The NEW ProBoard News
- The Good - The Bad - The Ugly!

by Frank Robbins
at ProBoard Innovations

  The views expressed by others
  below may not   necessarily be
  views of ProBoard Innovations!
  Most opinions are welcomed!!!!

Hot News -   PB Major Issues     PB Wish List     Project Cherokee Wish List  
History of Previous ProBoard Owner   Philippe Leybaert Speaks  
Some comments for Philip Lozier (01Feb99)
From:   "Pat Clawson" <>
Date sent:   Mon, 01 Feb 1999 10:08:38 -0500
Subject:   Some comments for Philip Lozier

At 07:36 PM 1/31/99 -0800, Richard Kinser wrote:

What are these "obvious" reasons? At least ElleBBS is still being developed. I'm still waiting for Pat to answer my very simple questions.

Philip Lozier:

I appreciate your comments and opinions, but I respectfully disagree.

1. The market for OS/2 has vaporized. While some BBS sysops may use it, few others do. I don't see any tidal wave of new OS/2 products being developed by anyone. Even IBM has basically given up on it. TeleGrafix will not develop any OS/2 product. That said, we have no problems working with someone who wants to use our code to develop OS/2 products (or Linux, Macintosh, Amiga, etc.). If you are a qualified software developer and can make a financial deal that makes sense, we'd be delighted to work with you.

2. I'm sure that any future ProBoard product will continue to have ANSI interface capability. But we are going to be making graphical systems, and RIPscrip technology is central to that.

3. We are not going to be developing online platforms that would have been cool in 1990. We are going to move the BBS platform into the future. I'm sure many sysops will be kicking and screaming about this, but graphical systems are necessary if the BBS platform is going to have any life at all in the future. We are not going to allow ProBoard development to be held hostage by living in the past. BBS systems, in their current state, are too hard to use. We intend to make them simple, graphical and fun.

I find that the only people who get excited about ANSI BBS systems are geeks who really enjoy working with difficult technologies. After all, if you can't jump through 20 hoops to get something to work, you're really not qualified to be a member of the brotherhood, are you?

At TeleGrafix, our emphasis will be on simple, easy-to-use, graphical systems. It's the only way that BBS systems will be viable in an increasingly Webbed world.

Sysops need to wake up and smell the coffee. The day of the ANSI BBS is really over. That's not me saying that. It's the judgment of millions of people who are clicking their mouses to access Web sites, not BBS systems. It's the judgement of millions of people who use Web browsers daily but never use the terminal emulation dial-up software that's embedded into their Windows 98/95.

That said, I continue to believe in the technological viability of a BBS-style platform. The underlying technology is sound. But it needs a significant facelift to be viable in the Internet era.

The market has changed. We have changed with it. Will you?


Pat Clawson
TeleGrafix Communications

Another Quite Day! (31Jan99)
From:   "Pat Clawson" <>
Date sent:   Sun, 31 Jan 1999 23:50:41 -0500
Subject:   Another Quite Day!

At 07:36 PM 1/31/99 -0800, Richard Kinser wrote:
What are these "obvious" reasons? At least ElleBBS is still being developed. I'm still waiting for Pat to answer my very simple questions.


Your questions were:

You need to start telling us the truth and come out and say whether there will be a PB32 or not. Quit trying to get around the issue.

We always tell the truth to our customers. We've held nothing back. Obviously you haven't read my previous postings. I won't repeat them all here, but we are currently studying the ProBoard code. Nothing will happen on this quickly. It takes time to develop a quality product. I wouldn't expect to see anything until sometime in the second quarter of this year.

When will the Y2k fix and bug fixes be released?

As I have said several times, a Y2K fix is at the top of our list of improvements. A release date has not been set.

Will there be a ProBoard/32 or not?

Since the whole world has migrated to 32-bit, don't you think ProBoard will too? It may be in a different form than you expect, though.

Will it be in Windows95/98 and OS/2 versions?

We will not produce an OS/2 version of anything. There no longer exists any viable OS/2 market, in my opinion. Our emphasis will be on cleaning up any problems with DOS products, and concentrating on developing WIN/32 products.

Will it be a GUI or a console app?

Which would you prefer? It's obviously easier and quicker to do a console app. We've had demands for both GUI and console.

These questions have gone unanswered for too long.

Again, I've made several postings to this listserv explaining the general focus of our plans. Frank Robbins has been kind enough to compile a wish list document that we have closely studied. Of course, we have a few surprises planned for the final products. Our plans will remain secret.

As you may be unaware, TeleGrafix has numerous competitors. Why in the world should I provide them - or you - with a copy of our battle plan?

Most software companies refuse to tell anyone outside the company about their product planning and scheduling. If you have any doubts about this, please feel free to call Apple, Adobe, Corel, Microsoft, Sun Microsystems or others and ask them to detail their future product development plans for you. Be my guest. Please let me know how far you get.

I guess he is just too busy with Searchlight, their main focus since RIP is already built-in. I for one have no interest in Pat's RIP products and never will.

Searchlight has been taking up a lot of our time. Since you may be unaware, we acquired rights to it in August 1998. We had planned to release a beta upgrade in October 1998. Because of unforeseen problems with the code, that didn't happen. We hope to release the beta sometime this coming week - about six months after acquiring the code, and a good four months after our original planned release date. Having been in this business for some time, let me tell you I've learned there is only one ironclad rule in software development: SHIT HAPPENS.

And it will happen with ProBoard, too.

As far as your lack of interest in RIPscrip technology, that's unfortunate because it will be central to the future of ProBoard. TeleGrafix is not going to be developing the next wave of ANSI BBS systems because those days are over. In case you haven't noticed, the world has moved on to graphical systems and Web sites. I don't know of any ANSI web sites, but there are far too many BBS systems locked into this interface of the past. I'm a firm believer that is why BBS users have been dropping like flies.


RIPscrip graphics provide a great way to make direct-dial and Telnet sites graphical, and all RIPscrip graphics can be used simultaneously on Web pages. RIPscrip is the only vector graphics technology that has been designed to be used in every online environment.

