realitycheckBBS history
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_ __ ___ __ _| (_) |_ _ _ ___| |__ ___ ___| | _| __ )| __ ) ___|
| '__/ _ \/ _` | | | __| | | |/ __| '_ \ / _ \/ __| |/ / _ \| _ \___ \
| | | __/ (_| | | | |_| |_| | (__| | | | __/ (__| <| |_) | |_) |__) |
|_| \___|\__,_|_|_|\__|\__, |\___|_| |_|\___|\___|_|\_\____/|____/____/

via telnet/web/ftp/gopher
vintage h/p/a/c text files
local/bbslink/coa online games
realitycheckRADIO /dark/ambient/lo-fi music streams 24/7


A brief history of realitycheckBBS

June, 1991:

I inherited a 6 MHZ AT clone with 1 megabyte (!) of RAM and 2 20 meg hard drives from my current employer. I started the BBS off as Left Field BBS running on Opus software. I changed the name to "realitycheckBBS" and moved to Telegard 2.4 BBS software and FrontDoor mailer, connecting through an Anchor 2400 baud modem. Work tossed out a box of those modems, and I occasionally handed them out with a comm program (with realitycheckBBS in the #1 spot in the dialing directory, of course...)

old BBS image
July 1991:
realitycheckBBS joins NIRVANAnet(tm) as node 9:900/7. NIRVANAnet was a free speech network started by Ratsnatcher, Dr. Strangelove, and Jeff Hunter to network messages between BBSes that valued anonymity and appreciated the power of information. The BBS is busy close to 24 hours a day, I get used to waking up to seeing people from halfway around the world dialed in.

RealitycheckBBS joined FidoNet as 1:125/57. At this point, there were over 100 BBSes in my local area.

realitycheckBBS moves to Albany, CA and switches to Fidonet 1:161/418. I upgrade the BBS to a 386SX. Cast-off Lantastic hardware becomes realitycheckBBS' first network. I upgrade to a Telebit T3000 modem and enter the high-speed realm. The number is (510) 527-1662. I feel sorry for whoever got that number when I moved, as it was embedded in the description file of over 3000 text files at this point.

NIRVANAnet(tm) undergoes a renumbering, and realitycheckBBS becomes a hub for peninsula and east bay nodes. Get-togethers were common as we were all reachable by car or public transit. I lived next door to a PUB that housed many formal (and many more) informal get-togethers.
realitycheckBBS joins GaSPNet, a local telegard support network, and upgrades to Telegard 2.7.

Michael Liedtke blows the lid off of the BBS information.scene with a scathing article titled "Modem Operandi: Tips on Crime Go Online". RealitycheckBBS is implicated for having the same information available as most public libraries or the Library of Congress. The article elevates the Contra Costa Times to the pinnacle of journalistic excellence. Article is later reprinted in the National Enquirer. If you have back copies, look for the issue with Fabio and Rosanne Barr in bed together on the cover.

NIRVANAnet(tm) gettogethers continue. I have vague, font memories of dinners at La Rondalla in San Francisco, a blue drink at Trad'r Sam's, a jukebox playing Ozzy Osbourne, Patsy Cline and Boz Scaggs, and buying bulk loose beer by the case at the Marina Safeway.


RealitycheckBBS moves back to San Francisco, but remains in net 161. I upgrade to a USR Sportster 14.4 modem.

realitycheckBBS has over 5000 files at this point, and participates in CCinet, XpresitNet, and JustaXnet.

There's a chill in the air as people start spending more time on shell accounts and less time on BBSes...

The BBS moves to a cast-off 486 server the size of an end-table with 16 megabytes of RAM and 2 320 MB drives, I switch the BBS to OS/2 Warp and Maximus CBCS. The BBS number is (415) 666-0709.


Another hardware switch, this time to a Pentium 166 with 48 megs of RAM running Windows95. realitycheckBBS moves to Oakland, and I move the BBS to Windows 95 and the 32-bit DOS version of Maximus.


High tech comes to realitycheckBBS! realitycheckBBS is now running on an ISDN line - one telephone line handles incoming calls fulltime, the other line connects to internet-based message feeds using an application called Internet Rex. Fidonet feeds without relying on local networks, toll recovery programs (aka shakedowns) and polling multiple times a day changes the look and feel of Fidonet. BBS Picture, circa 1998


A slow decline for realitycheckBBS. realitycheckBBS drops out of NIRVANAnet(tm) after as long struggle with content quality. The net atrophies and eventually Taipan Enigma pulls the plug on a chapter of our lives. realitycheckBBS re-invents itself briefly as Channel Z, then returns as realitycheckBBS with a variety of othernets including XpresitNet, CCi, JustaXnet and InfiNet.


realitycheckBBS migrates to a single analog line with DSL. The BBS is now running on a P233MMX with 128 MB of RAM. The BBS has 5-10 calls per day, which isn't bad considering the state of BBSing.

