A long, long time ago, in a decade far away…
….I had a series of micro computers (ZX 81, Spectrum, QL, Amiga 500, Amiga 2000), and because of these, human interaction was at times less important for me than the other kids. But somehow you wanted to be in contact with other users, nerds, anorak and geeks, and so I had to buy one of those:
This is what us geeks call an ‘acoustic coupler’. This chunky device would convert the bits and bytes that you wanted to transfer over the phonelines into a very particular noise that would very soon became the acoustic promise of excitement, entertainment and the world of unlimited geekyness. What you would is dial the number of a ‘Bulletin Board System’ (BBS), wait for the ‘free’ tone on the other side and plunge the handset onto the coupler and watch in amazement on your computer screen how a connection would between the two machines would be established and the welcome screen of your favourite BBS would appear. Something like this:
Of course my mate Sven had to have one of those, and a few years later I was able to get one as well, and I finally added myself to the, er, cool kids (ok, young men without a girlfriend) that would meet online and in real life. The Tuborg Box Cologne was my favourite hangout, and there are many legends around these user meets that I will not repeat.
Anyway, a chap who happens to hang around one of my favourite websites made a 5 hour documentary about BBSs, their inventors and their users. Absolutely brilliant stuff if you can tolerate a few rather awkward individuals sprinkled into the mix, but the stories are fascinating, the personalities enormous and the geek factor 11 out of ten.
Have a look at the trailer and go buy the thing.