The other piece of nostalgia (with the emphasis on "-algia"), was the picture of the acousitic coupler that accompanied the NPR article, which Eric referred to.  Who remembers those?   They were gone by the time I got into the BBS biz, but, in the early '80s, I worked for several years as a reference librarian at MIT.  We used those things to dial up the Dialog (Lockheed) research databases.  You may not associate prayer with MIT, but that is often what it took to make the connection work, especially after we got a new telephone at the reference desk and the handset didn't quite fit.  I remember some poor guy who had to defend his thesis the next day trying to find out if there was any info on a particular enzyme - and we kept dropping the connection.  I asked him to come back an hour later and, magically, it worked!  (And we found nothing on that enzyme - which was what he was hoping.)
At one time (before divestiture) people were forbidden by AT&T to connect non-AT&T devices to a phone line.  That might have been a reason why we didn't have direct electronic connection yet.  Anyway, within a few years, the couplers were gone.   
We started our BBS in Montpelier with an internal Hayes 1200 modem that was one of those huge cards about 6 inches high that ran the full depth of the box on a full-sized tower.  But it worked.
Hey, I'm still using a 1998 US Robotics 56k modem on one of my PCs to do faxing.  Works flawlessly.

From: School Information Technology Discussion [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Stephen Barner
Sent: Monday, November 23, 2009 10:51 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Ah, the BBS...

I wonder if the Wintermute server is still in Steve Cavrak's office, buried in the back corner of some closet.
I'll never forget the look on a Russian exchange student's face when he got a reply to the first international email message that was sent from South Burlington High School.  It took almost two weeks, but that was like lightning with the mail system of the day and the cost of phoning, not to mention the time zone factor.  He had been stopping in every day to see if his respondent's reply had arrived.  FIDOnet -- woof, woof!
Steve Barner

From: School Information Technology Discussion [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Eric Snay
Sent: Saturday, November 21, 2009 5:46 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Ah, the BBS...

I knew I had to send this link to Vince, but I figured I should put it on the list for those of us who've been plugging away online since the before the WWW (and even Gopher ;-) ....

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