message networks

echomail message networks

Most early BBSes operated as individual systems. Information contained on that BBS never left the system, and users would only interact with the information and user community on that BBS alone. However, as BBSes became more widespread, there evolved a desire to connect systems together to share messages and files with distant systems and users. The largest such network was FidoNet.

As is it was prohibitively expensive for the hobbyist SysOp to have a dedicated connection to another system, FidoNet was developed as a store and forward network. Private email (Netmail), public message boards (Echomail) and eventually even file attachments on a FidoNet-capable BBS would be bundled into one or more archive files over a set time interval. These archive files were then compressed with ARC or ZIP and forwarded to (or polled by) another nearby node or hub via a dialup Xmodem session. Messages would be relayed around various FidoNet hubs until they were eventually delivered to their destination. The hierarchy of FidoNet BBS nodes, hubs, and zones was maintained in a routing table called a Nodelist. Some larger BBSes or regional FidoNet hubs would make several transfers per day, some even to multiple nodes or hubs, and as such, transfers usually occurred at night or early morning when toll rates were lowest. In Fido’s heyday, sending a Netmail message to a user on a distant FidoNet node, or participating in an Echomail discussion could take days, especially if any FidoNet nodes or hubs in the message’s route only made one transfer call per day.

FidoNet was platform-independent and would work with any BBS that was written to use it. BBSes that did not have integrated FidoNet capability could usually add it using an external FidoNet front-end mailer such as SEAdog, FrontDoor, BinkleyTerm, InterMail or D’Bridge, and a mail processor such as FastEcho or Squish. The front-end mailer would conduct the periodic FidoNet transfers, while the mail processor would usually run just before and just after the mailer ran. This program would scan for and pack up new outgoing messages, and then unpack, sort and “toss” the incoming messages into a BBS user’s local email box or into the BBS’s local message bases reserved for Echomail. As such, these mail processors were commonly called “scanner/tosser/packers.”

Before commercial Internet access became common, BBS echomail networks provided regional and international e-mail and message bases. Some even provided gateways, such as UFGATE, by which members could send/receive e-mail to/from the Internet via UUCP, and many FidoNet discussion groups were shared via gateway to Usenet. Elaborate schemes allowed users to download binary files, search gopherspace, and interact with distant programs, all using plain text e-mail.

As the volume of this Mail increased and newsgroups from the early days of the Internet became available, satellite data downstream services became viable for larger systems. The satellite service provided access to FidoNet and Usenet newsgroups in large volumes at a reasonable fee. By connecting a small dish & receiver, a constant downstream of thousands of FidoNet and Usenet newsgroups could be received. The local BBS only needed to upload new outgoing messages via the modem network back to the satellite service. This method drastically reduced phone data transfers while dramatically increasing the number of message forums.

Many of these networks are still in use today, though in a much smaller form, and many Echomail groups are still shared with Usenet via FidoNet to Usenet gateways. Widespread abuse of Usenet with spam and pornography has led to many of these FidoNet gateways to cease operation completely.

Below you will find a list of International Echomail Networks available on The ROCK bbs today. As you will see, a wide variety of topics are available so there should be something for everyone!


Established: <info needed>
Creator: <info needed>

Agoranet is the network for blatant exploitation of the greatest BBS scene art group ever.. ACiD.

Agoranet is now being resurrected to promote the best and longest lasting ANSI art group of all time and make sure a piece of it always remains where it started — in the BBS scene. It has had, and always should have a presence. Not only that, but to showcase and link together some of the best BBSs around today in active messaging.


Established: 1984
Creator: Tom Jennings

Fidonet is a worldwide amateur computer network used for the communication of messages and files between Bulletin Board Systems (BBS). It’s a network that was born the 1980’s and for several decades used ‘plain old telephone service’ (POTS) telephone lines + dial-up modems to establish connections between BBS to exchange data. Today most BBS use the Internet to connect with each other. FTN protocols developed in the 1990’s such as BinkP are widely used. The result is that messages now flow faster than ever before around the planet. FidoNet (whilst no longer as large as it was in the eighties) is still active.



Established: 2015
Creator: Paul Hayton

fsxNet is a fun, simple and experimental network established in late 2015. fsxNet is not a perscriptive network. e[X]perimentation is at heart of its name and members are actively encouraged to be creative in their use of the network. Only a handfull of message areas and file bases are used – setup is quick and [S]imple.

Technologies covered by the network include (but are not limited to) BBSing, ANSI art, Amateur (HAM) Radio, Retro / Vintage Computers & Gaming, FTN communications, network protocols & topologies, encryption methods, contemporary computers (e.g. Raspberry Pi), computer coding and more.

fsxNet sees a number of messages posted to it every week. It is an active support network for Mystic BBS software. It is also a proud supporter of developers of other BBS software spanning BBS systems, door games and more.. It is not an invite-only closed network, rather it is an open community and everyone who wishes to join is welcome.


Established: <info needed>
Creator: Frank Linhares

SciNet, is an FTN style network that is dedicated to bring the best in the BBS scene.

SciNet also offers an InterBBS DoorGame League which allows each member BBS to compete in InterBBS games.

Sysops technet(stn)

Established: 1996
Vincent Danen & Kevin Nunn

Sysop’s TechNet is a network created to help the sysop, whether they be novice or veteran. STN is a network that brings a lot of much needed, or much wanted, support to BBS systems. 100% open to any sysops who wish to carry it STN remains 100% open to new ideas.