End of an Era

Duke university is shutting down it’s Usenet server.

Monday Duke University announced that it will be shutting down a piece of Internet history by switching off the home of the first electronic newsgroups. Thursday, May 20 will mark the day Duke’s Usenet server finally goes offline after more than thirty years, originally launched by two Duke graduate students, Tom Truscott and Jim Ellis, as a means to exchange messages and files (via modem) between computers located at Duke and UNC-Chapel Hill.

The Users Network, or Usenet as we know it today, quickly grew to become an international electronic discussion forum consisting of more than 120,000 newsgroups. Dietolf Ramm, professor emeritus of computer science, said that the Usenet played a large role in the growth and popularity of the Internet. However, not every parent, student, or general consumer could jump “online.” Connections were expensive and required a research contract with the federal Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA).

Ramm, who worked with the students responsible for developing and launching Usenet, said that the ARPA had funded a few schools to begin the early stages of the Internet. “But most schools didn’t have that,” he said in an interview. “Usenet was a pioneering effort because it allowed anybody to connect and participate communications.”

Despite the legal sweep made by the RIAA and MPAA as of late, Duke didn’t decide to terminate its Usenet server based on piracy. Instead, the relic will be laid to rest thanks to low usage and rising costs. Applications such as Twitter, blogs, RSS feeds, Facebook and more have made communication a bit more user-friendly since the days of Usenet, making it obsolete.

I haven’t had a Usenet account in years, heck in over a decade, so I guess it is obsolete. And 30 years is a LONG time in Internet years. But this is just one server. I think Usenet will be around a while still.

This entry was posted in Geek Alert, History, Teh Interwebz. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to End of an Era

  1. Old NFO says:

    Well damn… I DO remember USENET, and COMPUSERVE, and MILNET… And had accounts on all of them. Sometimes, I honestly think things were simpler then, and the discussions were more ‘productive’ than what you get today on the interwebz…

Comments are closed.