History of the Digicom BBS
Digicom first started offering online services in 1983 when the Digicom BBS first went online.
Always on the cutting edge.
While the Digicom BBS was never the biggest, we were always looking for innovating new things to do online that others had never done.
During the early days of online computing, things like graphics were cutting edge. As we helped bring graphics online, we did things others hadn't dreamed of. We helped beta-test CompuServe's new graphic standard called .GIF (pronounced like Jiff peanut butter). We brought radar images to weather fans, that otherwise had to wait for the news to come on. But we were most proud of bringing the Missing Children Network photos to our users and helped give family members a new way to get their missing loved one's information out there.
Online gaming became a big part of the fun, where users could login and play other users head-to-head. Tradewars, Star Trek, Zork, and other popular games kept users coming back for more. When Digicom started a section where adults could chat online, we were able to match up Paul & Cathy who got married. 25-years later, they reached out to us to celebrate their anniversary!
Experiencing a dramatic change in online graphics.
In the early days online, there were no graphics abilities like you know now. This made people be creative with making art from just the keyboard letters/symbols available to them. With a little imagination, there were some really good images.
In 1986, a new system called ANSI brought the ability for people to create 16 color displays. While it was still created like Ascii art was, the new symbol and color options, allowing for some interesting displays on BBS's.
In 1987, CompuServe's Steve Wilhite finished his creation of GIF graphics format. GIF dramatically changed the online graphics world for decades to come.
Satellite Brought BBS's To The Next Level
As we always were looking for a new cutting edge way to bring entertainment online, our partnership with Planet Connect connected us to a new world via satellite. Satellite Internet seems normal now, but in 1990s, it was mind-blowing to be able to get programs and photos from space. Our user counts skyrocketed with the new technology, forcing us to quadruple the capacity of users we could handle at once.
As people went online for the first time, so did the cybercriminals. Even in the '90s, our founder was working with law enforcement on cybercrime and helping better protect computer systems.
The Best Part of Being Online
While it's now commonplace to meet people online, it was a new world in the 1980s-1990s. For BBS's across the planet, it formed small communities of new friends that met through their local BBS. Just like the couple that got married after meeting through the Digicom BBS, a new age of how to meet was beginning. The friends we made through running the BBS are still active friends in our life, long after the BBS days had passed. Not all BBS's were meant to draw in people around the world like the Digicom BBS did. Photography clubs, weather enthusiasts, and hobbyists of all kinds would set up a BBS as a way to bring their new friends together. It truly was the digital wagon train bringing people into a new place to explore.
Sidenote from Gary:
I want to take a moment to thank three amazing people that helped make BBS'ing fun and have been friends for life. First, my teacher, Keith Bobbitt. He inspired me to start writing the Digicom BBS software in 7th grade and was a very good friend to me through my adult life until his passing a few years ago. (He also was the SysOp of the West Terrace BBS.) Then David Ramsden, the friend who could make floppy drives play music, creator of so many things including his own graphic system, and now an amazing businessman who leads a truly inspiring life. Then finally, Norman Morgan, Sysop of the Eagle's Nest BBS, pilot, programmer, and just an all-around inspiring guy. I still have the pleasure of eating lunch with him from time to time and enjoy every minute. THANK YOU for inspiring me to always look for new ways to make the world better.
The sounds of a dial-up modem connecting, like the US Robotics Courier modems that powered the Digicom BBS.
Visit the Digicom BBS
While it isn't exactly what the Digicom BBS was back in the day, our Digicom BBS telnet site is a great way to see what being online was like almost 40 years ago. We've even brought back 190 of the popular games that people enjoyed so much, including Zork & Tradewars!
While we have tested it on a mobile phone and it does work, it is challenging, since the vintage BBS software only accepts keyboard commands to operate. We highly recommend trying it out from a computer or a tablet with the keyboard turned on.
For more advanced users, you can visit the BBS via Telnet and go to bbs.digicombbs.com:2323