If you lived in South Africa during the eighties or nineties and used your modem to dial into services beyond Beltel, then you surely would have heard of or used Roblist.

Roblist was the de facto BBS list for South Africa, maintained by avid user Rob Fisher.

Welcome Screen for Roblist May 1993

If you were a SysOp, you wanted your BBS to be on Roblist.

In time, thanks to a burgeoning BBS community and as modem speeds increased, the Roblist package itself grew to include regular newsletters and commentary on related topics. It became little short of an institution in its own right.

However, as usage of the internet (read: WWW) took hold, Mr. Fisher’s interests began to focus in that direction and Roblist disappeared from the scene — as would the SA BBS community itself.

The BBS scene continues to slumber and it would seem that the old
character based systems we grew to know and love are history! It’s
only a matter of time before the commercial BBS’s convert to the
Web and are accessible via graphical interfaces only. Perish the
thought! A browse through my favorite magazine (Boardwatch) is
enough to convince us that the internet has totally swamped the

The final issue of Roblist (RF9612.ZIP) appeared in December 1996.

Other than an article by journalist Arthur Goldstuck and a few random forum posts along the lines of “hey, whatever happened to…” there is hardly any evidence of those old years gone by — however specialised and geographically-isolated those may have been.

Though not nearly in the same league as WikiLeaks, more details about Roblist and F13, one of its featured newsletters, have now been unearthed for the personal archives.

Screenshot by hmvh DOT net

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2 Responses to Roblist

  1. Mladen Mihajlovic says:

    Wow I remember this. Good times. There was a nice feel to BBS’s that just does not exist on the web. I’m glad I had a chance to experience them.

  2. Mladen Mihajlovic says:

    By the way, there’s still plenty of functioning BBS’s online, although you have to access them by telnet. Check it out at

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