History of Galacticomm, The Major BBS, and Worldgroup
The MajorBBS was a DOS Bulletin Board Software (BBS) written by Timothy Striker in 1986. Tim had previously written several multi user gaming systems and used his experience to create both the Galacticomm Software Breakthrough Library (GSBL) and Model 16 Modem Card. The GSBL was a set of x86 Assembler communication routines that helped facilitate the rapid development of multi user applications on the Model 16, which was a single ISA card that contained 16 1200 baud modems. Both were quite revolutionary and focused on using Commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware at a time, when these types of multi user applications existed primarily on mainframes, mini's and mid's.
While initially created to showcase the GSBL and Model 16, by 1988 Tim was licensing more copies of The MajorBBS than the GSBL. The MajorBBS quickly reached v5 as the user-base continued to grow. The main limitation with the software at this point was that addon's had to be manually compiled which required users to purchase Borland C and have programming experience. Seeing this limitation, Tim implemented loadable module support which allowed addon's to be distributed as 16-bit binary NE DLL's. This eliminated requiring users to purchase compilers and have programming experience just to operate a BBS.
In 1992 The MajorBBS v6 was released and with the addition of loadable module support it's user-base sky-rocketed. By the end of 1994 Galacticomm had reportedly sold over 15,000 copies of the software, and would go on to release eight revisions that year. In December 1994, CEO Scott Brinker was interviewed by [email protected] magazine and publicly announced their new multimedia BBS software named “Project Victory”. The MajorBBS v6.25 was finally released on January 11th, 1995 and would be the last version retaining the “MajorBBS'' name.
1995 also saw the rapid growth of public Internet access which drew a large percentage of its users from the BBS community. Like many BBS companies of the time, Galacticomm held delusions that they could compete with the growing popularity of the Internet. “Project Victory”, now renamed Worldgroup, was publicly announced on January 30th 1995 and Worldgroup v1.0 would be released in May that same year. In September, v1.0.1 was released and Galacticomm switched compilers from Borland C++ 3.1 to 4.5. All addons compiled with Borland C++ 4.5 were no longer compatible with previous MajorBBS/Worldgroup releases.
1996 was a very turbulent year for BBSing and Galacticomm would see the exit of many long time ISV/TPD's along with scores of disgruntled Sysops who had invested many thousands of dollars into their systems only to be slapped in the face with massive architecture and price structure changes. In May 1996 Galacticomm would release Worldgroup 2.0, but BBS's as a whole were declining at an exponential rate. Tragically on August 6 at the age of 41, Tim Stryker took his own life in the mountains of Colorado.
After Tim's passing, Galacticomm struggled on but with the loss of their visionary as well as droves of users leaving BBS's for the Internet. The company was destined for failure. Galacticomm would go on to release Worldgroup v3 for DOS in 1997 and v3.12 in 1998 before abandoning DOS entirely. In 1999, Worldgroup v3.2 was released for Windows but before the end of the year Galacticomm would shut its doors. Over the next few years, leadership of Galacticomm would change many times, but none was able to regain the momentum they once had with The MajorBBS.
In 2002 the company would ultimately file for bankruptcy and fade into the annals of time.