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The introduction of inexpensive dial-up internet service and the Mosaic web browser offered ease of use and global access that BBS and online systems did not provide, and led to a rapid crash in the market starting in 1994.
Over the next year, many of the leading BBS software providers went bankrupt and tens of thousands of BBSes disappeared.
Some offer access through packet switched networks or packet radio connections.
A precursor to the public bulletin board system was Community Memory, started in August 1973 in Berkeley, California.
Examples of direct-connecting modems did exist, and these often allowed the host computer to send it commands to answer or hang up calls, but these were very expensive devices used by large banks and similar companies.
Commercial systems, expressly intended to offer these features to the public, became available in the late 1970s and formed the online service market that lasted into the 1990s.
Low-cost, high-performance modems drove the use of online services and BBSes through the early 1990s.
Infoworld estimated that there were 60,000 BBSes serving 17 million users in the United States alone in 1994, a collective market much larger than major online services such as Compu Serve.
It did offer the ability to tag messages with keywords, which the user could use in searches.
The system acted primarily in the form of a buy and sell system with the tags taking the place of the more traditional classifications.