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A Fidonet address uniquely defines a given node into a Fidonet-style BBS network. This roughly corresponds to the domain part of an Internet email address. As Fidonet had no DNS-like node lookup capabilities, the Fidonet address had to contain all the routing information needed to reach the destination node. This is done by composing the Fidonet address out of four parts:
  • Zone, i.e. the macro-area of the world or the network your node was a part of;
  • Net, the "area code" of your BBS within the given zone - this might contain country (called "Fidonet region") and geographical region information;
  • Node, i.e. a numeric code uniquely identifying your BBS;
  • (optionally) point information; i.e. some kind of one-operator-only private sub-BBS. See Fidonet point for more information.
In other words, my Fidonet address on Skorpion BBS was something like: lenz @ 2:331:113.1 or lenz @ 2:331/113, that was to be read as:
  • Zone 2: Fidonet, Europe. Fidonet USA was zone 1.
  • Net 331: Northern Italy. Italy, for instance, was divided into 5 Fidonet nets: 331, 332, 333, 334, 335.
  • Node 113: Skorpion BBS, Varese
  • Point 1: my private mailer at home
Of course, there was no direct interoperabilty between Fidonet mail and Internet mail, so gateways had to be built, usually based on a software named GIGO. To make for the differences in addressing schemes, the following conventions were usually adopted:
  • Mail from the Internet to Fidonet:
    All users had an email address of the form: name.surname@pXX.nXXX.rXXX.zX.fidonet.org - where X's were substituted with zone, net, node and point information, in reverse order. This was quite awful, because you had addresses like: mario.rossi@p1.n113.r331.z2.fidonet.org (maybe this looks uncool, but such email was free in a time when it was nearly impossible for the average user to be connected to the internet);
  • Mail from Fidonet to the Internet:
    As there was no simple way to encapsulate an internet domain into a Fido-style address and Fidonet user names were limited to 20 characters or something like that, you usually sent mail to an entity named a bit like MailGateway @ 2:331/113.99, and put in the first line of the message "To: real_user@realdomain.com" and then a blank line followed by your message.
You could find address information for most BBS's in the world - together with their telephone numbers, sysop information, etc., in files called REGION.XXX that were mantained by the Fidonet organization.

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