The CyberInfo eXchange
CiX was India’s first and probably most popular BBS. It went public on December 1st, 1989, and was located in Bangalore, India.
It could be reached at +91 (80) xxx-xxxx, with speeds upto 28,800 bps.
Unlike most other BBSs in India, CiX did not cater to the “FileSucker Syndrome”, but focussed on interaction and discussions on a huge number of subjects.
A little history…
CiX has a rather fascinating history behind it. In 1989, we were deep into communication solutions, and found ourselves hampered by the lack of any form of inter-office communication. No BBSs, no e-mail services, nothing at all! And we did not have access to any BBS software, either.
So we sat down and “rolled our own” BBS software – called CyberNet. We used it during the CSI Exhibition in September 1989 to keep in touch with our office in Bangalore. Naturally, people were very curious when they saw us doing this. The word spread, and by December 1989, we were forced to “open up” to the public – thereby becoming the first publicly available online service in the Indian sub-continent.
Until 1992, we were completely free of charge, but then were forced to introduce a small cover charge to pay for the resources that the BBS was hogging.
Dealing with Filesuckers…
By early 1995, we were catering to thousands of calls every month, but were severely bogged down by “FileSuckers” – people who just called to download files. This was very discouraging! We repeatedly raised the access fee in order to discourage this behaviour – no luck. By the third quarter of 1995, we were ready to shut down.
Then came a suggestion from a few loyal users – make forum messaging free – charge only for “filesucking”. Great idea, and we implemented it immediately – with phenomenal results!
FileSucking crashed down almost zero, and people began serious messaging – exactly the way we had envisioned it when we started the BBS. By December 1995, we were averaging more than 150 serious messages a day – and the number just keeps growing.
The interesting thing is that we avoided any external links like Fidonet or Internet mail – all messages on the BBS are originated on the BBS! Most people said that this would be a disaster. Happily, it proved to be a boon – while more BBSs cropped up around the country (many of them linking up to each other via Fidonet), many also shut down when the commonality of message bases caused users to frequent only a few BBSs. CiX had no such problems!
A serious issue was the fact that we have (believe it or not) just one phone line. This was a problem because users who stay online for a long time prevented others from logging in. The answer to this problem was straight forward – we disabled online reading/writing of messages. You can only read/write CiX messages through a QWK reader (such Offline Express, BlueWave, etc.). A login feature called “/AUTO” can be used to make the entire process of collecting and posting messages short work – most users these days are on and off in under a minute! This has encouraged a huge number of out-station members to join up – today we have have a good mix of local users, as well as users from all across India!
The CiX Community…
CiX became a thriving community. Around 500 people frequented the place everyday, and new members were constantly joing up. A policy of knocking off accounts that went unused for more than 30 days ensured that the user base reflected active users, not accumulated dead-wood.
CiX also survived due to its strict message quality control. We did not permit any messages with sexual, political or religious content – something that may be called censorship (and faced a lot of resistance initially), but eventually lauded as a major selling point. We catered to users aged 8 to 80, and did not discriminate on the basis of age or sex.
Connecting to CiX
If you wished to become a member of CiX, you simply fired up your modem and called +91 (80) xxx-xxxx. You had to make sure that your modem had error correction (we did no permit connections without MNP or V.42), and your parameters were set to N-8-1. Hardware flow control (RTS/CTS) was a must – you had to make sure that both your modem and your communication software had it enabled.
Once you connected to CiX, you logged in as “NEW” and followed the prompts. CiX was free of charge – so you did not have to pay anything. You had to make sure that you gave valid information – we checked on this. You could log into CiX only after we had checked the info you gave us!
The CiX BBS shut down for good in 1999, after 10 years of service. Cause for death was the Internet – the biggest BBS in Known Space.
Many CiX users still keep in touch with each other regularly.