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The first public dial-up BBS was developed by Ward Christensen and Randy Suess.

According to an early interview, when Chicago was snowed under during the Great Blizzard of 1978, the two began preliminary work on the Computerized Bulletin Board System, or CBBS.

Disconnecting at the end of a call required the user to pick up the handset and return it to the phone.Internal modems like the ones used by CBBS and similar early systems were usable, but generally expensive due to the manufacturer having to make a different modem for every computer platform they wanted to target.They were also limited to those computers with internal expansion, and could not be used with other useful platforms like video terminals.Hayes' solution to the problem was to use a small microcontroller to implement a system that examined the data flowing into the modem from the host computer, watching for certain command strings.This allowed commands to be sent to and from the modem using the same data pins as all the rest of the data, meaning it would work on any system that could support even the most basic modems.

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