Aviva Directory » Computers & Internet » Bulletin Board Systems (BBS) » BBS Software

At the root of a computer bulletin board system (BBS) is the software that powers it.

Since 1978, when the first BBS came online in Chicago, there have been several kinds of BBS software. Only a few of these have been multi-platform, the vast majority of them created for a specific operating system, and some of those that produced versions for more than one OS did not actively develop each simultaneously.

Before I put my BBS (Newberry BBS) online in 1984, I installed a few free or shareware BBS software programs, trying to determine which to choose.

I chose WWIV, which was developed by Wayne Bell in 1984, and still under active development. Developed for the DOS platform, I ran my WWIV-based BBS under Quarterdeck's DESQview multitasking shell. As I remember, I had a shaky beginning, but the software had just been developed and I was a new Sysop. One of the most popular BBS software programs, WWIV was actively supported, not only by the author but by thousands of programmers who developed modifications, door games, and other features.

When Microsoft Windows came out, I tried running the BBS in Windows and that was a disaster. Rather than reverting to WWIV in DOS/DESQview, I decided to switch to PCBoard, which I also ran in a DOS/DESQview environment. I found PCBoard to be more intuitive than WWIV and it ran smoothly but, as proprietary software, PCBoard lacked the active user community that I had enjoyed with WWIV.

I tried Virtual Bulletin Board System (VBBS), shortly after it was released in the 1990s. Created by Roland De Graaf, who was legally blind, I found VBBS to very easy to set up, and my callers enjoyed VirtualNET, the VBBS message network. However, in 1994, the author switched from shareware to a commercial model and did not honor prior registrations, so I started looking around again.

By then, PCBoard had come up with an OS/2 version. I installed PCBoard on two new computers and purchased a license for the OS/2 version of PCBoard, setting it up while Newberry BBS continued running under VBBS. Once I got it working, I made the switch and couldn't have been happier. My BBS was up for years without a single crash. Although PCBoard had run well under DOS, it was remarkably smoother under OS/2.

These are the BBS software programs that I was familiar with as a Sysop, but they were far from all that was available. Other popular BBS software packages include BBBS, Citadel, Mystic, PowerBBS, Renegade, Spitfire, Synchronet, TBBS, Wildcat, Worldgroup, and several others, including packages created for operating systems such as the Altos 68000, Amiga, Apple II, Apple Macintosh, Atari 8-bit, Atari 16-bit, Commodore 64, CP/M, Microsoft Windows, MS-DOS, OS/2, Tandy TRS-80, and various Unix and Linux distributions.

BBS Software that is still available or actively developed today includes BBBS, Citadel, CNet 64 BBS, EleBBS, Enigma 1/2 BBS, FBB, Hermes II BBS, Magicka, MBSE, Mystic BBS, Renegade, Spitfire, Synchronet, Wildcat Winserver, and WWIV BBS. Some of these may no longer be in active development, but are available and in use on BBS systems today. You may find other actively developed BBS software programs listed below.

The focus of this category is on computer bulletin board software, particularly the software that powers the BBS, as well as add-ons or modifications for specific BBS software. The software for BBS door programs and utilities is listed in a parallel category.



Recommended Resources

Search for BBS Software on Google, Bing, or Yahoo!