Randy Suess, the bulletin board system died at 74. Thanks to forerunner of online forum service like Suess today we can enjoy services that are essential for us.
Chicago, IL (Merxwire) – If you used to be a bulletin board user, it would be a sad month. The creator of the online bulletin board system died on December 10 at the age of 74. During that period of slow internet speeds and low computer performance, BBS allowed people to practice the possibility of online discussions and was a forerunner of social media services like Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.
A Bulletin Board System is a computer server running software that allows users to connect to the system using a terminal program. Once logged in, the user can perform functions such as uploading and downloading software and data, reading news and bulletins, and exchanging messages with other users through public message boards and sometimes via direct chatting. In the early 1980s, message networks such as FidoNet sprung up to provide services such as NetMail, which is similar to email.
Randy John Suess was the co-founder of the CBBS bulletin board, the first bulletin board system (BBS) ever brought online. Suess and partner Ward Christensen started development in Chicago, Illinois, and officially established CBBS on February 16, 1978. Since most early BBSes were run by computer hobbyists, they were typically technical in topic, with user communities revolving around hardware and software discussions.
Most early BBSes operated as individual systems. Information contained on that BBS never left the system, and users would only interact with the information and user community on that BBS alone. InfoWorld estimated that there were 60,000 BBSes serving 17 million users in the United States alone in 1994.
In the 1990s, Taiwan was committed to promoting the Internet, and universities actively promoted BBS. BBS at Taiwan University, Sun Yat-sen University, and Tamkang University became the most popular university platform in the country. Since 2000, with the popularity of WWW and the increase of network bandwidth, Telnet BBS has begun to decline, and the number of users has rapidly decreased. In Taiwan, there is only one leading PTT station left, but its reputation and number of users are very conscientious, and the number of people online often reaches 100,000 up users. It gathers almost all local users, it becomes an important social forum, and even in politics, business, and entertainment, it attaches great importance to word of mouth on PTT.
You can watch more introduction to BBS on Youtube: The BBS Documentary, a mini-series by Jason Scott.