A Historical Perspective On Usenet

By on December 19, 2012

Usenet has been around for more than two decades. It provides Internet users with a vast resource of information created by the interaction of individuals from across the globe.  In fact, Usenet consists of thousands of newsgroups.

Every user can access any newsgroup that is hosted by a particular server. Newsgroups deal with individual topics. However, every newsgroup is further divided into smaller groups that deal with variations of the major topic. For instance, a user looking for news on the iPad would first access the newsgroup titled as ‘comp’ for Computer Science. Any news related to Apple products would then be found under an appropriate title. This type of hierarchal system is one of the reasons why users find it much easier to navigate as compared to other similar public forums.

Origins of Usenet

Usenet was created by two Duke University students during 1979. Tom Truscott and Jim Ellis designed Usenet because they wanted to come up with a more advanced variation of the BBS-Style announcement System.

Initially, a program known as ‘netnews’ was created, it primarily connected the University of North Caroline with Duke University. The public version of ‘NetNews’ that was released soon after became known as Usenet later on.

Migration from UUCP to NNTP

Usenet was originally designed to work on the UUCP communications protocols. According to UUCP, computers had to be directly linked with each other via telephone lines in order to communicate.

However, during the 1980’s, the development of the TCP/IP protocol had taken the computing world by storm. The TCP/IP protocol led to the popular usage of Ethernet networks which allowed a much larger number of computers to connect with each other using a common host.

In order to integrate TCP/IP within Usenet, NNTP which stands for Network News Transfer Protocol was developed. NNTP also resulted in the development of newsreader applications. Once installed a newsreader application allows users to transfer articles they select.

In addition, NNTP also reduced the cost of setting up and maintaining a Usenet server. Consequently, this particular era also oversaw an increase in the number of premium Usenet service providers.

Combining it all together – InterNetNews

InterNetNews is software that allows a Usenet server to enjoy all of the benefits provided by NNTP. Prior to the development of this software, servers could only process threads and articles individually. This was not only time consuming but also quite costly. With InterNetNews, content can be processed in batches thereby allowing efficient allocation of resources.

Moreover, Usenet servers now provide users with the ability to share content other than text messages. Images as well as video files can now be posted onto newsgroups. Therefore, the interactivity of Usenet as a forum for sharing ideas and thoughts has greatly increased over the last decade.

Historically, Usenet has evolved much in the same way as the Internet. These days, Usenet is considered to be one of the best public discussion forums on the Web.

Dean Morris has been writing reviews for over four years. He loves nothing more than writing about Usenet services, features, and reviews.

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