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---=== BULLETIN BOARD SYSTEM ===---
Before the Internet was available to all, a
number of technically minded people across the globe were busy connecting
to each other via bulletin board systems (BBS's). These software
packages allowed users to connect to your computer by dialling up
your phone number with their modem. Users of BBS's could access
files, read and write messages that were distributed world-wide
by early mail networks such as FidoNet,
and play games.
I discovered this world back in 1991 when I
found an old 1200 baud modem kicking around and connected it to
my Amiga. At the blistering rate of 120 bytes per second I soon
discovered choice delights such as Six and Five Eight's, Rabbit
BBS, 01 for Amiga, and many more.
After a while I wanted to run my own so I devised
a home grown system written using the scripting language of a terminal
program called NComm. This worked but it couldn't compete with a
dedicated software package. I ran TransAmiga for a while, slowly
upgrading my modem to the dizzy heights of 14400 baud.
At some point in 1992 I realised that I wanted
an even more flexible system that could cope with all the ideas
and features I wanted to provide to BBS users. None of the available
packages could do what I wanted so I started to write my own. It
was to be called Pipeline.
After some months, where development was halted
due to other projects, I hooked up with Nick Loman, another Amiga
BBS user based just down the road in Brighton, and we decided to
combine our programming talents to get Pipeline written.
Work began in earnest in the early months of
1993. Nick took over development of the file and message sections
while I focussed on the underlying technology.
Towards the end of 1993, after we had changed
from Pipeline to Zeus, Nick put the code live on his machine. The
enigmatically named 'fon..72' received few calls, which was a relief
due to the lack of features and amount of bugs in the code, but
it did provide us with a good testing facility.
During 1994 we launched our beta testing phase
to little interest. Despite sending out the still fledgeling code
to various people, they weren't commited enough to put it online.
We solved this problem by charging £50 to join the beta test
program. Suddenly people wanted to get their money's worth and we
slowly assembled our crack team of enthusiastic testers.
Meanwhile my system had gone live. The, also
enigmatically named 'spa..58'. The spa/fon names came from a Furry
Freak Brothers comic - in one frame there are two blobs talking
to each other. One says 'spa!', the other replies 'fon!'. Mystery
By the middle of 1995 we had users running
Zeus all round the world.
Finally, in 1996, after three years of solid
development, we released version 1.0 at the World of Amiga show
held at the Novotel Exhibition Centre in 1996. For two days, standing
alongside the big names in the Amiga industry, we demonstrated the
system at our stand to an unsuspecting crowd.
Zeus also featured on the cover mounted CD
of Amiga Magazine's April 1996 issue.
The one and only review of Zeus, featured in
an Amiga magazine I can no longer remember the name of, netted it
an overall score of 85%.
But the salad days were soon to be over. The
Internet had started to appear and, despite our best efforts to
integrate Zeus with this newly available technology, it was obvious
to us that bulletin board systems had reached the end of their days.
We sold the source code and all rights to a
consortium of developers who wished to carry on the project in April
1999. You can find the official site here.
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