Contributors to this section include: Winston Smith, Steven Sturza, Chad
Hendrickson, Don Fanning, Matt Singer, Pete Davis, Jeff Williams, Rod Roark
"A BBS, plain and simple, is some hobbyist setting up their own computer to
answer incoming calls from other hobby computers. The visiting person
leaves messages on this computer for other visitors, plays games while
visiting, sends and receives files, and all that." -- Greg Goodwin, 2005
The 8-bit Atari was popular for hosting a dial-up Bulletin Board System (BBS).
This section attempts to list all BBS programs for the Atari.
For most programs listed, a link is provided to the corresponding section at
http://www.bbsdocumentary.com/software/ which is a comprehensive collection
of BBS information, screenshots, and downloads collected by Jason Scott.
o AMIS (Atari Message & Information System)
AMIS was the first BBS program for the 8-bit Atari, created by lead programmer
Tom Giese with other members of the Michigan Atari Computer Enthusiasts
(MACE). Development and testing started in late 1981, and the MACE A.M.I.S.
became the first 24 hours per day Atari BBS in February 1982 (original
hardware: 48KiB Atari 800, Hayes Smartmodem, 850 interface, four floppy disk
drives, 822 printer). Written in BASIC.
The AMIS BASIC source code proved a popular starting point for a number of
popular AMIS variations, including:
* Fast AMIS, by Stan Subeck & Susie Subeck
According to Antic v3n9Jan85:
- Built-in modem commands for a Hayes Smartmodem.
- Requires some modification to run with an MPP, Signalman Mark 7 or
Mark 12 modem.
- Requires a different method of auto-answer than other BBS programs,
and demands a different setting of the modem's internal DIP
- Message files compact automatically.
* Carnival BBS, by ???????
- "essentially AMIS with an overlay to allow for private messages and
passwords." --Antic v3n9Jan85
- "demands a large amount of disk space and requires every bit of
memory your system has." --Antic v3n9Jan85
* Reed Audio BBS, by Todd Gordanier, 1986
- A modified version of Carnival BBS that added multiple forum
support & support for the Atari 1030 modem by way of a hardware
ring detector (relay). (wikipedia)
* Comet AMIS, by Matt Pritchard and Tom Johnson
- Home was Comet AMIS of Algonic, MI
- Originally MPP AMIS by Matt Pritchard, for MPP modems only
(John DeMar of New York State wrote the MPP drivers), then
modified to be used with other types of standard modems.
- Some heavy involvment of Trent Condellone in certain features
- The final version featured many automated tasks, usage logs,
passwords, private mail, multiple message bases and support for hard
drives and MYDOS, and was on the cutting edge of AMIS/Atari 8-bit
BBS technology. (wikipedia)
* AMIS XM301, by Mike Olin and Mike Mitchell (Catspaw Software Systems)
- Written in BASIC XE (wikipedia)
* TODAMIS 1.0, by Trent Dudley, 1986
- for 1030/XM301
o ADCM BBS
- Version 1.00 (C) 1985 ADCM Systems
- (C) ADCM Systems Version 1.35 - January 15th, 1986
- For use with the Pocket Modem by BOT Engineering
- jacobus writes (11/2010):
"Features a command driven interface, private mail, public message board,
upload and downloads. Handles up to 255 users up to 500 baud."
"The author is Julius Oklamcak"
- Info & download: http://www.atariage.com/forums/topic/172034-adcm-bbs/
o ARMUDIC, by Frank Huband
From the Downtown Washington Atari Users Group of Washington, D.C.
Greg Leslie writes "It was written (in BASIC with machine language
subroutines) by Frank Huband, and the name came from the numbers used to dial
the original BBS (276-8342).
o ATABBS - Atari Bulletin Board System
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 48KiB 400 with a
90KiB floppy drive and a 300 bit/s Hayes Smartmodem. The
48KiB 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 AtariLink BBS -- program by Paul Sungenis and Darren M. Benfer,
Version 1.43 (c) 1987-1988 Paul L.A. Sungenis
From his blog at http://atari8programming.blogspot.com/ on 3/20/06:
In 1985-1986 I wrote and eventually released the AtariLink BBS software. This
came out of necessity, since most Atari BBS programs at the time (especially
FoReM and its bastard children) didn't fully support the 1030 modem that I
used (or the XM301 that followed afterward). I eventually adapted the program
to work with Atari's 1200 bit/s SX212 modem when that was released, and in the
process threw the program open to just about every modem out there. AtariLink
floated in the wild, passed from BBS to BBS for a while, before an Atari
magazine (I forget which one) distributed the software as its disk of the
- Requires Atari BASIC; BASIC XE supported
- Recommended SpartaDOS 2.3b/e or SpartaDOS X due to memory requirements.
- Expandable with Door programs
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 128KiB 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
Before version 7.0, ATKeep only worked with the Atari 1030 or XM301 modems.
