Name of Interview: Wayne Bell
Date Interviewed: August 1, 2002
Location: Redondo Beach, CA

SUPPORT FILES AND RELATED DOCUMENTS (22K) .MAC Photo of Wayne Bell, with Explanatory Text (Black and White) (1988)
wayne1.gif (169K) Image of Wayne Bell (Artistic) (1994)

"Wayne Bell". The name makes hundreds of people look at you with this faint recognition, and then a shocking realization that you're talking about the creator of WWIV Software. His name is legion among many, many kids who started their own little BBSes, offering what files they could and trying to make a name for themselves. Created in 1984, WWIV was the BBS of choice for teenagers for a long time because of its modifiable source code and ease of use. While there were more complicated or feature-rich software programs out there, there was something about WWIV that just appealed to teenagers and made it the software of choice.

Certainly, in a non-scientific observation, I would put WWIV in with the top five BBS programs ever distributed out there. Even if not entirely true, the WWIV software finds itself in modified form in later programs such as Renegade and Telegard, which are themselves adopted widely. Wayne Bell was the engine behind some amazingly far-reaching work.

When I tracked down a contact address for Wayne and wrote him, he responded four months later with an affirmative. In case you're wondering, this didn't bother me in the least; letting me into a home is a gift, not a requirement, and each time someone agrees, especially someone with the stature of Mr. Bell, it's another incredbiel building block in the body of work. We arranged for me to interview him when I was out in LA later that year.

Wayne is one of the "Big Ten", the people who, if they're not in the documentary, I think the documentary will be considered sub-par. The list has morphed a little over time, but Wayne was always right in there. I was (and am) delighted he agreed.

I set aside a good portion of the day to record Wayne; I do that if a person is an absolute expert in their topic, and that way if extra hours come out, I can make the time for them.

The interview went well; Wayne wasn't sure what to make of me, and a lot of my questions were weighed down (in my mind) with the "stuff you've always wanted to ask Wayne Bell about" angle, but we got some really good answers. He answers things slowly and methodically, and thinks it through before starting to speak. This was heavily contrasted by the next day's interview with Tom Jennings of Fidonet, who answered every question immediately with machine-gun impact. An interesting aspect that came out in the interview was that Wayne basically ignored other BBS happenings and only concentrated on WWIV; so while he was one of the major BBS programmers, he didn't interact much with other BBS authors or keep up with the newest features or news being bandied about. If people who ran WWIV brought him feature requests, of course, he would comply where he could, but he wasn't keeping track of what others were doing.

I got a picture of myself with Wayne, which I always appreciate when people let me do that. It's nice to have these sorts of mementos.