Another Usenet Archive, or, the UTZoo Archive Story

06 Jun 2011 6:13 pm is another Usenet archive with an interesting twist: it's replaying the articles as they come in, over a 10 year period, starting with 1981.

The source is the same UTZoo archive that I acquired from David Wiseman on November 23, 2009, and put on Mac GUI Vault (well, the relevant groups) in early December of 2009.

This page:

has a "Made Possible by" with some credits:

made possible by

Henry Spencer at the University of Toronto, Department of Zoology, who archived Usenet. Back when it was really uncool and really expensive. Our view onto Usenet is thus slightly centric to Canada and Zoology, but that's ok.

David Wiseman, who hauled 141 magtapes in a pickup truck.

Many who worked to rescue data off the tapes. Including from the deleted stuff at the ends.

Rich Skrenta, who somehow got a copy of the archive out from under the Google borg. Although one of the tar files is truncated. Just saying.

The creator of Telehack, who pointed me in the right direction, ending my multi-year quest to find the archive. And if you think this is neat, Telehack will blow you away.

The developers of Haskell, which enabled me to whip up a B-News to C-News converter, a custom uucp, date parsers for every crazy date format ever used on Usenet, and suitible queue data structures in a rock solid, maintainable way, in 500 lines of code written over 12 hours. When I realized I also needed an A-News to B-News converter, I knew it was worth it to have done things right, because that took only 43 more lines, and worked 100% on the first run! My code repository for is here.

One of these is wrong. Confused I put it in bold. I can tell the real story. Rich Skrenta didn't get the archive from the Google borg, he got it from me.

Here's the story:

On March 24, 2010, I got an email from Rich Skrenta;


From: Rich Skrenta <>
Date: Wed, 24 Mar 2010 14:54:39 -0700
Message-ID: <>
Subject: Usenet archive


I read your blog post about obtaining the old ut-zoo usenet archive.
I am working on a project to provide a command-line museum of sorts...
I would like to include a read-only version of RN/NOTES within this
environment, and am looking for historical Usenet posts to include.
The ut-zoo archive would be perfect for this.

I was wondering if I could obtain a copy of the archive from you...

Thanks in advance!   ...and please let me know if you have any questions.

Well, of course I told him:


MIME-Version: 1.0
Date: Wed, 24 Mar 2010 18:24:46 -0400
From: "D. Finnigan" <>
To: Rich Skrenta <>
Subject: Re: Usenet archive
In-Reply-To: <>
References: <> <>
Message-ID: <>
User-Agent: Mac GUI Webmail
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 8bit
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=UTF-8

On Wed, 24 Mar 2010 14:54:39 -0700, Rich Skrenta <>
> I was wondering if I could obtain a copy of the archive from you...

Ask this guy first:

As long as you explain your situation and say please, I'm pretty sure that
he would send you a copy. If you don't get a response after a week, send
him your email again. As it turns out, he gets tons of email, and sometimes
he will see your email, mean to reply, but forget. That happened to me.

And sure enough, Rich Skrenta replied back a bit later saying that he had in fact obtained a copy of the UTZoo archive from David Wiseman.

However, Rich Skrenta did something that I never considered: he uploaded a publicly-accessible copy of all 141 tapes online. They can now be downloaded by anyone.

Before I asked, and before Rich Skrenta asked, basically nobody had the UTZoo archive. Oh, you'd read whispers and rumors of it, but nothing concrete. You had to do your research, ask the right people, whistle the right tune, etc.

Thus, a bit of the "magic" is lost, but at least people can use the articles in cool projects such as this.

So there you have it, the "real" story of how the UTZoo archive got "out there."

Oh, and here's the story of how I got them. Wink

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