ATKeep 7.0 was rewritten to accommodate 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 its 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! -- 1986-1989, Keith Ledbetter/Orion Micro Systems
Written in compiled Action!. 835/1030/XM301 and 850 versions.
o BBS Express! Professional ("Pro!")--6.0b 1999, Lance Ringquist/Video 61
Originally released in 1988 by Keith Ledbetter and Chris King from Orion Micro
Systems. bf2k+ wrote (May 2010) that version 2.1a was the last version
compiled by Keith Ledbetter before he sold it.
Version 5.0 Copyright 1995 by K-Products (Bob Klaas) credited to:
Stephen J. Carden, Keith Ledbetter, and Chris King
Currently owned by Lance Ringquist/Video 61.
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 BBS (Carina I), Carina Software Systems (Jerry Horanoff), 1986
- Highly modular, modifiable code written in Atari BASIC
- Features Programmable Modem Operating Environment (MOE)
- Supports XMODEM file transfers
o Carina BBS version II (Carina II)
(c)1988 Carina Software Systems (Jerry Horanoff)
v2.5 upgrade (4/24/91) (c)1990 by Shadow Software (David Hunt)
v2.6 (6/15/93) by Shadow Software (David Hunt)
v2.7 (c)1995 by Shadow Software (David Hunt)
- Requirements: Atari XL/XE computer, at least 500KiB of storage capacity
(combination of disk drives and/or RAMdisk), a modem, and SpartaDOS 2.3 or
- Recommended: 192KiB RAMdisk or greater, R-Time 8
- Explicitly supported: MIO interface and a hard drive
- A complete re-write of Carina BBS
- Highly modular, modifiable code written in Atari BASIC
- Programmable Modem Operating Environment II (MOE II)
- VT-52 graphics support
- Features proprietary C-Modem file transfer protocol, also supports:
XModem, XModem CRC, YModem (1K X-Modem CRC), YModem Batch, ASCII, others
o Commonwealth XL BBS -- (c)1985, 1986 by Smokey Layton
- Expected to run under MYDOS 3 or higher.
- Requires disk drive (including RAMdisk) with 180KiB capacity or higher
- Written in BASIC; BASIC XL supported
- Has a control structure that is modeled after AMIS BBS programs
o FoReM BBS -- Friends of Rick E. Moose BBS.
Developed/sold by Matthew R. Singer.
Versions that operate with the Atari 850, the ATR 8000 CP/M interface, and
other configurations. Written in Atari BASIC.
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 MPP BBS -- developed by Matt Singer, sold by MPP
FoReM BBS version for the MPP direct-connect modems.
o FoReM 26M BBS -- developed/sold by Matt Singer.
FoReM BBS updated to support multiple message area.
o FoReM XL BBS -- developed/sold by Matt Singer.
FoReM 26M updated to take advantage of BASIC XL from OSS.
o FoReM XE BBS -- developed 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 128KiB of memory, the BASIC XE
cartridge from OSS/ICD, SpartaDOS 3.2 (this program will NOT work with any
other version), and at least 500KiB of storage.
FXEP is available at: http://www.lenardspencer.com/Lenspencer/fxep.html
o Marsh BBS -- written by Matt Arrington
Primarily written in machine language.
"very structured and very customizable at the same time" - Brian A. Diaz
o MBBBS (Message Base Bulletin Board System)
-- early name for ATKeep, see above
o NITE-LITE BBS -- Paul Swanson's BBS with RAMdisk.
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
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 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 public domain version)
The original OASIS BBS System was written by Rich Renner and Ralph Walden with
tech support and input from Leo Newman. It was first published by OASIS BBS
Systems (Renner/Walden/Newman) in 1986, and distributed by Leo Newman. Later,
the rights were transferred to Glenda Stocks/Z INNOVATORS, then later (1991)
to Jeff Williams ("Alf").
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. SpartaDOS 3.2x
recommended, but any DOS supported. R-Time 8 clock cartridge supported.
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 Puff BBS -- by Robert (Bob) Puff
"came with a hardware component to both provide ring detect for the Atari
(none existed in the modem) and to serve as a hardware key/dongle associated
with the software."
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".
o TART-BOARD -- by Bob Alleger
Early Atari BBS.
o TCPIP Express -- by ILS - Integrated Logic Systems - Stephen J. Carden
This upgrade is to the BBS Express Professional. This version is designed to
function on the Internet and Multiplexer, though neither is required.
Targeted at the serious, big-system Internet SysOp. Will ONLY run on
SpartaDOS 3.2x or greater or RealDOS. TDLINE must be installed, and the
R-Time 8 is fully supported. Written in 100% machine language.
o XeBBS+ -- by Jonathan Taylor
for the Atari 130XE / Expanded 800XL, required BASIC XE,
designed to work with the SupraDrive hard disk.
"used the Automatic Modem Processor (AMP) code from FoReM XE, but was
otherwise written from scratch." - Jonathan Taylor
o 835 & 1030 Modem Bulletin Board
-- by Gardner Computing (earlier) / Duplicating Technologies (DT)(later)
Auto answer, XMODEM upload/download, sold with ring detector.
Ads: ROM #9 Dec84/Jan85 p. 37; Antic v4n10 Feb 86 p. 44