USBBS - An Internet Historical Marker Site
Formerly The National BBS List of Bulletin Board Systems
Online Since June 1984
(via DialUp Bulletin Boards),
and on the Internet since 1994.
"You must love computing to be a Sysop...
You also have to be crazy."
-Pete Olympia, USBBS Founder
USBBS was a BBS list of PC Bulletin Board Systems (BBS) in the United
States and Canada which began online publication in 1984. For the next twenty
years it was the undisputed king of BBS lists for users of PC bulletin boards.
This reputation and stature in the BBS community were due to efforts of its
editors and many volunteers which consisted of Sysops,
BBS users and even editors of other BBS lists, who all helped keep USBBS
updated. From 2004 through 2011 USBBS received minor unannounced updates and tweaks.
In 2011 the remaining BBS listings were removed and the site was revamped to
serve as a historical marker. In 2013 it became a BBS list again
honoring Sysops who have passed away, and a historical BBSing blog. In 2018
the site was made into a historical marker again.
About USBBS (The National BBS List):
The USBBS List contained BBS listings of:
* Systems with a Dial-up telephone number (from 1984).
* Systems with Dial-up and/or Telnet access (from 1997).
USBBS (as the National BBS List) had two missions:
(1) The first mission was to be a robust, up-to-date starting point for someone
looking for a BBS to call. However it was not the ambition of the USBBS List to
list every single BBS in existence or to include everything there was to know
about a BBS which was listed. Such an attempt would have been futile at best.
Additionally, BBSes were only added to USBBS by a BBS's Sysop or someone on
their behalf. USBBS editors did not add seek out listings other than
those submitted directly to them by the BBS community.
(2) The second mission was that USBBS was always an absolutely free service to
the BBS community, both for BBS Sysops and for BBS users. There was never a
charge for a BBS to be listed on the USBBS List, and there was never a charge
for a BBS user to use the USBBS List.
USBBS Editors, BBS Sysops and Web Hosts:
Founder, Editor and Home BBS Sysop 1984-1988
Editor 1988-1992, Co-Editor 1986-1987
Home BBS Sysop 1988-1992
Editor & Home BBS Sysop 1992-1997, Webmaster 1995-1997
Owen Hawkins, Tony McClenny, Mark Adkins
Remote Update Point Sysops 1992-1996
Brian & Tess Miller
Web Host 1995-1999
Web Host 1999-Present
Editor & Webmaster 1997-Present, Home BBS Sysop 1997-2004, Remote Update Point Sysop 1992-1997, USBBSDoor Author 1987-2004
In June of 1984 Pete Olympia, USBBS founder and first editor, started the
"RBBS List" as an online publication and download on SUGI SIG/M RBBS, a user-group
BBS he operated. When Pete used the term "RBBS", he was usually referring to any
Remote Bulletin Board System, much like we use "BBS" today. One of
the very first and most used BBS software was RBBS-PC. Although most of
the BBSes on early RBBS Lists ran RBBS-PC, it listed systems running other BBS
software as well, and even listed non-DOS systems running on CP/M. Pete later
started a BBS apart from SUGI and called it the Darwin BBS which became the new
home of the list. The list was commonly called "Darwin's List" after the BBS
name. Eventually the name of the list was changed to USBBS to more accurately
reflect the scope of the list.
Pete posted the following in a bulletin on his BBS in February of 1985:
"I have watched RBBS-PC grow over the years, and I lamented the fact that
unlike RCP/M, no one bothered to organize and maintain a comprehensive and
up-to-date list of RBBS's in the country. I knew that doing that is alot of
work, but someone had to do it. I "volunteered" to be that one. Thus, one of
the important functions of the SUGI SIG/M RBBS is as a repository of the most
complete and up-to-date RBBS list as a service to the entire RBBS community."
Meade Frierson became a USBBS co-editor, handling many of the BBS
verifications and all of the PC-Pursuit designations in USBBS. PC-Pursuit was
a service of US Sprint which allowed callers to dial systems around the country
for a flat monthly fee using Sprint's Telenet (not telnet) network. Users could
dial into the Telenet network in one city then dial out on the modems in another
city. PC-Pursuit was a big deal then, as long distance calling was still very
expensive (by-the-minute) which discouraged or prevented callers from calling a
BBS outside of their local calling area. Sprint's Telenet would later become
known as Sprintlink, one of many networks which make up today's Internet.
