In 1979, UseNet, a multidisciplinary computer network of news and discussion groups is formed on two campuses in North Carolina. Providing a unique forum to gather information and exchange ideas, Usenet grows from it’s origin as an underground activity among graduate students into a vast international phenomenon. It’s popularity influences the government to consider connecting the ARPANet to smaller, independently established networks.
Students Tom Truscott, Jim Ellis and Steve Bellovin connected their department’s computers via phone lines to communicate more efficiently. Using UNIX and welcoming other sites to their network, they create a number of discussion groups on various topics in which all users can participate and it becomes known as the “poor man’s ARPANet”. In the early 1980’s connections around the world are established and users can talk without ever meeting face to face. UseNet is eventually incorporated into the successor of the ARPANet, the Internet. By 1991 UseNet hosts more than 35,000 nodes and generates close to 10 million words of discussion daily.