A Brief History of the Boot Factory BBS

Me and Peggy - 2004

My name is Cabell and I like computers.  I used to have lots of them - Ataris, PCs, Apple II's, Macintoshes and some others (somewhere) I am sure.  Now I just have my PC's and Atari 8-bits which I collect. 

I also have two kids, Sarah & Bryant, my girlfriend Peggy, and her two kids, Jennifer & Jamie.  Peggy and I, and the youngest, Jamie, all live outside of Richmond, VA in Hanover County.  I work as an Applications Engineer for a Hi-tech electrical distributor and play Lead Guitar in a local band.

I graduated from Hermitage High School in 1973 at the age of 17 (you do the math) and went to Virginia Tech for a few years afterwards.  Married in 1980, divorced in 1989 with full custody of my kids.

I bought my first computer in 1983  (a Commodore 64) which wouldn't sync up with my new TV so I had to take it back to the store.  The salesman suggested I try the Atari 800 instead and it was the most intelligent thing that ANY computer salesman has EVER said to me.  Needless to say, it did sync up with the TV and away I went.  I wrote my first basic program (a simple text game which I called Crapola) that same weekend and immediately decided I needed more stuff.

My first 1050 drive came with DOS 3 on a bad master disk that would not boot fortunately.  In trying to get my drive to function, I met one of my good friends, Alan, who hooked me up with a copy of DOS 2.6f.  That day, Alan also showed me this thing called a modem which would allow me to "get online"... something he felt I needed to do.  He was right.  I needed to be up 'til 3am every night calling long distance at 300bps to get on other Atari BBS's.  I needed a new name - abdul.   I needed those $500/month phone bills.  It sure was fun though.  And I really met some nice people across the country through this new medium, including Jerry, who felt that I needed to run my own Atari BBS since Richmond didn't have one.  He was right.

trailer park trash

And so in 1984, the original BF was born running A.M.I.S. bbs program on a 48k Atari 800, a 1050 drive, and a MPP 300/450 bps modem.  Ouch... boy did I need more stuff now.  I needed more and bigger drives, a faster modem, a printer, a better BBS program, a second system for me to use while the BBS was running... and so on.  So I began to accumulate Atari 8-bit hardware... something I still do today.

Eventually, I had a fairly good size BBS system running on an 800xl, a USD 1050, an AMDEK double 3" drive (I wish I still had that thing) with 3 external "Quad" density Teac drives hanging off of that, and a 2400bps modem.  I went through several BBS programs, AMIS, FoReM, and BBCS to name a few.  And then I met Keith Ledbetter.

Actually, I already knew Keith from his old Skeleton Isle BBS (an Apple system) and G.R.A.S.P. here in town but he had just started fooling around with Atari and said he was toying with the idea of writing an Atari BBS program.  I said I would help with beta testing because, hell, I loved setting up and running different systems and I knew anything that he wrote would be GREAT.  He had already written the first versions of his Express Terminals and they were my favorites.

It wasn't long after that conversation that Keith stopped by with some diskettes and loaded the first beta version of BBS:Express 850.  He and Chris had just setup Chris's BBS, The Midnight Express, so we were the first Guinea pigs.  I really liked Express.  Even though the early beta versions lacked some of the features and flexibility of the other more established bbs's, it was by far, the fastest and most robust BBS program I had ever run.  And it certainly had some features that some of the others were lacking in.  It quickly became my personal favorite and I ran it right up until the day I stopped running the BBS on an Atari computer.

jammin 2000

About the same time I started running Express, ICD released the MIO expansion device and I got one of the first ones.  At a local Techfest, we all picked up used 5 meg hard drives for $40 each.  Now I had a hard drive on my BBS and I needed some tools for it so I wrote my Hard Disk Toolkit which consisted of a directory sorter, a File killer w/verify, a File counter, and a Park utility.  Except for the Park program (hah), I still use updated versions of them all today.  The HD Toolkit is available for download on this website.

