ASCII by Jason Scott

Jason Scott's Weblog

Major BBS: The Warezing and the Winning —

Entry written on August 8th.

Someone pointed out a MajorBBS torrent to me. I’ve downloaded that particular collection and put it up on the BBS Software collection. The directory with the files that I got is here. Specifically, the zip file has the jaunty name of “MBBS4EVER”, that kind of overly ambitious and breathless filename I like to see on a collection.

It’s quite a collection, too; probably would have fetched a pretty penny way back when (1992-1994 era software). The listing is here, and you can see the effort put in to make a “complete” collection, or at least one where any reasonable person wouldn’t complain about the contents being lacking in any way. I especially like the “how-to” and “R&D” portions of the descriptive text, where the compilers tried different configurations with the software. This is meant to run in the present day.

I interviewed Scott Brinker for the BBS Documentary; he’d left the company many years previous but had a great collection of memories and feelings about that time. He’d moved on and not moved on, which is the kind of blend anybody who cares about what they do should have. Those hours of interview will get up on the archive.org collection soon. It was one of the best, which is why his interview is all over the final work.

I also dedicated the MAKE IT PAY episode to Tim Stryker, who created MajorBBS, ran Galacticomm, and then retired and committed suicide.

Galacticomm as an entity still exists; the webpage is over here and doesn’t give a full listing of the large, interesting history of Galacticomm. This important task is instead being done to near perfection by themajorbbs.com, which is collecting photographs, histories and software related to MajorBBS and its company. They have documents that I’ll probably swipe for my own collection, including customer letters and announcements.

I wish there was more in the way of efforts like this to preserve the history of BBSes, but some were definitely one-person affairs with less than a few dozen adherents. More than once I’ve been told by an author that the copy of the BBS I scraped up is one the original author doesn’t even have any more.

The search never ends for these little artifacts. It’s delightful when I see others down in the woods with me.


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30 Comments

  1. M. Simon says:

    I designed the I/O bd. that went into the world’s first BBS.

    When Randy and Ward told me what they were up to I thought they were nuts.

    The board used the Intel 8251 which had a particularly bad software reset sequence. There was no way to be sure what state you were in. I suggested Randy and Ward hack the board and use a line from the 8255 to do a hardware reset on the 8251.

    BTW Fusion is the Next Big Thing.

    I’m working on an open source design:

    IEC Fusion Technology blog

  2. DocR says:

    i know many of the people that released the mbbs4ever archive. it wasnt just a bunch of files that somebody shoveled into a zip and published as a torrent. these guys spent months (if not years) finding software, running it, testing it, tweaking it and documenting the process along the way. they did it out of pure love for the bbs scene to ensure that majorbbs and its beloved multi-user ambiance would never die. personally i feel that it is a tribute to the way things once were and a jab in the eye to the way things are now.

    on the flip side it seems the release brought the crazys out in full force. one person in particular made it his personal mission to hunt down and destroy the release. everywhere it was talked about or uploaded to this person spewed hateful lies that it was infested with back doors, trojans and virii in a feeble attempt to scare people away from downloading it.

    fortunately it only took a few seconds for people to see right through these peoples lies and idiocy. it was a very humorous situation much like the flame wars of ole and in the end their pathetic attempts only generated more
    publicity for the archive. hundreds of people have downloaded it hopefully ensuring that majorbbs will be around and accessible for the foreseeable future.

    i truly hope that these hateful actions of a few wackos do not dissuade them from releasing anything else from their vast havens of lost and forgotten technology.

    they will be pleased to know it has been recognized by a kindred spirit such as yourself whose heart feels the same yearning to preserve the past for the future.

  3. Questman says:

    Jason,

    MBBS4EVER is pirate software. It is not authorized distribution – a lot of that software is still owned by companies who have decided to hold on to the rights and many still continue to sell licenses, even if the prices are obscene.

    I don’t think you should have links to download pirate software here. Major BBS is not abandonware and is still sold (even if its called Worldgroup) – don’t put your site at risk for the sake of pirates with delusions of grandeur.

    And no, I’m not the person that the previous poster was referring to.

  4. Andre says:

    Questman, it is quite a coincidence that you coin the same phrase as the nut jobs:

    “pirates with delusions of grandeur”

    What an absurd statement to make considering that nobody has taken credit for or used the release to full fill any “delusions of grandeur”.

    You can’t buy MajorBBS 6.25 for DOS and no it is NOT the same as Worldgroup for Windows. Even you aren’t ignorant enough to believe that.

