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Nerds 2.0.1
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Wiring the World
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Electronic Meeting Places

As the early computer visionaries (such as Licklider and Nelson) realized in the 1960s, people weren't satisfied with just interacting with their computers. They wanted to use their computers to interact with other people. Computer hobbyists soon came up with their own method of connecting computers over the telephone lines. Prices for modems made it possible for almost everyone to buy one and call other computers.

However, when the other computer answered there really wasn't much to do. Computer hackers wrote programs to answer the phone and interact with the caller, all done automatically without human supervision. Features like message boards, online games, and file exchange were added and a new business was born. The average computer enthusiast could buy (or download) the complete software needed to operate a bulletin board system and set it up themselves.

Although there were bulletin boards earlier, bulletin boards reached their height of popularity soon after 1980. Bulletin board systems were found in every town, and some were advertised in the local newspapers. For many it was a labor of love, and if they charged any money it was to cover the costs of operating the system. However, some of them saw a business opportunity and added value to their systems to attract paying customers.

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