The Stelex Sector started in 1984 as a dial-up bulletin board system running "BBS64" by Steve Punter.. This (ie., the 2019-2024 edition of the New Stelex) is an experiment with phpBB which is a free, open source bulletin board program.

Our early experiments with on-line information involved newspaper type systems like Dow Jones and Info Globe. CompuServe in particular was famous for making text from newspapers available to anyone with a computer and a modem - pretty much the first time anyone in the United States had thought of doing that on a large scale. We also looked at the technology in the context of the general need for societal supports for people with disabilties. Ergo, we had a notion that people with special needs might enjoy the ability to travel across the telephone network to "socialize" and to do various kinds of research at a lower price point than that which existed with CompuServe. Our initial guess was correct - BBS's evolved into repositories of information that wasn't available anywhere else.

The earliest computer networks ran on the telephone network for the most part and because the systems were smaller -- smaller in terms of hardware and in terms of the number of staff and volunteers, eg. there was often a single programmer and one or two operators associated with an average BBS -- and there were generally more features, with the feature sets peaking around 1994 and the rise of the graphical interfaces that faster processors made possible. In many ways the rapidly changing, rich feature set became a documentation nightmare. Today (2019) web-based forums software seems to be centered around a smaller set of features and styles... and in the case of phpBB, documentation continues to be a bit spotty when compared to the old Stelex, where there was a help file available at every prompt and a hardcopy user guide provided background information.

(In our earlier efforts we strove to have a comprehensive system, but one thing that we never got around to was digital video; with phpBB there are actually a few tutorials available! (Youtube link))

Technical support for this installation of phpBB was provided by Marc M.. The back end is a lot more complex than the BBS used to be, but it's a toss up as to whether the web provides better access and functionality overall. In particular privacy issues have increased... in scope, with the onset of the World-Wide Web, and there's the whole issue of cookies, so be sure to read our privacy policy.

Our home web page is at stelex.net and the sysop's e-mail address is "TNSS BBS" (all one string of characters) at Hotmail dot com.