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The PBM Newsgroup

Back in the early 1990s, I was an active user of Usenet Newsgroups. If you don’t know what this is…before the Internet was dominated by web browsers, most of the Internet services were text-based, accessed using a command line terminal logged into a UNIX system. Usenet Newsgroups are forums organized by topic and the Usenet network would distribute copies of these Newsgroup posts all over the world to various computer systems for people to participate in conversations organized by topic. I used ‘are’ when describing Usenet Newsgroups instead of ‘were’ as my understanding is that they still exist today but are largely dominated by people sharing software and videos. One of my favorite newsgroups was rec.games.pbm.

Over the past several decades, it’s been harder to access old Usenet Newgroups as online archives of this content have gone offline. A few new online archives have popped up, but the content from the rec.games.pbm Newsgroup has not been a priority to make available. Twenty years ago, there was a website called Deja News – a search engine of all Usenet Newsgroups postings, but they went out of business in 2001. Google purchased the archives of Usenet Newsgroup posts from Deja News and hosted them on Google Groups.

Thankfully, Google is still hosting what looks to be a complete archive of rec.games.pbm, but as Google is not actively updating Google Groups, I worry that this online archive will go offline at some point in the future. Hopefully someone will make an archive of rec.games.pbm so that we can continue to do research into the hobby using this as a source.

I’ve used Google’s archive of rec.games.pbm for a number of PBM research projects over the years. Give it a try! It’s easier to use the search field on the top of the page than to just browse through old topics.

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