A bulletin board system (BBS) is a computer or an application dedicated to the sharing or exchange of messages or other files on a network. Originally an electronic version of the type of bulletin board found on the wall in many kitchens and work places, the BBS was used to post simple messages between users. The BBS became the primary kind of online community through the 1980s and early 1990s, before the World Wide Web arrived.
A bulletin board system, or BBS, is a computer server running custom software that allows users to connect to the system using a terminal program. Once logged in, the user can perform functions such as uploading and downloading software and data, reading news and bulletins, and exchanging messages with other users through email, public message boards, and sometimes via direct chatting. Many BBSes also offer on-line games, in which users can compete with each other, and BBSes with multiple phone lines often provide chat rooms, allowing users to interact with each other. Bulletin board systems were in many ways a precursor to the modern form of the World Wide Web, social networks and other aspects of the Internet. Low-cost, high-performance modems drove the use of online services and BBSes through the early 1990s. Infoworld estimated there were 60,000 BBSes serving 17 million users in the United States alone in 1994, a collective market much larger than major online services like CompuServe.