|Featuring Russell Hardenburgh
| by Bob Talmadge
Rusty n Edie's BBS (Rusty-N-Edie's) was a bulletin board system founded on May 11, 1987 by the two SysOps, Russell Hardenburgh, of Boardman, Ohio. At one point the BBS had over 14,000 subscribers across the United States, Canada, and Europe (each paying an $89 annual membership fee) and over 124 modem lines.
Russell Hardenburgh and his wife ran Rusty n Edie's BBS out of Boardman, Ohio. At one point the BBS had over 14,000 subscribers. Their system was raided by the FBI for software piracy. in 1993
Here's the story of how Rusty and Edie got started in the "BBS Business"While Jim Maxey's Event Horizons BBS offered a lot of artistic photos of girls, Rusty offered hard core porn. That got him into trouble before the net came along to make the idea of getting arrested for BBS porn kind of silly. Stupid actually.
In 1985 I bought my first computer. I bought it to help in my insurance business. To tell the truth, I had no idea what to do with it. But everyone said it would help. So I laid out over $4,000 for a Tandy 1200, a straight XT type machine with a huge 10 Megabytes hard drive. I paid the extra money for the hard drive because I was told it would store everything I would ever need on one disk. I also went for the best color graphics--CGA in all it's glory... It was beautiful!
I did manage to read enough documentations to use the machine quite well in my business. In 1986 my company decided to supply me with an IBM XT with a 20 Megabytes hard drive and a mono monitor. So I took home my beauty and wondered just what I was going to do with it.
And the Monster awoke!"Modem", my World Tandy salesman said. I could get all the software I wanted FREE! I couldn't believe it... FREE? Well, almost free. I would have to buy a modem first. 1200 baud was the best money could buy and on sale for only $279.00! Of course the software--PC Talk which I could have for a $6.00 coping fee. SHAREWARE?
Ah a bit of what was to come, from now on free and as much as I wanted. Now at least I could have millions of programs, and all free!
That night I called the World BBS. I was told this meant "Bulletin Board System". I was so excited! It was a great moment! Then the nightmare began.
I called and filled out a very long questionnaire, the system said "thank you" and that I should call again the next day, and then it disconnected me. I couldn't wait! I called right after work and was welcomed and told to fill out a questionnaire... again... I did as I was told. It seemed silly since it was mostly the same questions I had already answered. I couldn't figure out what the name of my cat had to do with BBS's?
I was told I should DOWNLOAD a registration form. To be honest, it took me 10 days to figure out how to download. But I finally figured it out and got my form, which I printed and filled out. More questions. I couldn't figure out what my grandparents political party had to do with computers? But I answered every question. I was called and verified about a week later and accepted into the BBS. I called right away and found I could have 30 minutes a day if I kept up a 5 to 1 ratio. That is, I had to upload files. That meant that I would have to call long distance to another BBS and go through the humiliation of various torture routines set up by sadistic sysops (System Operators). It was a very humbling experience, but I was hooked... a program junkie.
I downloaded everything, printed the documentations, and ran the program, oooed and ahhed and threw it on my hard disk. Which, in a few weeks, reported it was full. I was sure that meant it was broke, since it was IMPOSSIBLE to fill. I just couldn't stand it anymore! So I decided to open my own BBS. I told my wife Edie what I was going to do and why.
"And then the Monster was set loose"I was going to open a "NO rules" BBS, and I asked her if she wanted me to name it after both of us. She had never used a computer in her life, but then she made the fatal error and said she would like that. She would live to regret the honor I was bestowing her. Rusty n Edie's was conceived! I called the World Sysop and told him what I was going to do. He told me not to to use the BBS software he was using, Opus, and he would help me get started. So I downloaded a shareware BBS program called Tcomm and proceeded to set it up. I called his board the next day and found that I now had only 18 minutes a day and wasn't allowed to download! I also found no mention of my board going up... So much for help. It would seem Edie and I were on our own. I had a 20 MG hard drive installed for $500, bought a 2400 baud a modem for $400.00, and had a phone line installed.
Rusty n Edie's was born on May 11, 1987. We made our biggest mistake that first day. We adopted the motto "The friendliest BBS in the World" and have regretted it ever since. More about that later. We printed up posters and passed them out to the computer stores and posted them in Supermarkets.
