1979: Origins of Usenet; “A News”
Giganews Usenet History > 1979: Origins of Usenet; “A News”
Usenet first began as the brainchild of two Duke University graduate students, Tom Truscott and Jim Ellis in late 1979. A recent operating system upgrade left the computer science department with obsolete local announcement software. With modem technology was falling in price and becoming more commonplace, and Unix’s new UUCP protocol provided a method of copying data between computers, Truscott and Ellis envisioned software that would not only allow messaging between their department members, but also connect them to other universities. At the time, collaboration between universities was limited to expensive phone calls and sporadic postal newsletters.
Truscott and Ellis shared their vision with Steve Bellovin, a student at the nearby University of North Carolina. With his assistance writing scripts, “netnews” was born, and “duke” and “unc” became the first two Usenet hosts. The “netnews” software was compiled for formal distribution and renamed to “A News” by Steve Daniel and was made available to any interested system administrators at 1980’s Usenix Conference.
The cost-effective nature of communication via Usenet made its initial release very popular with Unix administrators and the network rapidly outgrew the modest capabilities of A News. “B News” was developed and distributed beginning in 1981.