40 Years of Usenet. A Brief History of Usenet

  • webmaster
  • 14 Sep 2020
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Usenet, a system designed for worldwide communication, has a rich history, going back to 40 years. It was used as a discussion platform by like minded people and existed before what we know today as message boards. Users used it to communicate and have conversations with like-minded people. What was Usenet like in the past and how much did it grow since its inception? Get to know about the brief history of this platform and its journey with time:

How Usenet was born
Usenet was the brainchild of two graduate students from Duke University. In 1979, Jim Ellis and Tom Truscott got the idea of creating a computer network that users can use as a platform to communicate with one another. They worked with Steve Bellovin, another graduate from the University of North Carolina, located at Chapel Hill.
The trio, along with other students, discussed how they could bring this platform to life. They used Unix-to-Unix Copy (UUCP), a combination of computer protocols and programs, which allowed transfer of files and emails between computers.
Ellis and Truscott, along with the help of Bellovin, created software, which any Unix host could use, to communicate with other users on different computers.

Growth of Usenet
During this year, its founders connected Usenet to Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET). They achieved this through UC Berkley, as it already had connections with both networks.
People got to know about Usenet during a Usenix meeting. In this convention, they learned about the goals of this network, along with an explanation of this technology.

1991 – 1994
On alt.hypertext, a Usenet group, Tim Berners-Lee, made an important announcement in 1991. Known as the world wide web or ‘www’, it changed the world forever. He let users know about his plans while he was still working for the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN).1993 was a great year for Usenet, as users of America Online (AOL), were able to access this network. As a result, the number of people using this platform grew significantly. In the same year, the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, released Mosaic, the first-ever web browser. Although it goes on to be known as Netscape in the future, it failed. However, it continues to exist in Firefox.
As an attempt to keep the communications between clients and servers secure online, Netscape developed Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) in 1994. One of the most popular newsreaders of Usenet, Forté Agent, was also released in the same year.

1996 – 2001
As Usenet found multiple users on newsgroups for violating the platform rules, they removed several people. They moved to ICQ, an online messaging platform released in 1996. To keep a check on spam, the network introduced Usenet Death Penalty (UDP). Usenet II launched in 1998, which was a newer way for users to access their favorite newsgroups.
After Wi-Fi became a standard, it was finally possible for people to access newsgroups without having to rely on ethernet cables. 2000 was an infamous year, as denial of service attacks (DOS) affected eBay and Yahoo. In the same year, Google bought Usenet from Deja.com. In 2001, the search giants launched Google Groups, which acted as a portal for Usenet newsgroups.

2004 – 2012
In 2004, a product of Mozilla Foundation, Thunderbird was launched, which users could also use as a Usenet newsreader.
By 2007, Usenet had more than 100,000 newsgroups. Users had access to 1 billion newsgroup articles. In 2008, NZB and SABnzbd made their first appearances.
2009 was the first time users had free access to Usenet, thanks to XS Usenet. It started with a small user base to provide reliable and trustworthy service to people who want to use this network.
The daily volume of Usenet recorded a staggering 5.42 TIB daily in 2010. The next year, users could download NZB newsreader for the first time on Android and iOS devices.
As the Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect Intellectual Property Act didn’t come into fruition in 2012, Usenet remained active.

2016 – 2020
In 2017, there was an update to the XS Usenet website, providing new services to users. The platform offered VPN services, helping people stay safe on the internet. In 2020, Usenet continues to showcase its resilience, as it has been active for 40 years.

How important is Usenet now?

Users from various walks of life, such as musicians, graphic designers, and software developers continue to use this network for personal use. However, to access Usenet, you still need a service provider who specializes in this network, such as XS Usenet.

Future of Usenet

Despite all the changes on the internet, Usenet continues to play an important role in the digital world. As it doesn’t rely on other users to host the files, Usenet is still a reliable and quick way to download these files. XS Usenet continues to help people understand the benefits of accessing Usenet by providing free access. In a time when privacy of users is taking the central stage, Usenet will always be invaluable!

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