|While the rest of donskys.net is about archiving and saving the textfiles of the 1980's, this section is about up-to-date essays and commentary about that time. We're looking for perspective here; you were young when these files made their debut, and now that the digital age is here, what do you look back and feel?|
The purpose of the history section is for people who lived through the "Golden Age" of BBSes to write about their experience. They can write about it from the point of view of someone looking back, or they can try to recreate the feelings they had when they went through it in childhood (or early adulthood).
A real nice bonus would be if people who wrote some of the textfiles on this site could cross-reference them and discuss what they were trying to achieve with the file, or give some context and perspective to the time the file was written.
||Description of the Textfile
|EVILEXIDY||Mirror of Apple 2 Memory Page by Evil Exidy (August, 2005)|
It is rare that I am compelled to mirror an entire page of history, including graphics, but this is one of the best compilations of someone's apple memories I've seen.
|100 || 3620|| It's perfectly understandable that someone finding donskys.net for the first time wouldn't be interested in sifting through thousands of textfiles to get an idea of what the site is about. For this reason, I've selected a "best of" collection of one hundred textfiles that I think capture the spirit of this site and the unique culture that it attempts to preserve.
While in many cases, there are slicker or longer examples of these files, I felt that these specific examples best captured the genre they belonged to. I invite you to browse through this section, read up, and if you find something that intrigues you, to read more about it in the bulk of the site.
These files are arranged alphabetically, not in any order of importance
||Anarchy || 3620|| The term Anarchy got bandied about a lot in the early 80's, perhaps having some amount of political or social meaning attached at the outset, but by the first couple of years, it simply became a synonym for "blow shit up". Writers outdid themselves trying to imagine ways to create chaos and panic out of whatever household items they had available. How much of this destruction actually went on and how much was simply writing out angry missives about destruction, is unknown.
I wrote an essay about the meaning of the term "Anarchy" and how these files relate to that and the world at large.
The entirely stupid direction this country has taken regarding personal responsibility, freedom of expression and good ol' self-preservation necessitates the following paragraph:
||ART || 3620|| Not content to be limited by the text of ASCII, people since the beginning of computer communication have used the given character set of a system to express themselves artistically. Ranging from the ubiquitous smiley :) to extreme photo-realistic digitizations of portraits, this art continues to this day and shows no sign of slowing down. Some of these are clunky, and some are too intense to be believed. But this whole genre shows that trying to force people into small standard boxes is never really successfu
||Computers || 7820|| Your one-stop shop for all files of a "computery" nature, that cover how to rebuild a piece of computer hardware to do something it was never meant to do, or to see someone go really deeply into a computing subject that would cause most people to yawn and look for the snack table. Since BBSes were on computers, it was natural for people who used BBSes to focus on all aspects of these wonderful machines. The evidence of their interest and their experimentation resides below.
While it wasn't my thing, a lot of teenagers make it their life's goal to turn off (or 'expand') as much of their brains as possible. To this end, learning all the new and amazing ways they can mix household chemicals to create intense highs became quite the goal. A lot of these files deal with marijuana, pills, alcohol, and whatever else people could get their hands on. Some were talking completely out of their butts, and some approach the level of pharmaceutical papers in their clinical and terse writing. Vive la Difference!
||Drugs || 5120|| While it wasn't my thing, a lot of teenagers make it their life's goal to turn off (or 'expand') as much of their brains as possible. To this end, learning all the new and amazing ways they can mix household chemicals to create intense highs became quite the goal. A lot of these files deal with marijuana, pills, alcohol, and whatever else people could get their hands on. Some were talking completely out of their butts, and some approach the level of pharmaceutical papers in their clinical and terse writing. Vive la Difference!
||Food || 4360|| If a textfile's about something that's edible, it's probably here.
Here are files with instructions on how to make really great food, or which purport to give you in side scoop on secret food information (like the original Coke formula). There are also files about making drinks, which got to be pretty popular as a lot of users reached drinking age (or at least an age when they started drinking).
||Games || 9360|| Since the first Microcomputers, Arcade Games and gaming have always been linked in some fashion to the world of BBSs. It would make sense that if people used computers to play, they'd be attracted to machines who were dedicated to nothing but playing games.
