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 story of the end of the bulletin board culture is told by many of the files on textfiles.com: The BBS's broke apart, their owners grew up and graduated college and moved on, or they got arrested. What with the seeming terabytes of pirated commercial software flying around then, small wonder about the arrests. The artists, however, were above it all. They *produced*, while others around them merely hoarded. The artist's signatures are appended to the work in odd places, occasionally with their own mini-ad within the ad. You recognize the same names from board to board once in a while. There is even a hint that some of them might have been paid for their work, if they were very good. Still others were just one-shot deals obviously done by the board sysop; while ASCII/ANSI art is accessible to anyone with a keyboard, a few characters tell the glaring difference between the amatuer and the pro.