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(also User’s Network)

Usenet definition

Usenet is one of the oldest computer network communication systems. It was created before the World Wide Web (WWW) in 1979 to exchange files and messages through the UUCP protocol. Usenet is similar to an online forum or discussion platform where users can discuss various topics in so-called “newsgroups.” Though it enjoyed popularity in the early 1990s, it is now mainly used to share large files between users.

History of Usenet

  • The idea for Usenet was conceived in 1979 by Tom Truscott and Jim Ellis at Duke University in North Carolina, USA. It allowed users to share information and take part in online discussions without needing a central server.
  • In the early days, users would connect to the system with a terminal program and a dial-up modem. Then they would use a newsreader program to download and read newsgroup messages.
  • Over time, Usenet grew in popularity and became a key communication channel for computer scientists and researchers. The system was used to discuss various topics, including programming, science, politics, and culture.
  • In the 1990s, the growing popularity of the World Wide Web brought many challenges to Usenet. Users began to migrate to web-based discussion forums and social media platforms. Usenet declined in popularity but continued to be supported and used by hardened fans.
  • Today, Usenet continues as a decentralized discussion system with a core group of dedicated users. It has evolved to support a wide range of protocols and technologies, including encryption and other security features.

How Usenet works

  • A user uploads binary files to a newsgroup — a site or forum for publishing content.
  • The file data gets encoded into multiple text files.
  • Other users can search for and download these files using a newsreader program.