History of Usenet

History of Usenet

History of Usenet?

The idea of network news was born in 1979 when two graduate students, Tom Truscott and Jim Ellis, thought of using UUCP to connect machines for the purpose of information exchange among users. They set up a tiny network of two machines in North Carolina.

Initially, traffic was handled by a number of shell scripts (later rewritten in C), but they were seldom released to the public. They were quickly replaced by “A” news, the first public release of news program.

“A” news was not designed to handle over a few articles per group and day. When the volume continued to grow, it was rewritten by Mark Horton and Matt Glickman, who called it the “B” release (a.k.a. Bnews). The first public release of Bnews was version-2.1 in 1982. It was expanded continuously, with several new features being added. Its current version is Bnews-2.11. It is slowly becoming obsolete, with its last official maintainer having switched to INN.

Another rewrite was completed and released in 1987 by Geoff Collyer and Henry Spencer; this is release “C”, or C-News. In the time following there’s been a number of patches to C-News, the most prominent being the C-News Performance Release. On sites that carryover a giant number of groups, the overhead involved in frequently invoking relaynews, which is responsible for dispatching incoming articles to other hosts, is significant. The Performance Release adds an option to relaynews that allows to run it in daemon mode, in which the program puts itself in the background.

The Performance Release is the C-News version currently included in most releases.

All news releases up to “C” are primarily targeted for UUCP networks, although they may be used in other environments as well. Efficient news transfer over networks like TCP/IP, DECNet, or related requires a new technique. This was the reason why, in 1986, the “Network News Transfer Protocol”, NNTP, was introduced. It is based on network connections, and specifies a number of commands to interactively transfer and retrieve articles.

A different NNTP package is INN, or Web News. It is not merely a front finish, but a news method by its own right. It comprises a sophisticated news relay daemon that is capable of maintaining several concurrent NNTP links efficiently, and is therefore the news server of choice for lots of Web-sites.

There’s a number of NNTP-based applications obtainable from the Net. Two of them is the nntpd package by Brian Barber and Phil Lapsley, which you can use, among other things, to provides newsreading service to a number of hosts inside a local network. nntpd was designed to complement news packages such as Bnews or C-News to give them NNTP features.


Fast Usenet 14 Day Free Trial