World's Biggest Book Store Farewell Sale! After 33 years, we're saying #, with up to 50% OFF storewide. indg.ca/ujNyu
That seems only fitting on Throwback Thursday - if I understand the term correctly. The WBBS was a few blocks from the office where I worked in Toronto. Then I got laid off and tried to find work as a freelance consultant. For which, I decided, I would need a computer. An IBM PS/1 - which I could then write-off against tax as a legitimate business expense. It had a built in dialup modem. Now while I had a computer at my last job it was word processing and spread sheets. Some others had something they called email - I had no idea what that was - but they used that to send memos to the Niagara Falls office, I think. I had not heard a modem before. Well I had, I just didn't know what it was.
In my new home office - ok the corner of the back bedroom - I set up the IBM and tried out the software it came with. I also used the modem to send files to one or two of the consultants I worked with. But the use of the computer changed when I learned that the WBBS had a Bulletin Board. It was free, and if you bought books at the store that got you access to Usenet. They called it "the Internet" and most people - like me - did not know any better. I was a bit hesitant at first, but after a while the on line community started to replace what I missed about work. Socializing at the workplace. Kibbitzing. Schmoozing. Networking. Whatever you want to call it.
wbbs bb was not always available. You could dial up and get a busy signal. Or sometimes it would just ring interminably. And of course every so often the phone line would be needed for actual phone calls. But when it worked you could "chat" or send messages and even download games and pictures. I made friends with people I had never met.
After a while I gave up the idea of being a freelance. I got a job - after intense competition - with the BC Government, in Victoria. I had to go live there on my own for a few months until the family home in Scarborough could be sold and I found somewhere for us to live. In the meantime, I told Mrs Rees, we could chat for free on the computer. Long distance phone calls in the early nineties were still hideously expensive. But we could email any time. I even had an email address at work @gov.bc.ca. But she could log in to wbbbs.com and email me.
I would like to report that this worked well and frequently but I had underestimated the power of technology terror. There was, on the other hand, someone on the bulletin board there who still sent me messages all the time. She even had a 1-800 number - for work purposes. That's another story. But the wbbs bbs was where that started - and was one reason why when I got to my new job I was not a complete newbie when it came to computer communications. After a while I realized that bulletin board systems were about as redundant as dialup was soon to become. The computer at work had a program called Mosaic. It could get pages from the World Wide Web. I could even create a home page for myself instead of trying to recall what web pages I had been to, and what they could be used for.
And in Victoria there was a free volunteer run dial up service - which was soon replaced by a Compuserve account and a much faster modem, that the bc.gov even paid for!
But the WBBS was where it all started for me. So long - and thanks for all the web