I suggest that it is in your interest to make your BBS system graphical. It's also in your interest to start thinking about what we do to make BBS systems a viable alternative online destination for millions of Internet users who are addicted to the glitzy graphics and compelling content of the Web.

Let's start thinking about the future, instead of dwelling on memories of the past.


Pat Clawson
TeleGrafix Communications
Winchester, VA

STOP the Flaming! (26Jan99)
From:   "Frank Robbins" <>
Date sent:   Tue, 26 Jan 1999 08:15:01 0000
Subject:   STOP the Flaming!

Recently, everyone has seen some very bad comments circulating about TeleGrafix and its owner Pat Clawson! Sometimes, the tongue can be mighter than the sword!

This mailing list is NOT the flaming forum.

Other people have already been complaining that this action has been taking place! It is not just me!

The mailing list is comprised of both newbie SysOps, well seasoned SysOps, PEX writers, an old PB owner, the new PB owner, and others who want to follow the news about ProBoard.

People are NOT interested in reading about "How much I hate.... - How much I dislike...." when it becomes abusive or is the only active thread!

Everyone's opinion has always been welcomed here - whether you agree with someone or not! If we don't agree with something - then we can agree to disagree!

Let's clean up our messages and get back to the cool stuff about ProBoard that we have been accustomed to - exhange of interesting information!

Flaming is NOT acceptable here! Take it to private email so we don't have to read it!

The ProBoard Mailing List is a good place to be part of, where interesting things happen at anytime of the day or night! Let's don't change that concept! Dennis has done a great job of providing this service!

If you cannot find it in your heart to write messages here in a responsible manner, then the ProBoard Mailing List may NOT be the place for you!


The "BBS" Is Dead - So What's Next? (24Jan99)
From:   "Pat Clawson" <>
Date sent:   Sun, 24 Jan 1999 04:48:18 -0500
Subject:   The "BBS" Is Dead - So What's Next?

BBS systems are dead. The very term "BBS" conjures up images of the Model T Ford. Mention the term around Webheads and corporate MIS guys, and you hear snickers of derision.

But we all know that BBS technology is reliable and proven, and capable of doing many things that Web systems can't.

We need a new term to describe these online information systems that are very exciting alternatives to the Web. So what should we call BBS systems as we go forward into the Internet era?

We need a catchy term to describe these systems that can be accessed by both direct-dial telephone and by Telnet. A short, one or two syllable term (like "fax" or "web") that can be used to describe a technology that is an attractive alternative online system - and help people understand there is more to the Internet than just the Web.

Your thoughts and comments are appreciated.


Pat Clawson
TeleGrafix Communications Inc.
Winchester, VA

TeleGrafix Update for the Restless Natives (24Jan99)
From:   "Pat Clawson" <>
Date sent:   Sun, 24 Jan 1999 04:35:46 -0500
Subject:   TeleGrafix Update for the Restless Natives

Hmmmm.....I see the natives are getting restless again....very short attention spans....must need constant stroking and feeding....

Well, guys and gals, this is not like the Presidential Impeachment trial where there is a new development every minute. While the world waits breathlessly to hear what Monica has to tell the House managers, we continue hard at work on Searchlight and ProBoard. Software development is simply not as glamorous or as exciting as oral sex with the President, and it certainly takes longer to accomplish results.

Here's what's going on:

1. We expect to be out the door with a public beta of the new Searchllight BBS sometime later this week. There's been a series of serious bug problems due to deep rooted syntax errors in the original source code that have taken a prolonged period of time to sort out. Late this week, we experienced a breakthrough. If reports from our alpha test team are good, we'll release a public beta this week.

2. As I have said previously, we are still getting familiar with the ProBoard source code. A Y2K fix is our top priority right now, along with some of the other bug fixes that have been suggested in the working document compiled by Frank Robbins. To reiterate what I've said before: don't expect new ProBoard product until sometime in the second quarter of 1999.

3. We have not yet completed our overhaul of our Internet site. It's been on hold pending the release of the Searchlight code. Once that's accomplished, we will finish the site modifications and begin accepting ProBoard registrations.

4. RIPscrip graphics is central to the future of both ProBoard and Searchlight. If your systems are not RIPPED now, start getting them that way. Tools are available at and you should get them today.

5. We are planning some special promotions to help generate interest in BBS systems. These promotions will help you attract users to your systems. In order to take part in these promotions, your system MUST use RIP graphics. So, start working now to get your systems visual. We will not be promoting any Searchlight or ProBoard systems that use ANSI interfaces. These interfaces are a huge turnoff in an online world that's dominated by the glitz of the Web. At TeleGrafix, our thinking is focused on advancing the state of the art in the future, not preserving old ways of the past.

6. BBS systems are dead. The very term "BBS" conjures up images of the Model T Ford. We need a new term to describe online information systems that are very exciting alternatives to the Web. So what should we call BBS systems as we go forward into the Internet era? Your thoughts and comments are appreciated.

Pat Clawson
TeleGrafix Communications, Inc
Winchester, Virginia

Re: R we Dead? 8-) (07Jan99)
From:   "Pat Clawson" <>
Date sent:   Thu, 7 Jan 1999 00:46:04 -0500 (EST)
Subject:   Re: R we Dead? 8-)

We're not dead at TeleGrafix...we're just working...

More soon...

Pat Clawson
TeleGrafix Communications
Winchester, VA

Update on TeleGrafix Site Trouble (23Dec98)
From:   "Pat Clawson" c/o
To:   Frank Robbins
Date sent:   Wed, 23 Dec 1998 02:25:33 EST
Subject:   Update on TeleGrafix Site Trouble

To TeleGrafix Customers:

We've been flooded with phone calls from sysops and customers inquiring why their e-mail to TeleGrafix has been bouncing back and why they've been having trouble registering software downloads.

Here's the problem, and what we are doing about it:

1. TeleGrafix's Internet servers are physically located in the offices of our Internet Service Provider in West Virginia.

2. Last Thursday night, our ISP began converting its Internet system from Windows NT to Linux.
Something went wrong in the conversion, and our ability to send or receive e-mail has been intermittant.

