Fidonet is an amateur message network created in 1984 by Tom Jennings. It was originally conceived for users of his Fido Bulletin Board Software (BBS) to exchange messages between different systems. A message sent from a Fidonet system makes its way to the destination system via a store and forward approach. Fidonet’s popularity soared in the late 1980’s through the 1990’s. Fidonet-compatible software became available for different types of computers and operating systems.
The network grew to a hierarchical distribution. The addressing scheme consists of Zones establishing the intercontinental presence. Regions and Nets comprise localities within the Zones. Nodes and Points comprise the sites and/or operators within a Net. At its peak there were over 30,000 systems and likely countless more exchanging messages.
Netmail is a message addressed and sent to another operator. Conference Mail, better known as Echomail, is a message that “echoes” to other systems so a conference of operators can reply. For many participants, Echomail was what made the network so popular.
To experience the fun for yourself, you will need Fidonet software or a BBS program capable of Fidonet connectivity. Traditionally, Fidonet mail and file packet “feeds” were provided by dialup modem lines, but most Fidonet systems today use the Internet to transfer Fidonet packets. BinkD is currently the most popular method. FTP and Telnet are also in use.
If you wish to join Fidonet but not sure how to apply or obtain a Node number, please first review Policy 4.07. Then complete the Contact Form for assistance in being placed in touch with the appropriate Regional or Network Coordinator. Please note that to be Nodelisted in Zone 1, you are required to demonstrate a basic operational system that can accept and process Netmail.
You may wish to consider applying as a Point system if you do not accept incoming connections or you prefer using Point software or a message reader – for example on a laptop, tablet or mobile device. Several Point Hosts or BBS systems would be happy to assist.
Each Fidonet Zone produces its own unique Nodelist, updated either daily or weekly. The Daily Nodelist is the easiest method to ensure your Fidonet software has the most up-to-date Nodelist because it is refreshed daily. The weekly Nodelist is used in more “traditional” setups. It requires that you compile the Nodelist and apply a small weekly update of changes known as differential files (NodeDIFF).