[TUHS] UUCP History [was Re: Help request: uucp, mail on 4.2BSD]

jsteve at superglobalmegacorp.com jsteve at superglobalmegacorp.com
Wed Mar 8 19:47:39 AEST 2017

Don’t forget for the longest time, if you wanted updated drivers, or anything from a vendor, you had to call their BBS.  Lots of long distance calls to California for that.. Or staying up until 3am to get cheaper LD rates.

In modern times Synchronet has been ported to Linux and Win32/Win64 machines, and is almost too easy to setup, along with it’s DOVENET which uses FTP to copy messages around.  It’s still active to this day.

I’m strange so I have an OS/2 Virtual machine, and I use SIO virtual modems on an old copy of Synchronet.  Because of y2k issues I can’t send messages, but I can receive them.  But since I’m on OS/2 2.00 I can run MS-DOS based doors without issues....

There is also HECnet, a VPN or ip tunnelled DecNET for DEC enthusiasts.  However they just keep a separate mailing list, as far as I know there is nothing inside of the network itself.

Maybe as a crazy idea we could revive B-NEWS, or C-NEWS or something along those lines.... Something geared to old PDP-11’s running Unix v6?

Sent from Mail for Windows 10

From: Dan Cross
Sent: Wednesday, 8 March 2017 5:32 PM
To: Dave Horsfall
Cc: The Eunuchs Hysterical Society
Subject: [TUHS] UUCP History [was Re: Help request: uucp, mail on 4.2BSD]

On Tue, Mar 7, 2017 at 5:04 PM, Dave Horsfall <dave at horsfall.org> wrote:
On Tue, 7 Mar 2017, Dan Cross wrote:

> One or more microcomputer BBS (Bulletin Board System) platforms had UUCP
> support to bridge their store-and-forward messaging networks to USENET
> and send email, etc. The implementation I remember off the top of my
> head was Waffle, written by Tom Dell. [...]

Was this the UUCP that was available for CP/M?  I found it on the old
Walnut Creek CD, moved it over to my CP/M box via SneakerNet (I ran CP/M
for years, carefully avoiding DOS/WinDoze) and it worked; it was overlaid
to hell and back hence really slow, but it worked.

Maybe? Though I tend to doubt it. It looks like Waffle originally ran on the Apple II, but was fairly quickly ported to DOS and then Unix/Xenix. I believe it was written in C, but the source code is not generally available. More information on it is here: http://software.bbsdocumentary.com/IBM/DOS/WAFFLE/

As I mentioned before, the BBS thing was kind of interesting. What strikes me, however, is how closely the timing lines up with developments in the Unix world. As Jacob mentions earlier, UUCP was "published" in February 1978 and an improved version distributed with 7th Edition in October of that year. The first BBS was announced via an article in the November 1978 edition of Byte magazine (available online, with some information here: https://www.wired.com/2010/02/0216cbbs-first-bbs-bulletin-board/).

For those that don't know, the whole idea behind a BBS was that a person with a computer (usually a microcomputer), a modem, and a POTS phone line (usually into the person's house) would run software on the machine that answered the phone when called (assumed the remote caller was using a modem, of course) and presented the remote user with an interface for interacting with the local machine: most often, this was menu based. Most often, the BBS only had one phone line and the functionality was limited: sending and receiving simple messages, uploading and downloading files using protocols like x- y- and zmodem (or kermit!) and maybe playing specially written games. However, some BBSs became quite sophisticated supporting multiple lines, interactive chat, multiplayer games and so forth. Early software was mostly homebrew (the Byte article talks about software *and* hardware), but eventually packaged systems emerged. There was even a commercial marketplace for BBS software.

Around 1984, they developed a messaging "network" called Fidonet for routing email and sending files around; the goal was to minimize long-distance telephone charges by relaying things through nodes in the network that were geographically "close" to the next calling region and transmitting things in batch. Think USENET (which predated it by several years) but much smaller in scope.

The Internet killed it for the most part, of course, but these things developed quite the following; some are even still running, though most are now accessible via telnet/ssh. Somewhat confusingly, some of the operators seem to think they are some kind of alternative to the "Internet" instead of just another application of the net. It's sort of an odd viewpoint, but I think it comes from not being altogether all that savvy: it was mostly a hobbyist thing. But in the BBS heyday, there was something like 100,000 of them in North America alone.

Sorry for the wall of text, but I think the parity between the rise of BBSs and UUCP/USENET is interesting.

        - Dan C.

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