Since at least Sunday, we have not been able to send or receive any e-mail at several e-mail addresses on our system.
The ISP's system is somehow blocking our inbound mail and bouncing it back to senders.
We are having similar problems sending outbound mail.

3. Our ISP doesn't have a clue what is causing the problem.
Our Web, FTP and Telnet sites seem to be working fine.
However, e-mail is completely dead in the water.
Our ISP is unable to resolve the problem to our satisfaction.

4. Effective Wednesday (12/23), we will begin physically relocating our servers to another ISP based in Maryland.
Our Web, FTP and Telnet sites will be offline during this relocation.

5. We hope to have our servers back online - with full inbound and outbound e- mail capabilities - sometime on Christmas Eve.
However, it may not be possible for INTERNIC to process the change in our routing information in such a short period.
If they are unable to do this, we would not expect the servers to be back online until after Christmas, probably early next week.

We apologize for any problems you may have experienced.
Our offices remain open for business throughout the holiday period.
Our address is 2180 S. Loudoun St., Suite 308, Winchester, VA 22611.
Our phone is 540-678-4050, our fax is 540-678-4052.
We'll be delighted to help you in any way we can.

Happy Holidays,

Pat Clawson
TeleGrafix Communications Inc.

Status of ProBoard Registrations (16Dec98)
From:   "Pat Clawson" <>
Date sent:   Wed, 16 Dec 1998 17:59:14 -0800
Subject:   Status of ProBoard Registrations

We will be instituting online registrations for ProBoard in about two weeks, once we complete upgrades of our Internet servers and their colocation with a new ISP.

At that time, the site will be hosted on TeleGrafix servers, and we will start accepting product registrations.

Patrick Clawson
TeleGrafix Communications

ProBoard Update from TeleGrafix (16Dec98)
From:   "Pat Clawson" <>
Date sent:   Wed, 16 Dec 1998 17:50:16 -0800
Subject:   ProBoard Update from TeleGrafix

A short note to let you all know what's going on with ProBoard.
I hope this will be responsive to some of the complaints I've seen posted in this forum.

Why some ProBoard sysops feel compelled to throw rocks at TeleGrafix is a mystery to me.
I note that none of those who are posting complaints made a bid to buy the ProBoard code.
If TeleGrafix hadn't stepped forward and put its money on the line, the chances are that ProBoard would be as dead as PCBoard or TBBS.

At any rate, ten points to clear the air:

1. We're now studying the ProBoard code.
There's a learning curve here.
ProBoard is more detailed than you think.
It requires considerable work.
Improvements are a major project.

We've had the code for one month.
For two of those four weeks, our chief programmer was in Australia on other business.
Miracles don't happen overnight.
Please be patient.
We are serious about releasing quality software.
A Y2K fix is at the top of our list.
We welcome your ideas about other improvements.

2. I would not expect to see any ProBoard updates for at least 90 days.
We want to identify and fix as many problems as possible in the first release.
As many of you know, we acquired Searchlight BBS in August.

Because of unforeseen technical problems (and an office relocation forced by the unexpected sale of our office building), that release has been delayed.
We expect it will go out yet this month.
ProBoard presents similar problems.
It's been our experience that software development always takes longer than we think it will.

3. Will an upgrade fee be required for future versions of ProBoard?
Yes, but TeleGrafix has always had a policy of very modest upgrade fees.

Keep in mind that TeleGrafix staffers like to eat and have bills to pay just like anybody else.
The Internal Revenue Service does not accept free software in lieu of cash for our taxes. There is no free lunch.

Harrison Ford, the actor, likes to say that money represents respect.
Those who respect our hard work and find our products useful will not object to paying a minor upgrade fee.
Those who don't respect our work will be easy to spot - they'll complain like hell about having to pay anything and will make loud noises about abandoning ProBoard in favor of some freeware.
We wish them well.

4. Inexpensive RIPaint programs are available from TeleGrafix.
Just check out our web site at
You can get this stuff for peanuts, under US$50.
Those who claim RIPaint costs hundreds of dollars simply don't know the facts.
You can order and download online with American Express, MasterCard or Visa.

5. TeleGrafix has never charged other BBS systems makers, or other software developers, to include RIPscrip emulation in their products.
Any developer can have access to our programming specs (most major BBS developers, including Galacticomm and Mustang, have copies).
They can code away to their heart's content.
Writing your own code from the spec is very intense - the spec is 500 pages.
If you want to save time and energy, you can license authentic TeleGrafix code and integrate it into your products for a modest fee or royalty.
It's a lot easier.

6. RIP usage on BBS systems is not at the level it once was.
That's because three BBS system makers (Clark, Galacticomm, and Mustang) decided to abandon the open RIP standard in 1995 in favor of developing their own proprietary (and incompatible) graphics systems in hopes of cornering the BBS graphics market.

At the same time the open-standards Web was coming on like a tidal wave, the BBS community was rushing backwards to embrace closed proprietary systems that required users to have multiple and incompatible term programs.
So what happened to these geniuses?
Three years later, Clark is dead, Galacticomm is on the brink of bankruptcy, and Mustang has completely left the BBS business because its Wildcat and Q-Modem sales collapsed.
And we all know what the state of the BBS community is these days.

7. We are considering a Windows version of RIPterm.
We had planned to release one in November 1997.
We put it on the back burner because of weak market demand.
That's because the communications software that's built into Windows 95/98 has crushed the market for other dial-up programs.

The average consumer does not want to buy any software if a basic program is bundled into Windows.
The dial-up communications software market went into death throes the day Windows 95 hit the market.
Good programs like Q-Modem, Cyberjack, ProComm, Telix, WinRamp -- all of which had built-in RIP support -- have disappeared into the bowels of history.

8. Also, let's face it - the Web browser has become the communications software of choice for the average Joe.
And why do you think Netscape has decided to merge with AOL?
Because Microsoft killed its business by bundling a Web browser into Windows.

Since the browser is where the action is, TeleGrafix has focused on browser plug-ins and Telnet helper apps.
We've been unable to convince Netscape to include RIPscrip in their browser, because they are not interested in vector graphics.
As expected, Microsoft is working on its own proprietary vector graphics technology.

