Randy John Suess (January 27, 1945 – December 10, 2019)[1] was the co-founder of the CBBS bulletin board, the first bulletin board system (BBS) ever brought online.[2] Suess, along with partner Ward Christensen, whom he met when they were both members of the Chicago Area Computer Hobbyists’ Exchange, or CACHE, started development of CBBS during a blizzard in Chicago, Illinois, and officially established it four weeks later, on February 16, 1978.[3][4][5]


Suess was born in Skokie, Illinois, to Miland, a police officer, and Ruth (née Duppenthaler), a nurse. He served in the Navy, and afterward, attended the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle. Suess worked at IBM and Zenith.[1]

Suess put together the hardware which supported CBBS, while Christensen built the software, which was automatically loaded whenever someone dialed in. Suess also hosted CBBS, because his home in the Wrigleyville section of Chicago could be called without paying long-distance charges by anyone in Chicago. By the time they retired the system in the 1980s, its single phone line had received more than half a million calls. There is still at least one active CBBS system as of August 2020.[6]

In the 1970s, Suess was also an amateur radio operator, using the call sign WB9GPM.[7] He was an active member of the Chicago FM Club, where he helped with maintenance on their extensive radio repeater systems.

In 1992, Suess and Christensen received a Dvorak Telecommunications Excellence Award for their development of the first BBS. [8]

In May 2005, Suess and Christensen were both featured in BBS: The Documentary.[9]

Suess died on December 10, 2019, in Chicago, Illinois.[1]


  1. ^ a b c Metz, Cade (20 December 2019). "Randy Suess, Computer Bulletin Board Inventor, Dies at 74". The New York Times. Retrieved 21 December 2019.
  2. ^ Zelchenko, Peter (30 October 1998). "Jack Rickard, editor of Boardwatch magazine, saw it coming". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 8 October 2022.
  3. ^ Barry, Rey. "The Origin of Computer Bulletin Boards". Freeware Hall of Fame. Retrieved 21 December 2019.
  4. ^ Goodwins, Rupert. "Online communities turn twenty-five". ZDNet UK. Archived from the original on 12 June 2012. Retrieved 21 December 2019.
  5. ^ "Ward Christensen". Smart Computing Encyclopedia. Archived from the original on 7 June 2011. Retrieved 21 December 2019.
  6. ^ "CBBS/NV". Telnet BBS Guide. 15 July 2020. Retrieved 2 August 2020.
  7. ^ Doering, Bichard W.; George, Forrest R. "An Emergency and Routine Communication Network for Illinois Using Packet Radio Techniques" (PDF). Retrieved 21 December 2019. ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  8. ^ Dvorak Awards for Excellence in Telecommunications
  9. ^ "BBS: TheDocumentary". BBS: The Documentary. Retrieved 15 September 2022.