I got a great question via LinkedIn DMs:
Heya! I have a random question if you’re willing to entertain one. How did you get started BBSing? You started me off, but I’ve never known who got you into it.
This caused me a lot of memory-dredging. I don’t remember the exact year, but Don Reynolds got me an account on a CDC mainframe of some type in the 80s. I started biking to ISU so I could use the terminals, which meant I started talking to college students as a sixth grader? seventh grader? all the time.
I also spent a lot of free time at the local Radio Shack. One of the guys who let me do that, Tony G, told me about BBSes but I didn’t have a computer of my own. At some point in junior high school, my parents bought me a CoCo II; it didn’t take long for me to spend lawn mowing money on an acoustic coupler at Radio Shack. I couldn’t make it work with the CoCo, so I returned it and bought a Direct Connect Modem Pak. Tony (and helpful computer label denizens) gave me a list of numbers, and I was off.