A rainy Friday evening's entertainment may be had by downloading the BBS section tarball from textfiles.com. I found myself engrossed in the ASCII and ANSI art banners from these bulletin boards of yore. I decided to render some of them and make screenshots to post here, both in the interest of further preserving this bit of history, and to offer a highlight tour to those who lack the patience and resources to view them directly. Click on any thumbnail to see the fullsize image.
The experience of browsing the entirety of the BBS ads feels like exploring an abandoned urban city by night and viewing the graffiti by flashlight. The ads range from breathtaking works of art to truly horrible (and unreadable) scribble. Take the outlandish over-machoism of a trash-TV wrestling show and the innocent naivete of a child, and toss in a healthy dose of cyberpunk anarchism - and D0N'7 4GeT YoUr 13375p33k! - and you have the makings of many BBS ads. You wade through every imaginable variety of ugly ASCII font and endless braggadocio of 13-year-olds with delusions of grandeur, only to stumble upon an occasional buried treasure that leaves you gazing in wonder for many minutes. The fact that much of this was done with technology a decade or two more primitive than what we enjoy today makes this work doubly impressive.