9. Let's get real about dial-ups.
While I think they still remain an attractive online alternative, the average consumer dials only one number - their local Internet or America Online connect.
Dial-up BBS has been eclipsed by the Web.

The lesson for BBS sysops is clear:
I agree that in Europe and some overseas markets, dial-up BBS will remain viable for a while longer because of high Internet connectivity costs.
However, the trend to dialing one number for an online connection is escalating everywhere.

10. For those programming hotshots who are complaining that modifying ProBoard is a simple task and boasting that they can do it quickly, please send me your resumes.
I'm looking for talent that can deliver.
If you are as good as you think you are, here's your chance to prove it.

I'm looking for some rocket scientists with high mental bandwidth and excellent skills in C, C++, Linux, and assembly language.
You must have experience with programming advanced telecommunications and vector graphics applications.
Experience in complex real-time defense applications programming would be very helpful.
Our chief programmer will judge the applicants, and he's a genius who's fluent in 20 computer languages (including obscure stuff like ADA) and has the international awards to prove it.
On the other hand, if you're a BBS hacker with a working knowlege of pigeon Visual Basic who believes MAX Graphics are somehow meaningful technologically, this absolutely is not the right opportunity for you.

As usual, your comments are welcome.

Pat Clawson
TeleGrafix Communications Inc.
Winchester, VA

Re: Revised ProBoard DOS Talking Paper (11Dec98)
From:   "Pat Clawson" <>
To:   Frank Robbins <>
Date sent:   Fri, 11 Dec 1998 05:02:31 -0800
Subject:   Re: Revised ProBoard DOS Talking Paper


Thanks for the revised document.
This is very helpful.
Please keep the good ideas coming.
Rest assured, we will be considering all of your points.

If anyone has a "wish list" for ProBoard - and for the Cherokee Project - we'd like to hear it.
We'd like to take the BBS beyond the current - and dismal - state of the art.

Pat Clawson
TeleGrafix Communications

Update from TeleGrafix (10Dec98)
From:   "Pat Clawson" <>
Date sent:   Thu, 10 Dec 1998 20:55:40 -0800
Subject:   Update from TeleGrafix

The following message was posted in alt.bbs.searchlight in response to public criticism of TeleGrafix's delay in releasing a beta of the new Searchlight v5.1 BBS software.

Some of this will probably be of interest to ProBoard sysops as well.

We continue to appreciate your comments, both good and bad.
Keep 'em coming.

Also, many thanks to all of the ProBoard sysops who worked so hard on the ideas contained in the DOS working paper circulated by Frank Robbins.
That document is very helpful and is the subject of considerable discussion here.

We are listening.
We will have something more substantive to say about ProBoard very soon.

Pat Clawson
TeleGrafix Communications
Winchester, VA


In article <74p44n$sam$>, "doc_x" <> wrote:

if telegrafix isnt going to hold true to their word, i wish they would at least keep us all informed on the newsgroups as to what the REAL problems are and when they REALISTICALLY expect a new searchlight version to become available. IMHO they are simply shooting themselves in the foot by doing what they are.


We very much appreciate your calling some serious bugs to our attention.

As a result of your observations, I made the decision to hold release of the new version of Searchlight until we could get these problems worked out.
As you know from our private conversations, your input has been very valuable and we are grateful.

Considering the numerous private phone conversations and private e-mail messages we have exchanged, I'm surprised you felt the need to make a public criticism of our efforts.

No one is ignoring you.
I received your last e-mail. It was among 2,500 others that I received over the past two weeks while I was overseas.
I'm trying to respond to all of them. I've been back less than a week.

We are still working on the software, and hope to have a beta out by Christmas.
Our work has been delayed for three reasons:

1. We've found some other bugs, and are working to stamp them out.
Some of them are very subtle and have required a great deal of detective work. We are not going to release software with known defects, even for beta testing. Debugging problems like this take time.

The Searchlight code was not perfect when we acquired it. We are trying to improve it in many ways. That has taken longer than we would like, but we're building a quality product - not just something that can be released quickly to satisfy impatient sysops.
In our opinion, a bad product is far worse than no product at all.

2. As you may know, TeleGrafix recently acquired ProBoard BBS.
This has required a signficant amount of our time as well.
We have just as many ProBoard sysops demanding a new release. Many of them prepaid the previous developer for upgrades that he did not deliver.
I'm sure you can understand that they are rather anxious about a new ProBoard release, to say the least.

3. As has been explained to you privately, the unexpected sale of our office building forced us to relocate our offices on very short notice in mid-October and early November.

This relocation caused significant disruption to our business.
This relocation was occuring simultaneously with our ProBoard acquisition, and other international business matters which required extended overseas travel by our chief programmer and myself.

The last 90 days at TeleGrafix has been extraordinarily busy.
Uninterrupted development time has been at a premium.

I'm sure you would like the new version of Searchlight released tomorrow morning.
Considering the money I have wrapped up in development, I want it out the door yesterday.

Be patient.
Some very good things are about to happen.
The first quarter of 1999 at TeleGrafix promises to be quite interesting.
I'm sure you will like the new Searchlight - and when you come to understand what the Cherokee server project is all about, you'll be even more pleased.

Instead of worrying about when the next beta is going to be released, let's all start thinking about what's really important.

How do we re-establish the BBS in a Webbed world?
How do we help people understand that there's more to the Net than the Web?
How do we make BBS systems appealing to newbies whose understanding of the online world is limited to the Web?
How can we convince sysops to make their systems graphical and glitzy if they are to survive in this changed online environment?

I'm focused on the big picture.
I suggest that others such as yourself should do the same.
Otherwise, all of our efforts with Searchlight, ProBoard and the Cherokee project will be for naught.

Pat Clawson
TeleGrafix Communications
Winchester, VA

Re: FREEBoard for Linux proposal: BBS Future (10Dec98)
From:   "Pat Clawson" <>
Date sent:   Thu, 10 Dec 1998 05:17:34 -0800
Subject:   Re: FREEBoard for Linux proposal: BBS Future

Msg From: Mike Ehlert
RIPscrip has the potential.
It's already available as a free plug-in for a web browser.

