Ethan O'Toole ethan at
Mon Jan 11 09:57:29 CST 2021

> I was often free-flagged on CIS and many other services so surfing was free.
> For the kids out there, in today's dollars CompuServe was about $20 an hour.

As a young lad, the high costs of things like CompuServe is why I stuck to 
BBS systems, until the internet came along.

> Perl parser to separate individual forum posts.  I have about 400 megs of
> messages, on the order of 525,000 messages.  I split each post
> into its own XML file, tagging the pieces (from, to, subject, etc.)

That is awesome! You should definitely get that stuff on the web!!

> I've left the hard part of constructing the web software to make it all
> readable and searchable.

>  #: 126608 S0/Sysop's Corner
>      29-Oct-95  00:20:12
>  Sb: #126546-#Problem Uploading Files
>  Fm: Betty Clay 76702,337
>  To: Shawn/Silent Paw 74777,2602 (X)
>  This would be caused by the entire forum running out of blocks in the library.
>  Steve handles that, and I'm sure he has noticed and requested more by now.  It
>  is quite likely that we won't get them before Monday, though. Sometimes there's
>  no one around to handle the request on weekends.
> Like this message, some sections were "sysop" and perhaps should be
> considered non-public.
> My transcripts also have stuff from before and after the forum posts.
> Who knows, maybe someone would find interesting the "What's new this week"
> intro menu you'd see at login.
> Or better yet, the file libraries.  Each section had a "data library".
> Each file showed a filename, timestamp and size, uploader PPN and
> name, and title line and keywords and a paragraph of description.
> I have some listings of the file areas. I may also have the original
> files I downloaded.  All that could be linked into a new web version, too.
> Maybe there are some text-based public live group chats (conferences), too.
> So how could you organize all that into a web database and interface?

Could you put a text front end on it that emulates the original CIS?

A modern emulator that emulated the UI from the original on the internet..

> It would also make sense for me to improve my parser to separate
> out each email I sent or received.  I'd be eager to release the public
> forum posts but I also don't want to release my private emails.

Makes sense

> Am I going to trust my parser to have never made a mistake?
> Or do I need to read a half-million posts to confirm it didn't?

Search for your name?

> I have to believe that other people saved transcripts of CompuServe
> forums if not other services, too.  Ideally there could be a way to add
> everyone's messages to the reconstruction.
> Indeed, google ' "Sb:" "Fm:" "To:" sysop cis ' and you'll see
> other bits and pieces of CompuServe transcripts.
> I don't know what it was like inside CIS back then, but I can't help
> but wonder if any magtape archives left the building.  I asked
> an Amiga forum owner if he saved anything...  he said "no" but
> maybe other forum owners did.
> As an aside, keep in mind that the people running CIS forums held a
> contract with CIS and they were paid.  For many, it was their sole income.
> Some ran several forums and made quite a bit of money at it.
> I was very surprised to learn the web-based
> existed until three-four years ago.
> - John

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