15 November 2018

Usenet 1980 - Things I Didn't know...

Usenet archive extract, 1981.

I believe there's not a huge amount I don't know about the 1980s. At the time, through a haze of electronic music and Stella Artois, I was oblivious to a lot of it, but since then I've studied. However, I can still be surprised. I knew the first version of Microsoft Windows arrived in 1985, and that the World Wide Web was invented by Tim Berners-Lee in 1989, but I'd  never heard of Usenet, which was established in 1980, and was apparently a bit of a predecessor to today's Web forums. In fact, in 1980, nobody I knew had a computer or would have dreamt of buying one. I didn't even know anybody who bought a ZX80! But over in the States, the poor man's ARPANET took wing in 1980.

It was the brainchild of Tom Truscott and Jim Ellis, and initial participation was very small (expectedly in those days), but it grew.

I suppose, not to be unkind, it was a bit of a geeks' and nerds' valley at first, it must surely have been, and comparing its presentation and technical efficiency to today's World Wide Web would be a bit like comparing apples to oranges, but it's still interesting.

From the Web:

Usenet is a global network of servers on which all kinds of data are exchanged. In some ways it can be seen as the predecessor of modern day internet forums. It all started in 1980, when Usenet was introduced, giving users the possibility to exchange text messages and scientific articles. These text messages and scientific publications could be uploaded in several categories, called newsgroups, with each newsgroup covering a certain topic. 

It wasn't really the forerunner to the World Wide Web, but definitely a small marker on the (then unplanned) path towards it.

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