Back to the Future!

Marc Hedlund has a great post up talking about how many Internet startups are just rehashes of old UNIX commands. Marc’s absolutely right; in fact he’s just given away my secret to success! Damn you Marc Hedlund, damn you to hell! 🙂
Ahem. Anyways, ONElist was LISTSERV reincarnated, and Bloglines was rn re-imagined. And while Marc was kind enough to point to my latest venture, Startupping, he doesn’t draw the obvious parallel with that service. As a web forum/wiki/blog site dedicated to Internet entrepreneurs, Startupping is, like numerous other web forums, the modern day equivalent of a BBS. Which means that I’ve come full circle in my computing career.
From the first day I played with a computer, I knew it was my future. Back in 1982, when I was in seventh grade, my parents bought me an original IBM PC. My friend down the street had had an Apple IIe for about six months before that, and I had taken some summer school classes to learn BASIC programming. But when I got my PC, it was over. I spent countless hours every day on that machine, through junior High and High School, coding up all sorts of BASIC programs and games. Soon after they got me the PC, they got me a modem, a Racal Vadic 1200 Baud modem (it could only talk to other, non-Racal Vadic modems at 300 Baud, however). It was this massive, flattened brick. With that, the new world of computer bulletin boards opened up to me, and I was hooked. My parents were never pleased with the phone bills I’d ring up calling boards in Walnut Creek and other, non-local places. But, like any addict, I couldn’t help myself.
Soon after, I decided it’d be even more fun to run a BBS. So, I wrote one, in BASIC (I think I later compiled it using Microsoft’s first BASIC compiler for the PC). I don’t remember the name of the BBS, and I can’t find any traces of it at the excellent TextFiles site. The heart of the BBS was the message board. The other aspect of the BBS was the chat with the SYSOP feature. I didn’t have a hard drive, so I didn’t really have any space to store downloads. I watched and tweaked that board all the time, trying to build my own little community. I didn’t run the board for very long, so it didn’t become very popular. But it was great training for my later, community-based efforts. (For years after I stopped running the board, the phone line I had used would get calls at random times from computers.)
So now, 24 years later, I find myself running a BBS again. I’ve gone full circle. But at least now I don’t get woken up in the middle of the night to the sound of a modem screech.



  1. Always happy to help. 🙂
    The BBS analogy is great, too.