10.2) What programs can I use to host a BBS on the Atari?

The 8-bit Atari was particularly popular for hosting a dial-up Bulletin Board System (BBS). Uploading/downloading files, online messaging, even online gaming services can all be hosted on an 8-bit Atari operated as a dial-up BBS.

This section attempts to list all BBS programs for the Atari. Of these, BBS Express! Professional and Carina II BBS seem to be programs that stand up well even today.  Contributors to this section include:  Winston Smith, Steven Sturza, Chad Hendrickson, Don Fanning, Matt Singer, Pete Davis, Jeff Williams

o AMIS BBS -- The Atari Message Information Service, public domain. The "granddaddy" of BBS programs for the 8-bit Atari.

The AMIS BBS was written in BASIC by people from the Michigan Atari Computer Enthusiasts. It included designs for a ring-detector. You needed a sector editor and had to allocate message space by hand, hex byte by hex byte.

Several versions of AMIS:
* Standard AMIS
* MACE AMIS - from the Michigan Atari Computer Enthusiasts
* Fast AMIS
* MPP AMIS by Matt Pritchard
* TODAMIS 1.0, for 1030/XM301, 1986, Trent Dudley

o ATABBS -- Rod Roark writes (3/12/03):
This is really straining my memory -- don't recall exactly when I wrote the thing (maybe '80 or '81), but as far as I know ATABBS was the world's first BBS for the Atari 400/800.

I ran it out of my condo in Atlanta on a 48K 400 with an 80K floppy drive and a 300 bps Hayes Smartmodem. The 48K memory module was a third party add-on, not Atari's.

It was written in Atari BASIC with a few bytes of machine language thrown in.

o ATKeep -- An Atari 8-bit version of CITADEL BBS, by Brent Barrett. ATKeep is a Citadel-like BBS system for eight-bit Ataris. ATKeep runs under SpartaDOS and requires BASIC XE and 128K of RAM. Originally "MBBBS (Message Base Bulletin Board System) 1.0, March 24th, 1986" MBBBS was changed to Atari Keep, or, ATKeep for short, around version the time version 4.0 was released
(June 15, 1986).

ATKeep 7.0 finally took the aide and cosysop commands out of a menu section and put them into extended commands, where they belonged. It also added a SYSOP level command set. Users were no longer "users" "aides" or "cosysops," they had become level "A" (SYSOP) through level "Z" (READ ONLY). The system had become extremely complex. Public, hidden OR password protected PRIVATE
rooms. Each room now had its own access level (thus keeping people of lower level from getting in EVEN if they knew the room name). Each room was assigned a RWRT (or Read WRiTe status), which determined who could enter messages in it, and whether or not public or private messages, or both were to be allowed.

Before version 7.0, ATKeep only worked with the Atari 1030 or XM301 modems. ATKeep 7.0 was rewritten to accomodate the 850 or PRC interface allowing use of any Hayes compatible modem.

ATKeep version 7.50 was released (1987), was version 8 released?

o BBCS -- Bulletin Board Construction Set, by Scott Brause/Antic, 1985 A machine language program, developed as the Jersey Atari Computer Group (JACG) BBS system.

BBCS was known for it's great flexibility. The sysop was offered easy customization by the use of menus. Many BBSes before it required that you had to actually change the BASIC code in order to customize your BBS. Unfortunately, it also suffered from a reputation for stability problems.

o BBS Express! -- 1986, Leith Ledbetter/Orion Micro Systems Written in compiled Action!. 1030/XM301 and 850 versions.

o BBS Express! Professional ("Pro!")--6.0b 1999, Lance Ringquist/Video 61 Originally by Keith Ledbetter/Orion Micro Systems.
See also http://cth.dtdns.net/pro/pro1.html Written in 100% machine language. Requires XL/XE, SpartaDOS 3.2+, hard drive highly recommended, or at least a large ramdisk. R-Time 8 is fully supported.

o Carina II BBS -- v2.7 (1995), David Hunt/Shadow Software Carina II was originally developed by Jerry Horanoff. Requires an XL or XE computer, at least 500K of storage capacity (including ramdisk and drives), and SpartaDOS version 2.3 or greater. Recommended: 192K ramdisk or greater, and an R-Time cartridge. Fully supported: An MIO interface and a hard drive. More Carina II information and links:
http://jybolac.virtualave.net/carina/ Pete Davis writes (15 Aug 2002): Carina was a pretty powerful BBS system. Though it was written in BASIC (with a number of machine language routines), it was expandable and had was able to load new BASIC programs with the BBS running. In fact, it was quite modular and would load different sections of the BBS at runtime. I actually used it when I ran a BBS some time back.

o Carnival BBS -- essentially AMIS with an overlay to allow for private
messages and passwords.

