To those from South FL, where Galacticomm was KING! (Memories of an older man...)

The place to talk about the iconic BBS era
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ASEMechanic
Posts: 4
Joined: Thu Oct 08, 2020 4:15 pm

To those from South FL, where Galacticomm was KING! (Memories of an older man...)

Post by ASEMechanic »

Hey all!

First off, let me say that I'm glad to see that stuff like this is still being supported, and even being actively developed. Kudos to all those behind the scenes.You guys (and gals) are AWESOME! Now, moving onward...

One thing I have been accused of is being overly nostalgic. My wife gives me that "here we go again" look whenever I get a little wistful about my younger days, especially in regards to anything related to computers or music. But you know what? I own that because I grew up in a time like no other. You see, I was born in 1968. I grew up in a time before video games, the internet, social media, and even the pocket calculator. The Eagles, AC/DC, Rush, Boston, Steve Miller, Led Zeppelin, and SOOO many others were household names in North Miami. It was a great time to be alive.

Starting Jr. High in 1980, I remember our school being one of a handful to get their hands on 10 Apple ][+ computers in order to start introducing Computer Sciences to the school system. These were not those rare Bell & Howell "black" versions, either. These were honest to goodness Apples. There was even on older Apple ][ (Int Basic) in the mix that they got on discount. Well, for the next 3 years, I learned everything I could about programming... Basic, Assembly, Pascal, and even working on an Intel 8088 adapter card. This was a version of heaven for me, and to be honest was probably some of the happiest memories of my childhood.

As things go, you leave school (Class of 1986, y'all!) and go through life trying to find your way. Initially, computers wasn't part of my future. Turning wrenches was. You do what you have to do. I didn't touch another computer until 1991 when I was able to purchase an old Apple //e from a friend. It had 128K, 2 5.25" Floppys, an amber monitor, and an internal Zoom modem that worked at 110/300 baud. I was in heaven. Thank God I saved all my old floppies from school.

It had been years since I had been on a computer and, honestly, I had never used a modem before. I had no phone numbers for BBS's, and in fact couldn't even remember the term BBS. I called local computer stores asking about "Local Networks", much to their confusion and mine. Eventually, I talked to a very nice person who was able to figure out what it was I was looking for and gave me a number to "The Isles of Shae" BBS. Damn! I'm in business!

Once I got signed up and logged in, I quickly learned about the "credits" system used by all the BBS's in the area. Faster than you can say "976-Date" (which is funny because the credits were purchased using a "976" number), I had purchased credits and was online!

Information overload doesn't even begin to cover it. Chat rooms, games, and downloads... GOBS and GOBS of downloads... All available at my fingertips. Now, I did mention that I was running at 300 baud, right? Much to my disappointment, not only was there not much for the Apple folks (especially, the Apple ][ or //e), but I didn't have the download speed to make it even feasible. But, that was ok. I was meeting people... LOCAL people... and have meaningful and thought provoking conversations with my new found friends. (BTW - Anyone remember "/ponder"?)

Shortly afterwards, I became the owner of my first IBM PC. It was a 286/12 with a color monitor and a 2400 baud modem, so that I could at least keep up with what was going on in the main chat room. A whole new world opened up. Downloads were possible and even useful. QModem and PCPlus were new and exciting. Downloadable games by the thousands. Learning A:\ and C:\ (something completely foreign to an Apple user). These were all new and exciting, and I had plenty of people who were patient and walked me through the transition to IBM. Honestly, I've never looked back from there, although I do still have my Apple //e which I dig out from time to time just to see if it works. It does.

Getting back to the BBS, it wasn't long before I found out that many of the folks on "Isles of Shae" were also on "High Society". I quickly joined on there, adding more stress to my already overloaded phone bill. (Damn you, 976!) Many of the same folks were there, along with a few new ones, but HS definitely had a more refined crowd. Where Shae had many younger folks in the 15-30 year range, HS was more in the 25-40 year range. Conversations were very different between the two, although being a mature 23 year old I was able to fit pretty well in both groups. I eventually hung around Shae more than I did HS, but many GT's with both the Shae and HS groups introduced me to many folks that I became good friends with. Sadly, time marches on and I'd eventually lost touch with everyone from those days to the point that I can't even remember most of them anymore.