Sometime around 1987 (here's where things get real foggy), I started fooling with PC's and looking at PC BBS systems.  Delirium set in and I switched the  Factory over to an PC BBS program called OPUS... AND SOLD ALL OF MY ATARI STUFF!!  I must have been totally crazy.  I lost much of my source code (not all) and all of the great hardware and software I had accumulated.  A couple of years later, I came to my senses (somewhat) and started buying back what Atari stuff I could find.  I was able to acquire many of my old copies of diskettes from Blake (thanks man) but the majority of my source code was history.  Even though the original BBS would never run on an Atari system again, I now have more Atari hardware than I have ever had.


The Boot Factory continued to chug along in the PC world, and I continued to change BBS programs along with my underwear.  I joined FidoNet, ran SEAdog and BinkleyTerm, FrontDoor and InterMail mailers, Opus BBS, QuickBBS, and RemoteAccess BBS - all PC-based.  It was fun.  I did, however, notice one interesting BBS phenomena over the years...  when I ran the Atari BBS, 90% of my callers were calling from long distance out of state.  When I switched over to PC-based BBS's, those percentages reversed... 90% of my callers were now local - interesting.


In 1996, after well over 300,000 callers, I shut down the PC-based Boot Factory for good.  It had been a long 12 year run full of good times and great friends, but I had tired of being a sysop.  I continued to buy Atari hardware whenever I could find it... on eBay, in thrift stores and at yard sales.  Over the last few years I have really acquired some nice vintage equipment as well as some great new stuff, like the APE WARP OS, and the FlashCart, both by Steven Tucker.  I sure would like to have that Amdek 3" drive back though.

I currently have one Big Atari 8-bit system set up in my room. Click on the small image below for a full size image (it is really big - 1632x1280 I think - for those of you with slow connections):

8-bit setup

Some of my other 8-bit stuff not shown above:
(List Updated: 11.6.09)

1 - ICD MIO 1Meg
1 - MetalGuy66 1Meg MIO
1 - CSS Blackbox interface
1 - XF551 Stock floppy drive
1 - Percom AT88-S1 floppy drive
1 - RANA 1000 floppy drive
1 - Astra Big 'D' double floppy drive
1 - 810 stock floppy drive
3 - Happy 1050 drives
2 - US Doubler 1050 drives
1 - XF551 3.5" 720K floppy drive
Many - 1050's stock (AFAIK)
1 - 65XE stock
1 - 800xl Rambo 256k
1 - 800xl Rambo 256k with APE 4n1 Warp OS
1 - 800xl with Mega-HZ 512K and APE Warp 32n1 OS
Many - 800XL's stock (AFAIK)
2 - 130xe stock
1 - 130xe w/ VBXE 2
2 - 1200XL stock
1 - Atari 800 48k stock
2 - Atari 600xl ( 1 NEW in box )
1 - 600XL with 64K, SVideo modification
1 - 1064 ram expansion device (for 600XL)
3 - 850 interfaces
3 - Amdek Color 1 Plus Monitors
1 - Commodore 1702 Monitor
1 - MPP 1000e modem
1 - XM301 Modem
4 - AtariMax Flashcart 8MB
3 - AtariMax Flashcart 1MB
1 - XEP 80 Column Video Display
1 - AtariMax MyIDE / Flashcart
1 - AtariMax USB Cart
1 - SDrive NuXX
1 - SIO2SD

Many other carts, joysticks & accessories


In 1999, I started messing around with my old 8-bit BBS programs, and with lots of  help and encouragement from Tom Hunt, I put the new Boot Factory 2k+ BBS online accessible from the internet.  This BBS ran on the A800Win emulator that Tom had modified.  It works great.  Sysoping was fun again.

In Feb 2003, I had to shut the BBS down due to me needing the space in the room.  It is still down now but as you can see from the picture above, the Atari equipment is back up and I hope to put the BBS back online in the not too distant future.  The link above should work when it goes back online and I have been running it on and off recently.

11-30-03 - As of today, the BF 2k+ BBS is up and running accessible via telnet through the internet - See Link Above

{ the saga continues... }

{Boot Factory 2000 website}            {AMF Band Website}


Cabell Clarke

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