BBS software

From: Michael Current (aa700@cleveland.Freenet.Edu)
Date: 08/25/94-11:00:40 AM Z

From: aa700@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Michael Current)
Subject: BBS software
Date: Thu Aug 25 11:00:40 1994

From: (Winston Smith)
Date: Thu, 4 Aug 1994 10:48:35 GMT

You have a modem, a hard drive, and an 800XL and wish to know about ATARI
BBS systems.  Well, I don't know much about ATARI 8-BIT BBSes, but here is
everything I know about:
     1.)  BBS EXPRESS-PROFESSIONAL! (also known as "PRO!")

          If you want to purchase a BBS package, this seems to be the way
to go.  I understand that this BBS is made of compiled ACTION! language
object code.  This BBS does networking and has boards in Canada and
Europe.  This BBS supports online games.  (The only drawback to this system
that I know about was a rumour on the network several years ago that if you
"badmouthed" the authors who now support the code that they could call up
your BBS and inactivate it with a remote command.  I've never heard of such
a case directly happening.  The rumours could have been started by
competing software authors, or they could be one of those computer folk
legends you hear of from time to time.)  "PRO!" is the best ATARI BBS up to
this time and has been continuously improved and worked on up until this
very day.  I believe that the code to run the BBS is written in compiled
ACTION!, so that no special language cartridges are neede to run the BBS.
     2.)  The BBS Express (also known as "Express BBS")
          Express-BBS is the public domain version of BBS EXPRESS-PRO!  I
do not believe that it is capable of supporting networking.  This program
is the "demo" version of BBS EXPRESS-PRO! that you can run to try out the
basic features of the BBS before you send away for the commercial version.
I haven't seen this program available for downloading in the Boston,
Massachusetts, USA, area.  (I may have missed it but it doesn't seem to be
on many boards.)
     3.)  FOREM-XE
          FOREM-XE is a public domain BBS that requires the BASIC-XE
cartridge in order to be able to run it.  FOREM-XE has the capability to
network with BBS EXPRESS-PROFESSIONAL! boards via a "cross-net" module.
While EXPRESS-PROFESSIONAL! is the most popular ATARI 8-BIT BBS, I think it
can be argued that FOREM-XE is the second most popular ATARI 8-BIT BBS.
     4.)  CARINA
          CARINA is an interesting BBS in that it is written almost
entirely in BASIC.  It runs almost like a command shell with program
module overlays.  Because it is written in interpeted BASIC I am not
entirely sure how stable it is.  CARINA allows for networking.  CARINA also
allows you to run the BASIC environment remotely, which means that you can
run a slave terminal remotely off the modem and program in ATARI BASIC in
eighty columns off of the modem port.  If you are into BASIC programming it
makes a nice hobbiest board.
          This is an interesting little BBS.  OASIS JUNIOR III is a public
domain BBS.  It is the "demo" version of OASIS IV.  OASIS JUNIOR III is
written entirely in assembly language, so it is very stable.  OASIS JUNIOR
III also comes with a built-in terminal screen with which you can manually
dial out to perform uploading and downloading without having to clear the
BBS software or reboot the machine.  OASIS JUNIOR III also has a control
key toggle (CONTROL-N ?  CONTROL-T ?) so that you can upload "wide"
messages into the message base without the message being wrapped at forty
columns.  The message bases on OASIS JUNIOR III are very well done.
Unfortunately, the file download area of OASIS JUNIOR III is very
confusing.  Download areas are arranged not by logical directory but by
"library types".  What this means in a parallel example is that it is like
if you had ".DOC", ".TXT" and ".OBJ" files all on "D1:", you would have to
list "D1:" --THREE TIMES--, once for ".DOC", once for ".TXT", and once for
".OBJ" !  (Well, not exactly, but something close to it.)  Having twenty
partitions on a single floppy drive is a bit ridiculous.  On a large hard
drive the system would work fairly well, but on a floppy you would be
issuing file command after file command only to view one or two file
