I originally e-mailed Steve Punter for the simple reason that he
was the creator of the only Commodore PET BBS that I could find. To
have someone writing a BBS for a machine and it likely being the
only one... well, that seemed great.
It was only later, after he agreed to an interview, that I found out
that he was not only the creator of this Commodore PET BBS program,
but was in fact the creator of the Punter Protocol, pretty much the
main transfer protocol for Commodore systems! Talk about almost
missing the boat!
As it turned out, though, I probably would have been given all this
information anyway, because Steve had copious records of his time
with BBSes and specifically with PunterNet, the networked BBS program
he wrote in the late 1980s. Steve was methodical and exact in his
answers; within the first hour of recording, he'd answered pretty
much all the questions I'd given to such a fashion that the second
hour was a bit wandery. I still had it in my head that a "decent"
interview lasted at least 2 hours, and I didn't sway from that yet.
Besides doing Punter Protocol, PunterNet and the PET BBS Software,
Steve Punter wrote a word processing program for the Commdore 64
called Wordpro. He had all his old documentation and advertisements
from that time as well. For all the people I've met who didn't have
a scrap of anything from their BBS days, it was great to meet
someone who had it all. At one point I mentioned a cranky user
of Punternet who'd had political issues with how the heirarchy was
being maintained; Steve and his wife were able to find the exact
record entry of the guy, including what number software he'd had,
and when he'd gotten the software. They still had it all!
At one point, Mr. Punter's wife brought out the single coolest thing
I've seen yet at an interview: A 300 baud modem installed in a
remote-control A-Team van. It was acoustic, and I believe the
headlights would show the status of the modem. I took pictures,
but they don't do it justice. What a great thing it was; I actually
tendered an offer for it, I liked it so much.