Ever since the PLA started existing around 1994, there have been various ways that we all come together to talk with each other. This page lists the history behind the rise and fall of each of our communities, starting with Roy's Place BBS in 1995. If you have any additional information, know where some more archives are, or think our dates are wrong, post about it at the bottom of this page.
1995 - Roy's Place BBS: This BBS was run by El Jefe (aka Zak) and was probably the very first distro site for the PLA text files. El Jefe had run a BBS before PLA was around, but in 1995, after I made a group of text files and called them the Phone Losers of America (the name Zak came up with months before), he changed the BBS name to Roy's Place and set up at least one message section to discuss PLA stuff.
Roy's Place was located in Granite City, Illinois, and it ran WWIV BBS software. It attracted mostly BBSers from the 618 area code at first. Roy's was the home of RoyNET, which networked the message areas from several other area BBSes. At some point in 1995, PLA really started taking off and Roy's Place began receiving calls from all over the United States and even a few from overseas. Roy's Place came to an end when Zak decided that the internet (everyone was just learning about the internet that year) was much more exciting than BBSing.
1995 - Whombat Communications BBS: This BBS was run by RBCP in Corpus Christi, Texas and became the official BBS for the Phone Losers of America. It ran customized Renegade BBS software. The PLA text files were becoming well-known on BBSes around the world, thanks to RBCP's nonstop campaign of begging webmasters of hacker boards to set up special file sections just for the PLA texts, which all had the phone numbers for Roy's Place and Whombat Communications on the bottom of them. This caused a lot of long distance and international callers. Whombat also received lots of traffic from local 512 area code users, which is how we met up with EvilCal and Monster Magnet.
Whombat Communications received a sudden surge in traffic from Illinois when RBCP forwarded the phone line of a gas station's credit card machine in Illinois to Whombat Communications and then advertised a new 618 area BBS on a lot of Illinois BBSes. Many Illinois users were confused to be reaching a Texas BBS by dialing an Illinois phone number.
Whombat Communications moved to the 541 area code when RBCP and Colleen decided to move to Oregon at the end of 1995. It only lasted a few months there until RBCP discovered the internet and created a website for the PLA called Whombat Communications.
1997 IRC's #rock With the internet came IRC, and with IRC came the fun of taking over chat room channels. One of El Jefe's channel takeovers occurred in efnet's #rock, which was a place for discussing rock music. After a few weeks (or months, maybe?) #rock became the permanent 24-hour home for many people associated with the PLA. Soon after, a #rock channel was created on Dalnet, which was also for PLA people to hang out on.
These channels were used heavily for years for years and we met two important people on efnet through this takeover. One was Jammie, the co-founder of #rock where she hoped to talk about music. She eventually just gave up getting the channel back and became friends with the PLA and is still around today. The other person is Spessa, who enjoyed going into channels and harassing the people in them. She figured #rock would be an easy target, so she came in and started spouting off nonsense, but was surprised to find the nonsense spouted back at her to be even more hilarious than her own. Her match was met, so she became friends with PLA and has been with us ever since.
IRC's #phonelosers There's been a #phonelosers on many IRC networks throughout the PLA history. There was even an irc.phonelosers.net server beginning in 1999 for awhile. These days #phonelosers is most active on efnet.
1998 - FruitWare BBS Forums: RBCP had tried a few forum scripts in the late 90's, but wasn't happy with any of them. So he created his own forum software and called it FruitWare BBS. It was referred to as a BBS because it was designed to have the feel of an old WWIV or Renegade system. It was full of security holes and it's amazing that nobody ever hacked it. The PLA's FruitWare forums closed in February 1999 because RBCP was tired of having to delete all the phone numbers and credit card numbers that were posted. (Click here to read some of the archives and click here to read even more of them.)
1998 - Yahoo PLA/UPL Email List: This one started out on a service called Topica, then turned into a company called ONElist, then eGroups, and then was purchased by Yahoo Groups. The archive on Yahoo Groups claims this one started in 1998, which sounds about right. This was an email list, where all messages were read and responded to by email. The list was extremely active until February 2001, when Brice Carlson had the list shut down by complaining to Yahoo after RBCP posted his home phone numbers. Read the archives on archive.org or take a look at the list's old website. Also, RTF recently noticed that the old "pla_discussion" name was once again available from Yahoo Groups, so he set it up and it now sits empty.
1997 - alt.phonelosers: The alt.phonelosers newsgroup was created in 1997, though the Google archives only show it going back to August of 1999. It's hardly worth mentioning since 99% of the posts there are spam, but there's a few phoneloserish things that are posted. (Click here to read the alt.phonelosers archives from Google!)
1999 - PLA Voice Bridge: The PLA voice bridge has been around since at least 1999. Back in 1995 through 1997, a lot of us used to hang out on the Defcon voice bridge before it went down. Two years later I discovered a similar conferencing line in the same exchange as the Defcon bridge, run by Beehive Telephone. The bridge has changed numbers and services a lot since then, but it's a lot of fun to chat with fellow phone losers and make prank calls together. Click here to get the current bridge number.
1999 - UPL Forums: According to linear, the UPL Forums started on free board hosting sites like CGI For Me and boardhost.com before switching to the perl software written by RBCP, called FruitWare BBS around September 1999. In May 2001, the UPL Forums switched to ikonboard and then to OpenBB in 2002. Then came phpBB in January 2003 until the summer. Then phonelosers.net disappeared for a few years. (Read the UPL Forums archives on archive.org!)
2002 - Email list on wearehope.com: Spuds, the webmaster of wearehope.com, set up this email list for the PLA in June 2002 and it lasted until April 2003. I can't recall why this list ended. Maybe Spuds' site just broke or something. (Read the complete archives here!)
2004 - Yahoo PLA/UPL Email List: RBCP created this new email list on Yahoo Groups on February 15th, 2004 and it still exists today. It's rarely used, though. Visitgroups.yahoo.com/group/phonelosers/ to read all the posts of people bitching about how nobody ever posts anymore.
2002 - Cal's Roy BBS: I don't know much about Cal's Wildcat! BBS that he called Roy since I didn't connect to it myself much. I know it existed in 2002 and possibly some years around that. It was one of the old school BBS systems, but you could connect to it through telnet. It has message areas, games and the other usual BBS stuff.
2002 - Cal's Forums: Soon after becoming the new web host for phonelosers.org, Cal not only set up forums for the PLA community, but he also set up a place for PLA people to submit articles, write blogs, share links and vote on OMG or NOT pictures. This was the sole community for the PLA for years, and ended sometime around the end of 2006 when he created Cal's Content Kingdom. (Read the Cal's archives on archive.org!)
2006 - Cal's Content Kingdom: These SMF forums started in 2006 (I think) and lasted for most of that year, though they were abandoned by Cal at some point and eventually hacked before he took the site down. Besides forums, there were lots of videos, articles, games, and other things I can't quite remember right now. (Read the Cal's Content Kingdom archives on archive.org!)
2006 - PLA Forums: The newest PLA Forums started in March 2006 and still exist today. They were originally intended to be used as a commenting system for the pages on phonelosers.org, but evolved into official PLA forums when Cal's Content Kingdom stopped functioning. Visit them at www.phonelosers.org/forums/.
2006 - UPL Forums: Soon after the PLA Forums were created, linear got phonelosers.net back from a domain squatter and immediately set up the United Phone Losers forums, which still exist today. Visit them at www.phonelosers.net/forums/.
Today: Who knows where we'll go from here. But for now, join us on the PLA Forums, the #phonelosers on efnet, our Flickr group, the PLA/UPL Yahoo group or keep up with us on Twitter.