It would really be nice If Telegrafix could get Microsoft and Netscape to bundle it with their products such as is done with JAVA and Shockwave, so that Web surfers would not need to download a plug-in first.

I've also mentioned that there needs to be more Telnet programs with RipScrip support, including at least one that is freeware.


We've tried repeatedly over the past two years to get Netscape and Microsoft to bundle the RIPview plug-in with their Web browsers, but we have not been successful. Here's why:

1. Neither company gives a damn about vector graphics.
It's just not on their radar screens.

2. I made the trip to Redmond. Microsoft was interested at first.
Then one of their VP's called me and said: "We can do our own vector graphics if we want, we don't need your stuff." That was in 1996.
So far, they still haven't done anything.
That same Microsoftie told me that GIFs were good enough for the Net.

3. As far as Netscape, our experience has been they are arrogant and unprofessional.
We have tried for nearly three years to get their attention focused on vector graphics for the web. In July 1997, Netscape execs finally agreed to meet with me about this. I flew from Virginia to Mountain View for the appointment - only to discover that no Netscape execs remembered the meeting, and none were available to meet with me.

In December 1997, I met in Washington with Netscape's chief technology officer. He promised to get back to me in a few days. He didn't, and he wouldn't return my phone calls for weeks. I finally called Jim Barksdale at his home on a Sunday afternoon to complain about this unprofessionalism.

The next day I heard from the CTO, who was ticked that I had called Barksdale. He agreed to examine RIP, but said they probably were going to use Macromedia's Flash technology instead. The reason? Macromedia was going to pay them millions of dollars to include Flash with Netscape Navigator. He also told me that vector graphics were not a priority at Netscape.

The upshot of all this?
Nothing happened with RIP at Netscape. Flash - which works only with the Web, not with Telnet - is now bundled with Navigator. We've heard that Macromedia paid Netscape $10 million for this. Macromedia is also one of the original investors in Netscape.

The moral of this story? Money talks, and blood is thicker than water.

4. Corel Corporation also has tried to get their Xara vector technology bundled into Netscape Navigator and Microsoft Explorer, to no avail. Corel officials - at the very highest level - have also complained to me about their inability to get either one of the companies to focus on vector graphics. They have also complained vociferously about arrogance and unprofessionalism in their own dealings with Netscape.

5. I agree there should be more Telnet programs with RIPscrip support.
We have always been willing to make the technology available to other companies. Some have licensed our code, but not used it. Many others have been provided with our technical specs, but they have chosen not to do anything with it - like Mustang Software, maker of Q-Modem.

We believe the lack of interest is because RIPscrip is perceived as a "BBS thing" and BBS systems are rapidly fading. I might add that there has been a sharp dropoff in the development of any communications software because of the impact of Web browsers. There's very little interest in Telnet these days because everybody has Web-itis.

6. As far as a free Telnet browser, let's get real - there already is one, the original RIPtel Telnet browser.
We provide it free for a 60-day trial period, then ask users to register it for a modest fee.
The reality is that thousands are downloaded every month, but very few people will ever pay for the software.

We count on the honesty of users to support us financially - and I'm sorry to report that the vast majority of BBS sysops and BBS users simply are not honest.
That lack of financial support has hurt our development efforts.
Good software does not grow on trees, and it costs a lot to develop it.
I hope ProBoard sysops will understand this as we move forward with ProBoard development.

Free is great, but it doesn't pay the bills.
And let me assure you that the IRS doesn't accept freeware in lieu of cash for payroll tax deposits, and my banker is less than enthused when I suggest I pay my loan on the same terms that people pay me for RIPtel.

Pat Clawson
TeleGrafix Communications

Message from Pat Clawson/TeleGrafix (07Dec98)
From:   "Pat Clawson" <>
Date sent:   Mon, 7 Dec 1998 17:38:52 -0500 (EST)
Subject:   Message from Pat Clawson/TeleGrafix

I'm back in Virginia after two busy weeks in beautiful (but over-taxed!) Australia. Lots of really cool software being developed Down Under by some very creative Aussies, and we hope to incorporate some of it into our future products.

I'm amazed by all of the correspondence that's piled up in my e-mail file - over 1,000 messages, with half of those about ProBoard. It will take a few days to wade through it all.

Thanks for all of the good ideas, including the DOS working paper. I'm reviewing them all, and I encourage you to keep the good ideas coming as we chart the future of ProBoard.

A Y2K fix will be at the top of our improvements list. Enhanced RIPscrip graphics support also will be a top priority. Character-based BBS interfaces simply don't make it in a Webbed world. If you're not familiar with how RIPscrip graphics have changed and improved in recent years, I encourage you to visit our Web site at as soon as possible.

We're thinking about holding a summit in Virginia for ProBoard users sometime in the second quarter of 1999. If you would like to speak, send me a note with your proposed topic. We must likely will hold the meeting at a hotel at Washington's Dulles International Airport, so you could just fly-in a jump a free shuttle bus. No muss, no fuss, just minimal expense and lots of fun in Silicon Valley East.

We're especially looking for ideas and content to help spark a resurgence of interest in BBS systems. How do we make these systems hot and relevant in a Webbed world? Where does ProBoard fit in?

More later....


Patrick Clawson
TeleGrafix Communications
Winchester, VA USA

ProBoard Suggestions (01Dec98)
From:   "Pat Clawson" <>
To:   "Frank Robbins" <>
Date sent:   Tue, 1 Dec 1998 01:57:49 -0500 (EST)
Subject:   ProBoard Suggestions


Thanks for the good ideas. I'm still out of the country, since my trip has been extended. I'll be back in the USA this weekend, and will get back to you soon.

Patrick Clawson
TeleGrafix Communications Inc.

Message from Pat Clawson/TeleGrafix (20Nov98)
From:   "Pat Clawson" <>
Date sent:   Fri, 20 Nov 1998 14:12:40 -0500 (EST)
Subject:   Message from Pat Clawson/TeleGrafix

Thanks for all the kind notes of support.

Please keep your ideas coming on how we can improve ProBoard.

