The Major BBS (later renamed Worldgroup in 1995) was developed by Tim Stryker and launched in 1986 by Stryker's company Galacticomm, as a demonstration of the abilities of the Galacticomm Software Breakthrough Library (or GSBL). The GSBL was a powerful set of assembler routines written for IBM and compatible PCs that allowed up to 32 simultaneous connections to a single software instance without the need for an external multitasker. It was licensed to developers for varied uses, such as communications systems, bank systems, real estate systems, etc. Eventually, The Major BBS was enhanced enough that it became a saleable product in its own right. By late 1987, Galacticomm was licensing more copies of The Major BBS than the GSBL by itself. The GSBL continued to be enhanced, expanding to 64 users by 1988, then 256 by 1992.The software was well known for creating online communities and fostered an interactive online experience where users were able to interact with each other via teleconferences and multiplayer games. This flexibility spawned a small industry of Independent Software Vendors (ISV) who began developing add-ons for this product which ranged from shopping malls to online role playing games.The Major BBS allowed incoming connections via modems on telephone lines, IPX networks, and X.25 packet-switched networks. In 1994, the offering expanded to include TCP/IP by the ISV Vircom, a Canadian company that has since become well-known for its anti-spam/anti-virus software.Seeking to compete with America Online, the company developed a client-server model utilizing a graphical Windows-based interface. The new software was renamed Worldgroup and released in 1995. Although Worldgroup initially had some success, the client-server model was an unfortunate strategic choice, as the World Wide Web was just emerging as a dominant phenomenon. The popularity of the dialup BBS world, including the MajorBBS and Worldgroup, then faded as online use became web-oriented. Galacticomm's slow response in adapting to the internet-based online model probably was fatal.In 1997, the first 32-bit version of Worldgroup was released for Windows NT, and other versions were simultaneously continued. This release finally focused on an active HTML web-based community that could have been a home run if the company had pursued it instead of the client-server strategy three years earlier. The MS-DOS version was discontinued with version 3.1.Founder Tim Stryker committed suicide on August 6, 1996 in Colorado and the company was sold by his widow Christine to a group headed by Yannick Tessier, owner of Tessier Technologies, who developed software as an ISV. Tessier and Peter Berg led the company toward an IPO, which failed in 1998. The company discontinued operations in 1999 and was foreclosed upon by their primary lender. The lender acquired the company's assets via foreclosure in 2002. The company's assets were purchased by a current ISV from the bank in 2005.There is a dispute regarding ownership of the rights to Galacticomm's assets. However, no discussion between the parties has ever taken place. Version History
1986 - MajorBBS 1.0 (not released)1986 - MajorBBS 2.0 (shareware)1987 - MajorBBS 3.0, 4.0 (commercial software)1988 - MajorBBS 5.01989 - v5.071990 - v5.21991 - v5.3 (includes Novell Netware support)1992 - v6.0; included Phar Lap protected mode capability1993 - v6.1; multilingual1994 - v6.25; UNIX version, Internet Connection Option (ICO) TCP/IP1995 - Worldgroup v1.0; introduced Microsoft Windows client; final UNIX version1996 - Worldgroup v2.0; includes plug-in for Netscape1997 - Worldgroup v3.0; first version for 32-bit Windows NT1999 - Galacticomm ends operations after failed IPO2002 - Galacticomm assets foreclosed upon by lender2005 - Galacticomm assets sold by lender to a current ISVFull timeline Technical Information
Initially, a system's linecount depended on the user limit of the GSBL purchased with the BBS. The GSBL (andthereforethe BBS) was offered in 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, or 64 user editions. Later, with the release of version 6, the concept of user six-packs was introduced. System operators (SysOps) purchased as many packs as they needed to add extra lines, up to 256.Due to a limitation of the 16-bit architecture of MS-DOS, Major BBS was limited to a maximum of 255 incoming lines (plus one 'local console'). In practice, it was extremely difficult to scale to this level due to the 16MB ram memory limitation of the Phar Lap 286 memory extender in use, as well as the physical boundaries on connecting 255 modems to a single computer.Developers were sold development kits that allowed add-ons to be written in C/C++All data files were stored using a Btrieve format.It was necessary for the system to go down for maintenance each evening in order to re-index, repair and optimize data files. Games
Fazuul by Tim StrykerQuest for Magic by Scott Brinker and Tim Stryker (copyright held by Elwynor Technologies, source was previously released)Quest for Sorcery by Scott Brinker (source code missing, but rights held by Elwynor Technologies)Quest for Sorcery II by Scott Brinker (source code missing, but rights held by Elwynor Technologies)Quest of the Alchemists by Scott Brinker (currently owned by Elwynor Technologies)Kyrandia by Scott Brinker and Richard SkurnickAlchemy II: The Hangover by Scott Brinker (currently owned by Elwynor Technologies)
Infinity Complex by Steve Neal (currently owned by Elwynor Technologies)MajorMUD by West Coast Creations (currently owned by Metropolis Gameport)Tele-Arena/II by Sean Ferrell (currently owned by Elwynor Technologies)Swords of Chaos by Scott Peterson (currently owned by Metropolis Gameport)Mutants by MajorWare (currently owned by Metropolis Gameport)
Galactic Empire by Mike Murdock (DOS version Open Sourced)Galactiwars by Don Arnel/Logicom (currently owned by Elwynor Technologies)War of Worlds by Richard Skurnick (currently owned by Elwynor Technologies)Crossroads of the Elements by High Velocity SoftwareTrade Wars 2002 by High Velocity Software and Martech/EISFarwest Trivia/Tele-Trivia (currently owned by Datasafe (only DOS version owned by Metropolis Gameport))Lords of Cyberspace (currently owned by metropolis Gameport)Wilderlands/II by Wilderland Software (currently owned by Elwynor Technoligies)Androids by Tim StrykerHangman's Secret Cove by GalacticommSuper Nova by GalacticommT-LORD by Robinson Technologies IncOltima 2000 by Tessier Technologies IncSwords & Sorcery by Logicom IncBlademaster by Logicom IncCyberTank by InfiNetworkFoodfight by Jabberwocky IncTeleconference Trivia by Jabberwocky IncRingMasters by InfiNetworkArchery by GWWThe Casino by Logicom Inc Applications
Vircom TCP/IP - Allowed the system to link to the Internet, provide both inbound and outbound FTP and Telnet services, and provide e-mail service. The application also allowed MajorBBS to give dial-up Internet access (via SLIP and PPP protocols). The company also produced a RADIUS server which allowed MajorBBS to act as the central authentication and billing server for any number of applications such as internet services. Vircom later went on to produce software solutions to combat spam.
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