This series is dedicated to my friend ‘The Pieman’ who hosted ‘THE P.I.T.S’ BBS in New York City and sadly passed away in 2016. I know his son ‘Blake’ will be reading this sequence of stories with anticipation.
We will never forget you man, you were one of a kind.
Also I would like to say a big thank you to Fabulous Furlough, ex-leader of ‘The Humble Guys’ who helps me fill in the gaps of what happened almost 30 years ago, The Slavelord who has given me a plethora of memories from the early days and to Suicidal Tendencies (@trolleydave) who remembers more about the UK scene than me.
The Software Piracy Chronicles of Slobberchops (The THG Years) is a continuation of my previous series, The Software Piracy Chronicles of Slobberchops
Other articles in this series:
The Software Piracy Chronicles of Slobberchops (The THG Years) – Part One
The Software Piracy Chronicles of Slobberchops (The THG Years) – Part Two
The Software Piracy Chronicles of Slobberchops (The THG Years) – Part Three
The Software Piracy Chronicles of Slobberchops (The THG Years) – Part Four
The Software Piracy Chronicles of Slobberchops (The THG Years) – Part Five
A month later, I had established accounts on some other non-THG BBS's in the USA such as Unlawful Entry (TDT World HQ) and some INC BBS’s I fail to remember as well as The Spyrit's Crypt which was ran by Black Spyrit.
Major Theft was sysop of the Amiga/PC BBS Unlawful Entry (area code 612) at least from 1991 until 1994. He ran it for The Dream Team in August of 1992.
Most INC ones were running Celerity, a flavour of BBS software that I didn’t really gel with and so my memory is not so good when it comes to these.
The 'Crypt' was a small BBS and the Sysop, a talented ANSI artist named 'Joey'. In exchange for uploading warez to his rather slow BBS, he offered to draw an ANSI loader for me.
At some point, I had decided to start my own BBS and came up with the name ‘The Demon's Forge' from somewhere. There was a US BBS with the same name but that was not a factor.
Thanks to Suicidal Tendencies (@trolleydave) for finding this ANSI for me which is ALL my own work!
The ‘Forge’ was to become the second ALL PC BBS in the UK that was strictly Pirate and did not allow shareware or public domain software to be in its library.
I had acquired PC Board from work of all places as they had bought the original software! ‘Work’ had decided to start a BBS for support purposes and I was elected to be the Sysop due to my ‘extensive experience’.
The 'Wolf' was Black Spyrit's contribution to me for sending warez to The Spyrit's Crypt!
I needed some hardware to run the BBS as I was not willing to use my own PC which was likely a 386-20Mhz or something similar at the time.
There was an old Amstrad PC1640 I had obtained from somewhere that would do the job. It came with the standard 1Mb (Yes Megabyte, not Gigabyte) of RAM and a 32Mb HDD.
It was a start and before I knew it, PC Board was up and running with Pro-Door which was an essential add-on; except it didn’t work properly.
Not in the sense of accepting calls, that was fine, but it showed the greeting screen and then showed it again before letting the user connect properly.
I tried to get rid of this annoying bug but didn’t know where to look. There was no internet in those days. Next was the installation of a dedicated line.
For the first couple of weeks, The Demon's Forge was a part-time BBS sharing the single analogue line I had and annoying the hell out of everyone who tried to contact me by voice.
Callers of course, would be greeted with screeching whistles and not my dulcet tones. My mum was not happy at all.
Meanwhile Hi.T.Moonweed and Suicidal Tendencies (@trolleydave) were educating me about phreaking and other very dubious forms of obtaining free calls to the US and the UK.
I will freely talk about some of these ‘methods’ and refrain from others as they are hardly ethical.
One of these was ‘Blue Boxing’. This involved using an Amiga program that sent a 2600hz tone down the phone cutting off the operator before they had a chance to answer the call.
It was called ‘UADialer’ (thanks @trolleydave), although later I would ditch the Amiga and use another application on the PC.
Another tone at a different frequency was then required (for some boxes) before you dialled the number you wanted to call. If done correctly you would then obtain a free long-distance call to the UK or the US for as long as required.
The theory of doing all this seemed easy but trying to get this to work resulted in much frustration and constant failure. Getting the 0800 number from Hi.T.Moonweed had been hard work as he liked to tease with information and not give it out right away.
Such was the mind of a complete anarchist, but eventually, he did give me the 0800 numbers for the ‘Brazil’ and ‘Taiwan’ blue boxes. The box for 'Trinidad and Tobago' had died just a few months before.
Two weeks later, The Demon's Forge had its own dedicated phone line and it was a real novelty to see people calling and trying to leech. As the Sysop, I could watch their every move and HootMon used to visit me frequently and watch with interest.
Advertising the Forge was hardly a problem. There were TWO of these BBS’s in the whole country and word got around very quickly in this tight-knit community.
I now had a fully-fledged Pirate BBS running 24/7 but was still relying on calling from work to get to the outside world.
This just would not do, and I was dying to get this Blue Boxing fandango stuff to work. What was needed was a UK Pirate meet up! Partly so Hi.T could show me how to do this.
In the next few weeks, I invited several influential pirates to join me for a weekend of madness at my place.
Among the invitations were JROK, Hi.T.Moonweed, Suicidal Tendencies, Jolly Roger, Bungle and Night Ranger who ran a part-time INC BBS in London named Nuclear Wastelandz.
In the next chapter, I will explain what happened at this crazy meet up and the implications it had on myself going forward.
To be continued...
All images have been cited and are under the category 'Labelled for Reuse' or are in the public domain.
Small Pirate Icon Source
.NFO files courtesy of the .NFO libraries at https://defacto2.net
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