Before the internet as we know it today there was AOL and before AOL there was the BBS, Bulletin Board Systems. I remember connecting to BBSes because my older brother Max used to use them all the time. He showed me how to setup my computer with a dial-up modem (I think 9600 BAUD!) so that I could connect to all of these BBSes all over the world. We used programs like Procomm Plus which saved lists of BBSes with their phone numbers to dial and the user names and passwords (each one had its own account!). You could then set it up to automatically dial, connect and download files at off hours to save on long distance charges. How sad was that? LOL. We loved it though!
Eventually we started using things like CompuServ, Prodigy and then AOL. When Spry Mosaic and Netscape Navigator came long it ushered in the visual web we all know and love today. BBSes played a major role in the evolution of the world wide web but it doesn’t get enough love or credit. These online communities were built by passionate people who wanted to help others connect and communicate. Sometimes it would only be 2 or 3 at a time because they were using physical phone lines and modems! Now we have the ability to connect with tons of people at any time.
Here’s a documentary about BBSes called BBS: The Documentary. It’s almost 5 hours long so you’ll have to watch it in several viewings. I saved all 8 parts to a playlist.