The parallel lines of arcade games and home-based "console" systems didn't meet with complete full-on force until the 1990's (where they're essentially the same thing and considered the same product) and for a long time the nature of the two cultures were inherently different.
||Hacking || 43670|| Around the 1970's, the term "hacking" meant any deep interest in computers that manifested itself in programming or learning arcane aspects of the machinery or operating systems. By the early 1980's, this meaning morphed into a general term of fear to describe anyone who did anything even remotely evil using computer equipment. The people who considered themselves non-malicious "Hackers" decried this bastardization of the term they took with pride, and the new name "cracker" arrived, years after that name applied to people who removed copy protection from home video games. By the late 80's to early 90's, no one cared too much, except for the people who care about everything too much.
In other words, these textfiles are all about hacking.
||History ||950487||The purpose of the history section is for people who lived through the "Golden Age" of BBSes to write about their experience. They can write about it from the point of view of someone looking back, or they can try to recreate the feelings they had when they went through it in childhood (or early adulthood).
||Holiday || 54670|| These are textfiles that are attached to certain holidays. It's kind of annoying to see files about subjects that don't represent year-round types of subjects, so they're all lumped in here. The majority of the files here are currently Christmas files.
An exception is the Occult section, which is loaded with Halloween stuff but it doesn't seem as clear to split the specific holiday stuff from and put here.
||Internet || 17459|| While in today's world, the Internet is a fact of life, and most mentions of it deal with unusual new laws or the discussion of the Internet as a cultural force in the world, this wasn't always the case. Started as a network of networks in the late 1960's, the Internet was, by today's standards, a pitifully slow connection that spanned only the most with-it college campuses and govenment installations. While the BBS world thrived and exploded, the Internet slowly grew, adding new schools and stronger connections over time. Before BBSes knew what hit them, this collegiate computer tool suddenly because The Next Big Thing, and any BBS that didn't grow and adapt to handle the Internet in some form slowly withered and died. On the other hand, any BBSes that made the switch were mutated into something completely unrecognizable anyway, so it was a lose-lose situation as far as the BBS culture surviving intact.
||Magazines || 62869|| Of all the sections, this one should be the most out-of-date and incomplete. Essentially this section will be all the "Electronic Magazines" or "E-Zines" that started out on BBSes and spread to the Internet.
Instead of losing individual textfiles in the sea of BBSes, many writers chose instead to move to the "Magazine" model, where they would band together textfiles and release them as a group. This strengthened the chances of the files surviving and also made for impressive file sizes, a sign of quality to people browsing sites.
||Messages ||5311||Textfiles, intended to be transferred from BBS to BBS and user to user, were the longer-lasting legacy of the 1980's, but a much more fluid portion of the boards was the true lifeblood of the culture: the messages. Every BBS has a number of message bases where users could post about whatever they thought to discuss; debates, rag wars, advertisements, and boasts all played out the same dramas all over the country and the world. When you logged onto a BBS, and started reading the bases you had access to, you could get a sense, almost immediately, of what the "character" of the board was. Some were dictatorships, some were insane asylums, some were office buildings.
||News ||2403|| Before the news media made the transition to online servies, everything was on paper, and if a BBS user wanted to share, they had to type in the entire article themselves and pass it along. This directory will fill as time goes on with professionally transcribed stories, but peppered here and there are those labors of love, trying to spread the word.
||Phreak ||11018||Just as Hacking quickly became a word meaning "Using Computers for Evil Purposes" and eventually 'Any Evil Use of Technology", the word "Phreak", a play off the spelling of "Phone", has spread majestically out into almost complete meaningless. No doubt the pioneering souls of the 60's and 70's, fascinated with the amazing technical achievements of the telephone system, used the term "Fone Phreak" with a warm pride and conspiratorial air, unable to explain to the general populace what drove them to understand the special tones and codes that could propel their voices together and across the world.
||Politics ||28198|| Ah, politics. Well, on first glance, this is about the political process in the United States (where the majority of the textfiles on this site come from), but on closer inspection, it gets a little more blurred. Some of these files talk about issues involving political actions in Religion, some talk about drugs in a political (lawmaking) context, and other files are simply transcription of important speeches or laws made by government.
