Network News Transfer Protocol (NNTP) History

We have heard rumors of somewhat successful attempts to provide centralized news service using IBIS and other shared or distributed file systems. While it is possible that such a distributed file system implementation might work well with a group of similar computers running nearly identical operating systems, such a scheme is not general enough to offer service to a wide range of client systems, especially when many diverse operating systems may be in use among a group of clients.

There are few (if any) shared or networked file systems that can offer the generality of service that stream connections using Internet TCP provide, particularly when a wide range of host hardware and operating systems are considered.

– Brian Kantor, Phil Lapsley; RFC 977; Network News Transfer Protocol; Feb 1986.

Usenet servers talk to each other over the Internet with the Network News Transfer Protocol (NNTP) protocol.

In 1984, Brian Kantor at the University of California at San Diego and Phil Lapsley, Erik Fair, Steven Grady, Mike Meyer and others at the University of California at Berkeley created the new Usenet protocol NNTP.

Up until then, the Usenet Netnews program had exchanged messages using the UUCP utility. The development of NNTP enabled news servers to exchange news messages on top of the much more efficient and standard TCP/IP protocol, which was increasingly available on University networks.

The NNTP standard enabled Usenet news distribution, posting, selective retrieval, and query functionality. NNTP is described in more detail in Request For Comments 977.