FidoNet is a worldwide computer network that is used for communication between bulletin board systems (BBSes). It uses a store-and-forward system to exchange private (email) and public (forum) messages between the BBSes in the network, as well as other files and protocols in some cases.
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__ / \ /|oo \ (_| /_) _`@/_ \ _ | | \ \\ | (*) | \ )) ______ |__U__| / \// / FIDO \ _//|| _\ / (________) (_/(_|(____/ (c) John Madill
The FidoNet system was based on several small interacting programs, only one of which needed to be ported to support other BBS software. FidoNet was one of the few networks that was supported by almost all BBS software, as well as a number of non-BBS online services. This modular construction also allowed FidoNet to easily upgrade to new data compression systems, which was important in an era using modem-based communications over telephone links with high long-distance calling charges.
The rapid improvement in modem speeds during the early 1990s, combined with the rapid decrease in price of computer systems and storage, made BBSes increasingly popular. By the mid-1990s there were almost 40,000 FidoNet systems in operation, and it was possible to communicate with millions of users around the world. Only UUCPNET came close in terms of breadth or numbers; FidoNet's user base far surpassed other networks like BITNET.
The broad availability of low-cost Internet connections starting in the mid-1990s lessened the need for FidoNet's store-and-forward system, as any system in the world could be reached for equal cost. Direct dialing into local BBS systems rapidly declined. Although FidoNet has shrunk considerably since the late 1990s, it has remained in use even today despite internet connectivity becoming more widespread.