Early internet discussions?
March 11, 2008 2:40 PM   Subscribe

Besides Google Groups, where else can I find archives of discussions from the early days of the internet? (on any subject)
posted by vizsla to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
jscott linked to his collections of the so-called "dead CBBS scrolls" in this comment awhile back. They're from the earliest days of online discussion, before the records that Google Groups stores. Some of the earliest records, in fact, are transcribed from old paper printouts of the discussions from decades ago.
posted by Rhaomi at 2:53 PM on March 11, 2008

This is pretty specific in terms of topic, but the Chalkhills* mailing list has complete online archives going back to the first issue in 1989 here.

*Digest-only email list for fans of the band XTC
posted by DiscourseMarker at 2:58 PM on March 11, 2008

Some terminology: Google Groups is the rebranded version of DejaNews, which originally gathered and made available a large percentage of posts from Usenet. Usenet was a huge collection of newsgroups that had individual groups for everything under the sun.

DejaNews wasn't able to archive everything for various reasons (it didn't exist in the early days, it respected the no-archive header IIRC, etc), and so some other resources may be handy. A Google search for "Usenet archives" turned up this. Other websites exist to archive only the FAQ postings from each newsgroup (such as this one). And finally, individual newsgroups sometimes have their own archive, like rec.puzzles and an old favorite of mine, alt.folklore.urban.

The Wayback Machine is an effort to do something similar for web pages, archiving different versions of pages from the past, but it doesn't even go back to the early days of the web let alone the early days of the internet.
posted by flipper at 3:08 PM on March 11, 2008

Google's Usenet archives, which begin in 1981.
posted by ottereroticist at 3:10 PM on March 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

Not discussions, but textfiles.com has textfiles commonly found on BBSes back in the day.
posted by juv3nal at 4:04 PM on March 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

Oh, BTW... the Google/DejaNews thing by no way has everything back to 1981. I've searched for my 1987 onward posts... they're not there. I remember DejaNews slowly growing when somebody would find an old backup tape that had news (Usenet) data on it.

e.g.: talk.bizarre, FATBOB. Happened in like 1988 or so, first Google hit is 1994. I can find none of my posts. Might be a good thing for me. :)
posted by zengargoyle at 6:02 PM on March 11, 2008

Yeah, both Google and DejaNews get their older material from dusty archive tapes people have found over the years.

Many, many communities have old archives accessible on the web, but they're not organized by "is this an archive from pre-1990 email/bbs/usenet/etc"; they're organized by whatever community they're an archive of.
posted by hattifattener at 7:51 PM on March 11, 2008

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