o FoReM BBS -- Friends of Rickey Moose BBS. By Matt Singer. At the time, there were a lot of BBSs around called things such as "FORUM-80" and "BULLET-80", ergo the name. FoReM BBS was the first truly RBBS-like BBS for the ATARI 8-bit. It was programmed in BASIC and was somewhat crashy. I think that this is the great-grandparent of the FOREM-XE BBSs that survive today. Matt Singer writes: FoReM BBS derived from an early AMIS. When multiple message areas were added the name was extended to FoReM 26M. Then, When OSS released BASIC XL the program was rehacked and called FoReM XL... Bill Dorsey wrote most of the Assembler routines (where is he now?). 

o FoReM XL BBS -- by Matt Singer. FoReM BBS updated to take advantage of BASIC XL from OSS.

o FoReM XE BBS -- by Matt Singer This version of FOREM BBS requires the commercial BASIC XE cartridge in order to run. It is in the public domain and can import and export messages from the Atari PRO! BBS EXPRESS-NET (7-bit text only, control ATASCII graphics are reserved for message data-structure bytes).

o FoReM XE Professional BBS / FoReM XEP BBS -- by Len Spencer A re-write of FoReM XE BBS, last version was 5.4, Jan 5 1993.
FXEP requires an XL/XE computer with at least 128k of memory, the BASIC XE cartridge from OSS/ICD, SpartaDOS 3.2 (this program will NOT work with any other version), and at least 500K of storage.  FXEP is in the public domain, http://members.aol.com/lenspencer/ o NITE-LITE BBS -- Paul Swanson's BBS with RAM disk.
Paul Swanson was a programmer from the Boston, Massachusetts, USA, area. "1983: Nite-Lite B.B.S. goes on the air. (Was it running A.M.I.S. ?) It is called "Nite-Lite" because the computer monitor casts an eerie glow about the room. 1984: Paul Swanson writes his own BBS hosting software for the ATARI 6502 8-bit computer. He names it "Nite-Lite". The Nite-Lite BBS hosting software goes on to be the most successful commercial BBS software ever written for the ATARI 6502 8-bit computer. 1989: Nite-Lite BBS puts in a second line. (MichTron boards eventually take the place of all of the ATARI Nite-Lite boards.)" - Winston Smith.  This BBS was the first to support a RAMdisk, which Paul Swanson called a "V:" device for "virtual disk". This BBS was written in Atari BASIC and required a
joystick hardware "dongle" device. This was notable as being one of the first Atari 8-BIT BBSs that could actually go for a week without having to be rebooted. Pointers to the message base were kept in an Atari "very long string" (for which Atari BASIC is famous). The BBS would only have problems (for the most part) if this string became corrupted.

o OASIS (the commercial version) / OASIS Jr. (the pd version) Originally by Ralph Walden, then Leo Newman took it over, followed by
Glenda Stocks/Z INNOVATORS, then Alf (Jeff Williams). All machine language. OASIS is very crash-resistant and comes with a "dial
out" screen so that the Sysop can use the BBS as a terminal program to call and fetch files without having to bring the BBS down and reload a terminal program. OASIS supports "Door programs" which it refers to as "OASIS PAL modules". An excellent message system, and a complex file system. It consists of "file libraries" with suites of "file types". There is quite a bit of overhead involved in performing a download (which may be a good thing, as it discourages file hogs). OASIS IV performs networking.  Glenda Stocks writes at http://world.std.com/~snet/glenda.htm : I purchased the source code rights to OASIS and began marketing the BBS
software to Atari 8-bit enthusiasts around the world. I felt that I had the superior BBS software because I had programmed in the ability to run external programs, including online games and user surveys. I also had added color prompts for IBM clone users who called Atari boards running my OASIS software. Sometime in 1991...I sold the rights to OASIS to a man in Canada..

Jeff Williams ("Alf") writes: (12/6/02)  OASIS was around prior to either PRO or BBS Express IIRC. I don't know when
exactly it showed up, version 3.09 was the first one I remember seeing. What made it nifty was it was very fast, being all assembler, and having some different features that things like Forem & Carina didn't have. Compared to something like Forem MPP at the time, it was kind of amazing.   Ralph Walden sold it to Glenda Stocks, who chopped it up into modules and sold it as ver 4.7. PRO was out by then, and was a much more complete offering imo. Glenda wrote some modules for 4.7, but it never really went anywhere because the architecture was so cramped with her changes. Eventually she gave up and sold me the source. I looked it over and realized it was a mess and nothing was going to happen with it. I worked on a version 5 for a while, but never made much progress.

o SMART BBS -- by Marco Benton.
This program is written entirely in BASIC. It expects to be running under a SpartaDOS environment. This BBS program uses a "modem clock string" rather than an R-Time 8 cartridge in order to retrieve the current time. It also comes with an Atari BASIC game door called "Sabotage".