Fascinating tech humor from the mid-80s - any context?

I’m fascinated by this humorous tirade from the past (mildly NSFW language): http://rmitz.org/bbsloser.html

It’s a great read (love the 80s references to Mr. T, the KGB, etc.) but can anyone provide context? I vaguely recall pre-internet “bulletin boards” and “sysops” from the 1990s but this seems to be an even more specialized subculture. Were you part of this world? And what in the hell was “AE/Catfur” (another great name) used for?

Catfur was software used with half-duplex modems (those that could only either send or receive) to switch modes periodically and thus emulate full duplex operations. From Wiki:

I’m still reading the tirade but one important point to remember is that BBSes had a very limited number of lines so each person calling in and, well, being stupid was keeping another member out while they were there. You typically had limited access, both in time and privileges, until you proved yourself worthy of having more of each. So even the “nondescript user” who doesn’t seem to be doing anything “wrong” was cluttering up a line and not contributing anything.

BBS - Bulletin Board System, very much like a modern message board except you have to log out/hang up to give someone else a chance to log in and, possibly, reply.
Sysop - System Operator, guy (always a guy) who owns the PC and modem and runs the BBS. His parents own the phone line so he has to share.
AE - ASCII Express, telecommunications software for the Apple II series that allowed file sharing.
CAT - Crappy Novation modems. Lost market to Hayes. I still spoke some Hayes until recently.
CatFur - File transfer program that used a quirk in Novation modems that allowed up to 1200 baud transfers when most communications were still at 300 baud.
Baud rate - The number of bits transferred per second. There are eight bits to a byte, or a single ASCII character, and another two or so were used for housekeeping, so the effective transfer rate with a 300 baud modem is thirty characters per send. Files took a long time to send.

I was a nondescript user with a Tandy Color computer and a 300 baud Hayes modem.

Not quite. Baud rate is signal changes per second. Earlier modems sent one bit per signal change, so the bit rate equalled the baud rate. But a 14400 bps modem sent 6 bits per signal change, so it operated at 2400 baud, but 14400 bps.

And to think I got an A in that class! :frowning:

Me, too–I think I had a 600 baud on an IBM, and tried out BBSes mostly out of technological curiosity as a kid. I didn’t really spend much time on them except for the WELL, so while I can’t say I was “part of this world,” I more or less get it.

That said, this guy isn’t really that funny. In a way, what’s really fascinating is that he must have taken himself way too seriously to even write such a thing. And it does demonstrate that, in some ways, online interactions haven’t changed that much in thirty years.

Yeah, I noticed that none of his Losers were of the “takes this BBS thing way too seriously” variety… :wink:

Thanks for the info. So this was basically a snapshot of the very first generation of Apple users? And what was “Daltoned” software?

I didn’t do much public BB stuff back then, I was on private BBs for business, generally no access limitations. But when I did get on the public boards on occasion I was the guy hacking the sysop’s password and creating mischief. Nothing destructive, but I’m afraid one sysop hosed his system trying to figure out how I got in. And don’t look at me that way, I was helping out anyone who wasn’t a jerk and letting them know how to make their system more secure.

Not just Apple. The BBSs were accessible by any computer. I got in at the tail end.

Any authentic SysOp from that era would never use the term “loser” or “LoserUser”. Everyone knew the proper spelling was “luser”.

If you want a lot more of this, check out http://www.textfiles.com/