A BBS Documentary, das Blinkenlights, Nova 3s + ASR33s

Slashdot reports on the release of Jason Scott’s five and a half hour long DVD documentary on the History of the BBS [computer bulletin board system]. Jason Scott is the creator and webmaster of TEXTFILES.COM, a website dedicated to collecting the files and related materials from the era of the Dial-up BBS.

TEXTFILES has great relics from the period such as this mock-German directive to keep your hands in das Pockets and watch das Blinkenlights. Das Blinkenlights reputedly was first posted in black gothic type on the wall of a Stanford computer facility, circa 1959, when computers had Blinkenlights. More here, including the German revenge. Of course more recently, das Blinkenlights became the topic of a building-light hack by Berlin’s Chaos Computer Club.

All this talk of das Blinkenlights reminds me that the first computer that I used, a Data General Nova 3 had das Blinkenlights and also required me to enter in a dozen lines of octal code via the front panel switches before it would load BASIC or FORTRAN from the tape drives. If you didn’t watch das Blinkenlights, you could set yourself up in front of one of the three ASR 33 terminals that my high school owned. No CRTs for me! Not in 1980. Nobody really understands scrolling text unless they’ve used one of these.

Slashdot reports on the release of Jason Scott’s five and a half hour long DVD documentary on the History of the BBS [computer bulletin board system]. Jason Scott is the creator and webmaster of TEXTFILES.COM, a website dedicated to collecting the files and related materials from the era of the Dial-up BBS.

TEXTFILES has great relics from the period such as this mock-German directive to keep your hands in das Pockets and watch das Blinkenlights. Das Blinkenlights reputedly was first posted in black gothic type on the wall of a Stanford computer facility, circa 1959, when computers had Blinkenlights. More here, including the German revenge. Of course more recently, das Blinkenlights became the topic of a building-light hack by Berlin’s Chaos Computer Club.

All this talk of das Blinkenlights reminds me that the first computer that I used, a Data General Nova 3 had das Blinkenlights and also required me to enter in a dozen lines of octal code via the front panel switches before it would load BASIC or FORTRAN from the tape drives. If you didn’t watch das Blinkenlights, you could set yourself up in front of one of the three ASR 33 terminals that my high school owned. No CRTs for me! Not in 1980. Nobody really understands scrolling text unless they’ve used one of these.

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