TBBS (The Bread Board System) is a multiline DOS based software package authored by Phil Becker, former CEO of US based company eSoft®. TBBS started out as a single line Bulletin Board System (BBS) originally running on early TRS-80 computers. It's advantage was that it could be fully customised by the system operator, so that no two TBBS systems looked the same - other BBS packages at the time had their menu structures hard coded.
As time progress, Phil completely re-wrote the TBBS program to operate on IBM PC's running under DOS, and then proceeded to write a machine language multitasker that allowed multiple callers to access the TBBS system at the same time. Other BBS software packages could only achieve this by either running their software on LAN systems, dedicating one complete machine per modem, or under DOS multitasking software such as Quarterdeck's Desqview. TBBS achieved multiple lines all on the one machine. For those only wishing to run two lines, no additional hardware was needed - you only used COM1 and COM2. For those wishing to run more lines, special serial boards called Digiboards were used to allow up to 64 modems to be hooked into the one machine. At it's height, TBBS could allow 64 users at once (though it is rumoured that eSoft® did provide customised 96 line version of their software to large companies like Microsoft®).
Add-On "Option Modules" were then released. TDBS, a dBase3 emulator allowed multiline applications and games without having to exit the TBBS environment via batchfiles (or dropfiles) making it more stable than its competitors. TIMS was released to allow interaction with Fidonet technology. QSO was released to allow users to use the popular QWK message format for offline mail reading. SYSOM was released to give the sysop real time control over user levels and menu flags without bringing the TBBS system down. Interchange was released to allow the TBBS system to grab outgoing modem lines to dial other services, networking multiple BBS systems together. TIGER was released to allow users access to internet email and newsgroups. All in all, TBBS and it's option modules were far beyond the realms of what other BBS authors could dream of.
eSoft's next big step was the IPAD - The "Internet Protocol Adapter" - a seperate hardware/software solution that, tied to the TBBS machine allowed incoming telnet access to the TBBS system. It also provided outgoing access for those TBBS callers on dial in lines of the system to access the internet using the IPAD machine as a gateway. Eventually, many IPAD owners became Internet Service Providers (ISP's) as BBS usage on the whole began to wane, caused by the growing popularity of the Internet.
The IPAD was extremely popular. It had one major drawback - it was very expensive, and beyond the reach of most TBBS sysops who had already spent thousands on their particular TBBS line count versions.
Eventually, and understandably, eSoft® and TBBS went their separate ways as eSoft® pursued the Internet market. Eventually all technical support for TBBS and associated products were dropped and TBBS ended up in a "no-mans-land".
Text by Puggs and SkyWalker from TBBS.org
A support forum for eSoft's TBBS and related software. An alternative support method while www.tbbs.org is down.
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