Tonight, I will leaving the USA on international travel for 10 days. Some of this is ProBoard related.

I will be checking in for messages infrequently.

We will have more news upon my return to Virginia.

Patrick Clawson
TeleGrafix Communications Inc.

Getting 'Gooey' over Telnet (19Nov98)
From:   "Frank Robbins" <>
Date sent:   Thu, 19 Nov 1998 21:40:13 0000
Subject:   Getting 'Gooey' over Telnet

More News about TeleGrafix:

Getting 'Gooey' over Telnet
by Miguel Helft
Wired News
6:54pm 24.Apr.97.PDT

With the Web in the limelight for past three years, other portions of the Internet have fallen into near oblivion. Online newcomers, in particular, have probably never heard of computer bulletin boards and telnet sites, which include government and university databases.

The Web, with its spiffy graphics and ease of use, has nearly eclipsed those sites, which have to be accessed through a command-line interface.

But Pat Clawson, president of TeleGrafix Communications Inc., hopes to revive interest in telnet sites by enriching them with graphics and making them easily viewable with RIPtel Visual Telnet, the company�s new telnet browser.

"A lot of major information resources reside on mainframe systems that are accessible over the Internet only via telnet," Clawson said.

"Government agencies, universities, and major corporations have enormous resources. That information has not been converted to Web format."

And Clawson wants to make sure that information gets converted to TeleGrafix's fast Remote Imaging Protocol scripting language, RIPscrip3, a format whose earlier versions were used by thousands of BBS operators to transmit graphics.

The advantages of the new RIPscrip, a vector graphics technology, is that it is much more bandwidth efficient than other image formats. A 60-KB GIF image could be reduced to a 4-KB RIPscrip image, Clawson said.

To convince content providers to use RIPscrip, Clawson has plans to publish the specs of the technology in hopes to make it an open standard. He also plans to release plug-ins that will allow RIPscrip to be embedded in Web pages and make them faster to download.

Someday, Clawson hopes, RIPscrip will be the graphical standard for the Internet, and Visual Telnet sites will compete with Web sites in popularity.

Since RIPtel Visual Telnet was made available a few days ago, his site in Winchester, Virginia, has seen three to four downloads per minute, many of them from overseas countries where the Web is not as commonly used as in the United States and where BBS and other telnet sites remain popular.

Clawson is fighting an uphill battle, though. Most new Internet content is currently being developed for the Web. And existing telnet database sites also have to convert their content to work with RIPscrip.

Although Clawson claims converting existing content from databases into RIPscrip pages is easier than converting it into a Web page, the Web's popularity may be hard to resist.

"All you can do is hope that people listen to reason," said Jeff Reeder, the creator of the RIP technology and TeleGrafix chairman. Until then, the technology and the US$19.95 RIPtel Visual Telnet browser are likely to thrive only in a niche market.

Blast from the past:
Telegrafix builds a better buggy whip (19Nov98)
From:   "Frank Robbins" <>
Date sent:   Thu, 19 Nov 1998 21:08:57 0000
Subject:   Blast from the past: Telegrafix builds a better buggy whip

Here is a newpaper article about TeleGrafix that may be of interest to some of you.

You can see that Pat is a survivor in the harsh business world, even when friends told him NO!

TeleGrafix Isn't Daunted By the Web's Incursion
By Peter Behr
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, January 6 1997; Page F15
The Washington Post

Imagine how communications pioneer Guglielmo Marconi felt when radio came along to render his wireless telegraph obsolete.

That's about where Patrick Clawson and his colleagues at TeleGrafix Communications Inc. found themselves several years ago when the World Wide Web burst on the scene.

At the time, TeleGrafix's RIPscrip software was favored by thousands of computer bulletin board operators across the country as a fast, easy method for dressing up subscribers' computer screens with artwork, logos and other adornments.

Then came the Web explosion in 1994, offering a sexy new way to transmit not only text -- but also video, sounds and point-and-click commands -- over the Internet. Suddenly, anything that wasn't on the Web and created with its unique software technology seemed passe.

Bulletin board operators began attaching themselves to the Web and RIPscrip sales withered.

"It was a tidal wave," said Clawson, a broadcasting industry veteran who had purchased a large stake in TeleGrafix in 1994 and become its president and chief executive, just as the wave struck.

Now TeleGrafix is trying for a comeback. On Dec. 25 the Winchester, Va., firm released a product on which its hopes are pinned, a test version of a RIPscrip package that lets Internet users tap into university and government databases using simple, eye-catching Web-like graphics and commands.

Many of these big computer systems have been linked to the Internet for years. But they have not been easily reached via the Web because of the high cost of converting the systems to the Web format, Clawson said.

Moreover, even if there are connections, the Web merely takes users to the doorway of these older data storehouses. Many of today's new Web aficionados would be lost inside, because difficult "telnet" computer technology commands must be typed to search for files, copy information and carry out other tasks.

TeleGrafix's new product, RIPtel Visual Telnet, is meant to correct that problem. You don't need to know the commands; everything is reduced to point-and-click simplicity.

The $9.95 RIPtel browser version goes on users' machines. The institution maintaining the database also needs special software, called RIPaint, which costs $49.95. Copies can be ordered over TeleGrafix's Web site at

A commercial version of RIPtel should be ready in February, he added. Making a viable business out of this will be an uphill struggle because of the Web's burgeoning popularity, some experts said.

"They've been overtaken," said Kristina Kowitz, software manager at CompUSA's computer store in Vienna. Most newcomers to the Internet are learning the basics, not digging into sophisticated databases, she said.

RIP software "might make sense" for older systems on the Internet, said Marc S. Usem, an industry analyst with Salomon Brothers Inc., who has yet to review TeleGrafix's products. But that's not where the future lies. "It's the Web."

But the small company, owned by Clawson and two founders, chugs on.

Launched in Huntington Beach, Calif., the company has moved to Winchester, near Clawson's Berryville, Va., home.

Clawson has been financing some expenses with his personal funds and credit card accounts. The pressures can be horrendous.

