January 2, 2015

My first tilde

I suppose maybe I should have asked for phoenyx instead of silver, since my first tilde was Not a personal site (one didn’t waste time/cash on those) but a project; a dial-up BBS started in 1985. Finally (more or less) shut the Phoenyx down last year or so, and now it’s just my personal blog.

November(?), 1985

After the sysop of a local BBS informed me he wanted to join my Traveller game (played via message on the board) with his character who was an active-duty Naval officer with his own fleet of several ships, and I explained that it was a tramp freighter campaign, and he explained that it was his BBS, I put up my own. It was very much in the spirit of tilde: you dialed in, typed what you wanted to say, and it put whatever you wrote in the next sector (track?) of the Color Computer floppy disk. I think it could hold 35 messages, written as raw data to maximize what it could fit on the disk.

April-ish, 1986

The Coco was lovable but clunky, and circa April 1 I flipped the switch on a new! improved! version, on an Amiga. At some point in there it went from the hacked-together 300-baud modem (with an auto-answer switch rigged up from a Coco magazine article) to a 1200-baud Hayes-compatible. It was at this point that it because the Old Phoenix Bar & Grill, and shortly thereafter a glitch in the 1200-baud protocol that occasionally turned “i” into “y” made it into the Old Phoenyx. I would eventually regret this, but at the time people didn’t have to spell it to call it. (If you’re the current owner of (316) 721-4417 and you occasionally still get modem calls… I’m really sorry.)

Eventually, the Amiga’s floppy drive gronked itself to death, and I grudgingly made the switch to the PC-compatible world with a Tandy 1000. With a hard drive!!!1!

Somewhere in there, someone decided that TOPGAB was a better acronym than TOPBAG, so The Old Phoenyx Grill & Bar it became.


In April of 1992, I added a second staffer by marrying a guy I’d met on local BBSi. (His first impression of me was, he reports: “Who does this bitch think she is?”)

1993? Networking

Wichita was not, shall we say, an early adopter of online services, so for a long time our connectivity outside of dialup consisted of manually mailing QWK packets back and forth to people, once Delphi got mail linked up with the outside world.

1994-ish: Becoming a tilde

Eventually, Carl went to work for a local ISP, and we added UUCP and majordomo alongside QWKmail. Full-time connections were out of our price range, so we got a tilde page: No, I don’t remember why it was www2 (I think maybe that was their customer box). The website was just info pages, and eventually mailing list archives – none of our users had the dialup hours to waste composing messages online.

July 1, 1996

Eventually, domain prices came down enough (and our incomes came up enough) to get our own domain name.


                        ACQUIRES NEW DOMAIN NAME

In the interests of having not one, but TWO unspellable elements in our
domain name, the Phoenyx has joined the .us hierarchy as:


This affects all Phoenyx mail addresses, including the mailing lists.

List server:
Info server:
QWKMail server:

List subscribers need not resubscribe, and should just continue to use
the Reply-To address when replying to list messages, but should send any
new messages to (listname)

The prior domain name,, is still active and will
remain so for the foreseeable future, but mail sent there has the
annoying tendency to pick up a bangpath.

The WWW address,, remains the same.

Creation Date: 1996-11-18T05:00:00Z

By the time we decided to spring for a big-seven TLD, was taken (by the BIOS folks, I think) but it was now kosher for non-ISPs to be .nets, and so we became

Decline and fall

The Phoenyx ran for a long time, eventually using Mhonarc and homebrew stuff to archive lists to the web.

Eventually, it fell victim to the trap of “I’ll just rewrite the codebase from scratch using everything I’ve learned over the last two-and-a-half decades of running it!” and by the time I was halfway through a rewrite of a spectacular piece of software that would enable users to sign up by mailing list, nntp, OR web forum (and a web forum that had some of the basic features like TRACKING READ MESSAGES that our 1980’s BBSi had, at that)… well, we didn’t have any users left.

Right now it’s a WordPress blog for my personal blogging, but now I’m kind of tempted to bump that to and set up majordomo and Mhonarc and open up some retro roleplaying lists.

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