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messaging /yoos'net/ or /yooz'net/ (Or "Usenet news", from
"Users' Network") A distributed bulletin board system and
the people who post and read articles thereon. Originally
implemented in 1979 - 1980 by Steve Bellovin, Jim Ellis, Tom
Truscott, and Steve Daniel at Duke University, and supported
mainly by Unix machines, it swiftly grew to become
international in scope and, before the advent of the
World-Wide Web, probably the largest decentralised
information utility in existence.
Usenet encompasses government agencies, universities, high
schools, businesses of all sizes, and home computers of all
descriptions. In the beginning, not all Usenet hosts were on
the Internet. As of early 1993, it hosted over 1200
newsgroups ("groups" for short) and an average of 40
megabytes (the equivalent of several thousand paper pages) of
new technical articles, news, discussion, chatter, and
flamage every day. By November 1999, the number of groups
had grown to over 37,000.
To join in you originally needed a news reader program but
there are now several web gateways such as Deja. Several web browsers include news
readers and URLs beginning "news:" refer to Usenet
transfer news articles between a news server and a newsreader. The uucp protocol was sometimes used to transfer
articles between servers, though this is probably rare now
that most sites are on the Internet.