EnlargeChris Wilkinson132Limited to an anachronistic 1200 bits per second, it took several moments for the green-phosphor ASCII art to scroll from the bottom to the top of the screen. A login prompt and a blinking cursor invited me to continue deeper:Enter GUEST for a quick look around.)Enter your ID#, HANDLE, NEW or ‘?’:_What would David Lightman think? I found myself at the guarded gates of an online community that had been disconnected for decades. This was mid-2016, but for all intents and purposes, it might as well have been 1986.Today, many can be forgiven for thinking that the digital communications revolution kicked off during the mid-1990s, when there was simply an explosion of media and consumer interest in the World Wide Web. Just a decade earlier, however, the future was now for the hundreds of thousands of users already using home computers to communicate with others over the telephone network. The online culture of the 1980s was defined by the pervasiveness of bulletin board systems (BBS), expensive telephone bills, and the dulcet tones of a 1200 baud connection (or 2400, if you were very lucky). While many Ars readers certainly recall bulletin board systems with pixelated reverence, just as many are likely left scratching their heads in confusion (“what exactly is a BBS, anyway?”).
A 1986 bulletin board system has brought the old Web back to life in 2017 | Ars Technica