On bulletin board systems just like the internet there was pictures, programs and software applications for users to download.
The names like freeware, shareware came from the hobby of BBSing. It was a try before you buy concept started back then and is still in existance today.
The only real difference between the Internet and BBSing, there usually was file ratios where users online could only download so many files before they had to upload a file.
Many of the Front Door programs also allowed for the files to be requested and transfered through out the world so many bulletin board systems kept up to date with the newest releases.
On multiline bulletin board systems, it was basically the same concept as the internet tossing files out to what ever user requested them.