Who remembers Usenet?

Hey folks – who is old enough to remember Usenet (if it exists) and, even more relevant, Panic’s excellent newsreader Unison?

At some stage my ISP stopped offering an included Usenet service. Anybody still use it? What client would you recommend?


Have you tried opening a terminal window and typing news ? That’s how I last used it in 2009 as I recall.

1 Like

I used Free Agent software to access Usenet back then. It’s a very popular Windows tool. And I remember being so active in pc.games when System Shock 2 was released and shook the Usenet world with TONS of discussions about the games.


I’m still in touch with a couple of friends that I met through Usenet nearly 40 ago. That was an sf-lovers group (I don’t remember now which one). I used an Emacs newsreader called Gnus. At the time I couldn’t imagine using anything else but I’m not sure what my hands would think of Emacs these days.

I used to work with one of the inventors of Usenet. I think he was a bit bemused by what it became.


I was a heavy Usenet user in the 90s. When Apple bought NeXT Computer it was a fun time to be in comp.sys.next.advocacy - where long before anyone else seemed to realize what was going on people there were discussing the ‘reverse takeover’ of Apple. Fun times.

A couple of years ago I took a look back at all the old groups I used to frequent - those stomping grounds now are a ghost town. :man_shrugging:

1 Like

We used to teach it at the college I work for up until a few years back. Google News took it over (so to speak). I do miss it strangely…

I certainly remember Usenet, although I have not tried to use it in I don’t know how long.

I remember being part of a number of science and computer news groups at the time.

I also recall when people used to share files, and the size of a file attachment was quite limited, so you would download a sometimes large number of individual parts, which were UUEncoded (to avoid issues with character sets, big and little-endian issues between computer architectures, and so forth) and then reassemble them, and hope it all worked…

usenet is still popular if your looking for things online :face_with_hand_over_mouth:

i use this client http://www.newsbin.com/ which i think is windows only but i use my windows laptop for downloading stuff

if you find a good mac client please let us know

1 Like

I used Usenet in College. I also used Pine as my e-mail client.


I remember FreeAgent! That was a terrific client :slight_smile:

I remember accessing the computer science groups via our Unix machines at university too!

I’d forgotten about both of those when I made the original post. Ahhh - memories.

I read that what caused a lot of the damage to newsgroups was when AOL gave access to them and they were flooded by inexperienced users who didn’t understand the etiquette. The “Eternal September’

1 Like

The last time I was on Usenet was 1997.

An other blast from the past: ICQ

Pine, elm, archie, gopher, lynx.
I tried a graphical browser over a slip connection and couldn’t imagine why anyone would want that.
There again, I didn’t see why anyone would want Bluetooth. I have a history of that…

1 Like

Two decades ago I used an offline Usenet newsreader called MacSOUP. To my utter amazement it is still available for download, but only works up to OSX 10.11



Anyone tried this?

I once tried it and taught it was a scam…

I still have MT-NewsWatcher installed on my Mac.

Just in case.


These services (though Gopher came later IIRC), plus Usenet, ICS and the BBSs were all exciting discoveries back in the early '80s when we could finally afford a “personal” computer, a Hayes Smartmoden (“Fast!”), and sign up with an ISP. In those days friends would ask

Q. “Why do you need a computer”.
A. “Em, balance my checkbook? Chat?”

It felt like the world shrunk like air out of a balloon the first time I exchanged messages online (I don’t remember the protocol) with people on other continents.

Or, “why does anyone need a camera in a phone”? :smile:

1 Like

My first email was to and from someone in Australia (I’m in the US), with a turnaround time of a few minutes. It was so amazing.

Showing my age, but I started on Fidonet on dial up bulletin boards with a TI-99/4a and a 300bps modem. Later graduated to a Commodore Amiga and you’d dial up to a BBS, download in an offline reader, compose your replies and exchange them next time you were connected.

Later I got a PC and then by the mid 90s the Internet was all the rage and I discovered Usenet :slight_smile:

My fondest memories of Usenet

  • The author Terry Pratchett would regularly post in alt.fan.pratchett as Pterry and interact with fans - this was around 1993
  • Meeting another Brian Grinter who was a pilot also born in Australia and working overseas :smiley:

On a whim - I wondered if I could find old Usenet posts.

OMG - I found exchanges I had with Terry Pratchett from 1997.

I used to sign off on posts with my email and HOME PHONE NUMBER!

Those were simpler times…