Zeus Bulletin Board System (BBS)

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       --== BULLETIN BOARD SYSTEM ==--

Before the Internet was available to all, a number of technically minded people across the globe were busy connecting to each other via bulletin board systems (BBS’s). These software packages allowed users to connect to your computer by dialling up your phone number with their modem. Users of BBS’s could access files, read and write messages that were distributed world-wide by early mail networks such as FidoNet, and play games.

I discovered this world back in 1991 when I found an old 1200 baud modem kicking around and connected it to my Amiga. At the blistering rate of 120 bytes per second I soon discovered choice delights such as Six and Five Eight’s, Rabbit BBS, 01 for Amiga, and many more.

After a while I wanted to run my own so I devised a home grown system written using the scripting language of a terminal program called NComm. This worked but it couldn’t compete with a dedicated software package. I ran TransAmiga for a while, slowly upgrading my modem to the dizzy heights of 14400 baud.

ANSI Gringo

At some point in 1992 I realised that I wanted an even more flexible system that could cope with all the ideas and features I wanted to provide to BBS users. None of the available packages could do what I wanted so I started to write my own. It was to be called Pipeline.

After some months, where development was halted due to other projects, I hooked up with Nick Loman, another Amiga BBS user based just down the road in Brighton, and we decided to combine our programming talents to get Pipeline written.

Work began in earnest in the early months of 1993. Nick took over development of the file and message sections while I focussed on the underlying technology.

Towards the end of 1993, after we had changed from Pipeline to Zeus, Nick put the code live on his machine. The enigmatically named ‘fon..72’ received few calls, which was a relief due to the lack of features and amount of bugs in the code, but it did provide us with a good testing facility.

During 1994 we launched our beta testing phase to little interest. Despite sending out the still fledgeling code to various people, they weren’t commited enough to put it online. We solved this problem by charging £50 to join the beta test program. Suddenly people wanted to get their money’s worth and we slowly assembled our crack team of enthusiastic testers.

Meanwhile my system had gone live. The, also enigmatically named ‘spa..58’. The spa/fon names came from a Furry Freak Brothers comic – in one frame there are two blobs talking to each other. One says ‘spa!’, the other replies ‘fon!’. Mystery solved…

By the middle of 1995 we had users running Zeus all round the world.

Finally, in 1996, after three years of solid development, we released version 1.0 at the World of Amiga show held at the Novotel Exhibition Centre in 1996. For two days, standing alongside the big names in the Amiga industry, we demonstrated the system at our stand to an unsuspecting crowd.

Zeus also featured on the cover mounted CD of Amiga Magazine’s April 1996 issue.

The one and only magazine review of Zeus, featured in an Amiga magazine I can no longer remember the name of, netted it an overall score of 85%.

But the salad days were soon to be over. The Internet had started to appear and, despite our best efforts to integrate Zeus with this newly available technology, it was obvious to us that bulletin board systems had reached the end of their days.

We sold the source code and all rights to a consortium of developers who wished to carry on the project in April 1999.

Links

Current official web site: http://www.zeusdev.co.uk/

Zeus BBS on BBS Documentary: http://www.bbsdocumentary.com/software/COMMODORE/AMIGA/ZEUS/

Reviews

Zeus BBS review on Amiga Report

“The configurabilty is simply phenomenal for the package of its type
and there is absolutely no reason for any two BBSi to look the same. All
it takes is a bit of imagination on the Sysop’s part and the sky’s the
limit.”

“Out of all the BBS programs I have used nothing can touch the power of
Zeus. Maybe I can be proven wrong but somehow I doubt it.”

“A quite simply brilliant piece of software. I’ll give it 4.9 out of 5
stars (I won’t give it full marks because I don’t believe any software is
perfect and where would be the motivation to continue updating it).
Congratulations Alex and Nick.”

2 thoughts on “Zeus Bulletin Board System (BBS)”

  1. Wow, blast from the past, I was one of your “Beta Testers” running SlimeLite BBS in London…. I remember coming down to brighton for a meetup and sleeping on your couch and getting my copy at Novotel Hammersmith…. Good times

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