Blizzard brings about bulletin board systems, January 16, 1978

-January 16, 2017

On January 16, 1978, Ward Christensen and Randy Suess began work on the first bulletin board system, the Computerized Bulletin Board System (CBBS), but they may not have done so if it weren't for the Great Blizzard of 1978. (Photo to right shows Christensen with the CBBS)

The two men had become friends at the Chicago Area Computer Hobbyists' Exchange in the mid-1970s. They had tossed around the idea of a space where computer hobbyists could exchange information between one another but hadn’t found the time to work on such a project.

When record amounts of snow were dropped on the Midwest of the United States and the two men found themselves snowed in, the time presented itself. Christensen worked on the software and Suess used an S-100 computer to put the program on.

They had a working version within two weeks, but said the project had taken four so it would not seem "rushed." History holds February 16, 1978, as when the CBBS project was first considered working.

Christensen and Suess described their work in an article entitled "Hobbyist Computerized Bulletin Board" in the November 1978 issue of Byte Magazine.

CBBS lead to other bulletin board systems (BBS), which lead to today’s forums.

On February 16, 2003, Chicago's mayor declared the day "BBS" day in honor of the world's first BBS being created 25 years ago that day.

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EDN strives to be historically accurate with these postings. Should you see an error, please notify us.

Editor's note: This article was originally posted on January 16, 2013 and edited on January 16, 2017.

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