Reach out and download a BBSBy MICHAEL CIRAOLO
ATARI'S OWN BOARD FOR USERS GROUPS
Atari, Inc. operates a 24-hour bulletin board system (BBS) for users groups. The system gives user group officers with valid sign-ons total access, including 46 minutes of connect time and the ability to leave messages. Individuals without valid sign-ons can read mail, but can't leave messages. They are also limited to 15 minutes.
The BBS currently offers educational public domain software, according to system operator (sysop) Cassie Stahl. In the future, the board is likely to expand to include demonstrations of new products for downloading, as well as information about new Atari products.
This system uses an Atari 800, a 6 megabyte hard disk drive, a 300 baud Hayes Smartmodem, Atari 850 interface and 822 printer. The system runs with FOREM, a popular Atari bulletin board program that allows users to obtain limited access to the system without a password.
Sysop Stahl says she is available for chatting on this system during normal working hours, Pacific time. (408) 745-4263.
There is no reason to limit your Atari's telecommunication capabilities to downloading or uploading text files and programs. If you have ever drawn a picture on your Atari, you can send your picture file to a friend using a modem and the correct software.
Use AMODEM, A terminal program published in Antic in July, 1984 (Everybody Needs AMODEM, page 21) to transmit picture files. You must be transmitting to a person who is also using AMODEM. Your friend must also have the same graphics program, you used to create your picture; without the same program, your friend will not be able to read the file you transmit. With the matching graphics software, your friend can read the file immediately.
Data sent over the phone lines can be garbled, improperly received or lost for various reasons. If the picture file your friend receives isn't identical, byte for byte, to the file you sent, the new file may not load. AMODEM has the ability to transmit files without losing or adding any extra bytes. This feature, called XMODEM protocol, requires that both the sending and receiving computers be running a terminal with XMODEM. The person transmitting should use the Upload feature, and the receiving person should use Receive.
Public Access Bulletin Board Systems are known as great sources of public domain software, of news and mail from fellow computer users, and of several varieties of games.
There are a few BBS'S, however, which differ from the run-of-the-mill system, offering callers access to information not widely available on low-cost or no-cost telecommunication systems.
One such system is the Modem Magazine, operated by Bob and Cassie Stahl. (It's a bus driver's holiday for Cassie, the professional sysop of Atari's users group BBS.) This was the first system to be listed in the San Jose, California, phone book, challenging the phone company to start a new category.
Modem Magazine currently offers about 264K worth of text on a variety of subjects not normally found on a BBS, including agriculture and the original Jethro Tull, space, robotics, lasers, the environment, rhinoceros extinction, and computing in the Soviet Union.
Sysop Bob Stahl said he also hopes to move his 24-hour BBS in a more political direction, encouraging debate on the impending presidential election.
Stahl, who is looking for an older audience, said interest in his system is picking up; Modem Magazine gets between 50 and 100 calls each week, with a decline in the summer. The text files are slowly being discovered by callers, and a few people are systematically reading their way through the entire three disks of material.
In a more conventional vein, the Stahls will be bringing Avalon Hill board games to their system, with one person appointed judge and the multiple users normally found in such games.
The Stahl's system uses an Atari 800, an Atari 400 with 48K and eight Atari 810 disk drives. With an ATR 8000, the system may soon have C/PM capability. Modem Magazine uses two printers, the Atari 822 and 825, and a Hayes Smartmodem at 300 and 1200 baud.
The system, previously free to the public, now requires a $12 per year fee. There is still limited public access, but the fee allows total access to the system. The fee is used to cover equipment costs. (408) 289-8217.
Here are several new Atari Bulletin Board Systems, plus a few old ones with new numbers.
Atari Users Group BBS 24 hours
Modem Magazine 24 hours
Courtyard 24 hours
Phamis 24 hours
Valley Girl BBS 24 hours
Alien II Evening only
Atari the Great 24 hours