Friday, August 1, 2008

Deity Complex, Colossus, and what the Parrot saw.

Well after a few months of the BBS scene, it became clearly obvious that the most important, popular, and powerful person on any BBS was the Sysop. The BBS Sysop with the touch of a key could give you 5 minutes, or take away 5 minutes. (Since the BBS was a single phone line affair, you had to have time limits put on the callers so that they didn't sit online all day and hog the whole BBS.) The Sysop could force you into chat mode (the IM of the day), or ignore your chat requests.

Also, in the early days every one used an Alias online - and only the Sysop knew the real names behind the pseudonyms. Aliases that I have used in the BBS world are:
  1. Merlin - Very original, eh?
  2. Lord Corwin - I liked Roger Zelazny's Amber series.
  3. (my real name) - Hey no one was using real names, right?
  4. (my real name backwards) - Yes it's pronounceable and does sound strangely Slavic.
  5. Gheti Bait - Pronounced "Fish Bait"...isn't English fun?
  6. Minor Deity - Rather short lived...
  7. The Midnight Cavalier - Abbreviated to TMC, TM.Cavalier - origin of this name to be future BLOG fodder.
Anyways, back to the deity complex... So, like all idealistic teenagers, I decided that my computer hobby would soon grow to that of BBS operator. In order to do this I had to overcome some obstacles:
  • My own computer - mom & dad wouldn't let me take over the "family" computer for this.
  • My own phone line - easily achieved after my dad spent 2 hours trying to call the house only to get a busy signal (courtesy of Interplay...)
  • BBS Software (cheap, configurable)
Well, like any good 16 year old, I went to work and saved up some money and when I finally got a $1,000 saved up I purchased a Car...well, no a computer. And not any computer, but the fully loaded awesome PCjr! (Yes, there were now 2 PCjr computers in the same house, scary isn't it.)

Next, BBS computer software: My problem? My computer had 1 floppy drive. I had to find software that would fit on to 1 floppy disk WITH the operating system and any other support programs I need. Remember, this was before the advent of the "Hard Drive" in a personal computer, so for a floppy disk to be bootable, it had to have an operating system on it.

So I searched and finally downloaded the BBS software Colossus. It was relatively easily to set up. Colossus was a "shareware" program if I recall correctly...what that meant was the program was fully functional, but you were encouraged to pay for it if you really liked it. The registration for Colossus was about $50, so I decided to hold off (hey I just dropped a grand for the computer, I was broke!) and continued to use the program for free. I already had the name picked out, "Sanctuary BBS" from the book series Thieves' World by Robert Asprin. I was now ready to start my own BBS.

Now, all I needed was callers...

(full disclosure: there is actually no parrot content in this post)

5 comments:

Max said...

The sysop also had the power to, as I found out, block out certain combinations of letters. For example, if you worked with a girl, and the sysop of an unmentioned BBS (Motel West) wanted her phone number, and you wouldn't give it to him, he could make every combination of the letters s, c, a & R come up as start (****). He could also, without your permission, change it so when you logged in your alias did not come up as G.W. Hayduke, but instead as "Dirty Bastard Rat". Yeah, fun stuff the sysop can do. He can, and did, also give his arch enemy the power to retaliate on his BBS. Ahhh, those were fun days....

Max said...

I want a parrot, dang it. Where's the parrot?

TM.Cavalier said...

I think the parrot was in one of those videos that Sir Duke brought over to Frank & Lioness' house...

If I'm not mistaken, you got around some of those "star" filters by creative uses of the apostrophe. D.B. Ratt had a bit more of a broad appeal than the somewhat obscure Monkey Wrench Gang reference of George Washington Hayduke.

Isn't there still a DB Ratt in the phone book?

Max said...

Yeah, Sir Duke let the s'car go without bewing changed, and I do still use DBRat as an alias here and there. I actually liked it a lot better that GWHayduke, mostly because of the story behind it. Without the story, it's just a name.

Max said...

Oh, I'd forgotten about the parrot, but I've never forgotten the line "and then you drive in the Volvo".