Usenet

by [{kbeard}]

Creation

Usenet was developed by Duke University graduated Tom Truscott and Jim Ellis in 1979. Working with University of North Carolina graduate Steve Bellovin, they managed to set up a connection between the two computers at the different campuses. Usenet was designed to be used as an announcement service. The basic announcement service developed by these grad students was dubbed “A News.” A News could only send out a few announcements per day, so two years later, in ’81, U. C. Berkley grad student Mark Horton –along with Matt Glickman, a high school student—improved the system. Their “B News” included a more elaborate format, could email headlines, and had a history database. In 1987, Geoff Collyer at the University of Toronto developed “C News.” It processed articles about twenty times faster than “B News,” could send articles out in bulk (instead of one article per program, as the previous letter systems did), and could work with a multitude of computer systems.
While C News was the last of the letter system upgrades, since then, quite a few Usenet designs have been released.

Interface

Usenet, unlike internet sites, does not have a central server. When you access a computer site, your computer connects with the server of that website, and then shows that information. Usenet has a large array of servers that are connected, so that if the article’s server is down, you can still access it by going through another server. When a message is uploaded to the local server, the local server “shares” that message with other servers.
Or, think of Usenet as an email/web forum blend.
Usenet is divided into tens of thousands of groups. Each group name follows a similar format: firstword.second.etc . The “firstword” describes the “hierarchy” of the group. The groups are set up in a hierarchy, or branch system, method. The last word describes a specific group. For example, rec.americanidol could be a group in the recreation hierarchy that sends news about the TV show, American Idol.

Today

The most complete collection of Usenet articles can be found on Google Groups. A very interesting timeline of Usenet articles can be found here:
http://www.google.com/googlegroups/archive_announce_20.html
It contains many “first mentions,” ranging from Y2K to The Simpsons.
While Usenet has lost a lot of its popularity to fourms, blogs, and readings lists, there are still ways to access it. There are two ways to connect to Usenet. One, you can access it through the world wide web from a few different companies. www.giganews.com and www.usenet.com are two different websites you can purchase a subscription from. Fees run from three to about fifteen dollars per month, depending on the memory available. Or, you can use a NEWSREADER program. Outlook Express is an example of a NEWSREADER program.

Sources

http://www.faqs.org/faqs/usenet/software/part1/
http://www.harley.com/usenet/intro.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B_News
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C_News
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_News
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Usenet

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