With a restricted screen size of 80 characters by 8 down, the
NC100 was never really designed for content driven services, not
least because the machines were released in a time before the
internet had arrived in households. However, with a built in 9
pin serial port and serial terminal software built in, it's
possible to dial this old machines up to an old school BBS. Note
that dialing up these numbers can incur an additional charge on
your phone bill, depending where you live. I'd recommend
checking the number code and location before dialing.
Here in the UK active dial-up BBS seem thin on
the ground these days to say the least. One that I've found
operating in 2020 is Dial-Up BBS based in London (link at the
foot of this article).
To start with you'll need the following:
- An Amstrad NC computer!
- A dial-up modem with 9 pin serial connector
for the Amstrad. These are becoming increasingly rare but a dig
around eBay will probably unearth something. I'm using a generic
33.6 Rockwell chipset modem.
- A landline and phone socket
Connecting the modem to your Amstrad is pretty
straight-forward. Plug the modem into the Amstrad's 9 pin serial
port, the phone line into your phone wall socket and switch on
the modem and then the Amstrad. Here's some step by step
Connect a dial up
modem to NC via serial port
Turn on modem. Turn on
Enter Serial program
(Func + S)
Press MENU and set
baud rate to 4800, Parity=even. Stop bits8/1.
Back in terminal mode
Type in [ATDT
#] where # is the phone number and press Return. The BBS I've used is
Dial-Up Nights BBS in the UK, the Telnet BBS Guide has a list of
other dial-up sites. At this point the modem should dial
When I first logged into Dial-Up Nights I was
asked to enter a name, a password and I set a few preferences
which are saved for the next login. Once of the questions asked
how many lines to display before prompting for the next page.
When I logged in I entered 8 lines which didn't appear to be
accepted, so I went with 10 lines. It doesn't display perfectly
on a lowly NC100 but most things are readable. I was even able
to leave a message on the bulletin board.