Computerized Bulletin Board System

Definition of Computerized Bulletin Board System

A Computerized Bulletin Board System (BBS) is an early form of online communication platform that emerged in the late 1970s and 1980s. Users could access BBS through dial-up modems and post messages, share files, or play games within the localized communities. Though BBS technologies have been primarily replaced by internet forums and social media, they hold historical significance as forerunners to modern online communities.


The phonetic representation of “Computerized Bulletin Board System” using the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is:/ kəmˈpjuːtəraɪzd ˈbʊlətɪn bɔrd ˈsɪstəm /

Key Takeaways

  1. A Computerized Bulletin Board System (BBS) is an online platform where users can connect, share information, and engage in discussions using a modem and a phone line.
  2. Originally popular in the 1980s and 1990s, BBSs paved the way for modern internet forums, chat rooms, and social media platforms, providing early foundations for online communication and community building.
  3. BBSs typically feature message boards, file transfers, email, and even online gaming, enabling users to interact, contribute, and form a sense of belonging to the community.

Importance of Computerized Bulletin Board System

The Computerized Bulletin Board System (BBS) is an important technology term as it represents a key milestone in the history of online communication and digital communities.

Before the advent of the internet, BBSs served as an early example of a decentralized virtual platform where users connected via modems to share information, discuss interests, and exchange files.

These systems contributed significantly to the development of the digital world as we know it today, having fueled innovations in digital culture, online collaboration, and social networking.

By providing users with a shared space for exchanging ideas and resources, BBSs helped pave the way for subsequent digital communication tools and innovations, including instant messaging, online forums, and social media platforms.


The Computerized Bulletin Board System (BBS) was an essential communication platform that allowed users to connect and exchange information, thoughts, and ideas in its time. Serving as a precursor to modern social media platforms and online forums, the BBS offered a digital gathering space where individuals could discuss various topics and interests through message boards and real-time chat options.

Accessible via dial-up internet connections, the BBS allowed for users to remotely join discussions, download useful files and software, as well as participate in online gaming activities with fellow participants. As such, this remarkable innovation fostered a sense of community and enabled people to find others with similar interests, ultimately laying the groundwork for an interconnected world.

In addition to facilitating social connections and discussions, the Computerized Bulletin Board System also played a crucial role in the early era of digital file and data sharing. This network of interlinked systems opened up possibilities for users to exchange not only text-based information but also various media formats such as images, audio files, and digital publications.

As a result, the BBS paved the way for the emergence of countless flourishing online communities, contributing to the expansion and enrichment of global digital culture. Even though modern alternatives like the World Wide Web have rendered the BBS largely obsolete today, its lasting impact remains evident in the myriad virtual communities and digital spaces that exist in the current era, underlining its crucial role in shaping the digital landscape as we know it today.

Examples of Computerized Bulletin Board System

Duke University’s “DukeNet”: In the early 1980s, Duke University launched a Computerized Bulletin Board System (CBBS) called “DukeNet” for its students, faculty, and staff. The system provided a platform to post announcements, exchange information, share resources, and communicate with other users. DukeNet was accessed through terminals connected to the university’s mainframe computer, and played a crucial role in connecting the university community before the rise of the internet.

WWIV BBS: Created in 1984 by Wayne Bell, WWIV BBS became one of the most popular BBS software in its time. It allowed users to dial in to the host computer and access message boards, share files, and join online games. WWIV BBS was known for its customization features and the ability to network with other WWIV systems, forming “WWIVnet.” The platform still exists today as an open-source project, mainly for nostalgic purposes.

FidoNet: Founded by Tom Jennings in 1984, FidoNet was an international network of independent Computerized Bulletin Board Systems. It enabled users to exchange email and files across long distances by using a “store and forward” system, where messages were transmitted during off-peak hours to minimize costs. FidoNet allowed BBS operators worldwide to share information and create communities on a variety of topics, lying a crucial groundwork for the future development of internet forums and social networking platforms.

FAQ – Computerized Bulletin Board System

What is a Computerized Bulletin Board System?

A Computerized Bulletin Board System (BBS) is an online platform that allows users to connect and share messages, files, and other information with one another via a central server. It was popular before the widespread use of the internet. Users can post public messages, join discussions, and access various resources.

How does a Computerized Bulletin Board System work?

A BBS works by utilizing a central server that holds all the data, such as messages and files. Users connect to the server through their computers, usually via a dial-up modem. Once connected, they can access the system, read messages, participate in discussions, and download or upload files as long as they have the necessary access rights.

What were the main uses of a Bulletin Board System?

Some of the main uses of a BBS included sharing files, participating in public discussions, sending private messages, and accessing a variety of user-created content. BBS also served the purposes of providing software downloads, hosting games, and offering technical support for various products and services.

Are Computerized Bulletin Board Systems still in use today?

While BBS usage has significantly declined due to the advent of the internet, some BBS still remain in operation today, mostly for nostalgic purposes or for specific niche communities. However, most online communications have shifted to web-based forums, social media, and other online platforms.

What is the difference between a BBS and a web forum?

Though both BBS and web forums allow users to engage in discussions and share information, a BBS operates on a standalone server and usually requires specific software to access it. In contrast, web forums are accessible through web browsers and are generally easier to use. Additionally, BBS uses a dial-up connection whereas web forums use the internet, which offers faster speeds and better connectivity.

Related Technology Terms

  • Electronic Messaging
  • Online Communities
  • File Sharing
  • System Operator (Sysop)
  • Public-access Network

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