SUNDAY MONITOR, Concord, NH  -   April 10, 1994 Page E-1

Connected by
their computers

Electronic 'bulletin boards' a hot hobby

With a computer, phone line and modem, anyone can visit more than a dozen boards locally and more than a hundred around New Hampshire.

Monitor staff

Psst Want to join the Quiet Revolution?

No weapons required, only a computer and probably a like-minded attitude: a bit Libertarian in persuasion with some interest in firearms and survival lore.

Your brothers-in-ether may live in Hawaii or Alaska or three doors down the road. Headquarters is a corner of Allan Hitchmoth's living room in Penacook, where his computer hums with dialogue.

The Quiet Revolution is a bulletin board system, the Information Age's version of pen pals. With a computer, telephone line and the equipment to connect the two, anyone can visit more than a dozen boards in greater Concord, more than a hundred in New Hampshire, and through them, reach thousands worldwide.

"I'm a terrible letter writer but this is interactive, more topical and more immediate," said Hitchmoth, who repairs printers for a living.

Although he will never meet most of the members of his bulletin board, Hitchmoth counts a couple dozen as friends despite that. He can code messages for their eyes only and carry on private conversations that don't transfer to larger, nation- wide networks.

The bulletin board is less formal than letter writing, less argumentative than some face to face discussions, he said.

"You don't have to have your guard up... and you don't have to figure out how to win an argument," Hitchmoth said.

The number of bulletin boards is increasing

See COMPUTERS - Page E-6


" I learned I'm not
quite as off the wall as I
thought. "

- Allan Hitchmoth


How you can get connected

A look at how to hook up, as well as a list of local bulletin boards.

Monitor staff

Bulletin board systems are only a phone call away.

If your computer didn't come with a modem - the device that connects a computer to the phone lines - you can buy one for $75 to $200, depending on the how quickly it transfers information, said Jerry Hanlon at Bitznbytes Computer Center in Concord.

With the modem you get the software that enables your computer to communicate over the phone lines and directions for setting up and getting started. Plug the phone into the modem and the modem into the computer, and you will be ready to dial, Hanlon said.

See CONNECTED - Page E-6

        COMPUTERS   Continued from Page E-1

as more people buy computers and discover the hobby. As always, not all the users are benevolent; last week a Massachusetts man was accused of raping two boys he met though his bulletin board.

Bulletin boards are organized by hundreds of topics, called conferences, like cooking, books, home-brewing or genealogy. Each bulletin board operator narrows the list to his or her own interests, plus those that members call most often.

Hitchmoth makes no apologies for running a board with an attitude that includes conferences on firearms, survival strategies, and anti-big-government political chatter. Don't agree? Call another bulletin board Or jump into the fray. Hitchmoth and the other members of his board relish debate as long as it doesn't get nasty or crude.

"It give me the opportunity to say, 'Here's my system which is an extension of myself,' and find out how many nuts are like me," he said. "I have more friends than I had before, and I learned that I'm not quite as off the wall as I thought."

In a spare room on Fisherville Road, Mike Maggi over- sees Mario's Birdhouse, a bulletin board whose members are mostly New Hampshire-based. The real Mario, a brightly feathered Rainbow Lorey, is likely to be perched on Maggi's shoulder sqawking warnings about the family cat while Maggi reads through messages.

Maggi owes his marriage to computer conversation. He met his his wife Sandy, through a computer network they both joined six years ago. He lived in New Jersey. She lived in New Hampshire.

Maggi opened his bulletin board in 1991 and has logged more than 10,000 calls. Some members call to play games against other members with the computer tracking scores and ranking opponents. Some just want to talk about a movie they saw a recipe they tried, or a computer program they tested.


Bulletin boards are organized by hundreds of topics, called conferences, like cooking, books, home-brewing or genealogy.

They can check the flea market conference for items for sale or items wanted - often computer equipment. One member looking for a new modem got free advice the best available.

In a separate conference Maggi collates information for the New Hampshire chapter of the Boston Computer Society, which meets in Concord. From his computer the information automatically travels to other bulletin boards around the state.

In a house in South, Concord, the Starlite BBS, operated by Ken Kalloch, is a treasure trove of shareware software: software that is not copyrighted and so is available to anyone who wants to give it a spin.

Some shareware is free. With others, the originator relies on the honor system for payment: If you like and use the program, send money. Some shareware only gives you a taste of the program, and you have to pay if you want the whole package, Kalloch said.

The Starlite BBS stores dozens such programs that members can copy onto their own computer whenever they want. The only compensation Kalloch asks is that members send the board one new program for every 10 they take.

Like Maggi and Hitchmoth, Kalloch encourages a bit of humanity in his board, enjoying the cross talk among members, whose chatter can reach a New Hampshire network and a national one.

Since one member at a time uses the telephone line, computer communicating is like writing a quick letter and waiting by the mailbox for a reply.

Conversations are more like overhearing diners at the next table: sentences out of context. If you don't now the question one caller

asked, the answer may not make sense. The lingo can stump the uninitiated. "Have you hatched these out of the filebone?" one Quiet Revolution member asks another.

Abbreviations aren't always obvious. ROFL: Rolling on the floor. LOL: Laughing out loud. IMHO: In my humble opinion. :) is a happy face :( is the opposite.

Talk is cheap - usually a local call - once callers buy a computer. Many newer personal computers come with the modem which connects to the phone lines.

In the gray hours before dawn each day bulletin boards refuse calls from members and wait to link with the world. The Quiet Revolution goes nationwide. Mario's leap-frogs New Hampshire and eventual reach a national network. Starlite messages shoot to Gonic, then zip to Alabama, the headquarters for the national network Kalloch Joined.

