/yoos'net/ or /yooz'net/ (Or "Usenet news", from "Users' Network") A distributed bulletin board system and the people who post and read articles thereon. Originally implemented in 1979 - 1980 by Steve Bellovin, Jim Ellis, Tom Truscott and Steve Daniel at Duke University, and supported mainly by Unix machines, it swiftly grew to become international in scope and, before the advent of the web, probably the largest decentralised information utility in existence.
Usenet encompassed government agencies, universities, high schools, businesses of all sizes and home computers of all descriptions. As of early 1993, it hosted over 1200 newsgroups ("groups" for short) and an average of 40 megabytes (the equivalent of several thousand paper pages) of new technical articles, news, discussion, chatter, and flamage every day. By November 1999, the number of groups had grown to over 37,000.
To join in, you need a Usenet provider. Originally you needed a news reader program but there are now several web gateways, cheifly Google Groups (originally Deja News). Some web browsers used to include news readers and URLs beginning "news:" referred to Usenet newsgroups.
Network News Transfer Protocol is a protocol used to transfer news articles between a news server and a news reader. In the beginning, not all Usenet hosts were on the Internet. The uucp protocol was sometimes used to transfer articles between servers, though this became increasingly rare with the spread of the Internet.