  5. Lil Man Tate says:

    Major BBS for DOS is a completely different beast than worldgroup. Worldgroup was an attempt to create an aol-like environment, with more affluence towards taking advantage of the internet.

    Although some of the base code is the same, with each new release of worldgroup, it transitioned more away from the original compatibility. For example, several major bbs mods worked on worldgroup 1, although not all. A few less with worldgroup 2, and pretty much none by worldgroup 3. At the same token, worldgroup 3.0, 3.2, 3.3, up to 4 have moved completely to a windows 16-bit platform, also with no compatibilities with major bbs.

    Major BBS, by compatibility standards alone, could be protected under the new DMCA law, as unsold and/or unsupported software.

  6. Rick Hadsall says:

    Clearly, Andre and Lil Man Tate, you know little of the code base. Major BBS and
    Worldgroup are the exact same code base. The “AOL-like” add-ons were just that –
    add-ons that weren’t even part of the core. The core was and still is a text-based,
    infinite loop single-threaded process. Even the original ANSI text console
    continues in the latest version of Worldgroup, even though they pretended it wasn’t.
    Worldgroup 3 was the only release of Worldgroup that had any substantial change -
    and most of it was simply to port it from 16 bit code to 32 bit code. That code, of
    course, was adapted from — you guessed it — Major BBS 6.30 for UNIX (and
    Worldgroup 1.01 for UNIX). The GSBL for Win32 Worldgroup was the C-based UNIX GSBL
    rather than the DOS based assembly GSBL.

    Major BBS 6, Worldgroup 1, and Worldgroup 2 were nearly identical at their cores,
    differing only in the shipped packaged addons.

    Worldgroup 3 is not Windows 16 bit. It’s Win32.

    Just because some modules did not work from MBBS6 thru WG2 doesn’t mean they
    transitioned from original compatibility. Some functions changed behavior in the
    core, but the module format, the GSBL, and the central core loop was identical.

    Modules of The Major BBS are not supported under DMCA law — and it’s hardly “the
    NEW DMCA law” — because most of them are still commercially available.

    The bottom line is that this “release” is pirate software. Like it or not, that’s
    what it is. Tell you what – if you’re so confident, why not send it to an FBI agent
    or SPA employee?

  7. Nate H says:

    personally it sickens me to think that anybody would try and bring back majorbbs thank god its dead and please leave it like that.

    if anything the spa and fbi should burn down the house of any idiot that would dare to run such shit.

  8. Nate H says:

    personally it sickens me to think that anybody would try and bring back majorbbs thank god its dead and please leave it like that.

    if anything the spa and fbi should burn down the house of any idiot that would dare to run such shit.

  9. Lil Man Tate says:

    If someone were to get a major bbs mod and try it out on worldgroup 3 dos, it wouldn’t work. If the same mod was tested on worldgroup nt, it still would not work. Since a person can still buy major bbs 6.x mods but yet can’t buy major bbs nor will worldgroup work with those mods, it could very well be protected under the DMCA law, as unsold or unsupported.

    There have been mods that were never upgraded from major bbs to worldgroup. This could also be protected under the DMCA law, as unsold or unsupported. If you know where to buy new copies of major bbs dos, please give us a price list, website, active support information, and payment information, by all means. Is it being distributed with all of the manuals and floppies, on cd-rom, or some anonymous ftp site? This could be the next big thing since free Synchronet!

    Worldgroup nt 32-bit code? Vista 64 reports worldgroup as being 16-bit code.

    All of you haters need to just keep your traps shut and leave people alone. They just want to have some fun, to bring back some memories of better times. Stop trying to hold this abandonware hostage. If you’re going to go from BBS to BBS and report them to the FBI, just do it and stop trying these scare tactics.

    We all know why you use scare tactics. It’s because the FBI would laugh in your face and tell you they have better things to do than chase abandonware pirates. So, you harass people, belittle them, tell them they’re stealing something you haven’t created, and hope that they submit to your will and either stop running their BBSes or pay you some type of monetary funds.

    What is the difference in Average Joe doing it and you? You scour the net for years, downloading major bbs mods, cracks, hacks, beg, borrow, buy, and trade, but the difference is that you are doing it to “preserve” and “ressurect” major bbs? Maybe other people have plans to do the same.

    Get over it. You’ve already lost.

  10. Evan Elias says:

    w00t mbbs4ever is awesome!

