Many BBSes also offer on-line games in which users can compete with each other, and BBSes with multiple phone lines often provide chat rooms, allowing users to interact with each other.
Bulletin board systems were in many ways a precursor to the modern form of the World Wide Web, social networks, and other aspects of the Internet.
The first public dial-up BBS was developed by Ward Christensen and Randy Suess.
According to an early interview, when Chicago was snowed under during the Great Blizzard of 1978, the two began preliminary work on the Computerized Bulletin Board System, or CBBS.
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Low-cost, high-performance modems drove the use of online services and BBSes through the early 1990s.
Infoworld estimated that there were 60,000 BBSes serving 17 million users in the United States alone in 1994, a collective market much larger than major online services such as Compu Serve.
Once logged in, the user can perform functions such as uploading and downloading software and data, reading news and bulletins, and exchanging messages with other users through email, public message boards, and sometimes via direct chatting.
One particularly influential example was PLATO, which had thousands of users by the late 1970s, many of whom used the messaging and chat room features of the system in the same way that would become common on BBSes.
Early modems were generally very simple devices using acoustic couplers to handle telephone operation.
But users found ways to express themselves outside these bounds, and the system spontaneously created stories, poetry and other forms of communications.
Unfortunately, the system was expensive to operate, and when their host machine became unavailable and a new one could not be found, the system closed in January 1975.
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