I became pretty good friends with the SYSOP at Shae (Scott Brinker) along with some of the other admins, even to the point where I was able to get unlimited credits on Shae through a series of favors I did for the BBS. You see, Shae was a BBS based in Ft. Lauderdale and as such, anyone from Miami calling to Ft. Lauderdale had to not only pay credits, but also Long Distance charges. However, since I lived in North Miami (Ives Dairy Rd.), I was able to add a package to my phone line where I had unlimited calling up to as far as Pompano for $10.00 a month or something like that. Well, Scott found out about that he got really interested. We ended up devising a way to game the phone company. By installing two additional phone lines at my house and billed to Scott, setting them up with the Unlimited Long Distance plan, and then setting them up with Auto-Forwarding to the BBS lines in Ft. Lauderdale, people were able to call the Miami number and get forwarded directly to the BBS lines at no charge. As far as I know, those lines stayed in service as long as the BBS was still up, even after I moved away in 1995.

There's no question in my mind that the BBS era was an amazing time. It was social networking on a MUCH smaller and more intimate scale. Not like the clusterf*** that the social media of today has become. You knew the people involved. You could meet them and hang out with them. Meeting people like Tim Stryker (RIP), Scott Brinker, Yannick Tessier... People on the ground floor of the BBS industry... was really cool and will always be a bright spot of my younger years. Not to mention, some of those parties were completely unhinged!! (Naked hot tub comes to mind!)

It's scary to think that this is coming up on 35 years ago and it's almost painful realizing how much the industry has changed. So many of the companies involved have long since been sold, disolved, or just simply had the power switch turned off one day and disappearing quietly into history. The BBS's we frequented so many years ago are now just a distant memory. Even worse is the thought that quite a few of the people we knew are no longer with us, and to those who have gone before us, I would say may you rest peacefully. While your names and handles may have been lost to the digital sands of time, it was really great to have known you then. It really was a great time in history.

For what it's worth, I would love to get my hands on the main servers of HS or Shae, just to be able to go through the member list and reminisce. But that's not likely to happen, and that makes me just a little bit sadder and lonely.

With the internet the way it is, the BBS will never again be what it was in that oh, so glorious time. But it was there, it was real, and it was an amazing part of computer history.

Anyway. Here's to being a nostalgic. A badge of honor, in my opinion.

God bless you all!

PS - Just a few local references, for those who remember!

* Pembroke Lanes in Hollywood (Home of Friday night GT's)
* LUMS in Davie (After the GT's)
* Grandstands Sports Bar in Pompano (After the LUMS)
* Cathy's house, passed out on the floor! (After Grandstands)

PPS - Please excuse any typos. Kinda hard to proofread with my eyes leaking from time to time.
ASEMechanic

Was frequently on:
- High Society BSS
- Isles of Shae (Moonshae Isles) BBS

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Milton
Posts: 23
Joined: Tue Aug 18, 2020 1:30 am
Location: USA

Re: To those from South FL, where Galacticomm was KING! (Memories of an older man...)

Post by Milton »

I do not remember "Isles of Shae"
But "High Society" was a great.
Use to live in Davie around that LUMs, a lot parties where held there including an annual Ham Radio Party.

Glad to have you back...

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ASEMechanic
Posts: 4
Joined: Thu Oct 08, 2020 4:15 pm

Re: To those from South FL, where Galacticomm was KING! (Memories of an older man...)

Post by ASEMechanic »

Thanks!

That LUMS was epic. Many good times there. Used to live on Griffin Rd. and had many a late meal there, especially after an evening at the Strip.

I miss the South Florida I grew up in. Sadly, it's changed too dramatically and is almost unrecognizable to me at this point. Time marches on.

Anyway, glad other folks remember HS and LUMS.

Take care!
ASEMechanic

Was frequently on:
- High Society BSS
- Isles of Shae (Moonshae Isles) BBS

Questman
Posts: 77
Joined: Fri Aug 07, 2020 2:12 pm

Re: To those from South FL, where Galacticomm was KING! (Memories of an older man...)

Post by Questman »

South Florida was such a hot spot for great systems. I used up most of my PCPursuit credits (and to my parents' chagrin, long distance call charges) calling into Gcomm, Shae, High Society, and more.

High Society is still online, albeit without most of the customizations and the user list gets purged from inactivity, but telnet to hs.host.net.

Shae isn't. I wish I could get a backup of it so I could put it back online.

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