    You’ll not see nothing like the mighty Quinn

  11. Adimax says:

    Thanks for hosting this. Nostalgia hit me hard tonight, as I dreamed while unable to sleep of RPGs and lives lived long ago, in the late 90s. I hope this install works and I can once again experince MajorMud.

    Thank you, sincerely, for keeping this alive.

  12. Daniel Spain says:

    lil man tate, yes the FBI does care and has plenty time to do that, they have a division dedicated to exactly that, how do you think rookie and non experienced agents get their feet wet?
    oh and how do you think metro gets those majormud keygen sites shut down?
    majorbbs worldgroup whatever its called uses the same server ‘core’ some implementations from dos->nt but the same codebase. it is pirated software regardless of what you want to call it, it can still be purchased as can a ton of those addons, packaging that and calling it mbbs4ever and distributing is no diff than say packaging up windows 98 calling it win9x4ever. you wanna flame and tear into Rick for trying to stop it when bottom line is its his right to do so. and lets face it what gives anyone the right to package up something like that and send it out.
    oh and tele-arena is in that package and i know for a fact he owns that, and thats still avail in the mbbs,wg,or nt versions.
    even if you could buy mbbs today you would still supply cracks for it, so dont use the ‘isn’t available speech’
    people like you ruin good things then cry like the babies you are when the company stops supporting it.
    its b/c why work hard for something, someone else is gonna ruin?

  13. Ed Hansford says:

    Jason thank you so much for this package!! I wanted to relive my MajorBBS days for so long and now thanks to you I can!

    You can access my bbs (Jaques House) by telnet to 118.71.53.159 it may not be up 100% depending on my DSL and power.

    Mr Spain sir you must live in some kind of utopian alternate universe where the FBI does not have to deal with kidnapping, murder, terrorism, crazy nasa employees, and dog killing football players.

    The truth is the FBI has no interest in stopping ANYBODY from using 15 year old abandoned software. It is laughable to think that you want lead people to believe there are scores of rookie and non-experienced agents tracking down aficionados of 15 year old abandoned BBS softwares.

    Nobody is salling MajorBBS, Nobody is working hard for it, Nobody cares about it accept a small handful of unofficial people trying to keep it alive.

    Go back to your hole you sad TROLL!

  14. Daniel Spain says:

    ROFL. what planet are you from? first lets approach the ‘abandoned’ software theory.
    in the majorbbs source lets open up majorbbs.c in wg 3.xx lets open up the same file.
    wtf is that, the exact same continious loop single-thread routine? how can that be this software is abandoned? now lets approach what abandonedware is..http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abandonware

    i know for a fact metropolis gameport is responsible for over 70 prosecutions since 2003 and i have sent them this jason guys name and info for putting a cracked copy of majormud online.
    yes this archive contains cracks for gameport modules.
    this software has nothing to do with support for something you cant buy, see Ed Hansford people like you that are broke and cant afford to run a bbs download this so they can think they are somebody.
    bottom line is the law will always be the law no matter how petty and in the end people like you will face severe civil penalties just because you thought you knew what you were talking about.
    i know who owns the majorbbs right now and he has no intention of releasing this as freeware.
    it will never become freeware or abandonware and will always be commercial software. this doesnt change because of your opinions or theories.

  15. Logan Mann says:

    Well well.. if it isn’t little Danny Spain.

    Just keep talking so everybody can see how much of a douche you are.

    You and you’re boyfriends Rick and Corey have already lost. The GSBL source was released (thank you NATE) and anybody who has a clue knows where to find it.

    All WG and Major modules have been hacked and cracked released and re-released over the past 15 years.

    Doesn’t it really piss you off that anybody who wants to run the software can just download it and run it? You can no longer keep it hidden in your own little clique.

    How’s the vaporware business going for you? Selling many copies of that new fangled mud or did you run out of old code to steal before it could be finished? You give new meaning to cut and paste.

    “over 70 prosecutions since 2003″

    ROFL LOL HAHAHA! OWNED!

  16. Black Shane says:

    Danielle Spandex over there should know about how much the FBI really gives about abandonware pirates. He sold numerous illegal copies of Tele Arena on newsgroups, irc, aim, icq, and ebay for $150 a pop. None of that money went to Sean.

  17. mroblivious1bmf says:

    HELLO THERE!!

    i am the guy that was talking about the shoddy archive mbbs4ever.

    no i didnt make it my mission to take it off the internet, but i stated that it had viruses, and it does. just like his bbs cracks.

    I would like you all to know that the guy who released it via a seedbox to piratebay’s torrent listing is a well known, mentally unstable person in the bbs scene.

