Really Enjoyed Jason Scott’s BBS Documentary

Like many young programmers of my age, before I could use the Internet, there were BBSs. I eventually ran one, though in my small town there were few callers.

Some time back, I downloaded a copy of Jason Scott’s BBS Documentary. You might know Jason Scott from and his work at the Internet Archive.

The documentary was released in 2005 and spans 8 episodes on 3 DVDs. I’d watched parts of it before, but recently watched the whole series.

It’s really well done, and it’s not just about the technology. Yes, that figures in, but it’s about the people. At times, it was nostalgic to see people talking about things I clearly remembered. Often, I saw long-forgotten pioneers interviewed. And sometimes, such as with the ANSI art scene, I learned a lot about something I was aware of but never really got into back then.

BBSs and the ARPANet (predecessor to the Internet) grew up alongside each other. One was funded by governments and universities; the other, by hobbyists working with inexpensive equipment, sometimes of their own design.

You can download the DVD images (with tons of extras) or watch just the episodes on Youtube following the links on the author’s website.

The thing about BBSs is that they never actually died. Now I’m looking forward to watching the Back to the BBS documentary series about modern BBSs as well.

12 thoughts on “Really Enjoyed Jason Scott’s BBS Documentary

  1. @textfiles Those two projects wound up forming the basis for a various research and other works, such as Kevin Driscoll’s excellent book “Modem World”, which I leared about in the article “The Internet Origin Story You Know Is Wrong” from . I wrote about it under the title “Lessons of Social Media from BBSs” at . 4/
    The Internet Origin Story You Know Is Wrong

  2. @textfiles Then there is his documentary Get Lamp, about #InteractiveFiction (aka #TextAdventures). A more focused film, it also does a great job of capturing a culture that existed — and exists. #getlamp Also all these documentaries are licensed under a #CreativeCommons license and Jason encourages you to download them. 5/
    Get Lamp – Wikipedia

  3. Here on #Mastodon, I don’t encourage people to “like and subscribe” or “#follow“. I encourage people to *INTERACT*. My measure of enjoyment of the #Fediverse isn’t my follower count; it’s the kind of interactions I’ve had. (So all the new people that have followed me in the last week: tag me on a toot or reply to this and say hi!)So, you can interact with Jason at and .Now pardon me while I remove some #birdsite clients…/end

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.