Taxacom as Electronic Veranda

Peter Rauch anamaria at GRINNELL.BERKELEY.EDU
Mon Oct 11 10:01:32 CDT 1999

On Mon, 11 Oct 1999, Ken Kinman wrote:
> ...  And I would like to take this opportunity to thank those
> who have provided us with this electronic fireplace or veranda
> which is called TAXACOM.
>                          --------Ken Kinman

Ken, I'm sure that both Jim Beach and Richard Zander, as well as
I and the several host institutions, thank you and all
subscribers of Taxacom for sitting on the veranda with us over
the years... Here's a little history (actually, an acorn) that
was dug up when we migrated Taxacom to USOBI.ORG last June 99.


------Begin History
From: James Beach <jbeach at>
To: Peter Rauch <anamaria at>
Cc: <bryo at>
Sent: Tuesday, June 22, 1999 3:57 PM
Subject: Archives Taxacom

Peter --

The Taxacom Archives look great, all the way back to Nov 92, wow!
You do now how to hang on to things. A tip of my hat for your
stewardship at Berkeley.  The first message saved ... was from
the first day of Taxacom at Harvard which mentions that the first
date of Taxacom at Michigan State was Feb 9, 1990.  So we are
looking at a 10 year anniversary next Feb.  Four host machines
later, MSU (3090), Harvard (3090), UCB (3090), KU (Dell PC NT).
I spot a change in trend here.

Richard Zander invented and started Taxacom as a bulletin board
before that by a year or so, so we may be beyond 10 years by now.

Richard -- Hi!  Would you recall the start date for your Taxacom
BBS?  You started it all and it has kept on going.
Congratulations for planting that acorn.

Best wishes,
James H. Beach
Assistant Director for Informatics
Natural History Museum and Biodiversity Research Center
Dyche Hall, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS 66045
E-mail: jbeach at
Tel: (785) 864-4645, Fax: (785) 864-5335

From: "Richard Zander" <rzander at>
To: "James Beach" <jbeach at>,
        "Peter Rauch" <anamaria at>
Subject: Taxacom BBS
Date: Tue, 22 Jun 1999 16:03:59 -0400

Thanks for the note, Jim. I attach the first issue of Flora
Online which gives the orginial startup date for Taxacom BBS,
Jan. 12, 1987. It's still online at 716-896-7581. ...


Richard H. Zander, Curator of Botany
Buffalo Museum of Science
1020 Humboldt Pkwy
Buffalo, NY 14211 USA
email: rzander at
voice: 716-895-5200 x 351


         "FLORA ONLINE" - An electronic publication of TAXACOM
      A Bulletin Board System for Systematic Botany: 716-896-7581
   The Clinton Herbarium, Buffalo Museum of Science, Buffalo, NY 14211
                      Richard H. Zander, Editor

AUTHOR(S): Richard H. Zander
MAILING ADDRESS(ES): Buffalo Museum of Science, Buffalo, NY 14211
TITLE: What is Taxacom?


                  >>> WHAT IS TAXACOM? <<<

     An alternative to monolithic data banks.  Opportunity to
share computerized information with others in an orderly and
responsible fashion.


    How to connect: Dial 716-896-7581, 2400/1200/300 bps, use 8
data bits, 1 stop bit, no parity; after hearing a high tone,
press space bar three times slowly to connect. Available 5 PM
through 9 AM E.S.T. weekdays and 24 hrs weekends, occasionally
also in morning or late afternoon, presently without

    An electronic bulletin board system (BBS) is a computer and
software system that can be accessed from outside the Museum by a
caller, who can then do one of three things:

a. Read or leave messages. These are typed while on line and may
be public or private (readable only by the addressee).

b. Deposit or take away data or text files. These are created
with a word processor or data manager previous to calling and are
"up-" or "down-loaded" as a unit.

c. Extract information from a large data file.  This could be
implemented with available software, but such a file would have
to be maintained here.  This is prohibitive in time and ought to
properly have the attention of one or more specialists. The idea
promoted on TAXACOM is that outside authors may prepare
compiliative publications that they use personally and wish to
share; these are published as contributions to Flora Online. Then
the authors may, if they wish, maintain the publications as a
series of versions on the Flora Online Data Banks.  Users of the
BBS download Flora Online files, and use the files directly for
searching for particular data or by copying portions to enlarge
their own personal files, with due respect, of course, for
copyright privileges of the original author.

Envisioned is a collections-based bulletin board that will be of
interest to natural science workers in the following ways:

a. Messages - For exchange of ideas and information. Speed of
contact is far greater than with regular mail.  Special
"Conference" sections allow public exchanges on single scientific
topics that are equivalent to symposia at national meetings.

b. Files - Two kinds are offered:  1. Electronic publications
that may be cited in an author's cv ("Flora Online").  Such
publications may be copyrighted by the author, and are not
authorized for use unless directly downloaded from the TAXACOM
(this restricts circulation of possibly modified, secondhand
copies).  These include original text material and computer
programs.  2. Also available are text or data files of an
ephemeral or informal nature, and previously published computer
programs of interest to collections managers and scientists

    FILES: Systematics studies usually involve dealing with large
amounts of information, ultimately distilled into long lists of
taxonomic and bibliographic references.  Ecologists and other
workers in the natural sciences generate similar reference

    Filing systems have been the natural purview of taxonomists,
and each specialist has lists, catalogues and bibliographies that
might be of value to others.  Several agencies are preparing
monolithic data banks from which scientists can extract items of
information using specialized data management programs.
Unfortunately, such data banks usually each employs a different
management system, complex and difficult for the scientist to
learn, and the data banks give second-hand data (digested by
those who run the data bank and who are not necessarily

    With the advent, however, of electronic publishing,
information on the natural sciences developed by individual
scientists can now be easily and directly shared.

    PROGRAMS: This BBS is optimized for IBM-PC standard, MS-DOS
software, which when downloaded will run on an IBM-PC or IBM-PC
compatible machine.

Owners of Apples, C-64's, etc., cannot run software designed for
the IBM nor can owners of IBM equipment run software designed for
Apples, C-64's, etc.  Users of TAXACOM who wish to contribute
programs for computers that utilize non-MS-DOS operating systems
should indicate clearly exactly on which computer and operating
system the programs are intended to run.

    TAXACOM is presently intended for anyone in the botanical
systematics community, but we envisage, with the eventual
realization of a network of BBS's across the country, a gradual
specialization of TAXACOM toward bryology-lichenology and
regional floristics.


Date: Tue, 22 Jun 1999 15:12:34 -0700
From: James Beach <jbeach at>
Subject: Re: Taxacom BBS
To: Richard Zander <rzander at>,
        Peter Rauch <anamaria at>

Richard --

Many thanks, so Taxacom has been up for 12.5 years, that is one
piece of infrastructure you started!  Looking forward to the 25th
anniversary. ...

--------------End of History

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