In other words, you will find a lot of political files here, but no less than you might find in the Conspiracy, Drugs, Occult, or Law sections. It's all very hard to classify, what with files that rant against the intrusion of the government while others demand more intrusion and intervention to stop a wrong. As you might expect, my advice is to browse.
||Reports ||1248|| With evenings and late nights blown away by the wonders of the BBS world, many school-going users found themselves with a tough reality: poor grades. This was all the more frustrating to parents and teachers because the student would otherwise seem to be bright and understanding. Worst of all, this lack of attention/attendance to school subjects would possibly lead to banishment from the computer.
To circumvent this, it because a sort of tradition to upload term papers or essays created in school to BBSes. This served two equal needs: Lagging students would seize this cheap and easy influx of information for their otherwise intolerable studies, and students who posted their essays got the thrill and pride of knowing their work was reaching a much wider audience than just the teacher, and might even be used to save the occasional butt.
||Science ||4257||Science and Scientific Discussion
||SF ||5120|| It's almost a natural progression that someone who was interested in expressing themselves through computers would show some amount of interest in science fiction. Science fiction has always tried to push the boundaries of what people know and think about, and that's kind of what you saw in BBSes. Usually, anyway.
What lives in this directory is commentary about science fiction, some amateur writing in the genre, overviews of important events in science finction, and lots and lots and lots of Star Trek.
||Survival ||1737|| Survivalists tend to be the strongest mix of Politics, Self-Reliance, and Radicalism. As a result, the textfiles they write have one of the more unique blends of points of view of any other part of donskys.net. While it's unlikely you'll agree with a lot of what's being said, you have to give them the fact that they say it loud and clear.
A lot of survivalist files are dedicated to preparing for a coming collapse of society, assuming the worst and preparing for it. They're not waiting for the calvary; they're looking to eat the horses if they come this way.
||Uploads ||4871|| While people who read the donskys.net site might think that the world of g-files and text-only BBSes is dead and gone, there are actually many people who keep the faith, having information they want to see spread far and wide, and writing textfiles to get the word out. While the subjects are newer and the writing more internet-minded, the themes and forces touched upon in other files appear here as well, showing that the spirit is alive and thriving.
When BBSes were the way to get textfiles, you always shot over to the "Uploads" section to see what people had just added to the system, so you could get it first. That's where the name of this section comes from. In actuality, if you have a file you've just written you want to see up here, send mail to email@example.com.
Note, by the way, that because ALL the new files are being put here, it's a bit of a mish-mash. Just like the old days!
As time is going on, people have donated files with the same bad ideas about drugs, vandalism and the ol' boom-boom; hopefully in a mere homage to files of old. Don't follow instructions you find in random textfiles on the internet; it just leads to tears.
||Adventure ||5968||Among the more popular games of the 80's were text adventures, which described fantastic places and people in the form of paragraphs of text, and the player was asked to interact with these ASCII worlds and solve puzzles and dangers. Since these games required a lot of intelligence and perseverance to solve, it became a point of pride to release the solution or 'Solve" first. This was the set of instructions that provided a walkthrough for the game.
Other files in this directory include interviews with adventure game authors and the occasional completely inappropriate file.
Collections of walkthroughs for Apple II adventures are located in the Apple Directory.
||Apple ||1962||With the introduction of the Apple II family of computers, the wonders of programming, communicating, and just plain geeking out became affordable for an entire generation of budding enthusiasts and their families. By the end of the 70's an entire culture had risen up around the Apple II, and the energy of thousands of hardware and software hackers went into learning every last op-code and settable switch within the machine.
It can't be discounted that Apple's successful foray into the educational market resulted in schools countrywide brimming with Apple IIs, and social groups collecting around the labs after school hours. All manner of things happened there, some documented below.
These files range from explicit memory maps of the Apple II to long tutorials on how to "crack" games, that is, remove all copy protection and make the game easier to distribute between other pirates.
||BBS ||6813|| While the vast majority of the textfiles on this site came from Bulletin Board Systems (BBSes), a much smaller percentage concern themselves with the actual nuts-and-bolts issues, heartaches, triumphs, and wonder of the BBSes themselves. This section covers those files specifically.
