Aviva Directory » Computers & Internet » Bulletin Board Systems (BBS) » Terminal Programs/Telnet

To log into a BBS, a caller would need communication software. In the early days of bulletin board systems, callers would use a modem and a terminal program to dial into a BBS. Later, with the rise of the Internet, callers typically connected through Telnet or even through a browser-based terminal client.

There are still dialup BBSes, and many others will offer the old-school option of dialing into the BBS rather than accessing it through the Internet.

Any website that focuses on the topic of communicating with a BBS is appropriate for this category, as there may be options that I am not familiar with.

An early character-based display terminal executed standard ANSI commands to control the cursor, clear the screen, and set colors. These commands were preceded with an escape character, known as ANSI escape codes, and were widely used in the 1980s. This was known as an ANSI terminal. Prior to the ANSI standard, terminals used proprietary commands.

Most operating systems include a terminal program, but there are also third-party options that were used by some BBS users in the 1980s and 1990s.

Whatever the communications program used, it would need to be able to change communications parameters (speed, parity, and the number of start, stop, and data bits) quickly, as these parameters were likely to be different from one BBS to another.

Communications programs were usually able to save screen information to a disk file or to the printer. When a caller logs into a BBS, a lot of valuable information about the type of BBS software, the focus of the BBS, and how to use the BBS, would appear on the screen. A screen capture system allows the user to save this information for reading later. Screen capture is also useful for copying help files, messages, and file lists.

Communications programs were designed to send and receive files using one of several transfer protocols. Essential protocols of traditional BBSes includes ASCII, XModem, and ZModem, but others existed also, such YModem.

To serve callers who accessed multiple BBSes, communications programs often included a dialing directory, which was a list of numbers that were called frequently.

Commonly used since the 1990s, Telnet is a terminal program for the Internet. It allows the user's computer to talk to the BBs computer over the Internet as if the user were logged into the BBS directly through a modem connection. Simply speaking then, it allows callers to access a BBS over the Internet, enjoying the added speed that a broadband Internet connection can provide over a dialup BBS connection.

Through a Telnet connection to a BBS, basic Internet features, such as FTP, chatting, and email, can be accomplished through a Telnet connection, and new software tools can make these processes even simpler. Telnet is also used to log into multi-user games.

Of course, a BBS has to be set up to accept Telnet connections, and some modern BBS software programs include this feature.

Inbound Telnet refers to the ability to have Internet users log into the BBS using the Telnet protocol. Not only does this allow BBS users to access the BBS at broadband speeds, as opposed to much slower dialup speeds, but it also bypasses the limitations as to the number of callers who can connect to the BBS at the same time, as long as the software allows for it. An additional advantage is that it allows a BBS to receive international callers without the international calling rates.

Outbound Telnet refers to the ability to allow users of the BBS to Telnet to other systems on the network. With outbound Telnet, a caller can dial up a BBS and use it as a host to connect to other systems. In this way, some BBSes have served as Internet service providers. In fact, many of the early ISPs were BBS systems.

Many BBSes today are set up to allow browser-based Telnet, which allows users to access the BBS through their Internet browser.

Whatever the technology might be, anything relating to connecting to a computer bulletin board system is appropriate for this category.



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