May, 2001:

I took the BBS private in order to re-use the modem line as an office line. At this point, I had 1-2 calls a day, consistently.

Jan, 2004:

I've got a garage full of hardware and no use for it. Firing up a Windows98 desktop system I inherited from a client, I loaded Synchronet on it and started playing around. realitycheckBBS soon comes back to life as an internet-only BBS, with telnet, web, FTP, Gopher, NNTP and mailing list access. Synchronet has become a one-stop shop for communication across several media. realitycheckBBS rejoins Fidonet as 1:161/418.

There's a resurgence in BBSing, with a couple of othernets showing promise and Fidonet Not Dead Yet. Synchronet allows for communication via the web, NNTP, plain ol' telnet, and via email. I register and start streaming music through the BBS via The BBS moves to a 1.4 Ghz P4 system donated by Dr. Strangelove of "Just Say Yes"/NirvanaNet fame.

The BBS moves, comes back up in Redwood City, CA, sharing my desktop box. beige box


The BBS moves to Belmont, and email services go away. Comcast blocks SMTP traffic, and while it's nice to provide email notification of messages, it's not critical.


Still going strong - looking for new message networks. The BBS is running via wireless link from a cast-off HP Pavilion running XP, SBBS 3.14, and Radius for mailer duties. I find a way to provide email services and continue offering email addresses to users.


I take over as RC10 for Fidonet, and add Agoranet, a thriving art/BBS othernet to realitycheckBBS. The BBS is running on an old Celeron 1ghz desktop with 512 MB of RAM. It runs surprisingly well, handling a small web site, a music streamand Fidonet message traffic from my garage. I miss being able to chat with callers from the BBS console, although one lucky caller caught me by requesting a chat when I was cleaning up the garage.

The BBS is hummng along; I add more file echoes and join Survnet, a survival/prep network, and Center ofburied in a garage Awareness, a group of BBSes taking Synchronet in a new direction.

The BBS moves back to hardware from this century, with the addition of games via, Center of awareness games, and local games.Physically, the BBS moved as well, to Aptos on the California Pacific Coast.

The last old desktop died when I turned the power off for the aforementioned move. The BBS moves to a solid old laptop - built in battery backup to combat the sometimes dodgy power that comes with living in a wooded area. It's running unattended in a storage space, quietly humming along. I rarely have an issue with it, save for a noisy fan I didn't know was a problem until I did some re-arranging. A $5 replacement fan from eBay and some thermal paste took care of it for the next few years.

laptop hidden away

Still running on the laptop I set up in 2016; the battery is still holding enough of a charge to keep the BBS going through power outages, and things have been stable for some time. I've upgraded the web interface to ecweb v4, which has a decent web forum feature, and have started to see people registering via the web instead of telnet!

BBSing is continuing to flourish, despite all indications to the contrary. realitycheckBBS is now a part of the following networks, each with their own following, member boards, and areas of interest:
Agoranet: The official distribution point for ACiD productions ANSI artwork and a hangout for ANSI artists and modders
ArakNet:  A BBS modder network focused on Mystic BBS and ANSI artwork.
DOVEnet: A BBS network with a variety of message areas and the home for Synchronet BBS support
Fidonet: The network that started them all. It's not dead yet.
FSXNet: A friendly network, one of my favorite hangouts these days. All range of topics.
Micronet: A small, friendly network with general topics, online since 2000.
Spooknet: Bad informartion and conspiracy theories abound here.
SurvivalNet: Prepping, wilderness survival, security and information sharing galore.

realitycheckBBS includes irc (internet relay chat) on the irc network, and Mystic Relay Chat. MRC has started weekly chat meetups on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, bringing back memories of drinkalong chat sessions in the 1990s. We start earlier nowadays, because we're much older.  :)

I built a homelab to experiment with tools and services I need for my job. I run Proxmox VE, a bare-metal hypervisor built on Debian, KVM and qemu, all tools I'm familiar with. A Synology NAS provides secure storage via NAS and NFS, and a cheap appliance router running OpenWRT provides VPN and VLAN for my network. I retire the BBS laptop and replace it with a broken Thinkpad from Craigslist, missing keys and with dents. Upgrade the memory, blow out the fan, replace the thermal paste and you have a server with a built-in UPS!

Synchronet was relatively simple to virtualize - I created a Windows 10 virtual machine, copied the c:\sbbs directory to the virtual machine, and that was pretty much it.

The Fediverse is here. People are tired of the manipulation and profit mongering of the commercial social networks and looking for something a little more personal, more connected. Mastadon is getting a lot of publicity, and raising awareness of other decentralized and non-commercial networks like BBSes, Tildes and even usenet. I'm seeing an uptick in new users, and while bbsing isn't for everyone, a few stick around.