October 26 [Mon], 2009, 15:56

BBSes rmt were generally text-based, rather than GUI-based, and early BBSes conversed using the simple ASCII character set.

However, some home computer manufacturers extended the ASCII character set to take advantage of the advanced color and

graphics capabilities of their systems. BBS software authors included these extended character sets in their software, and

terminal program authors included the ability to display them when a compatible system was called. Atari's native character

set was known as ATASCII rmt, while most Commodore BBSes supported PETSCII. PETSCII was also supported by the nationwide online

service Quantum Link. (Quantum Link and parts of AppleLink went on to become America Online).

The use of these custom character sets was generally incompatible between manufacturers. Unless a caller was using terminal rmt

emulation software written for, and running on, the same type of system as the BBS, the session would simply fall back to

simple ASCII output. For example, a rmt Commodore 64 user calling an Atari BBS would use ASCII rather than the machine's native

character set. As time progressed, most terminal rmt programs began using the ANSI standard, but could use their native character

set if it was available.

A BBS GUI called Remote Imaging Protocol (RIP) was promoted by Telegrafix in the early to mid 1990s but it never became

widespread. A similar technology called NAPLPS rmt was also considered, and although it became the underlying graphics technology

behind the Prodigy service, it never gained popularity in the BBS market. There were several GUI-based BBS's on the Apple

Macintosh platform, including TeleFinder and FirstClass, but these remained widely used only in the Mac market.

In the UK, the BBC rmt Micro based OBBS software, available from Pace for use with their modems, optionally allowed for colour

and graphics using the Teletext based graphics mode available on that platform. Other systems used the Viewdata protocols

made popular in the UK by British Telecom's Prestel service, and the on-line magazine Micronet 800 whom were busy giving away

modems with their subscriptions.

The most popular rmt form of online graphics was ANSI art, which combined the IBM Extended ASCII character set's blocks and

symbols with ANSI escape sequences to allow changing colors on demand, provide cursor control and screen formatting, and even

basic musical tones. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, most BBSes used ANSI to make elaborate welcome screens, and

colorized menus, and thus, ANSI support was a sought-after feature in terminal client programs. The development of ANSI art

became so popular that it spawned an entire BBS "artscene" subculture devoted to it.

Today, most BBS rmt software that is still actively supported, such as WorldGroup, WildCat! BBS and Citadel/UX, is Web-enabled,

and the traditional text interface has been replaced (or operates concurrently) with a Web-based user interface. For those

more nostalgic for the true BBS experience, one can use NetSerial (Windows) or DOSBox (Windows/*nix) to redirect DOS COM port

software to telnet, allowing them to connect to Telnet BBSes rmt using 1980s and 1990s era modem terminal emulation software,

like Telix, Terminate, Qmodem and Procomm Plus. Modern 32-bit terminal emulators such as mTelnet and SyncTerm include native

telnet support.

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