The amount of misinformation was about equal, too. I learned a lot of outright bullshit stated as fact reading those as a 12-year old. The difference is there's now zero limit to that nonsense being spread...
Modems were very optional, because not everyone had that kind of money.
At 14.4k it takes maybe 10 seconds to download a JPEG, and tens of minutes to hours to download a low-res video clip.
Neither Usenet nor Fidonet had anything like a browser. Files had to be converted to ASCII for upload, often in parts, and then glued back together and converted to the original format manually using various helper applications.
It was still exciting and fun though.
Usenet was reading was free via the local university unsecured dial-in (not ppp just a terminal that would telnet into any computer you knew of) , but without an email address you couldn't do much so I didn't spend much time there. Fido and the other local bbs systems provides free accounts that made the whole thing useful.
Then the web hit and you could find useful things on the internet. It was all downhill from there for Usenet.
Good times, indeed!
IIRC, NNTP, SMTP, and I believe IMAP servers do not treat any character as significant from a protocol standpoint other than ascii NULL (0x00), CR (0x0D), LF (0x0A), and . (0X2E) (the last only when at the beginning of a line). Those are the only 4 characters that yEnc escapes for encoding purposes.
Fidonet was practical - possible to download all groups/messages at once for lot of offline reading and responding saving lot of money for lot of content.
Yet, in the 300 baud days, before PC clones became numerous, when the C64 was the most sold PC on the planet, PunterBBS, and PunterNET was worldwide.
I ran such a BBS, on a C64 with two of these:
At the time, punternet offered everything fidonet did. But... time passes....
nn just didn't compare when I got to University. irc was and still is fantastic.
No manual entry for uucico
rz@skyrocket:~ % uname -a
FreeBSD skyrocket 9.3-RELEASE FreeBSD 9.3-RELEASE #1: Fri Nov 27 20:28:19 UTC 2015 root@skyrocket:/usr/obj/usr/src/sys/SKYROCKET amd64
Hopefully cu is till there.
Almost any tech guy in early 90s was a Fidonet or Usenet user. That was the only mean of communication and source of technical information available worldwide, an informational Klondike for programmers, electronics engineers, for all kind of hobbyists. Personally, I can say that Fidonet had a significant impact on my career and on whole my life. I was a node running multiline BBS somewhere in the middle of Siberia in 90th. It was a technical challenge, it tought me to deal with and solve many technical and organisational issues. I learnt and studied TCP/IP by reading Fidonet echos (aka Usenet groups) and tought myself to deploy IP networks (including DNS) not having IP access because there was not any in my place at that time. I learnt to use OS/2, then FreeBSD. And there was no Google to ask. Participating in echos gave me a good warm feeling of the big world at my fingertips.
One of our members shared an excited piece of information: "Hey, wow! I just heard there's a whole million nodes on the Net."
The Net back then was Usenet, email, and (sometimes) ftp.
That new-fangled WWW thing was just a strange curiosity. It would never take off anyway, how would you know what websites were around? And anyway, hour-long long-distance phone calls were prohibitively expensive.
I firmly believe Always On made more difference than the Broadband bandwidth most users got at the same time.
My first student household had 24/7 Internet access at modem speeds, 56kbps (at best) shared between half a dozen people. But even though that's scarcely any bandwidth (my last student house was 2Mbps DSL shared between two people for comparison) the fact it's always there changed how we used it compared to people with conventional dial-up.
It was a bit of a shock to the system again, when in 2011 I spent 8 months travelling in France with 2gig/month (60mb/day) quotas again.
I believe it's based on the data they bought from Deja back in 2001 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Groups)
The archive seems to use mbox for everything, so you'll probably need an email client to read it, but that's it.
Run XTerm with the 10x20 fixed font, then:
TERM=ansi telnet cvs.synchro.net