The transfers may cost a few cents on their monthly phone bills, but Hitchmoth, Maggi and Kalloch write that off as the price of their pastime and don't charge their members.

"It's the cost of any hobby, like bingo or bowling," Maggi said.

When Kalloch started the Starlite BBS about a year ago, he surprised himself.

"When I first got the program, the only person I intended to communicate with was a friend on the Heights," he said.

Now he owns two computers and pays for two phone lines, devoting one each to the Starlite BBS. While the bulletin board can pretty much run itself, he tunes in often to see what members are talking about, to leave messages of his own, and to clean out old program to make room for new ones.

"It's fun seeing how many people are getting into computers, and it's enjoyable having a place people can call and learn more," he said. What gives me the most enjoyment is doing the work and being appreciated."


        CONNECTED   Continued from Page E-1

Once you make the connection, each bulletin board welcomes you differently. The Quiet Revolution offers philosophy and an American flag. The Starlite Bulletin Board System displays its name on a field of stars.

But both - and Mario's Birdhouse - have similar rules: You must register your real name and phone number. The computer pauses to dial your telephone the number first time you sign on in order to verify it.

If the computer doesn't connect with a modem, it will hang up on you.

"It will dial five times and if no modem answers, forget it. You can't get in," said Mike Maggi who oversees Mario's Birdhouse. "Kids have put in Concord police headquarters (telephone number) and Dunkin' Donuts."

New members also need a code word that they pick the first time they call. It ensures that only verified members access the bulletin board.

The bulletin boards also have rules of courtesy: No swearing. No aliases. Don't pass on viruses or software that can damage operations. Don't expect to find or exchange copyrighted material. Don't enter any private information, such as credit card numbers.

Bulletin board operators limit the amount of time you spend in the system each day so one or two members don't hog the line. Members who call long distance don't stay long anyway, but learn how to copy messages onto their own computer to read after they hang up, said Allen Hitchmoth of The Quiet Revolution.

Getting a bulletin board up and running takes a long time, but once it is in place, it hums along. Hitchmoth spends two to three hours a week maintaining the system and an hour a night leaving messages for friends.

Local boards

Here is a list of local bulletin boards, starting with where they are based, their name and their computer phone number.

  • Allenstown; Tri Town EMS BBS; 485-7658
  • Belmont; Alter Net 1; 524-9010
  • Belmont; Alter Net 2; 528-2149
  • Belmont; Babble Board; 267-5921
  • Boscawen; Midnight Prowler's; 796-2868
  • Bow; Easy Does It; 228-0705
  • Bradford; V-GER 128; 938-5265
  • Chichester; On-Line NH; 798-4028
  • Concord; Applied Educational Sy; 225-2311
  • Concord; Community Connection; 229-1950
  • Concord; Journey's Move; 225-7471
  • Concord; Mario's Birdhouse; 226-0467
  • Concord; The Starlite BBS; 226-3344
  • Contoocook; The Busy Signal BBS; 746-5026
  • Deerfield; Computer Law; 463-5837
  • Deering; Angler's BBS; 529-4249
  • Franklin; Franklin Mint; 934-6218
  • Franklin; Lakes Region Gateway; 934-2779
  • Gilford; Reel Fun II; 528-5620
  • Henniker; NEC BBS; 428-7962
  • Laconia; Wing It BBS; 528-6899
  • Meredith; Hobby Center; 279-9028
  • Northwood; Dog House; 942-8516
  • Northwood; Northwood Connection; 942-5625
  • Penacook; Quiet Revolution; 753-9540
  • Pittsfield; Center of the Universe; 435-7771
  • Pittsfield; Floppy Disk; 435-8021
  • Pittsfield; Major Tom's; 435-8221
  • Pittsfield; Slow Motion BBS; 435-8513
  • Suncook; Cyclop's; 485-8703
  • Weare; Granite State Connection; 529-3301
  • Weare; Weare PC Host; 529-1948

Starlite BBS welcome screen
Starlite BBS - Welcome Screen, ca. 1993

After the above Concord Monitor article, the "Starlite BBS" continued for a few more months as the "Starlite BBS," then in August of 1994 I visited Old Sturbridge Village in Sturbridge, Mass.  After my visit there I had the idea to change the theme of my BBS to history and genealogy, also I wanted to have information about self sufficiency, gardening, food preservation, etc., so I renamed it the "Root Cellar BBS."

Root Cellar BBS Welcome screen
Root Cellar BBS - Welcome Screen, 1994

Then in September 1994 I had a caller to the BBS leave me a message asking me if I could help a friend of his with a question about a Revolutionary War regiment.  He and his friend were both involved with re-enactments, but his interest was mainly Plains Indian culture (Lakota/Sioux).  This sparked my interest in leaning more about the Lakota.  So within a couple months I changed the name and theme of the BBS again.  I renamed it the "Four Winds BBS," and I made a large amount of Native American related information available to callers.

Four Winds BBS - Welcome Screen, ca. 1997

After this newspaper article was written the numbers of callers to BBS's dwindled as more and more people started using the World Wide Web.  Fewer and fewer people continued to call BBS's and the owners of the boards closed down one by one.  By June of 1998 the Four Winds BBS was the only remaining "dial-up" BBS in the Concord Area. 

I shut down the BBS on June 20, 1998, as I prepared to go to South Dakota for a visit to the Pine Ridge and Rosebud Sioux Reservations.  I had plans to turn it back on when I returned, but I wasn't able to.

I have very fond memories of the days when it received dozens of calls each day.   I miss those days, but I'm happy that personal computers and the Web have continued to advanced.  It's also nice to see that a few BBS's have been able to survive and some have made their boards accessible via the Internet using Telnet.

Four Winds BBS - Goodbye screen
Four Winds BBS - Goodbye Screen

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