Meade ETX 90 picture

Bulletin Board System

picture of the login screen for the DeepSkies BBSBack in the 1980's, I used to have a Commodore VIC-20 home computer. It was pretty common in the 80's for teens my age to have a Commodore. One use for these computers was to attach a modem to them and put up a Bulletin Board System (BBS), which I did! A BBS is like what people refer to as forums on the Internet. The difference is for a BBS with one phone line, the relationship between user and server is 1:1 - one user can be on the BBS at a time. Some bigger systems had muti-lines, but the vast majority of “hobby” BBS's had just one line.

Fast forward 30+ years and those old Commodore BBS's are still around! Instead of phone lines, however, they are now using the Internet (via the telnet protocol) as their means of connection. I have a BBS running right now in a Commodore emulator called VICE (which is hosted on a server) that is running Color 64 BBS v7.37. I also own a Commodore 64 and my plan is to move the BBS into my house and run it on my C64 - just like back in the 80's!

My BBS is located at the address:

To connect to a Commodore BBS, you need a terminal program that understands PETSCII, which is the Commodore version of ASCII. Although the two are similar, they are not compatible above basic letters and punctuation. A common terminal program is CGTerm which is available for Windows, Mac and Linux. Another method that is closer to the “Commodore” experience is to run VICE and use a terminal program inside the C64 emulator such as CCGMS. Or run the VIC-20 emulator and use VICTerm.

The ultimate way to connect is using a real Commodore computer and either a userport adapter that lets you connect via another computer (ie: a Linux server running tcpser) or using a wireless WiFi modem such as a Strikelink modem. My preference is to use either my VIC-20 or my Commodore 64 to call BBS's.

A really good source of BBS listings is the Commodore BBS Outpost which currently lists 99 Commodore BBS's online! Here are a list of bulletin boards that I call regularly:

ADDRESS PORT 6403 6400 6400 1701 64128 6400 6400 6400 6400 64128 6400 6400

Overall, I find calling the boards is much more relaxing that using traditional social media websites. There's no bots, no scammers, no fake news. It's just a bunch of people who fondly remember the 80's chatting online about the good old days, and sharing software and information. Kind of what the Internet was meant to be in the first place, don't you think?