"FidoNet" - what is it? International amateur non-commercial computer network FidoNet

Table of contents:

"FidoNet" - what is it? International amateur non-commercial computer network FidoNet
"FidoNet" - what is it? International amateur non-commercial computer network FidoNet

Many have probably heard that FidoNet exists in parallel with the Internet. What it is? FidoNet is a worldwide computer network that is used for point-to-point (BBS) communications between systems. It uses a data storage and transfer system to exchange private (e-mail) and public (forum) messages between BBSs on the network, as well as other files and protocols in some cases.

ms dos
ms dos

What is it?

"FidoNet" - what is it? The FidoNet system was based on a number of small cooperating programs. Only one of them interacted directly with the BBS system and was the only part that needed to be installed to support the rest of the software. This greatly facilitated the connection, and FidoNet was one of the few networks that was widely supported by almost all BBS software, as well as a number of other services. This modular design is alsoallowed FidoNet to easily migrate to new data compression systems, which was important in the era of dial-up modems with high long-distance rates.

The gradual improvement in modem speeds in the early 1990s, coupled with the rapidly declining prices of computers and storage systems, made BBS more popular. By the mid-1990s, there were almost 40,000 FidoNet systems in operation, making it possible to communicate with millions of users around the world.

The wide availability of low-cost Internet connections, which appeared in the mid-1990s, reduced the need for the FidoNet system for storing and transmitting information. Direct dialing to local BBS systems has declined rapidly. Although the use of FidoNet has decreased significantly since the late 1990s, the network continues to be used even today, despite the fact that the Internet connection is becoming public.

fidonet what is it
fidonet what is it


The story of the origin of the FidoNet network is as follows. It originates from the 1980s.

In 1983, Tom Jennings began work on a new MS-DOS hosted communications system that would become the Fido BBS. He finally created this network in San Francisco in early 1984. Another early user was John Madil, who was trying to install a similar system in B altimore. The FidoNet network began to spread to new points, and Jennings eventually began to maintain an unofficial list of their phone numbers, being the first number in it.

DeveloperThe network released the first version of the FidoNet software in June 1984. In early 1985, he wrote a document explaining the essence of the FidoNet network (what it is, you already know), as well as the history of the system. In this version, FidoNet was developed as a way to exchange mail between the first two points.

how to connect fidonet
how to connect fidonet

In early 1984, Ben Baker planned to set up a BBS for a newly formed computer club. He intended to use the main CBBS system hosted on CP/M and a Rainbow 100 computer. This PC contained two processors, an Intel 8088 and a Zilog Z80, which allowed for MS-DOS and CP/M. Looking for software that would run on DOS, Baker learned about FidoNet through Madila.

How did the technology evolve?

Software for the non-commercial computer network "FidoNet" required changes to the serial port drivers to work properly on the Rainbow. Work has begun on these changes with Jennings, Madil and Baker.

This resulted in all members incurring significant long-distance calling costs as they constantly called each other during development or contacted via email. During one such call, Baker and Jennings discussed how great it would be if BBS systems could automatically call each other by exchanging mail and files. This would allow them to compose messages on their local computers and then quickly deliver them instead of calling and typing a message using a long distance phone line.

As a result, a new version of the software has appeared, consisting of three files: FIDO_DECV6 (new version of the BBS program itself), FIDONET and NODELIST. BBS. The new version of FIDO BBS had a timer that made it exit at a specified time, usually at night, and exiting it would launch a separate FIDONET application. NODELIST was a list of Fido BBS systems that Jennings had previously compiled.

Fidonet network history of origin
Fidonet network history of origin

How does FidoNet work?

What is this system and how does it work? The FIDONET program later became known as the mailer. The FIDO application has been modified to use a previously unused numeric field in message headers to store the node number for the machine where the message is to be delivered.

The administrative structure of "FidoNet" consists of points, nodes and users. When the FidoNet program is launched, the network will search the email database for any messages with a number in this field. The program collects all the data for a particular node number into a file known as a message packet. Once all packets have been generated, one for each node, FIDONET will look up the destination node's phone number in NODELIST. BBS and call the remote system.

Assuming FIDONET is running at the recipient, both systems will connect and, if successful, the caller will download its own and the response data packets and then disconnect. After that, FIDONET unpacks the returned packet, places the received messages in the local system storage, and proceeds toto the next amount of data. When the file transfer is completed, FidoNet will turn off and launch the FIDO BBS program.

Fidonet reform
Fidonet reform

How did the popularity of the network grow?

