It was a warm sunny 1988 afternoon in Baldwin
Park, California. I was working at Lundy Financial Systems, who made
remittance processing robots. While everybody else was playing with
the neat cool groovy next generation UNIX machines, I was contracted
to fix the 8 year old Z-80/Assembler coded behemoth that nobody else
would touch. It was a horrible job. Mind numbing does not begin to describe it.
With such a job like this, there was only one thing to do: read talk.bizarre
for 7 hours a day.
A fellow contractor, Ralph Freudenberger, had an account on gryphon.com, as did I, to read usenet and get email. Ralph asked me a question. Oh, if only Ralph *hadn't* asked me THAT question.
He asked me: "Richard, I know how to follow up a posting on UseNet, but how
do you post one from scratch - without following one up".
I said "oh, no problem", and fired up Pnews and typed in the following
Subject: new group
I propose the newsfroup rec.fucking
``It's too dark to put the keys in my ignition''
I was being flip, ok, but I'd set the distribution to "Local" so it would never
leave gryphon.com; nobody would see it. Well they wouldnt have if I'd spelled
"Local" correctly. Spelling never was my strong suit. Still isn't.
So the article went out to the world. Talk.bizarre was not a group that would
leave something like this alone. They thought the newsgroup was a good idea.
A great idea. They thought perhaps rec.fucking might not get past the backbone
cabal, so they changed it to rec.sex.
The requisite 2 week
discussion phase ensued, and although many objections were raised and the
obligatory postings stating Hmmmph... my site won't carry it
occurred, it went to a vote. The vote passed. As predicted, the (poorly named) backbone cabal
would not carry the group.
Brian Reid simply, quietly and quickly created alt.sex. and also created
alt.rock-n-roll to complete the set. Now we had alt.sex, drugs and rock-n-roll.
The rest is history. alt.sex spun off subgroups like nobody's business. They
are the most widely read groups on UseNet according to the statistics. Not
bad for a typo.
Postscript: I recently (summer '95) noticed there is a book, available in most
bookstores called net.sex. A guide to sexual resources on the net. Where's my check?
Postscript: since google picked up the spencer/jones tapes and has most of old usenet online now I'd have expected to find the original article but can't. The closest I can find is this