My olduse.net exhibit has now finished replaying the first year of historical Usenet posts from 30 years ago, in real time.
That was only twelve thousand messages, probably less than many people get on Facebook in a year.. but if you read along this year, you probably have a much better feel for what early Usenet was like. If you didn't, it's not too early to start, 9 years of Usenet's flowering lie ahead.
I don't know how many people followed along. I read .. not every message, but a large fraction of them. I see 40 or so unique NNTP connections per day, and some seem to stick around and read for quite a while, so I'm guessing there might be a few hundred people following on a weekly basis.
If you're not one of them, and don't read our olduse.net blog, here are a few of the year's highlights:
- After announcing the exhibit
it hit all the big tech sites like Hacker News and Slashdot, and
Boing Boing. A quarter million people loaded the front page. For a while
every one of those involved a login to my server to run
tin. I have some really amusing who listings. Every post available initially was read an average of 100 times, which was probably more than they were read the first go around.
- Beautiful ascii art usenet maps were posted as the network mushroomed; I collected them all. In a time-delayed collaboration with Mark, I produced a more modern version.
- We watched sites struggle with the growth of usenet, and followed along as B-news was developed and deployed.
- In 2011, Dennis Richie passed. We still enjoy his wit and insight on olduse.net.
- We enjoyed the first posts of things like The Hacker's Dictionary and DEC Wars.
- Some source code posted to usenet still compiles. I haven't found anything to add to Debian, yet. :)
I will probably be expiring the first year's messages before too long, to have a more uncluttered view. So if you wanted to read them, hurry up!