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The Sorcerer's Quarters BBS

Welcome to my tribute page for my BBS, and to an extent that BBS scene.

I was a relative late-comer to the BBS scene, all things considered. I had toyed with one or two during the 80's (I recall The Magician's Fortress, a C-64 based board, in particular), though I didn't really get into the BBS community until probably around 1990. At that point I became addicted, and got myself a 2400 baud modem.

On February 10, 1991, I started my BBS for the first time using the WWIV software. For about the first week or two, it was called "The Crypt". As was often the case with BBS newbies, BBS names and personal handles tended to be uncreative or cheezy. I quickly realized this, and renamed the board to something more interesting. To do so, I called on memories of other things that were meaningful to me. In this case, I remembered part of the presentation in the haunted house I used to run every Halloween, and took the name from that. A friend of mine, thinking on his feet, named part of the display "the sorcerer's quarters", which I suspect might have been influenced by part of a computer game called Castle Adventure that we had been playing. Hence forth, the board was known as The Sorcerer's Quarters BBS. (As a side note, it's a shame I didn't get more creative with my "handle". I stuck with "Necromancer", I think the whole time. I was only one of several Necromancers in the area, probably).

Initially, the board could only run for a few hours at a time, since it was using the only phone line in the house, and was also using my only computer, which is the 286 pictured to the right. It may have briefly used the amber monitor pictured here at one time, but at the beginning, running on my only computer, it was equipped with full-color VGA.

Before too long, the BBS had it's own phone line and it's own computer, which was another 286. Soon after, it was migrated back to the hardware pictured here, where it remained (facilitated by an upgrade of my desktop to a 486). The BBS always benefitted from the hand-me-down parts from the upgrades of my desktop machine, and had no other budget to speak of, so it was never well-outfitted, just simply "average".

My board never became immensely popular. While most of the local systems seemed to be 80-90% busy, mine was 80% idle (daily average, I think). However, I didn't really mind this. It had a small close-knit group of regulars, who found it as a safe haven from a lot of the nonsense, drama, and politics common on other boards. And since the line was mostly open, it was easy to get in when your other haunts were tied up.

Somewhere along the way, I had the idea to create something similar to the UseNet Oracle, and run it on my BBS. Because my BBS participated in multiple networks, including the large WWIVnet, the Oracle was accessible all around the country. Feel free to take a look at the WWIVnet Oracle Archive.

The BBS ran for 4 years, administrated remotely more often than not while I was in college. Finally, on Feb 10, 1995 (it's fourth birthday), I powered down the system for the last time. Later in the year, I discovered the web, and the rest is history. I had used my internet access in school since '91, but not the graphical web until '95.

Running a BBS was a wonderful learning experience for me. Not only was it a good social outlet, but also an opportunity to learn to be a community leader, to be a responsible system administrator, and to perform remote management and code modification. I learned a lot about people and about programming during this time.

The decision to turn it off did not come lightly. Those who were never a part of the BBS scene can never fully comprehend what it meant to those of us who were there. When I speak to other former Sysop's, I'm never truly surprised when they nearly get a tear in their eye when they mention the fateful day that their board went down for good. It's an era that is gone, and one that we will miss dearly, as we look on towards the future.

For more information on the history of the BBS world and the communities it spawned, there is a wonderful DVD Documentary available.

286 Computer

NOTE: PLEASE do not call any of the phone numbers shown below. They do not work. These BBSs have been down for years. Other people probably have these numbers by now. I've moved several times since and don't live in those area codes anymore. Please don't annoy some poor stranger.

This was an ANSI advertisement for two BBS's, one of which was mine, of course. In this case, we were attempting to cash in on the popularity of the Trade Wars 2002 game, which both boards offered. Hence, the ship drawn in the TW2002 style.

I think the "Net" in ArmageddonNet was supposed to blink. It came out black for this screenshot.

This was an advertisement my board had used when it was reconfiguring with it's new name and switching to a new phone line so that it could run 24/7. Later, the banner was modified to be used as the welcome message upon connecting to the BBS. Eventually the text had been improved with shadows and more color, but I have not been able to locate any surviving copies.
I don't think this advertisement ANSI got used much, but it probably got posted on a few local boards. Remarkably, this isn't a great example of what could be done with ANSI art, but it appealed to my pixel-drawing techniques that I used in game-making.
A simple text-ad for the BBS. Sometimes simple was better, and too much artwork was distracting or slow to appear on the screen. Sometimes it was better not to annoy your audience. I tried to advertise some of my creative endeavors in this one, though it was meaningless to just about everyone else. Live and learn. :)
Another simple advertisement for the BBS. Most of these surviving ANSIs show stats of "57 Megs" and "2400 baud". This dates it a bit, back when those numbers were fairly average. I never had any budget to work with at all, so upgrades were merely hand-me-downs from my desktop machine. 100 MB disks were just becoming available at the time, I think. When the board was finally switched off, I think it had been upgraded to 14.4k baud and 120 MB storage.

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