Posted by Ted on Jun 5, 2005 in Memories

a few years ago, I was interviewed by a guy who wanted to do a documentary on BBSes. I was one of the earlier interviewees, and so he was still working on his interviewing technique.

my first computer was an Epson QX-10. it ran on CP/M, and was primarily known for its word processing suite called ‘Valdocs’ which was really quite ahead of its time. my dad bought it, and he was one for buying things that sounded good, and maybe even were, but were not popular. I didn’t get an Atari 2600, I got a Bally Astrocade. We got a Betamax instead of a VHS, and we got an Epson QX-10 instead of an IBM PC.

at any rate, it was the mid 80s, and I had just gotten my first 1200 baud modem. yes, I am young enough that I never started with a 300. it was a Prometheus ProModem 1200. and I soon found BBSes. I dialed every one that I could find. I downloaded games, I played Tradewars, and I eventually found Diversi-Dial. I likely wouldn’t be where I am today, if it had not been for the community of friends that I acquired through it. I met my first girlfriend, Karyn, at a 5150 DDial party, held at the home of the SysOp, Brian. I would later meet John Adams (‘jna’ for those who know him as such), and through him Joe Turner, and through Joe to Steer Roast, to Wadlow, to Suspects, to Fandom House, and the rest is history.

I not only dialed BBSes, but when I later upgraded to 2400, I ran one; The Newton Underground. ya, it was a lame name, but I couldn’t come up with anything better. it was mostly a file upload/download site, specializing in those early graphics demos of terminally awake Scandinavians. I would later take advantage of the USRobotics special offer of discounting a $900 14400 HST for $400 as long as you operated a BBS.

soon after, I moved back to Cleveland, graduated high school, went to college, and got on the ‘Net. but I do remember those days of sitting by the computer, for hours, listening to the sounds of the modem dialing, getting busy signals, and redialing, jumping up in excitement when there would be a ring, followed by a tone, followed by static, followed by text moving across the screen.

so yes, the 3 DVD set of the documentary is now available, and yes, I’m on it, albeit very, very briefly. I mostly provide a bit of comedy, but I can live with that. I’ve only watched most of the first disc, but I have to say that Jason actually did a pretty good job with it, and I’m proud to have been a part of it.

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An adventurer at heart, Ted Beatie is at his happiest when he’s off the beaten path. His deepest passion is sharing the world through photography and writing, found at The Pocket Explorer. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.


Jun 6, 2005 at 1:07 am

Mm. That brings back good memories for me, too.

I started BBSing with a 2400 modem, but I used a 1200 for a while, as well.

Jun 6, 2005 at 1:41 am

bleah. you latecomer.

My BBS was initially run on a MicroModem ][e – a slot-based 300baud modem running on a Franklin Ace. I had a decent amount of traffic, and I still even have the floppies from it.

The Labyrinth BBS – 215 area code – dont’ remember the number. Later became the Labyrinth II, running in a 609 areacode. If anyone finds ANY reference to this, I’d love to hear it :)

Jun 6, 2005 at 2:24 am

Google says the 609 number was 883-9352. And this appears to be an oblique reference to the original.

Jun 6, 2005 at 1:37 pm

What time period did you run these?
Neither of them appear to be registered in The BBS list or, which are the two main BBS sites I know of (the author of the documentary is the host of the first). If you’re looking for references, you could start by creating some. :)

Jun 6, 2005 at 1:40 pm

Yeah, this was why I was saying I wasn’t listed anywhere. I never really subscribed to the ‘big listings’ when the board was run… we had ac ommunity of 20-30 regular users (which was huge for a single-line 300baud BBS. You can only have the line busy so long :)

If anyone ever remembers The Labyrinth and the goofy stuff we had there, that’s fine, but I’m okay sinking down into the lost annals of history. Or whatever.

Jun 6, 2005 at 3:35 am

Duuude, QX-10! I fondly remember my brother and me playing a text donkey-kong clone on my hand-me-down QX-10. You were a little ‘p’, who had to jump the rolling ‘o’s and climb little stacks of ‘H’s to get to the top of the level.

Okay, that was my random nostalgia quota for the week.

Jun 6, 2005 at 4:17 am

oh god, I remember that game!