We had no time limit, no questionnaires, no ratios, and most of all, no hassles. I was told if I did that the callers would do terrible things to our system. They never did. We had about 50 files available for the callers to download (we have over 60,000 now). We decided we should make ourselves available. We posted our voice number and address and answered when we were paged. We turned up the sound so could hear when someone called. We got 6 calls that day and watched every one of them. We were thrilled!
I'll never forget the first time anyone ever called us long distance. I was amazed anyone would call and pay for the time online. We averaged 10 calls a day (we get over 3000 calls a day now) till December 1987 when we switched to PCBoard, the most flexible and wonderful BBS software ever made. Things started happening then!
Our tiny system couldn't handle the calls anymore. So we bought a 386 and multitasked with Desqview and opened a second line. For some reason, even though we have never demanded uploads, we have always gotten a bunch! (20 Megabytes of uploads a day now). It would seem our callers wanted to help and they uploaded a large number of files daily. We outgrew the 20 Megabytes hard drive and installed a 160 Megabytes hard drive. By our first anniversary, we were jammed with callers and files. Edie and I both agreed it was getting out of hand.
By June 1988 we were so busy, callers could not get on no matter how long they waited. We started getting real hateful phone calls, demanding we let them online. Edie and I decided we couldn't afford to go on. We posted a bulletin on July 4, 1988 asking for donations. We figured we wouldn't get any and would simply close. Much to our surprise the money poured in and we turned the money into new nodes as fast as we could.
In economics we are told that there is economy in size. We have found that not to be true with BBS's. The larger we get the more the problems of size are exposed. Heat, static, electricity, and speed are the main ones. Our house is heated by the BBS and even then we have to open the windows in the dead of the Ohio winter to keep the heat under control. In the summer it is much easier to keep cool. We simply installed a four ton air conditioner unit to cool our basement (this unit normally cools a 4,000 sq. ft. house, but works hard to keep the basement cool). We have our BBS in a basement. We had moved from our apartment when the spare bedroom we were running the BBS out of got so full we couldn't get in the place. It was so hot no human being could stand it! Baby, (pictured on right >) our cat loved it! It must have been 120 degrees in that room. Baby's favorite pastime then (and now) is running across the keyboards blowing callers away and sleeping on the computers, frying his brains on the monitors. We bought the basement, with a house on top of it, for it's space and beauty. We have 3 huge humidifiers running day and night trying to keep some moisture in the air. Even with all that equipment, we still have down time caused from thunderbolts suddenly erupting out of our bodies paralyzing one of our nodes or servers.
Okay, now for the killer...
Keeping up the speed. Our setup is as follows:
Even with all this the system started to slow a bit. So we installed 128 30 Megabytes hard drives (one for each node). With them, we were able to take alot of the work off the network and can now honestly say we are very quick. Almost like a one node system.
We now have 2 of our sons, our daughter, Edie, myself, and, of course, our wonderous assistant Sysop and friend Carl all working full time (and then some) on the system. We have worked very hard to keep our original intent stated in our motto "We are the friendliest BBS in the World". That motto has almost killed Edie and I. We still post our voice phone number, our address and answer pages. Even so, no matter what we do, we hear the deadly "I thought you were friendly". Poor Edie, from the beginning every time I wanted her to help, I would nail her with "You wanted it named after you, you have to help." It works great! All you sysops out there, if you want your wife to help you, name it after her!
Okay... everybody, what can you expect when you call Rusty n Edie's BBS? A different kind of BBS. "We are the Friendliest BBS in the World" Their name says it all. Edie and Rusty are a couple burn outs from the 60's (Edie's 47 and Rusty’s 54). "We didn't like rules then, and we don't now. Come on in and relax, you will be among friends." says Rusty.
Rusty n Edie’s BBS has a huge adult section, including over 5 Gigabytes of adult graphics, as well as a fine selection of public domain and shareware programs, including over a Gigabyte of family type graphics. But that's not what sets us apart. When you call the first time you'll know that no amount of words can tell you... You are home. Thats right, put up your feet and enjoy yourself. We have 15 online interactive games and one of the most active chat and message sections in the world!
With Edie's help we have made Rusty n Edie's a place for the whole family, including the ladies. Yes a large portion of our callers are from the fairer sex, they too can feel at home at Rusty n Edie's.