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My Secret Life As An 11-Year-Old Sysop

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camcorder image of Benj Edwards at his IBM PS/2 model 25 in 1992

Benj Edwards racked up a then-exorbitant $200 phone bill calling BBSes in 1992.

Credit: Benj Edwards

Thirty years ago last week, my BBS came online for the first time. I was only 11 years old, working from my dad's Tandy 1800HD laptop and a 2,400 baud modem. The Cave BBS soon grew into a bustling 24-hour system with over 1,000 users.

While commercial online services like CompuServe and Prodigy existed back then, many hobbyists ran their own miniature online services called bulletin board systems, or BBSes. The Internet existed, but was not yet widely known outside academic circles.

Most BBSes were small hobbyist fiefdoms with a single phone line, and only one person could call in and use it at a time.

Online time was precious. Since we were using our regular house telephone line to connect, the odds that my mom would pick up and try to dial out — thus ruining the transfer process — remained very high. Whatever the risks, the thrill of remote projection by computer sunk into me that day and never left.

From Ars Technica
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