Paul Boutin

May 2001

When Google acquired's archive in February, the search engine made it clear it wanted to preserve history as well as make money. The archive contains 630 million Usenet postings, spanning some 35,112 newsgroups dating from 1995. Longtime Usenet junkies, though, would like Google to rescue even older backups, maybe all the way to 1979, to the first test postings between Duke University and the University of North Carolina.

One of the first newsgroupies to come forward is Edward Vielmetti, a former comp.archives moderator, who donated a box of CD-ROMs containing postings from 1991 and 1992 he'd acquired years ago. "It was great reading what I posted, mostly to jog my memory of what was going on then and who else was posting," says Vielmetti, now a consulting engineer for Cisco.

With only a few posts before 1995 still online, Vielmetti hopes others will dust off their tapes and bring them in. They could generate keen interest from more than just historians: A complete Usenet archive, for example, could be invaluable in software patent disputes, which often rest on proof of prior art.

Copyright 2001