USBBSDoor 1.0 was released by Brent Yandell. USBBSDoor was an add-on to
BBS software packages that allowed callers to view and search the BBS List while online.
BBS add-ons were called "Doors" hence the name USBBSDoor.
Meade Frierson became the second USBBS editor. Robert Blacher dedicated
a node of his Computer Connections BBS to being the USBBS home BBS. The number
of systems listed in USBBS topped 1000.
Meade began accepting USBBS updates at his Compuserve mail account, the
first time USBBS was supported outside the traditional dial-up BBS world. Brent
released QSUSBBS (QuickSearch USBBS), a utility distributed with USBBSDoor
which Sysops could personalize with their BBS name and number, and callers
could download and use to search and view USBBS offline.
Bob Breedlove became the third USBBS editor. Bob added a news file to
the USBBS archive, the first time USBBS was distributed with more than one
file in the ZIP. The number of systems listed in USBBS topped 2000. The 100th
edition of the USBBS List was published. Bob started Remote Update Points
which were four BBSes around the USA where sysops could leave USBBS updates.
The four Update Points were BBSes run by Mark Adkins, Owen Hawkins, Tony McClenny
and Brent Yandell.
The number of systems listed in USBBS topped 3000.
USBBS became 10 years old. Bob began the USBBS List's first distribution on the Internet, first in
Usenet then as a FTP download. He also added an Internet field to USBBS, which
indicated Internet services the BBS offered (Email, Usenet, FTP, or Telnet).
The number of systems listed topped 4000.
Bob began the first USBBS web site under the Channel 1 BBS domain,
with hosting space provided by Brian and Tess Miller. The URL was
the Channel 1 domain name followed by the /usbbs/ directory designation.
The number of listings topped 5000 in June. USBBS reached the
thousands milestones from 2000 to 5000 all under Bob's care.
Brent Yandell became the fourth USBBS editor and added a Telnet address
field to the USBBS List for systems accessible via Telnet. A list viewing utility
called USList was now distributed with each USBBS List edition.
Brent obtained the "www.usbbs.org" URL, and moved the web site to
hosting space provided by former Sysop Roy Timberman (Roy is still providing
the hosting space for USBBS to this day). Web BBS Log-in addresses were added
to the USBBS List.
The Internet was taking its toll on BBSing and the number of active
systems was in decline. To insure the inactive systems were removed from USBBS
a successful volunteer program was instituted to deal with the issue where
Sysops and BBS users contributed deletion info to the USBBS List.
Meade Frierson, the USBBS List's second editor, passed away. The 200th
edition of the USBBS List was published, in which Brent announced he had
seriously considered making the 200th edition the last, but decided to keep going.
An extended listing was offered to Sysops, which was a free web page
advertisement for their BBS. It would have its own URL under the usbbs.org domain.
The BBS's entry in the on-line edition would contain a link to the ad. No Sysops
took advantage of this offer, indicating how seriously the lack of interest
in BBSing was even among Sysops.
The 215th edition in April would be the last monthly edition of USBBS.
The Internet had really taken its toll on BBSes. As of edition 215, the USBBS
List contained 609 entries, just slightly more than one-tenth of the over 5000
listings it once contained.
Pete Olympia, USBBS founder and first editor, passed away. The 20th
Anniversary Edition of USBBS was released. There were only 302 active Dial-up and
Telnet BBSes listed now, 24 in Canada and 278 in the USA. 25 states
would combine for only 52 listings, about 2 per state. Those numbers of course
would only decline, and there were only a few new listings submitted
over the next few months. The 20th anniversary edition would be the last
time the grand 'ol USBBS List was published as a numbered, downloadable edition.
From 2004 to 2011 the USBBS web pages continued to receive minor updates and
tweaks and were still visited several thousand times per year. In 2011 the site
was revamped as a historical site and the remaining BBS listings were removed.
It contained a brief USBBS history and this time-line.
Brent begins the Memorial USBBS List and Time Warp Blog, containing a listing
of Sysops who have passed away, and a blog (of sorts) which contains a historical
and modern collection of BBSing Odds & Ends.
In June 2014, USBBS became 30 years old.
The site was revamped again to be a Historical Marker site.