Magrathea/SFTV Page History

From BBS to .org

With the move to, I thought it was time to document some of the history of the Magrathea/SFTV pages.  Where the idea came from and where it might be going.
The Beginnings -  Back in the early 80's, I got my first computer with an Atari 800 and a cassette tape drive.  Once I got my 300 baud modem, I discovered the online world, such as it was.  Things were very different back then, limited mostly to BBSs, the FidoNet message boards, and some access to the original internet and a few online services like Compuserve and GEnie.  As I upgraded my computer and ended up with extra equipment, I decided to set up my own BBS.  I called it The Magrathea BBS since one of my favorite novel series and Infocom computer games was Douglas Adam's The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.  Just in case you aren't familiar with it, Magrathea is the legendary planet that builds other planets, and had built Earth for beings that were mice in our dimension.
One of the reasons I put up Magrathea was to have a place for a lot of the Sci Fi TV information files, graphic files and such  that people had been creating and posting to the message boards and other sites.  I also had message boards covering various topics for users to post to.  I had people calling up from all over the country to look at the files and join in the conversations. I had one kid who tried to convince me he was really Douglas Adams.  The fact that he was calling at 300 baud, using Atari ASCII and had no clue about his next novel coming out in about a month didn't seem to deter him.
Magrathea grew over the years with better hardware, from an Atari 130XE upgraded to 320 K of RAM and a 1 MEG Ram Drive, eventually to an Atari 520 ST with over 20 Megs of disk space and up to a 9600 baud modem at the last.  The message boards were pretty active and I kept adding to the guides and other informational files.  As I got more involved with the local Phoenix, Arizona fandom, I added information on the local conventions and fan clubs.  The BBS kept going until the early 90's, but as the other online resources grew (AOL, GEnie, and Compuserve plus the internet), the usage on standalone BBSs, including Magrathea, dropped and I eventually shut down the BBS.
The SFTV List - During the late 80's, there were a handful of Science Fiction Television shows, most notably Star Trek: The Next Generation.  Several fans kept track of the schedules for those shows, posting updates to the internet newsgroups and making them available on ftp sites.  The most notable was Mike Brown and his extensive Star Trek: TNG guide and regular postings of the episode schedules and press releases to the 'net, which got reposted everywhere else.  Since there was only a handful of shows, it was fairly easy to keep up with the schedules then.  As we went into the early 90's, more and more shows made the airwaves, some of them, such as The X-Files and Lois & Clark, not bothering to put their episode titles on the screen.  Since I was taping a lot of them and was tracking down the episode titles (mostly via local newspaper listings or postings to the 'net), I started organizing the info into a schedule list that I started posting to the 'net and elsewhere.  Several ftp sites kept copies of my listings and other guides and such so that people could get them that way.  Also, thanks to the help of one of my long-time BBS users, I got a mailing list set up for the regular Upcoming SFTV listings that I had been posting to the net.  The mailing list itself has now grown to 1,800+ .
The Web - The World Wide Web began to appear in the early 90's as well.  One of the ftp sites I had been keeping my listings at,, evolved into one of the premier fan sites as The Lurker's Guide to Babylon 5, getting it's start from the original Babylon 5 Frequently Asked Questions list which I had originated.   Once I was able to set up my own Web page off my goodnet account, I started The Magrathea/SFTV Page and made my current SFTV listings and archive information available.  I also set up pages with links to the better Science Fiction TV sites as well as links to various science fiction fandom and local Arizona fandom.  Recent additions have been the Magrathea Book Emporium and a Comedy links section.  I've never had real fast access from home to the web and know that a lot of Web surfer's out there aren't running with the latest and greatest, so I've kept the site from being too fancy  (I still use lynx at times to access some sites).  And keeping the SFTV listings current is a much more time consuming task than it used to be with the number of shows out there that I'm keeping track of.   Compare the number of shows listed in the 1993/94 list to todays and you'll see the difference. - I've always wanted to have more info available and have always been fighting the disk space limitations at goodnet.  Earlier this year, I set up an alternate site at Warner Bros. Acmecity web hosting site.  I've never been completely happy with that, especially with the headers that get added to any html page that really slow down the page loading process.  Once I checked into getting my own domain, I grabbed, which was still available ( is held by a San Francisco TV station).  Now that I've got my own .org and have set up a site on (No More Banners!), I hope to expand the site with more information and adding areas to cover more of my interests (I definitely need some HitchHiker's Guide related links and more stuff about British Comedy, one of my other interests).  I'm open to
possibly hosting some other pages or guides if there's someone wanting to make something available through here.
Lee Whiteside
December, 1999
 Return to The Magrathea/SFTV Home Page