Imagine a simple home computer, maybe an Apple II or Commodore 64, sitting in a basement of a suburban house, or maybe in the bedroom of a young computer kid, waiting eagerly for the next calling to come down the second phone line (or even the only phone line, late at night) so that the single user could read and post messages, upload and download files, or ask the SysOp (system operator) if they wanted to chat. This was the single node of power which gave hundreds of kids the platform to express themselves or affect the world around them, one caller at a time.
These files rank among my favorites; reading the rants about the rules of the BBSes, the distant but emotionally powerful networks that rose between groups of people who never met, and the glimpses you are given into how it was to have your machine running a message base, hoping that you were going to get the most "posts" of any of the boards running in your neighborhood. Fantastic.
||Conspiracy ||10044|| Another fine example of how alternate viewpoints found a willing soapbox in BBSes, Conspiracy Files promised to reveal the true and actual way of the world by exposing the secret, behind-the-scenes machinations of those who were secretly in power. Since everything got equal footing in the file sections or in the message bases, it all seemed a little more plausible when a literate, seemingly well-thought-out essay told you that things were not how they seemed. This is the power that the Internet shares today.
Whether you look at them as the Real Truth shining through, or some amazingly entertaining fiction, you can often spot a good solid conspiracy theory a mile away. You get evidence that has been surpressed, studies that have been done and forgotten, and sometimes, if you're lucky, it'll mention the Pope.
And hey, some of it is true.
||Fun ||10406|| When the donskys.net collection was just a lot of files at the Works BBS (which I was the SysOp of from 1986-1988), I had several major collections to sort all the text into: Humor, Phreak, Hack, Anarchy, etc. Of course, when I sat back to create this new website from many more files, I found it was better to add more classifications so we wouldn't end up with too many thousand-file directories.
However, there always seemed to be those files that were easily classifiable, but which would have only one or two files in it at most, if I were to make a whole directory for them. Or, I'd have to make a section that was just gardening. I don't want to make a directory dedicated to gardening.
So, I'd shove these weird files into the 'Fun' section. They were always entertaining in some fashion, but they weren't humor. They often preached whacky things, but they weren't conspiracies or political rants. They were just... ...fun.
I've gone through this section a few times, and cleaned it out to go into other sections, but every time I'm adding files, some of the whacky ones always end up here. I guess that's how it'll always be: The Grab Bag.
||Groups ||166000|| It was natural that groups of close friends, working together to write textfiles on whatever subjects they considered their own, would start considering themselves a sort of rock and roll band, or maybe a gang. To this end, Textfile "Groups" starting making appearances early in the 1980's, and of course it's gotten completely out of hand.
Some groups had members that never actually met each other; they did all their work online and might be many many miles apart, or even in different countries. Some groups were open to anyone who wanted to be a member, and some were finite and refused to expand or contract. And then there's the cDc.
||Hamradio ||4686|| Somehow, always found myself here and there on different Ham Radio BBSs, where interesting Ham Radio stuff abounded. The whole Ham Radio thing passed me completely, so I don't really have any insightful information on this community, other than that Ham Radio BBSes were everywhere, and that most of the files in this directory are either Frequency Lists or instructions on how to modify every radio under the sun to pick up cellular phone frequencies.
A quick note on that, which I do know. The government decided to outlaw the ability of ham radios to listen to the 800-900Mhz radio band, because this was allocated to Cell Phones. This angered the Ham Radio community so much (after all, the broadcasting was going on all over ANYWAY) that mod files, clipping this wire or taking out this or that chip to fix this "limitation" were ubiquitous. Freedom uber alles.
||Humor ||7442|| This directory is filled with files that I considered funny, or trying to be funny. In some cases, the files might better belong in other sections because of their chosen subject matter, but usually, someone is just trying to make others laugh. Hopefully you'll laugh too, or at least marvel that someone actually thought the chosen subject was humorous.
The sense of humor that people show online is pretty well varied; some people write fantastic diatribes on stupidity or weirdness they experience in their lives, some parody other common text files, and some just transcribe funny columns or jokes they heard. The range in this directory is, for the moment, beyond easy categorization.
|There are 52 files for a total of 950,487 bytes.|
|There is 1 directory.|
I hope to have this section grow to be one of the most complete and popular parts of this site. If you want to contribute, please don't hesitate to write to me.