Today, May 20th 2010, marks a sad day for all of us who remember – and grew up with – Usenet. Duke University will be forever pulling the plug on the once-popular means of communication, laying it to rest at long last. More than thirty years ago, Usenet was started by two then-students as a means to communicate between computer modems. Many say that it was the beginning of the Internet as we know it today.
Once it began, Usenet quickly grew to become an international electronic discussion forum consisting of more than 120,000 newsgroups. However, not everyone could just jump “online” using the service because connections were expensive and required a research contract with the federal Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA). Dietolf Ramm, professor emeritus of computer science at Duke, said that “Usenet was a pioneering effort because it allowed anybody to connect and participate communications.”
While the RIAA and MPAA may be celebrating this news due to the large amount of piracy going around Usenet, this is a sad day for the rest of us. Duke has decided to shut the service down due to rising costs of maintenance and lower volumes of people using the service. I well remember my days back on the computer before the Internet as you know it was born. I was so excited back then when I sent my first message from my computer to another. It’s a day that changed my life.
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Usenet may be going offline for good, but our software center is here to stay!