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Computing

PC Connection Australia BBS

In June 1984 I upgraded my home IBM-PC to have two half-height floppy disk drives and a 10 Mb hard disk drive. It went on-line as Australia's first IBM-PC based Bulletin Board System (BBS) in July 1984, called PC Connection Australia.

A Sendata 2000 auto answer, auto disconnect 300 baud modem was provided by Electro-Medical Engineering via the Melbourne PC User Group. Initially 2 Mb worth of public domain software was available for downloading.

The BBS software was written in BASIC and compiled using the IBM BASIC Compiler. By November 1984 there were four other Australian IBM-PC based bulletin boards systems using the same software. In 1995 Richard Tolhurst helped me with some significant changes to the BBS software.

My IBM-PC proceeded to run almost continuously 24 hours per day, seven days per week as a BBS until replaced in early 1989. Along the way upgrades in the form of two half-height 20 Mb Seagate hard disk drives, and later two half-height 30 Mb Seagate hard disk drives were made. And the Sendata 300 baud modem was replaced by a Sendata 1200 baud modem.

In December 1985, PC Connection Australia became a closed system where visitors only had limited access and users paid a small fee to register for full access. Two things led to this change. First, I couldn't afford the ongoing costs of operating the BBS. Second, there were just too many people abusing their free access to the BBS, placing offensive messages on the system and uploading copyright software. Many other bulletin board systems switched to closed mode during this period for this reason.

PC Connection Australia Goes Multi-User

In 1989 with the support of MicroHelp Computers & Communications, the PC Connection Australia BBS was upgraded to become Australia's first true multi-user BBS system. I switched to using "The Major BBS" software from Galacticomm. Moving on to a fast Intel 80286 based system permitted the simultaneous support of four 2400 baud modems.

By late 1990, PC Connection Australia had twelve NetComm SmartModem 9600 baud modems available to the public. The hardware involved was a Samsung system with an Intel 80386 20 MHz CPU, with 4 Mb RAM, 120 Mb of hard disk storage and two Stargate PLUS-8 8-port serial cards. A NetComm/Telebit TrailBlazer modem capable of 18,000 bps throughput was used to exchange mail, newsgroups and public domain software with other systems. A couple of SCSI CD-ROM drives were used to place on-line what were then considered some very large software collections.

At its peak, PC Connection Australia had more than 2500 subscribers who paid 50 cents per hour to access the system. The services available to the users included: electronic mail, teleconferencing, forums, file libraries, shopping mall, polls and questionnaires, plus a number of multi-user online games.

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Last modified: Saturday, 21 January 2006

 


 
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