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Usenet Software before INN

The information in this article is a summary of Usenet Software: History and Sources
Archive-name: usenet/software/part1
Original-from: spaf@cs.purdue.edu (Gene Spafford)
Comment: edited until 5/93 by spaf@cs.purdue.edu (Gene Spafford)
Last-change: 3 Dec 1996 by netannounce@deshaw.com (Mark Moraes)
Changes-posted-to: news.admin.misc,news.misc,news.software.readers,news.software.b,news.answers

INN (and Usenet software) trace its birth back to 1979, when two Duke University grad students (Tom Truscott and Jim Ellis) used V7 Unix and UUCP to exchange information. The software was mostly shell scripts.

The shell scripts were rewritten in C and cleaned up for distribution, and came to be known as "A" news. It was only intended to handle a few articles per day in a small number of groups.

By 1981 the idea and popularity had spread so that the software needed to be rewritten to handle more news. "B" news went public at version 2.1 in 1982, through the efforts of Matt Glickman and Mark Horton.

"B" news Versions starting with 2.10.2 (in 1984) were coordinated by Rick Adams. News volume was increasing and moderated news groups were added in this version.

By 1986 more enhancements were required, and version 2.11 of "B" news was released.
Development on "B" news stopped at 2.11, patchlevel 19. It is considered obsolete, since it has compile-time limits which are incapable of supporting a modern Usenet site.

March 1986 saw the first packages to use NNTP as specified in RFC977 which used TCP/IP connections (instead of UUCP) to exchange news. It also permitted news reading over TCP/IP connections. (Previously, readers had to access the news articles through the file system.)

Along with NNTP specification there was a reference implementation of the protocol. The current version of the reference implementation is More information is available
at http://www.academ.com/academ/nntp.html
A variant called nntp-t5 is a reference implementation which includes many of the extensions to RFC977 used by INN and most modern news readers.

"C" news was developed by Geoff Collyer and Henry Spencer. The lowest level parts of "B" news were rewritten to increase throughput and reliability. It was released in 1987. An accompanying paper "News Need Not Be Slow" was published in Winter 1987 Usenix Technical Conference. It is recommended reading for news software programmers.

The most recent version of "C" news is the September 1994 "Cleanup Release" available at the official archive site.

Development on "C" news was mostly stopped as INN was introduced. See Usenet RKT: INN Versions

More Detailed Topics
Usenet Software: History and Sources
Usenet RKT For Developers NNTP Protocol

Overview and Related Topics
Up to: Usenet RKT INN Versions
Usenet RKT Who maintains INN?

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Copyright 1997-1998, Forrest J. Cavalier III, Mib Software, INN customization and consulting