I also remember getting a version of loderunner for it.

Jun 6, 2005 at 3:43 am

oh god…the trouble I got myself into on the internet/BBSs when I was 12……..I’m pretty sure my parents secretly banned it throughout my high school years. (errr…banned it while giving other excuses.)

Jun 6, 2005 at 4:49 am

Hey there, Jason here.

Just to let you know, basically all the documentaries are going to be released in semi-edited form (boiled to question-answer) and so eventually your full documentary will get out there.

Amazing the slow turnaround on documentaries, though, huh? And yes, you provide comedy, but I wanted to ensure that you weren’t protrayed as a freak or weird or at your expense. I tried to do that for everyone.

And yeah, you got me when I was still learning my way around; by the third year of filming, I was like a surgeon.

What I remember most about our interview was how you and I shared 12 people in our social groups over time, and we ended up chatting a lot about that. :) Later, I learned to move that crap to e-mail post interview instead of blowing tape.

Jun 6, 2005 at 2:01 pm

good to hear from you! I was in the middle of writing you an email when I saw you’d responded to this thread. have you been lurking on my LJ for a while?

And yes, you provide comedy, but I wanted to ensure that you weren’t protrayed as a freak or weird or at your expense.

*laugh* I’m not upset. I think you used my soundbites well :) although I was a little dismayed that despite the fact that I had airtime, that I didn’t make it onto the list of interviewees at the end of the ‘SysOps and Users’ section..

seriously though, having only watched the first disc, I think that you did a bang-up job for a pet project. the DVD set itself has a good high quality production feel to it, and your editing was really good. I imagine documentaries can be hard to make them interesting and to keep a good flow and to string together the right clips to make a point. good job. as I said, I’m proud to have been a part of it.

Jun 6, 2005 at 7:03 pm

I wasn’t lurking. I have a script that yanks referrers of the day and lets me see who’s chatting about me, my projects, or otherwise linking to my sites. You did that today. :)

Sorry about the lack of credit! You can imagine what a nightmare the whole thing was, which is why I worked so hard to include that gallery, with better details and information. If you turn on the subtitles to the “credits” track, you’re credited there.

Thanks for the compliments. It was worth the years!

Jun 6, 2005 at 7:17 pm

I have a script that yanks referrers of the day and lets me see who’s chatting about me


Sorry about the lack of credit! You can imagine what a nightmare the whole thing was

no worries. I’m not too bent out of shape about it.. just wanted to see my name in lights ;) (pixels?)

Jun 6, 2005 at 4:51 am

Small thing… replace “documentaries” in most of that message with ‘interview’. Guess I’m more tired than I thought!

Jun 6, 2005 at 5:42 am

Ahhhh, good old bbs’s. hehe, my first home comp was an atari 130xe, but I’d actually gone and got a 1 meg ram disk/hd controler for it. So i was styling even at 300 baud :)Eventually had a (gasp) 20 meg HD hooked up to it….But I lived for the bbs’s, was on all the best pirate boards and absolutely LIVED for Tradewars…..many good memories. But I’ll take my broadband over that any day!

Jun 6, 2005 at 1:43 pm

hard disk? HARD DISK? how… how… ultramodern!

Lab was run on a Franklin Ace 1000 (an apple IIe clone). It had 4 (count ’em, 4) SS, SD drives on it (that’s single sided, single density). A whopping 140k per drive, meaning I had almost half a -meg- of disk storage. That was buttloads back then. The 4 drives stacked up and blinking away was very entertaining. For one user at a time :)

When I went to ROS for LabII (after a brief stint on an Amiga) I had a 10meg full height (does anyone actually USE full height drives anymore) drive on it that ran everything.

Not long after that I got AT&T Unix PC’s, and everything went downhill from there :) :)

Jun 6, 2005 at 2:03 pm

And I was most of that user.

John Ryan
Sep 10, 2009 at 8:06 am

Great share, Ted. Just a wee bit younger than you, then, as I started my BBS days with a Hayes 2400. I much preferred the handshake of those guys to the gritty 14.4k. I seem to remember it as a dramatic moment.. from ring to hoping that the handshake would complete (I need that download!).

Good times. :)