R.I.P. Randy Suess, BBS Creator

Randy Suess, Computer Bulletin Board Inventor, Dies at 74

Randy Suess, a computer hobbyist who helped build the first online bulletin board, anticipating the rise of the internet, messaging apps and social media, died on Dec. 10 in Chicago. He was 74.


In the late 1970s and on into the ’80s, as word of their system spread through trade magazines and by word of mouth, hobbyists across the country built their own online bulletin boards, offering everything from real-time chat rooms to video games. These grass-roots services were the forerunners of globe-spanning social media services like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

What’s the bigger shock to me is that this obit is appearing in The New York Times. Fourteen days later, but still.

I clued into BBSes in the early 1980s. I worked at a consultancy that should have embraced them. Instead, I was the lone wolf who could see they were the future, not national networks such as The Source and CompuServe (and, later, Delphi, and even later, the accursed AOL). And here we are with the Internet, which is really nothing but zillions of BBSes.

Rest in peace, Randy. And thank you.

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