    INFACT, i see him posting as several people on the mbbs forums [backing up his points, agreeing with himself], and i see him HERE IN THESE COMMENTS as several people. it’s probably due to the fact that the man has no friends, and nobody to agree with what he says or does.

    “eddy” / “electro”, you are a retard and a sick person. you think you are a big shot, but you are nothing. all you did was spread around a zip archive that had been floating around. you are nothing special.

    Questman is right, this archive has a collection of copyrighted works that are NOT abandonware.

    not only that, but they have value, and they should not be pirated.

    that being said, what’s available today is a lot better than majorbbs

    http://www.synchro.net

  18. KillRoy says:

    I may have come into this late, but seriously, MBBS wasn’t that awesome. Synchronet is so far superior and written to run on modern operating systems and hardware. This shouldn’t even be a debate anymore and I hope it stays dead. And anyone trying to make money off the rotting corpse of MBBS needs to shut the fuck up. Your as bad as the tradewars people. :)

  19. Kahn says:

    Wow so mroblivious1bmf your a crazy guy that follows around this other crazy guy whose spreading around 15 year old software?

    Thank god BBSes are DEAD

  20. carl lunsford says:

    Where can I download this the links above are broken? I REALLY want to play these major games again.

  21. abe says:

    I would like to download this also plz post where to get it.

  22. King Jaffe Joffer says:

    I hear there’s a new release with 30+ more modules. Does anybody know where to download it?

  23. mroblivious1bmf says:

    “KahnNo Gravatar wrote:

    Wow so mroblivious1bmf your a crazy guy that follows around this other crazy guy whose spreading around 15 year old software?

    Thank god BBSes are DEAD”

    no, douchebag. i didnt follow anybody around. anyways, this kahn guy is probably the guy posting under multiple aliases in this article here

  24. Ralph Smole says:

    Wow HUD way to necropost to a year old comment!

  25. jason says:

    hey fake ‘ralph smole’ !!

  26. Max says:

    Wow! This download worked 100% and no problems! THANK YOU SO MUCH!! Does anyone know where I can get the InFiNiTy CoMpLeX game to download? That’s the ONLY thing missing from this :)

  27. nowhere says:

    I believe this is the answer to what you’ve been looking for.

    mbbsbox v0.3-pre

    A stable MajorBBS v6.25-256 system running
    in dosbox with MajorTCP. 64 telnet nodes,
    4 virtual modems, 63 modules and 8 flash c/s
    games. Easy to use Win 7/XP/2K installer.

    http://www.megaupload.com/?d=60G5F1X2
    http://www.2shared.com/file/JFJEbZgW/mbbsbx3i.html
    http://uploading.com/files/79f2628f/mbbsbx3i.zip/
    http://www.easy-share.com/1913375235/mbbsbx3i.zip
    http://depositfiles.com/files/7pcipykc5
    http://www.mediafire.com/?3o2fsizisb74m3w
    http://rapidshare.com/files/438982441/mbbsbx3i.zip
    http://www.gigasize.com/get.php?d=lhj9q1fgbhc

  28. JohnLL says:

    The Major BBS Restoration Project where you will find out that Questman paid a bunch of money for some of the IP which explains his post.
    http://www.themajorbbs.com/majorbbswiki/display/project/Dashboard

    Info about The Major BBS for Unix.
    http://www.kenmaier.com/gcomm/mbbsunix.htm

  29. Gilbert P. says:

    I used to own Major BBS 6 and Worldgroup from version 1.0 until version 3.20. I ran a 44 node commercial BBS in Puerto Rico called Netropolis BBS.

    Been trying to track down this software because I would like to have a windows friendly version to show my kids how was the “internet” before the internet.

  30. Gilbert P. says:

    And on a side note, I appreciate the fact that some people posted the files out there, because for example, I lost all my 1.44mb Floppy Discs of Worldgroup 3 and the floppy’s for Major BBS.

    While for a lot of people this would constitute an illegal download as Questman and others have pointed out, for other people who like me are true license owners, (I dont think the license has ever been revoked) we can download it and run it at home, etc.

    Just wanted to clear that out in case someone decides to start pointing fingers again…

    To JohnLL: I followed a thread in that site where Questman said in 2008 he had a really big announcement to make, but then no announcement was made.

    I had the opportunity to meet Tim Stryker once, and he was a true visionary. I was very sad when I learned of his passing and how he passed.

    I am 100% certain he wouldn’t have wanted all this bickering, I am sure he would have released the software for open source.

    my .02 cents.