Hey, it’s 3/12/24! Happy BaudDay ya’ll.

The first computer my family owned was an Atari 400, the 8k entry-level machine with a membrane keyboard so kids wouldn’t muck it up with their grubby hands.

I learned to type on that keyboard, ingraining a stompy two-finger typing style that I’ve never been able to shake. On the night my dad brought it home, we all gathered around the portable TV with a 4inch black & white screen that the Atari was plugged into and played Star Raiders.

Me playing Canyon Climber on the Atari 400 (by this time we’d replaced the little portable tv with a proper television). Look how minty fresh white that 400 is!

There was a BASIC cartridge, too, but that was dumb and boring because Star Raiders. A couple years later the 400 was upgraded to 48k.

Our first modem was a 1200 baud Prometheus ProModem, purchased alongside an Atari 800 in the mid 80s. Compared to the 300 baud modem socketed into the back of a friend’s Commodore 64, it was blazing fast, with text appearing faster than I could read it. I used that modem well until after 1200 baud was slow.

That chair was pretty uncomfortable. I still have that monitor!

I had a BBSlist that I would call, printed out on a scroll of 40 column paper filled with scribbled notes for reference.

On of my favorites was The Ethereal Plane, a small board with a friendly sysop and a handful of games. The only place I regularly called that is not on the textfiles 702 bbslist, I believe it ran on a Commodore, maybe an Atari. One of those platforms folks went to war over.

I loved the Space Empire genre, and Ethereal Plane had a medieval game with a similar turn based strategy concept that I haven’t been able to track down since… I remember soldiers and crops of wheat and titles like Baron and Count and Prince based on where you landed in the standings but I can’t remember what the game was called.

Later, I was a regular on Quicksilver, a multi-line Major BBS (alongside Multi-Comm, one of two in Las Vegas) and my first encounter with local realtime chat. We’d play tabletop RPGs in chat and on the forums; I GMed TMNT & Other Strangeness, maybe Rolemaster. I think I’ve still got archives of those campaigns on floppies, it’d be fun to revisit teenage storytelling and huh, I wonder if those disks are still readable. I’ll try pulling the data off them soon!

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