TBBS.ORG, a support site for current
users of TBBS software, created the following excellent history of TBBS,
which describes the whole of TBBS's story very adequately:
"TBBS (The Bread Board System) is a multiline DOS based software package
authored by Phil Becker, former CEO of US based company eSoft®.
TBBS started out as a single line Bulletin Board System (BBS) originally
running on early TRS-80 computers. It's advantage was that it could be fully
customised by the system operator, so that no two TBBS systems looked the
same - other BBS packages at the time had their menu structures hard coded.
As time progress, Phil completely re-wrote the TBBS program to
on IBM PC's running under DOS, and then proceeded to write a machine language
multitasker that allowed multiple callers to access the TBBS system at
the same time. Other BBS software packages could only achieve this by
either running their software on LAN systems, dedicating one complete
machine per modem, or under DOS multitasking software such as Quarterdeck's
Desqview. TBBS achieved multiple lines all on the one machine. For those
only wishing to run two lines, no additional hardware was needed - you
only used COM1 and COM2. For those wishing to run more lines, special
serial boards called Digiboards were used to allow up to 64 modems to
be hooked into the one machine. At it's height, TBBS could allow 64 users
at once (though it is rumoured that eSoft® did provide customised 96 line
version of their software to large companies like Microsoft®).
Add-On "Option Modules" were then released.
TDBS, a dBase3 emulator allowed multiline applications and games without
having to exit the TBBS environment via batchfiles (or dropfiles) making
it more stable than its competitors. TIMS was released to allow interaction
with Fidonet technology. QSO was released to allow users to use the popular
QWK message format for offline mail reading. SYSOM was released to give
the sysop real time control over user levels and menu flags without bringing
the TBBS system down. Interchange was released to allow the TBBS system
to grab outgoing modem lines to dial other services, networking multiple
BBS systems together. TIGER was released to allow users access to internet
email and newsgroups. All in all, TBBS and it's option modules were far
beyond the realms of what other BBS authors could dream of.
eSoft's next big step was the IPAD - The "Internet
Protocol Adapter" - a seperate hardware/software solution that, tied
to the TBBS machine allowed incoming telnet access to the TBBS system.
It also provided outgoing access for those TBBS callers on dial in lines
of the system to access the internet using the IPAD machine as a gateway.
Eventually, many IPAD owners became Internet Service Providers (ISP's)
as BBS usage on the whole began to wane, caused by the growing popularity
of the Internet.
The IPAD was extremely popular. It had one major drawback
- it was very expensive, and beyond the reach of most TBBS sysops who
had already spent thousands on their particular TBBS line count versions.
Eventually, and understandably, eSoft®
and TBBS went their separate ways as eSoft®
pursued the Internet market. Eventually all technical support for TBBS
and associated products were dropped and TBBS ended up in a "no-mans-land"."
Karl Eisenhower writes "TBBS: In the late 80s and early 90s I worked at a
small electronic publisher that initially relied on Compuserve for distribution of our news service. By about 1990 it became evident that a BBS was a more cost effective way to go. We purchased TBBS, because they seemed to be the best solution for very large numbers of phone lines (at the time, no one else could handle more than 16 lines on one box). The early 90s version of TBBS was commercial software (unlike the freeware you've got posted on your site) and was written in assembler. It was so efficient that with "intelligent" DigiBoards, we were able to serve 64 modems out of one 486 with very little RAM."
"By the mid-90s, TBBS seemed to have become the software of choice for
commercial applications such as ours. For example, I remember that the
Hayes Modem tech support BBS ran TBBS software."
"The company that created TBBS still exists. They're now selling Web server
Casey Sprangel gives further information about IPAD, including the IPAD owners
association (www.ipadowners.org) which
includes an official history of the IPAD (http://www.ipadowners.org/public/FAQS/IPADhistory.shtml) nad an interview with Phil Becker about
the IPAD (http://www.ipadowners.org/public/FAQS/PhilHistory.shtml).