The History of Usenet
Usenet was born approximately 4 decades ago, in 1979. It all began as a small communication network between a few universities in the United States used to trade information, news, and research results. It has grown from a simple design without an official structure, to a logical network linking millions of people and computers to over 120,000 different newsgroups and billions of bytes of articles. What began as two or three sites on a single network in 1979, expanded to 15 in 1980, to 150 in 1981, to 400 in 1982, to millions in 2019.
Who Created Usenet
Two Duke University graduate students in North Carolina, Tom Truscott and Jim Ellis, came up with the idea of hooking computers together to exchange information with the UNIX community. The first news software, called ‘A’ News was built by Steve Bellovin, another Duke student. As the news volume increased exponentially, the limited functionality of ‘A’ News was replaced by a newer version called ‘B’ News in 1981, developed by Mary Horton and Matt Glickman. ‘B’ News was followed by an improved version naturally called ‘C’ News in 1987 which was created by Geoff Collyer and Henry Spencer. Nowadays, there are numerous software packages for news management. Users can access the newsgroups and their content using a constantly increasing number of newsreader applications.
Exchanging of Ideas
Early Usenet users had one thing in common – their passion to discuss a broad range of topics and ideas from politics, science and technology to philosophy, science fiction, literature, or music. People would meet in various newsgroups to freely voice their opinions, ask for advice, and interact with other users who share the same interests. This trend has not changed much but the functionality and resourcefulness of Usenet has increased tremendously. Not only can people have meaningful discussions and find extensive answers to their questions today, but they can have all the music, movies, images, and software they ever dreamed of. Usenet has become the place to find it all!
Freedom of Speech
The very nature of Usenet has always been inter-human communication among a large group of users. In its simplest form, Usenet represents democracy, or the right to share almost everything that could be possibly shared from a computer. Most of the material in Usenet is contributed by the same people who actively read Usenet. Thus, the Usenet audience chooses the content and subject matter to be thought about, presented, and debated.
In this way, Usenet is a worldwide unrestricted access forum for debate and informational exchange where many sides of an issue come into view. Rather than being force-fed by an uncontrollable power, the participants set the tone and emphasis of the different groups in Usenet. Without the time and effort put in by its users, Usenet would not be the democratic and resourceful informational forum it is today.
The basic concept of the newsgroups and their history are pretty interesting. The idea of Usenet and its environment evolved from a basic existence. Usenet is now worldwide and fully functional across many platforms and computers.
The basics of newsgroups and message trading came from what was known as a BBS or Bulletin Board System. This system was created so that users could dial-up and connect usually using a telephone modem. Once dialed into the BBS, users could mainly post messages under created topics. When somebody would log off of the BBS, someone else would have the ability to log in, read what has been written and reply accordingly. These messages were stored and were only made available to users with a username and password to the BBS.
With the idea of the Internet and the World Wide Web, BBS providers wanted to expand their posts and replies for their dial-up users. Soon the BBS computer was connecting with other computers over the Internet and trading topics, posts, and their replies. Those computers in time traded with other computers, creating a vast network of message and topic trading. Hence, Usenet’s concept has evolved. Once Usenet was in full force, the newsgroup was made as a standard. Newsgroups as a history is basically a labeling structure for topics that people can read and reply to.
Usenet connects tens of thousands of sites around the world, from mainframes to PCs. With more than 120,000 newsgroups available and millions of readers, it is perhaps the world’s largest computer network. The Usenet network connects millions of users from around the world and brings them all together to exchange ideas and engage in discussions easily.
Fast Usenet continues the legacy of the Usenet network today. We continually update our equipment so our users’ experience with Usenet can remain superb at all times. We bring the Usenet network home to you and make it easy to use, even for the most inexperienced beginners.