Our early experiences with on-line information involved newspaper 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 home computer 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))
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.