FidoSysop Blog

Randy Suess Computer Bulletin Board System Inventor Dead At 74

Randy Suess the co-inventor of the computer bulletin board system passed away at 74. Suess and another man Ward Christensen worked together to invent the computer bulletin board system (BBS) as they were called back in the mid 198o’s. Soon afterward the Fidonet network allowed worldwide communications. Together they were a great combination

randy suess

Randy Suess co-inventor of the computer bulletin board system (bbs) passed away at 74

In late January 1978, Suess was part of an early home computer club called the Chicago Area Computer Hobbyists’ Exchange. He and another club member, an IBM engineer named Ward Christensen, had been discussing an idea for a new kind of computer messaging system but hadn’t had time to explore it.

The idea was to build a central computer that club members could connect to, using their own computers and telephone lines. They thought of it as an electronic version of the cork bulletin boards on the walls of grocery stores where anyone could post paper fliers.

ward christensen cbbs

Ward Christensen sitting next to the first ever computer bulletin board system (cbbs)

Two weeks later, their system was up and running, and the club was trading messages about meetings, new ideas, and new projects. At first, Mr. Suess suggested they call it CEC, short for Computer Elites’ Communication Project, but they eventually settled on Computerized Bulletin Board System, or CBBS.

Droolnet Headquaters Planet Connect

This 3 foot planet-connect satellite dish was mounted on a $100 car to get around local codes compliance.

In the late 1970s and on into the ’80s, as word of their system spread through trade magazines and word-of-mouth, hobbyists across the country built their own online bulletin boards, offering everything from real-time chat rooms to video games. These grass-roots services were the forerunners of globe-spanning social media services today.

Part 1 of the BBS Documentary video series. The rest parts 2-8 are here

I’m one of those original Sysop’s who started doc’s place bbs in 1991. It’s been 28 years since loading Wildcat 2.55s bulletin board software onto a IBM clone 286-12 with a 2400 baud modem. That old bbs still lives on today and has several active daily callers. The dial up lines were ditched in 1998 as the www and telnet became popular. More info is here.

Retired used car dealer (trust-me) and ASE cert mechanic turned hobbyist internet webmaster. I also operate Doc's place computer bulletin board system (bbs) since 1991. This blog does not generate revenue by displaying pay-per-click advertising. Pop-ups and ads are distractions that cheapens the message being sent. Kindly comment and share while you're here :=)

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