Computer network FidoNet began its activity in 1984, and by the end of that year had already 100 nodes. Steady growth continued throughout the 1980s, and a combination of factors led to its rapid development after 1988. First of all, this is the emergence of faster and less expensive modems, as well as the reduction in the cost of hard drives and computer systems in general.

By April 1993, the list of FidoNet nodes contained more than 20,000 items. At that time, experts estimated that each node had an average of about 200 active users. Of those 4 million users, half typically used echomail, the public forums, while about 200,000 used the private web mail system.

Throughout its existence, the network has faced governance and competition problems. Much of this can be explained by the fact that internet-to-network delivery cost real money, and traffic grew faster than the losses caused by higher modem speeds and lower long-distance costs. As far as possible, attempts were made to recover the costs in various ways, which caused much controversy. The problems were so serious that Jennings began to call the system "battle on the net."

fidonet computer network
fidonet computer network

Declining popularity

When the modems reachedspeeds of 28.8 kbps, the overhead of TCP/IP protocols was no longer such a nuisance, and dial-up Internet access became more and more common. By 1995, FidoNet's popularity began to decline as users abandoned local BBS systems in favor of larger sites and web pages that could be accessed around the world for the same price as a BBS system.

It also made FidoNet cheaper to implement, because internet communications can also be done over the Internet, with little or no marginal cost. But it seriously weakened the whole purpose of the store and forward model, which was designed specifically to solve the long distance problem (which no longer exists).

Fidonet administrative structure
Fidonet administrative structure

FidoNet's node list has begun to shrink, especially in areas with high availability of internet connections. This downward trend continues, but it stopped at about 2500 knots. FidoNet remains popular in areas where Internet access is difficult or too expensive.


Currently, there is a retro-movement, which leads to a slow increase in the number of Internet-connected BBS and nodes. FidoNet was reformed, as a result of which Telnet, Rlogin and SSH are used between these systems. This means you can chat with many BBSs around the world as cheaply as you can in your neighborhood.

Also, Usenet and Internet mail have been added along with long namesfiles to many newer versions of the BBS software, some of which are free, resulting in increased usage. Visually and hearing impaired users can also access this better than the Internet in general, since the interfaces for them deal primarily with ASCII text, which exists in most BBSs. This helps them communicate without the complication of images and audio in Internet mail and communication in general.

How to use this network?

How to connect "FidoNet" in our time? To get into the FidoNet network, you need to have several different components:

  • Computer - almost any home PC will do.
  • Modem to connect your computer to others via phone line.
  • FidoNet software.
  • BBS phone number for modem calls.

Although the use of FidoNet has drastically declined from its use prior to the mid-1990s, the network is still in use in many countries, especially in Russia and the former Soviet republics. Some BBSs, including those currently available to users, connect to the Internet via telnet. Also save their feeds FidoNet netmail and echomail.

What are the current problems?

Some FidoNet echomail conferences are accessible through Usenet news hierarchy gateways using software such as UFGate. There are also mail services for messaging between the Internet and FidoNet. Widespread email hacking and spamaspects of the Internet have caused some gateways (such as the former 1:1/31 gateway of IEEE fidonet.org) to become unusable or completely out of service.

Popular topic

Editor's choice

  • IPv6 protocol: setup on Windows systems
    IPv6 protocol: setup on Windows systems

    Probably, many users of computer systems, delving into the network settings, noticed that in the list of protocols, in addition to the well-known IPv4, there is also the sixth version (IPv6)

  • View history on computer
    View history on computer

    Today you can learn about almost all the actions taken on the computer. It's about browsing history

  • Computer technology hardware: definition, description and types
    Computer technology hardware: definition, description and types

    Modern computers to ensure maximum performance and correct operation use hardware and software that are very interconnected and clearly interact in different directions. Now let's touch on the consideration of hardware, since initially it is they who occupy a dominant position in ensuring the operability of any computer or even mobile system

  • Keyboard shortcuts and the evolution of operating systems
    Keyboard shortcuts and the evolution of operating systems

    It takes about a minute to copy or move a file from one location to another using the menu system. The developers introduced a keyboard shortcut that replaced all these actions and made it possible to reduce the time of this common operation by 3 or more times. True, for this it was necessary to slightly modernize the keyboard: new keys were added - "Ctrl", and later - "Windows"

  • If the torrent does not download
    If the torrent does not download

    An article for those who consider the ability to download files from torrent trackers a convenience, not an echo of the past. Not only the unavailability of "high-speed" tariff plans is the reason for the choice, but also personal preferences