Michael Friedman writes "I am Michael Friedman, the author of the RATS BBS system which is listed on
your site, along with the Greene Machine which was based on my original work.
I don't know if I was more amazed that you collected all of this info, or
that you managed to find references to my ancient TRS-80 program. I wish I
had known earlier that you were collecting this stuff, but in any case I
figured I would throw in my 2 bytes worth.
"RATS is short for the Radio Amateur Telecommunications Society which was
formed by myself and James Gordon Beattie, Jr., sometime around 1978, though
the exact year alludes me. Our goal at the time was to find a way to
combine our TRS-80 computers with our Ham Radio stations. At the time the
only other groups trying to do this were in Vancouver Canada and Tucson, AZ.
(We were in New Jersey.) The BBS system was to be our way to focus our
ideas in one central location. It was to start out over phone lines and
later work over the radio, though this version never got that far. The RATS
BBS had one feature which was, to my knowledge, unique amongst its peers.
That was the "Discussion Groups" section where people could add their
comments to a running thread on a particular subject. I suspect that Usenet
might have already existed in some form at that time, but I was completely
unaware of it. (and most other things, come to think of it)
"Somehow the word got around and the system was being called from all over
the country. I began to give away copies to anyone who sent in a blank
floppy and return envelope. I gave away hundreds of them to people all over
the world. Unfortunately, I didn't keep any real records at the time. Eric
Greene was one of the people who received an early copy, and he did a
fantastic job updating it with file transfers, keyboard shortcuts and who
knows what else. As I did, Eric gave the program away. From 1983 to 1986 I
worked on the "Valdocs" program for the Epson QX-10, which was perhaps the
greatest (and last) CP/M and Z-80 based machine. Naturally, I was in charge
of modem drivers and the electronic mail system.
"I moved away from the RATS organization and Telcom in general after getting
quite disillusioned over what became known as Packet Radio. In fact, I was
so fed up with BBS's and such that I ended up being a late comer to the
Internet. I just couldn't be bothered - been there, done that, etc. I've
since recovered. For the past 25 years or so I've continued to work as a
professional programmer, mostly in the process control and instrumentation
area. I operate a company, Small Systems Specialists, which designs and
manufactures automotive computers for road rally cars. (www.rally.cc) I
have had the privilege of writing the code (mostly in Z80 assembler!) for
the first handheld GPS Moving Map system for airplanes back in 1991ish.
More recently I have been involved in machine vision for the real time
control of printing presses. I guess magazines and newspapers are
communications too, so I'm really still at the same old stuff in disguise."