "web", as it were in 1986. :) The main problem with just buying an old dial up modem is that I have no phone line here, so I must find a way to interface.

tstadel1 year ago

Remember I had my own BBS back in the beginning of the 90's, running on my parents phoneline, and they were ready to kill me, when the system didn't detect it was a modem calling in the middle of the night.

It was so great running a BBS back then. Thanks for the memory recall :-)

Chad Baxter2 years ago
Cool!!!!!!, I always liked to run linux off a flash drive but this, like a batch interperater on a breadboard....(didn't know how to spell interperator)
bbikebbs3 years ago
There are a lot of us system operators (sysops) out here that would love to have you visit us. You don't need a special machine to visit us either. Here's a link to enable "telnet" on a windows 7 machine: (http://www.fettesps.com/windows-7-enable-telnet/)

Once enabled, open a command prompt. Type:

telnet oldtime.synchro.net

press enter and give it a whirl!

The link given above and duplicated here: (http://www.telnetbbsguide.com/)
is a great source. Give them a try and welcome back!

mce128 bbikebbs2 years ago
Thanks for the links and a walk down memory lane... as a former sysop, it is especially fun to go and see what is still around!
Cambenora3 years ago
Actually, it's now 2012, and for the life of me, I still can't fathom why Coca Cola would dare to change their formula...
meanpc3 years ago
WOW! You were there man! I remember getting my Commodore when I was 11. I spent hours typing in those games from Compute. Remember the syntax checker for the BASIC programs, or the MLX machine code? Those were the really bad ones - at least the basic programs you could at least halfway tell what was going on.

Awesome instructable! Thanks for taking me back.
Granzeier3 years ago
Hey Propellerpowered,

This looks great. I have known about Telnet BBS' for years, but had forgotten about them; I also did not realize that there were a lot of them out there. My wife and I were some of the ones who took that walk down memory lane at the beginning of this 'ible.

I am going to try to put one of these together with one of my Protoboards and take it to UPENE (http://propellerpowered.com/forum/index.php?topic=12.0). I'll see you Friday.

Thanks for this great project.