(this question was posed in the sdf.lonestar.org BBOARD, and this was my reply)
I used to BBS in the LA area as a kid. We had a 1200 baud modem and a Leading Edge 8088 with the monitor upgraded to CGA and I got some BBS numbers from my friends. The most popular BBS at the time was called Baud Town. That is where I first got a taste of chatting, door games, and posting.
As I got into it more I started going to more obscure BBSes, where you had to have 3 friends recommend you, etc. That is when I got into ASCII and ANSI art, and pirating games (which were more often than not, shareware games anyway, like One Must Fall, Commander Keen, and Solar Winds).
I still remember one, Wizardry, the number was (818) 222-4444.
Later on we got a 386 and a 9600 baud modem and I found out about this REALLY BIG BBS, it was called Kaiwan, but you had to pay monthly for it. I did and soon discovered things like elm (what is this email thing?), rn (usenet? this is a HUGE BBS!), and other things UNIXy, but I had no idea it was a UNIX box, or even what a UNIX box was, until years later in college where I encountered something called "the Internet" and I never went
(Feel free to post your BBS experiences, too!)