Each week Joshua Fruhlinger contributes This is the Modem World, a column dedicated to exploring the culture of consumer technology.

This is the Modem World The sinister side of the '80s BBS

Some of the following, for legal reasons, may or may not be fictional.

My first modem was a 300-baud Apple-Cat II. It was an expansion card for the Apple II and simply plugged into a phone line. It was, simply put, a bad-ass piece of technology that turned me into a total digital delinquent. While my parents thought I was innocently learning to code BBSes (bulletin board systems) I was actually learning how to get things for free and paving the way for software pirates, phone phreaks and straight-up frauds of the future.

The Apple-Cat II could connect to other Apple-Cat IIs at 1200 baud, which made file transfers pretty quick for the time. This meant we could trade entire games in about an hour. We’d log into bulletin board systems, share lists of things we had and set up times to dial one another to trade games. Usually a barter would take place — your Aztec for my Hard Hat Mack. It was a lot like trading baseball cards, I imagine.

Filed under: Misc, Internet



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