One particularly influential example was PLATO, which had thousands of users by the late 1970s, many of whom used the messaging and chat room features of the system in the same way that would become common on BBSes.
The user would first pick up the phone, dial a number, then press the handset into rubber cups on the top of the modem.
Disconnecting at the end of a call required the user to pick up the handset and return it to the phone.
) is a computer server running software that allows users to connect to the system using a terminal program.
Once logged in, the user can perform functions such as uploading and downloading software and data, reading news and bulletins, and exchanging messages with other users through email, public message boards, and sometimes via direct chatting.
Many BBSes also offer on-line games in which users can compete with each other, and BBSes with multiple phone lines often provide chat rooms, allowing users to interact with each other.