Trip Back on Memory Lane – Part 2 – PCBoard BBS Software

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Published on: July 21, 2009

Welcome to part 2 of my mini-series “Trip Back on Memory Lane“. This part is about the famous bulletin board?? software called “PCBoard” by Clark Development Company, Inc.

Part 2 – PCBoard Bulletin Board System by Clark Development

pcboard I am a former Sysop of the BBS called “Closed Society” in Berlin, Germany. You can learn more about my BBS in great details (including a video of a captured login session) at my regular web site here.

I had a pirate board running, but I ran it on licensed software, including licenses for the BBS software PCBoard and the OS were it ran on (IBM OS/2 Warp). The cops where surprised about that when I got busted, but more to that at the page about my BBS.

I recently recovered the original installation/setup discs of PCBoard and decided to make them available publicly. It’s not like a clean warez/crack installation, because there are also some update steps required to get the version of the BBS to V15.22, capable to run on a 32bit OS like OS/2 or Win32 and to increase the number of node licenses from 3 to either 5 or 10.

Here are my notes as well as some comments to how this affected my own BBS etc.

Floppy Discs 1-3

PCBoard V15.2/2 & V15.2 Setup Disks 1 – 3?? = PCBoard Professional Bulletin Board Software V15.2/2 Install Disks (3x HD 1.44 MB). Serial Number: 042421 (License for 2 Lines plus Doors and PPLC) (c)1994 Clark Dev.?? Co., Inc.

Floppy Disc 4

PCBoard V15.21 – 5 Lines plus PPLC Lic files provided by POB Support BBS, Ser.# 042421 (As result of license transfer and upgrade), 1xHD Disk, about 991 KB, includes only the upgraded Pcboard.exe. The Pcboardm.exe and PCBoard.ser was supposed to be on there too, based on the ReadMe!.POB text files with installation notes in German by the German distributor for PCBoard,?? where I purchased the License Transfer to my Name, the # Lines Upgrade from 2 to 5 Lines and the Print Manuals for PCB and PPLC 15.2.

He did include however, a PCBTEXT. File, translated from English to German, which he did not mention, but I did not care about that one, because I kept the language within my BBS, with exceptions to One-Liners, Personal Messages and funny phrases that?? I put out?? with the command prompt every time, to the original English Language Version. I had some callers from abroad after all, mainly from Israel and Canada.

The BBS worked fine withe the existing (2 Lines) Pcboard.ser file and the updated Pcboard.exe.

I then got a cracked version of the software anyway, if the cops would have compared the serial numbers used for the running BBS and the printed on my original setup disks and invoices, they would have found out, that they did not match :).

I removed the display of the serial #, the PCBoard version and credits that are usually displayed to a user who connects to the BBS with a HEX editor, because I did not want to rub it under the nose of a stranger who got my BBS phone numbers somehow, that I was running a BBS on PCBoard.

Running PCBoard was a pretty clear indicator that you had a pirate board running. It did not matter if you used a cracked version of PCB or owned licenses as I did. Nobody would believe you anyway.

Well, there were for sure places in the binaries left where the serial number could have been found, but the cops didn’t bother anyway. They had still a hard time believing that I ran my software pirating BBS on legitimate software where I paid a considerable amount of money for.

It was also for the first time that they got to see the manuals of the software. The government had obviously not the money to pay for this kind of material that?? law enforcement could have learned more about the tools used by their “foes” and thus better able to work against them. Well well.

Floppy Disc 5

PCBoard V15.22 – 10 Lines License File (Pcboard.ser) and Executables (Pcboard.exe & Pcboardm.exe) – cracked/pirated version.??

I only got it because of convenience. I never had more lines than 5 (where I had purchased the license for).
The problem was that I wanted to have a local node for myself (e.G. reading and writing messages, check how the system looks,?? develop and test PPE’s and upload files).

The 5 lines license did not allow me to setup a sixth “sysop & local only”?? line. This is how Clark Development was able to sell stacked licenses (for 1,3, 5,10,25, 100 & 255+ lines). Without a crack for the software was it impossible for a sysop to exceed the number of lines where he had a license for.

The second reason was the missing 5 Lines version of the PCBoardM.exe, which became an issue for me after having my BBS up for a long time and after my free Version upgrade and support agreement had expired already (I believe it was always good for one-year after acquiring a new license for the software.

I used the PCBoard.exe as long as I had also a PC for each line, which were hooked up in a Netware Lite and later Lantastic to a token ring network.

When I got my new Pentium100MHz “power PC” with 16 MB (later 32 MB) RAM and an OEM License for IBM’s OS/2 Warp operating system, I could not use the Pcboard.exe anymore, because it didn’t run properly in a 32 Bit / Multitasking environment such as OS/2 (or later also Win95). Clark Development provided for this purpose a modified and optimized version of the executable with the file name PcboardM.exe (where “M” stands for “Multi-Tasking Support”. They charged extra money for the M version at first, but then changed their pricing model again, providing the M and Standard version for no extra fee.

The was no instant support or Internet around and used for this type of things?? back in the days and I simply did not want to get through all the hassle again, like long distance phone calls to the distributor; explaining everything in detail, providing physical proof that I own a licensed copy of the software etc. I was sitting at “the source” after all.

I did bend my licensing agreement a little bit, but did not feel anything wrong with what I was doing.
I saved everybody time and money, that would have been spent otherwise.??


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