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A Passage To Bangkok BBS

In the mid 1990's I ran a A Bulletin Board System, or BBS. The name of my BBS was A Passage to Bangkok, named for a song by the band Rush. It was a way to communicate with people through their computers before the Internet was as ubiquitous as it is today. I ran TriBBS as my software. I never asked any money for use of the BBS. I did, however request a postcard if a user was on vacation - and I got a few fun ones.

The login page to A Passage To Bangkok BBS
SysOp: Velcroman
TriBBS 5.11 #1229
(507) 281-0966

The login page, displayed for each login. All you needed to do was tap the space-bar to move into the main portion of the BBS. My handle was Velcroman, a nick pinned on me by Ravi Mahadevan years earlier while attending the University of Wisconsin, because of the way I could just find software.

All new callers got decent access on the first call, unlike some BBSes that made you fill out endless forms and jump through tons of hoops to gain decent access. I also limited my newuser sign-in crap so people could log on quicker. I didn't need to know too much about people.

The main page, Welcome to the Tavern! I chose a Tavern theme for much of the BBS - I was early in my homebrewing hobby and liked it as a theme. It set my BBS apart from the rest of the Role Playing Game based boards. The homebrewing has really taken off, today I have a site dedicated to my home brewery - The Creekwood Brewing Project. This was one of the few ANSi screens I drew up completely from scratch.

This page allowed you to see the statistics and logs of the BBS. The @ALIAS and other words with the @ sign allowed the system to parse current data. @ALIAS would display the user alias whenever he/her viewed this page.

This is the online games that were available. In keeping with the tavern theme there was a video console in the corner. I would choose a game on occasion and run a contest. For example I ran a three week Trade Wars 2002 contest, and had prizes for the winner(I think it was 12-packs of Mt Dew), and distributed them at the Get-together I held at Apache Mall.

The Get-together started at the AppleBee's inside Apache Mall. I miscalculated the average age of my board, and about half of them were kids with little or no money. So, while some of us had dinner and soda during the conversation the younger broker kids loaded their glasses of water with ever pack of sugar they could find in the restaurant. Before we destroyed the restaurant we moved to an open common area of the restaurant and I awarded prizes for thing like the Trade Wars contest and a few other things. It was nice to get the group of us together to meet in person, and I used prizes and stuff to drive them to stay there and keep it one of the more popular BBSes in the area.

I welcomed all callers, and gave a priority for long-distance callers, especially TriBBS SysOps (System Operators). I had the TriBBS sysop upgrade door available (as option 12) so other TriBBS SysOps could plug in their code and immediately be upgraded.

A listing of the local BBSes in and around Rochester, MN in 1994. The "$" to the right of the board info was to indicate which boards charged for access.

An ANSi screen I ripped from a game (Trade Wars 2002), to use as my messaging area. This might have been the most used area of the board. Messages posted in here would be displayed for all users to view. A user would scroll through all the new messages since last login, and reply if he/she wanted. There were a few flame wars, and a lot of juvenile banter.

This is where we'd set up things for groups of us to do on occasion. We'd meet up for movies, and try to see how much food we could sneak into the theater. I remember one time the guy behind me saying, "They're passing bowls and spoons to each other", a few minutes later, "Now they're passing milk and bags of cereal around". We took the cereal out of the boxes for easier sneakability. I could hear the guy was giving his girlfriend a play-by-play of our shenanigans, until I offered them each a bowl of Capt'n Crunch. We caused a bunch of harmless/victimless trouble.

The Messaging Area:
The encoding messed up some of the spelling, so I've retyped it here...

  • General and Private Mail
  • Raising Slim to be President (Slim is Julio's younger brother)
  • Paradise Productions Inc., Pantsless Emporium
  • Julio's Entertainment and Dinning Guide
  • The Political Barstool (anything goes in politics)
  • Temple of the Dark Lord of the Sith (Lee Runyon's forum of EviL)
  • Park and Swap, Selling and Trading
  • The Ultimate Tech Center (I specialized in OS/2 support)
  • Me's Psychiatric Help
  • Wrecked's Pavilion of Sport

A Passage To Bangkok BBS was run exclusively on OS/2. I became such an OS/2 fanatic, and I had overcome a lot of the issues of running a DOS based BBS with accessories on an OS/2 computer. I had people calling my BBS long distance to them help solve problems. I even started to study the book to become IBM OS/2 certified - way before the certification craze that followed the Internet explosion. I had the chance to interview at the Mayo Clinic (also in Rochester) for an OS/2 Help Desk position (I didn't get it due to lack of networking skills at the time).

This is where I have files available for downloading (and uploading). Pirated software and porn were the biggest attraction to many BBSes. I didn't want a knock on the door from guys in cheap suits, so I removed all of that early on. I did have a sweet collection of Cindy Crawford pics (pre-House of Style

I had this screen display following a successful upload from a user. In order to not have leachers download everything without contributing I had ratios enforced. Based on files and actual size of files, you would have to upload something once in a while to keep downloading.

Occasionally I had to boot a user off the BBS: To reboot, to order a pizza, hack in process, etc... This is the screen displayed.

  • Lee Runyon aka DLotS (Dark Lord of the Sith), was a mysterious character. He was known for being a bastard to people that didn't know all the nomenclature or rules of the BBS underworld. He ran several BBSes himself, all with hacked up modified software. By the time it was fully set up and people would start logging in, he'd take it down. When I finally met him face to face he wasn't all that bad. He was working at a bookstore, and he'd get you all the paperback books or magazine you wanted. Later he worked the overnight shift at Kinkos. When I moved out to Phoenix from Minnesota, I invited him out and he moved west also. He ended up being the best-man at my wedding, and I at his.
  • Jason Kalenborn aka Julio aka KalenBorg, came a little late to the game. He was into movies, music, and eating, so I gave him a message area on the BBS where he would have full admin rights for a message area about those topics. Our first meeting was after we decided to drive up to the cities for a Ronnie James Dio Concert. We've both stayed in touch with homebrewing and still seeing concerts. His brother Slim was a character who I showed driving tips to, when he was 11. I had him stand up on a table at the mall and proclaim himself a republican.He has since become liberal and now he is delivering subs.
  • Sharee was a fun gal that would hang out in our circles for a while. She dated Lee Runyon for a while. Then she dated a guy that worked at a tavern that we loved to hang out at. Sharee was that friend who would be there when everybody else disappeared and she'd talk you through any problem.
  • Andy aka Ace, was that damn know-it-all kid when I first met him. Kind of cocky on the BBSes and at a paint-ball get-together he made sure his team was stacked, and I got stuck with the dork squad as paintball targets. We later became good friends meeting at AppleBees for Mystery Beer Night. I still visit him down in Rochester from time to time. Today he spends more time on his Harley than on computers.
  • Me - was a sharp young kid with a sharp tongue. He did have a very creative handle, that confused people at times in the message boards. He antagonized everybody, until he would meet them face to face.
  • Wrecked - Ted was the senior member of my BBS. An older loner trying to finish college and maintain all of the conspiracy theories in his head. We suspected him of being the Unibomber for a while.
  • Psycho - Matt was an upper middle class kid with major liberal tendencies. Julio took him out and got him "Ted Kennedy Drunk" one night. His parents grounded him for a month.