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A 13-year-old on a BBS

Written by Justin on December 30, 2012


My daughter found my journal. We just sat at laughed at many pages; one of my favourites is this entry I wrote when I was 13 (1994):

Hello! Life is good! I have be the co-systems operator at Alberta Future BBS for nearly 3 months. I do mostly artwork as well as some other tasks. With my help the BBS has jumped from 35 users to 236 (in 3 months!). It is largely because of my graphics and all the advertising I do for it.

Absolute Future BBS was based in Edmonton¬†and was run by Shawn Logan. It was also one of the first local boards to use a GUI (Roboboard/FX). Bulletin board systems (BBS) were really the precursor to the web the way we know it today: a hobbyist (the “SysOp”) would run BBS software on their home computer, and allow outsiders to connect via a phone line and modem. Popular boards would have multiple phone lines so more than one user could connect at a time. Once on the board you could use message boards, play games, and download files (known as “warez”).

As a teenaged geek who loved computers, being asked to be a co-SysOp was a big deal. I remember working really hard to advertise our re-launch: I posted on usenet groups, on FutureNet, invited people personally on message boards, and did ANSI and Roboboard artwork for other BBSes in exchange for advertising.

I was probably a little high on myself (exemplified by my last sentence above), but I do remember feeling proud when we jumped from 35 users to 236 in our first quarter. A 574% increase! Did that make me a 13-year-old BBS growth hacker? ;)