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Duke to Shut ­senet Server, A Piece of Internet History

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Duke University graduate student Jim Ellis in 1979

Jim Ellis was one of the two Duke graduate students who helped develop Usenet in 1979.

Credit: Duke University

This week marks the end of an era for one of the earliest pieces of Internet history, which got its start at Duke University more than 30 years ago.

On May 20, Duke will shut down its Usenet server, which provides access to a worldwide electronic discussion network of newsgroups started in 1979 by two Duke graduate students, Tom Truscott and Jim Ellis. Working with a graduate student at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, they came up with a simple program to exchange messages and files between computers at Duke and UNC using telephone modems. The "Users Network," Usenet for short, grew into an international electronic discussion forum with more than 120,000 newsgroups dedicated to various topics.

Usenet also played an integral role in the growth of the popularity of the Internet, says Dietolf Ramm, professor emeritus of computer science at Duke.

From Duke Today
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