entries at a time.  OASIS JUNIOR III does not network (see: OASIS IV).
          (Note about OASIS JUNIOR III --  All of the file MESS.DAT which
contains the BBS prompts, has to fit into memory at once.  On a stock 800XL
you have to edit down the prompts so that they will fit into memory.
Someone has already done this.  Otherwise the program will lockup when
      6.)  OASIS IV
          OASIS IV supports networking.  I assume that OASIS IV works
much the same way OASIS JUNIOR III does.  I don't know what became of OASIS
IV as all work seemed to be halted on it once myself and other callers to
OASIS BBSes made disparaging comments about how difficult the OASIS file
libraries were to use.  We were called ungrateful Atarians (which we were).
Work in the USA was halted and the program was sold to someone overseas.
Here are some of the older BBS programs:
     7.)  NITE-LITE
          Paul Swanson's NITE-LITE is the forerunner of today's MichTron
and NITE-LITE ST BBSes.  NITE-LITE BBS was the first ATARI 8-BIT program of
which I am aware that used a RAM disk.  I believe these were known as "V:"
devices (for virtual disk) and later as "M:" devices??? (for memory disk?)
Nite-Lite was written in BASIC and some assembly language(?) and had a very
good message editor, one of the best.  Its file areas were also easy to
use.  I am not sure of the status of NITE-LITE, if it is still commercial
or in the public domain (the ATARI 8-BIT version, that is).  NITE-LITE was
very popular around the Boston, Massachusetts, USA, area.
     8.)  AT-KEEP
          AT-KEEP is the ATARI 8-BIT version of the popular CITADEL "room
based" BBS program.  AT-KEEP is in the public domain and is written -- I
believe -- in BASIC-XE.  From what I understand, AT-KEEP was popular in the
Loiusiana, USA, area of the world.
     9.)  Marco Benton's "PROFESSIONAL BBS" (or was it called "SMARTBBS")
          This BBS is written entirely in BASIC and makes calls to
SPARTADOS.  Instead of using the R-TIME-8 cartridge clock device "Z:"
handler, the BBS makes calls to the clock register on an external modem?
This BBS is in the public domain.  There is supposedly a commercial version
of this program available.  (It was tough trying to figure out how this BBS
worked, but maybe now that SPARTADOS has gone public it may be worth another
     10.)  F.O.R.E.M.  (Friends of Rick E. Moose)
          F.O.R.E.M. is the grand-daddy of the program FOREM-XE.  Unlike
FOREM-XE, however, F.O.R.E.M. is written in ATARI BASIC.  F.O.R.E.M. can
best be succinctly described as "...the closet thing to Ward Christensen's
RBBS that had ever been written for the ATARI 8-BIT."
     11.)  The ACS BBS  (also known as ANTIC BBS)
          The ANTIC "BBS Construction Set" program is another old BBS
program.  This BBS can best be described as full of bugs, however the BBS
featured a very nice type-over, intra-line editor that made entering
messages a pleasure.  Whether or not these messages would be saved was
another matter entirely.
     12.)  A.M.I.S. BBS  (ATARI Message Information Service)
          This is the earliest ATARI BBS ever written?  I think it was
written by M.A.C.E., the Michigan ATARI Computer Enthusiasts club.  This
BBS program is so old that it comes with instructions on how to build a
RING detector circuit for your modem, since public modems were not expected
to answer the phone!  (Now that's old!)  This program is so old that you
are expected to use a disk sector/hex-code editor to manually allocate each
byte of disk sector space for individual messages.  I mean to say...  this
program is --OLD-- !  (I understand that there is a program --EVEN OLDER--
than A.M.I.S., which was mentioned in COMP.SYS.ATARI.8BIT recently!)
Needless to say, A.M.I.S. has been modified about three hundred times or so
over the years.  I wouldn't know where you could obtain the last
incarnation of it, or if you would even want the program if you could
find it....
     Well, that is all the ATARI 8-BIT BBS programs that I know about.  I
hope I haven't left any out by mistake.  If so, I apologize.

Michael Current, Keeper of the 8-Bit Atari FAQ & Vendor/Developer Lists
 Cleveland Free-Net Atari SIGOp: aa700 /

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