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Baud Day

By John Polka

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3/12/24

Baud Day

Baud Days are like comets. They do not come around too often. December 24, 1996 (12/24/96) marked the first Baud Day with little fanfare as many saw the popularity of the Computer Bulletin Board System (BBS) waning from the rise of the Internet.

Fast forward to the year 2022. The BBS has been in the middle of a renaissance since the 2010s. There are fewer BBSs than in the 1980s, but most of the BBSs that we now have are accessible from anywhere in the world through the Internet. Dial-up modem access is still available on many of today’s BBSs as well.

 

It was also during this time that I, John Polka, SysOp of the Basement BBS, was thinking about the different dates that we have made into fun celebrations. This includes PI day (March 14th or 3.14), Star Wars Day (May the 4th), Revenge of the Fifth (and Sixth) Day (May 5th and 6th), etc. This led me to wonder if there is a fun date to celebrate modems and BBSs.  Yes, February 16th is considered BBS Day as it marks the date when the first BBS went online (February 16, 1978). But 2/16/1978 (or 2/16/78) does not otherwise suggest anything unique to BBSs. 

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Then I remembered something that SysOps did when they advertised their BBS. Rather than write a BBS’ supported baud rates as “300/1200/2400”, they would write “3/12/24”. The reason for this abbreviation is probably due to how BBSs were advertised back in the day. Most BBSs were advertised in text files. Depending on the host computer, a text file may have 40 or 80 characters per line. So, space was a premium and dropping 6 characters from “300/1200/2400” made a big difference. 

 

By the 1990s, 300 baud was pretty much dead, so many BBSs would advertise a starting baud rate at 1200. The abbreviation “12/24/96” also became common. 

Now, looking at “3/12/24” and “12/24/96”, I realized that these baud rates are also calendar dates. Hence, Baud Day was born!

How to celebrate Baud Day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The best way to celebrate Baud Day is to call a BBS and wish everyone on that BBS a “Happy Baud Day”! If the users on that BBS ask what you are talking about, feel free to point them to this web page.

The two main ways to connect to a BBS is through the Internet or through a dial-up modem. The Internet method is probably the easiest as there are terminal programs that run on modern devices that will connect to a BBS over the Internet. Since you are reading this web page, you already have Internet access. You just need a terminal program. Two good free choices are Syncterm and Muffinterm. Syncterm runs on most modern computer systems. Muffinterm runs on macOS, iOS, and iPads. That is right, you can use Muffinterm to call BBSs from your iPhone!  Check out this website’s “How to Connect” page for more information on connecting to BBSs through the Internet. 

Some BBSs also have a web interface, so you do not need a terminal program to access them. The Telnet BBS Guide provides a list of approximately 1000 BBSs that you can access through an Internet terminal program, through a web interface, and/or through a dial-up modem.

 

 

 

 

 

To access a BBS through a dial-up modem, you will need a landline phone and a dial-up modem connected to a computer. The landline can be a traditional (copper) phone line, or it can be a Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) phone line. VOIP is a little more challenging to connect to a BBS than a traditional phone line since the modem is an analog device and VOIP is digital. However, a good error correcting modem will work over VOIP. Besides using the Telnet BBS Guide for finding BBS phone numbers, you can also use the 2600 network to connect to any Internet BBS through a dial-up modem.

You can also celebrate Baud Day by sharing your BBS Stories new and old in our Baud Day Forum. And to commemorate this glorious event, we have t-shirts with the following image available too! Click on the image below to purchase a t-shirt.

 

 

 

Lastly, keep your eyes out on our Baud Day Forum for opportunities to win t-shirts and other prizes. Thank you for your participation with Baud Day and happy BBSing!

 

Acknowledgements: John Polka thanks SysOp Amis of the southernamis BBS projects for his valuable input and for hosting the Baud Day web page. Also, thank you to the amazing Users and SysOps of the Atari BBS Community for their support!

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