The new software's speed and efficiency will help it catch on, said Jeff Reeder, who left computer maker AST Research Inc. in California to become one of TeleGrafix's founders in 1992 and remains a key technical guru.

Current technology on the Web transmits certain types of images as many thousands of colored dots, one by one. This means lengthy waits for the Web user while all those dots arrive. RIPscrip instead transmits formulas for drawing images. The formulas are translated by the users' computer into colored geometric shapes on the screen.

Rather than, say, sending every dot that makes up the border in a company's logo, a Web site would transmit a formula saying, in effect, draw a rectangle of such-and-such size and color and put in such-and-such place on the screen.

It's not a good way to ship detailed photos over the Net, but it's fine for graphics and text, Reeder said, and much faster. An image that requires 80,000 bits to reproduce in a Web format can be drawn with just 4,000 bits using RIPscrip, Clawson said.

The new RIP software offers a full palette of colors, multiple text windows, mouse-clickable buttons and accommodates photos in its windows.

Despite RIPscrip's advantages, Clawson said, he has had a terrible time finding outside funding. "We've had, to date, over 100 companies slam the door in our face," he said. A dozen media and computer company executives he counted as friends turned him down, he added. "Myopia," he calls it.

But he has found support in two widely separated places. Japan's Ministry of International Trade and Industry has put $700,000 into creating a Japanese version of RIPscrip, to open further the Internet to Japanese speakers.

And Winchester had selected TeleGrafix as the first official tenant in its "CyberStreet Technology Zone," a part of the city's historic downtown equipped with advanced telecommunications facilities and earmarked for infotech firms.

Once approved as tenants in the zone, companies are eligible for tax abatement and reduced utility charges.

"We're paying half as much as in Huntington Beach, for twice the space," Clawson said.

Now, Clawson said, he needs sales, not just support. The challenge is to find a niche of users who want to tap the specialized information inside university and government databases and who are eager to have an appealing, graphical alternative to the old Telnet commands, he acknowledged. Then these users need to persuade system operators to adopt RIP commands.

Otherwise, they may just have built a better buggy whip.

� Copyright 1997 The Washington Post Company

Re: ProBoard for DOS - A Suggestion for Pat (19Nov98)
From:   "Pat Clawson" <>
Date sent:   Thu, 19 Nov 1998 10:52:57 -0500 (EST)
Subject:   Re: ProBoard for DOS - A Suggestion for Pat


Thank you for your very valuable suggestions.
We will consider them seriously in the days ahead.

We are very much aware of the demand for DOS software.
DOS is not dead by any means, but its days are numbered.

We also are very aware of the high telecom costs of Europe and Asia, and the barrier they pose to Internet access.
I can assure you that is a key factor in all of our product planning.


Pat Clawson
TeleGrafix Communications

ProBoard for DOS - A Suggestion for Pat (19Nov98)
From:   "Frank Robbins" <>
Date sent:   Thu, 19 Nov 1998 08:04:34 0000
Subject:   ProBoard for DOS - A Suggestion for Pat

Hello Pat!

Congradulations on your newest acquisition efforts with ProBoard!

Since there are a lot of ProBoard SysOps still using a very good product, namely PB v2.16, and after reading your recent message about your visit to Belgium, I would like to suggest some options to help relieve some concerns that the PB SysOps have in the area of the DOS version of ProBoard.

I will fully support whatever action you desire, but please consider these options designed to help keep a working product alive for those SysOps who may be in a non-US country where access to the Internet may be too expensive and dial-ups may be the ONLY feasible option for them!


Option 1
Update ProBoard v2.16 one last time to fix the y2k problem and some bug fixes that have not been incorporated.

Release the ProBoard registration key generator to a designated Proboard support site so registration keys can be generated for FREE and that site can maintain this effort without TeleGrafix having to expend time and manpower.

Maintain ProBoard v2.16 for one full year with a "stop support date" of 18 Nov 1999.

Option 2
Update ProBoard v2.16 one last time to fix the y2k problem and some bug fixes that have not been incorporated.

Release the ProBoard registration key generator to a designated Proboard support site so registration keys can be generated for FREE and that site can maintain this effort without TeleGrafix having to expend time and manpower.

Provide no support after this final fixed version is released.

Option 3
Update ProBoard v2.16 one last time to fix the y2k problem and some bug fixes that have not been incorporated.

Release the ProBoard registration key generator to the public.

Provide no support after this final fixed version and the registration key generator are released together.

Option 4
Update ProBoard v2.16 one last time to fix the y2k problem.

Release the ProBoard registration key generator to the public.

Provide no support after this final fixed version and the registration key generator are released together.

end of options

In all cases, the y2k problem would be fixed so that the DOS software would not DIE after midnight Dec 31st, 1999 and thereby rendering the DOS version of ProBoard useless from that point forward!

I also volunteer to help in what ever way I can to assist you in completing this transistion and reducing the additional stress from concerned SysOps that like ProBoard so much and want to keep it running even if NO OFFICIAL SUPPORT is provided for the DOS version!

ProBoard v2.16 was at the final stages to be updated with the y2k fix and bug fixes.

I believe that it is in the best interests of TeleGrafix and the current ProBoard SysOps and PEX Programmers that a comprise be considered concerning the DOS version of ProBoard.

I commend you for offering refunds/rebates to those SysOps who prepaid for an upgrade they have not received!
To take on this responsibility is really more than anyone ever expected!

It is this kind of action that should prove to others that: TeleGrafix is serious about the BBS development effort, that it promotes good business ethics, that it is loyal to its customers, both old and new!

Along with this ideal of refund, you might want to make available to the prepaid customer, an option which you issue a refund voucher (for the amount of the prepayment amount) that can be reedeemed at the time the new BBS software is released.
This would be only available if the prepaid customer opted for it!
It is just another way of doing business!

I challenge the ProBoard Community:
to recommend other positive methods and ideals to support this effort,
to show their support to TeleGrafix in the same way as was done for PB!

Thank you for being interested in the discussing ways to help better the product! 8-))

A note to Ron Leger & other complainers... (18Nov98)
From:   "Pat Clawson" <>
Date sent:   Wed, 18 Nov 1998 23:52:00 -0500 (EST)
Subject:   A note to Ron Leger and other complainers...

