8BBS started in 1980 in my spare bedroom in Santa Clara, CA. It was inspired by and loosely modeled on CBBS. Dick Murphy wrote much of the custom PAL8 assember
code and special features. I wrote the 'easy' parts in BASIC.
8BBS hardware consisted of a DEC PDP-8/e, 32K 12-bit words using core memory (no need for a UPS). The 12-bit words allowed two characters to be stored (6-bits each), or three 8-bit characters could be stored in two 12-bit words.
Initially, 8BBS used a Penywhistle 300-baud dial-up modem. A user in Pennsylvania eventually offered to donate a Bell 1200-baud modem. The mass storage device consisted of DEC RK05J removeable hard drives (1.2 MB ea). Backups were done on a DEC TU56 magnetic tape drive using a TD8-E controller. The TD8-E controller used a lot of CPU cycles, so backups were done late at night. The console was a DEC VT52 video terminal and a LA180 DECprinter for hardcopy printouts.
My policy was 'no censorship'. The reasons for this were to differentiate 8BBS from most other BBS's that had heavy moderation and reflected only the opinions of its operator and that fact that my work often required me to be away (often out of the country) for days or weeks at a time so it wasn't practical for me to moderate, approve, censor, edit, delete users posts.
Some of the more noteable 8BBS users that I recall were, Paul Traina, Kevin Mitnick, 'Roscoe' and 'Susan Thunder'.
A small sample of 8BBS messages is available at:
During the summer of 1982, the FBI and Santa Clara police raided my apartment while I was out of the country and seized the RK05 disk packs that 8BBS used. I was never charged with any offense, but did have to hire an attorney to request the return of my property that was taken by the police.
The 8BBS RK05 disk packs were returned about a year later, but the forensic exam damaged the data structure so it was no longer possible to run 8BBS. The backups were of the user posts only, not the 8BBS source code and executables. I suspect the forensic examiners tried to work with it on a PDP-11 system which uses a slightly different variation of RK05 disk pack.
I understand that some students from Drexel University were charged with theft of goods - that's where the donated Bell 1200 baud modem alledgedly came from. I believe 8BBS was the first BBS to be raided and shutdown by the FBI for content posted by its users.
Even though my employer fired me because of the police raid, the 8BBS project was fun to create and provided opportunities to interact with many interesting people. I learned that most people (law-enforcement especially) have a rather tenous concept of what the 1st Amendment means.