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The LIBERTY Echo was an online discussion forum that operated on the FidoNet network of computer bulletin board systems (BBSs). While many kinds of BBS software started to become available soon after personal computers started becoming popular, and these systems almost all provided discussion areas organized by topic, a special feature introduced by the Fido software was automatic relaying of messages to other BBSs (operating the same or compatible software), and a group of participating BBSs could be set up to share a discussion group, with the messages posted on one BBS automatically forwarded to the others. This created a functionality analogous to (but significantly slower than) what was being provided during the same era to users of large computer systems (e.g., at universities) by Usenet. Such shared groups were referred to as "echos", and there were a number of them set up for discussion of libertarian-related topics.


The LIBERTY Echo was created and coordinated by Joe Dehn. Among the earliest participating BBSs were his own Dehnbase Emerald (located in Eugene, Oregon) and Liberty Bell, operated by the Libertarian Party of Santa Clara County (in San Jose, California). At its peak, the LIBERTY echo was shared by dozens of BBSs located all across the United States.

Participation in the Liberty Echo (and in BBS-based discussion forums generally) gradually declined as other ways to participate in online discussions became more available to wider groups of people -- more of the general public getting direct access to Internet-connected computers (and thereby being able to join Internet-based mailing lists), formerly isolated commercial services like CompuServe and AOL establishing Internet gateways, and finally the rise of web-based commercial discussion group services (e.g., Yahoo groups, Facebook groups).

Interconnection with Libernet

For much of the time that it was in operation, the Liberty Echo was bidirectionally linked with the Libernet e-mail list, with the Dehnbase BBS acting as a gateway. Messages entered into the LIBERTY Echo by a user of any of the participating BBSs were converted to Internet e-mail messages and forwarded to the mailing list. In the other direction, the text of messages that had been posted by other participants in the Libernet mailing list was copied into the echo and in that format passed along via the FidoNet relay mechanism to all of the participating BBSs.