This project is about re-creating the experience of telephone/modem based BBSs and BBS networks such as FidoNet, Z-Netz and UUCP/UseNet. It is hence a retro-computing project, but the focus is not necessarily to run the exact same software on the exact same operating systems and hardware that was used back then.
Rather, the focus is on recreating the experience, and showcasing as well as explaining the technologies. We are not afraid to mix it with modern technology.The project will
- collect software and hardware used for circuit-switched telecommunication, including
- Modems, ISDN-TAs, RAS servers, (this has meanwhile moved in the more general retronetworking project
- BBS Software, Terminal Programs, etc.
- build a physical setup of telephone network, modems, BBSs, points, ... that can be demonstrated at events such as vintage-computing festivals or CCC congresses (see Dialup_Network_In_A_Box)
- document the items of our collection as well as the physical setup on-line so people can read up about and explore related technology
- as far as possible, run permanent installations of some of the technologies involved, either using modems over SIP/G.711 or telnet based access
We want to cover analog modems and ISDN on the hardware side, as well as all major network technologies on the software side, such as FTN, ZConnect and UUCP
How to contact us¶
We now have a public mailing list for discussion among interested parties.
Don't be surprised by the lack of traffic on the ML, almost all communication happens on the IRC channel
This project started around the 34th annual CCC congress, where LaF0rge (osmocom.org project founder) gave a talk about BBSs and early internet access in the 1990ies, a recording of which can be found at https://media.ccc.de/v/34c3-9034-bbss_and_early_internet_access_in_the_1990ies
Unfortunately not all too much had happened in the following 18 months or so, but at least a growing collection of related POTS + ISDN hardware had been put together. In October 2019 the first modem connections over the PBX were made, as well as a SynchroNET BBS installation put together.
In December 2019, at the 36th annual CCC congress 36C3, the full retronetworking setup was in operation for four days. Visitors could step by in the retronetworking village, and use the provided Modems, ISDN-TA and/or vintage laptops in order to dial into both local and remote BBSs or create dial-up internet connections.
The plan was to run the setup again at a variety of 2020 events, incluing Easterhegg and VCFB. However, the COVID-19 pandemic rendered all those plans obsolete.
Present / Future¶
In 2022, we have operated the event setup at VCFB_2022. We plan to exhibit it at many other retrocomputing events.
Some topics warrant a separate sub-project with its own wiki / issues / ...:
|fidonet||Anything around the FIDO BBS network|
|linmodem||The open source softmodem created by Fabrice Bellard|
|uucp-and-usenet||Mail + News using UUCP|
|z-netz||Store-and-forward BBS technology around Zerberus + ZConnect|
- Modems for analog telepone lines
- Acer AME-TG01
- AMR Modem Riser
- Creative ModemBLASTER External V92
- Creatix LC 144 VF
- Ericsson Modem ZAT 144144-7
- Ericsson ZAT 144144-7
- Haeussler H-288e
- Siemens DAG 64
- Software Modems
- Trust Communicator 28K8
- US Robotics
- Zyxel Omni 56k
- Zyxel U-1496EG
- Network Equipment
- Test Equipment