On Wed, 18 Nov 1998, Ronald Leger wrote:

As I understand it....
PROBOARD is now discontinued and no longer exists.

Clawson will continue developing "Cherokee", and will take parts of Proboard.

We have been waiting for a 32 bit "Windows" version of Proboard for nothing!

Thanks for nothing.

I'm sorry you felt it was necessary to post such a sarcastic message. It's precisely because of this kind of attitude from sysops that most companies have quit the BBS business.

TeleGrafix did not purchase ProBoard to kill it. Last night bad weather forced the cancellation of my flight to Virginia while I was returning from my meeting with Philippe. After being forced to sleep on the floor of the airport because of ProBoard, I can damn well assure you that I didn't do it "for nothing." Sleeping in airports, while cold and hungry, is not my idea of good time and I sure as hell would not do it so I could spike some great software that I just dropped a bundle of money on.

Give us a break! TeleGrafix just got the code! It's been in Virginia only 24 hours. We have a lot of work to do, and we're just getting started.

Don't expect instant miracles from TeleGrafix or me. The only one who can produce those is the Lord, and my wife frequently reminds me that I'm not in the same class. Also, TeleGrafix is not Microsoft. We don't have armies of programmers and billions of dollars to drop on a crash development effort.

We intend to continue development of ProBoard. We expect the final Windows product to be excellent. It will be quite different from what you are used to with ProBoard. That's because it will be more powerful and will have many more features.

TeleGrafix does not plan to develop a 1990's era BBS. We're going to use ProBoard to develop the online platform of the new millenium. That's what the Cheorkee project is all about. TeleGrafix is thinking about ProBoard's future, not its past.

This will not happen overnight. A quality product takes much time - and money - to develop.

If you're with us as we begin this journey, terrific, we welcome your help and company. If you're not, have a great day and step to the side, please, because we don't have any time to waste on those who prefer to complain rather than build.

If you (or any other ProBoard sysop) have any ideas or comments on how we can improve this product, let me know now. My office phone is 540-678-4050. My home phone is 540-955-2010. My e-mail address is Unlike others in the BBS community, I'm usually pretty easy to reach and I always enjoy speaking with our customers. I don't care if you're calling to bitch or calling with compliments, I'll always be happy to listen.

Software development is a lengthy and expensive process. Most companies have abandoned BBS sysops because of low revenues and high aggravation. TeleGrafix continues to support BBS sysops when few others do, but that support must be a two-way street for us to build a productive relationship and for ProBoard to achieve its full potential. We'll work our fannies off to develop a good product for you, but we need both your financial and moral support to make it happen.

It's my understanding that some sysops prepaid for a Windows upgrade that they have not yet received. Even though that's not something we are responsible for, in a few days we will offer those sysops a refund or rebates to make things right. I can't change what happened in the past. All I can do is work hard to make things better in the future.

So, do you want to help - or do you want to hurt? You have a choice to make. I've made mine, and I've put my money where my mouth is.

Best regards,

Patrick Clawson
TeleGrafix Communications Inc.
Winchester, VA 22601

Official News Release (18Nov98)
From:   "Philippe Leybaert" <>
Date sent:   Wed, 18 Nov 1998 21:11:41 +0100
Subject:   Official News Release

(Info also online at Pat Clawson's   Official ProBoard website  )

The following public announcement has been officially released jointly by Philippe (old owner) and Pat Clawson (new owner):

ProBoard Announcement

For Release at 3:00 PM Eastern Standard Time

(WINCHESTER, VA) - November 18, 1998 - TeleGrafix Communications Inc. has acquired all intellectual property rights to the ProBoard Bulletin Board System ("ProBoard") originally developed by Philippe Leybaert of Drongen, Belgium.

Effective immediately, TeleGrafix assumes responsibility for marketing, sales and future development of ProBoard. TeleGrafix also has acquired all rights to the   ""   Internet domain name. Leybaert, an enigmatic computer genius with an almost cult-like following in the online world, will advise TeleGrafix as an independent consultant on Internet technology issues. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

"Philippe Leybaert's craftsmanship has helped ProBoard earn a worldwide reputation for quality engineering and speedy performance. We expect his work and creative insights will accelerate our development of a new generation of Internet server products," said TeleGrafix President Patrick M. Clawson.

"ProBoard has been a big part of my life, but the pace of change in the Internet industry has accelerated to the point where someone else needs to take over development. TeleGrafix is a company with great technology and their innovative approach to graphical Internet communications secures the future of ProBoard," commented Philippe Leybaert.

ProBoard is Europe's most popular BBS software, and is used by more than 4,000 online system operators. Designed to be compact and powerful, ProBoard is renowned for its lightning-fast speed. Its PEX (ProBoard Executable) software development environment allows C/C++ programmers to write system extensions that customize and expand the system's capabilities. ProBoard is currently available in DOS and a Windows-32 version is under development.

ProBoard is the second Internet server software acquisition announced by TeleGrafix in the past four months. In August, TeleGrafix announced that it had acquired intellectual property rights for the Searchlight Bulletin Board System and Spinnaker Web server originally developed by Searchlight Software Inc. of Cleveland, Ohio.

Clawson said elements of both ProBoard and Searchlight technologies, along with TeleGrafix's award-winning Remote Imaging Protocol (RIPscrip) rapid Internet vector graphics technology, will be incorporated in a new TeleGrafix product under development that is codenamed "Cherokee." A release date for Cherokee has not been scheduled at this time.

TeleGrafix, founded in 1992, is headquartered in Winchester, Virginia. The company is the developer of RIPscrip online vector graphics technology, which allows the rapid transmission and display of multimedia over any type of computer or telecommunications system. RIPscrip technology has been honored with the Dvorak Award for Telecommunications Excellence, the Internet industry's most prestigious honor.

Patrick Clawson
TeleGrafix Communications Inc.
111 Weems Lane, Suite 308
Winchester, VA 22601
Voice: (540) 678-4050
Fax: (540) 678-4052

History of Previous ProBoard Owner   Philippe Leybaert Speaks