Back in the day...
I originally started the SDorm BBS back in 1985 in Washington DC. In 1989 it moved to Mundelein Illinois with me, expanded to three (count 'em! THREE) phone lines, and in 1990, it became "SDorm.org". It took me almost 6 months to get the non-profit designation that allowed me to go with .org instead of .com. Anyway the reason it became SDorm.org was that in 1990, I started offering this newfangled thing called internet email to my BBS users, at no cost to them. Every 10 minutes, my system would gather up any email messages saved by the users and package them into a bundle, then it would call out to the University of Illinois (using a northern suburbs WATS line that the U of I had, so it wasn't a toll call for me), and drop off the outgoing messages. Then it would pick up the incoming message bundle (if any), and unpack it, distributing email to the appropriate users. Although there was a kludge which connected a BBS network called FIDOnet to the Internet, my BBS was the first in Illinois to offer actual Internet email, with everyone having an address like Doofus.McFly@SDorm.org.
Henry Kisor (who was book editor of the Chicago Sun-Times) and Sherman Kaplan (reporter for WBBM radio) were both users of my BBS, and got their first emails through my system. When I moved to the south side of Chicago in 1994, the BBS came with me, and so sdorm.org was (for a couple of years) run from 64th and Stony Island Avenue. That was the last home it had before I closed it for good in December of 1996.
I found the backup discs which I had made when I shut down the BBS, and remembered that along with Internet email, I also offered, over the years, a BOAT LOAD of files and documents that people could download by logging onto SDorm. Some of them are a real hoot in terms of showing where computer networking and communication came from and how it progressed. There were also a TON of hacker files on there as well, showing all kinds of things like how to break copy protection on Lotus 123, and how to do red-boxing to make free long distance phone calls from pay phones. Just a whole load of stuff that is pretty retro nowadays.
So here's the project I've been toying around with, though it's not finished yet. There's really no way to re-create the whole ambiance of the BBS world, but I am going to put all of those files and texts that I used to have on SDorm.org on this website. There are about 15,000 or so files which I've been combing through and uploading, and I don't know how many text (instructional) files...literally hundreds of thousands...so I'll have to be more selective about those.
For the curious, for the nostalgic, for the student of Internet history... here are the contents of an old-school BBS from "back in the day". Have fun.