Random Retro – The Wrong Number

For my first Random Retro topic i am writing about the Commodore 64. The C64 was and still is the number one selling computer of all time. It was my second computer, in which the first was made by the same company called the VIC-20. The VIC-20 was Commodores second computer as it followed the PET.

CCGMS Ultimate

Here is the home screen of CCGMS Ultimate, the terminal program used to log into BBS’s

OK, so this one is not so random. As I was coming up with the idea for writing blog post like this, I was already thinking where I would share my blog. I was think of various social media groups, dedicated online forums for the different platforms I was planning to talk about. Then I remembered BBS’s. I used BBS’s way back in the day, not with my C64 as I was to young, but with my first PC. For those of you that have know idea what I’m talking about, a BBS stood for Bulletin Board System. Before the internet was common in most peoples homes, be dialed into local BBS’s by phone, and would greeted with a text based interface. These systems would have email for communications to anyone else who used that BBS. It would also include things like a message board system, similar to the forums we have today. File sharing was also a big part of BBS’s, as software might not be available in any old store, and with no internet can’t just buy software online. BBS’s also hosted online games! But how you ask? These would be text based games like Zork, but these games would have the ability to play in a world with other people you also log into that board.

Anyways… with a little bit a research, and with sites like the C64 BBS Outpost, I found out that people were still running boards for the C64. So decided to jump in a experience it all of again. In the following I’m going to explain my experience with one of the boards I discovered called “The Wrong Number”. This is not going to be a tutorial on how to set your software, but there is a great YouTube Video that I used if you also want to jump right. Also the C64 BBS Outpost runs a list of active boards you can check out.

The Wrong Number

One of the first title screens you see once you log in

Once getting vice configure properly and the server software that turns your host PC into a modem, your greeted with a nice looking ANSI graphics title page. Before logging in the board asks if you what to see if you have any mail. This is useful if all you wanted to do is see if you have any mail, and did not necessarily want to login. This time I did have mail as this was not the first time logging into this board. I had mail from the Sysop welcoming to the board. Once you logged in the next screen is a list of the last five callers, followed by a random one-liner quote. The next screen is your personal stats. The total amount of calls you made, the number of post, etc. After the stats screen, you a presented with a pre-menu menu. Here as some short one-time dialing things you can do. In this example you have:

  • Auto message (not sure what that is)
  • Bar Graph
  • You Stats
  • Credit Pool
  • Netwall (a little graffiti wall you can post to)
  • Lottery (spend your credits on a little lottery game, credits are earn when you post things, and I think can be used to more time)
  • Graffiti Wall (similar to the NetWall)
  • Pick-A-Letter (just like the Lottery, but with letters)
  • Jerk Award (nominate the board jerk?)
  • Anagrams
Here is the main menu of the BBS

Finally your in the main menu. Now I will not go through everything you can do from here, but this board as a message board covering topics from Commodore and other platforms, gaming and other special interests. You can see the screen shot of the main menu and I will leave a short little video so you can see it in action.