bulletin board system

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Related to bulletin board system: bbs, CompuServe, Computerized Bulletin Board System

bulletin board system

[′bu̇l·ət·ən ‚bȯrd ‚sis·təm]
(computer science)
A computer system that enables its users, usually members of a particular interest group, to leave messages and to share information and software. Abbreviated BBS.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

bulletin board system

(communications, application)
(BBS, bboard /bee'bord/)

A computer and associated software which typically provides an electronic message database where people can log in and leave messages. Messages are typically split into topic groups similar to the newsgroups on Usenet (which is like a distributed BBS). Any user may submit or read any message in these public areas.

The term comes from physical pieces of board on which people can pin messages written on paper for general consumption - a "physical bulletin board". Ward Christensen, the programmer and operator of the first BBS (on-line 1978-02-16) called it a CBBS for "computer bulletin board system".

Apart from public message areas, a BBS may provide archives of files, personal electronic mail and any other services or activities of interest to the bulletin board's system operator (the "sysop"). Thousands of local BBSes are in operation throughout the world, typically run by amateurs for fun out of their homes on MS-DOS boxes with a single modem line each. Although BBSes have traditionally been the domain of hobbyists, an increasing number of BBSes are connected directly to the Internet, and many BBSes are currently operated by government, educational, and research institutions. Fans of Usenet and Internet or the big commercial time-sharing bboards such as CompuServe, CIX and GEnie tend to consider local BBSes the low-rent district of the hacker culture, but they serve a valuable function by knitting together lots of hackers and users in the personal-micro world who would otherwise be unable to exchange code at all.

Use of this term for a Usenet newsgroup generally marks one either as a newbie fresh in from the BBS world or as a real old-timer predating Usenet.
This article is provided by FOLDOC - Free Online Dictionary of Computing (foldoc.org)


(1) (Bulletin Board System) A computer system used as an information source and forum for a particular interest group. They were widely used in the U.S. to distribute shareware and drivers and had their heyday in the 1980s and first part of the 1990s, all before the Web took off. A BBS functions somewhat like a stand-alone website, but without graphics. However, unlike Web access via one connection to the Internet, each BBS had its own telephone number to dial up.

Although still used in some parts of the world where there is little or no Internet access, most every resource found on a BBS migrated to the Web. Software companies may still maintain their old BBS to serve as alternate venues for downloading drivers.

Comm Programs Are Required
To access a BBS, a general-purpose communications program such as Crosstalk or Qmodem Pro is used. The address list in a comm program stores telephone numbers like a Web browser stores bookmarked URLs.

(2) (BIOS Boot Specification) A Plug and Play BIOS format that enables the user to determine the boot sequence. See OPROM.
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