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Back in the BBS days: how-to helps newbs navigate to a pre-internet playground

Joseph Volpe, @jrvolpe
August 21, 2012
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The web has an origin story, one that predates any cozy trip in the wayback machine. That's because where we're going, there is no internet -- at least, not as you now know it -- only Bulletin Board Systems. And to help guide curious digital natives on this journey back to the time tech forgot, a programmer by the handle of Proppelerpowered has whipped up a how-to that leverages nothing more than a microcontroller-based microcomputer and BASIC knowledge. The brief step-by-step, listed over on Instructables, requires intrepid geeks to build a Pocket Mini computer, which purportedly takes only "an evening," after which they'll have to tinker with some low-level coding to complete the connection setup, hitch a ride online via PC and then link up with any number of active BBSs around the world. For the purposes of this beginner guide, you'll have instructions for access to a Canada-based Commodore 64 clearly laid out. But the more adept are encouraged to swap out the standard setup for an ANSI terminal and wade into serious retro-gaming waters (Trade Wars, anyone?). Hit up the source below to peek the blow-by-blow and see if this hack's made for you.

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