1987: C News

B News was the reigning news software from its inception in 1981 to 1987 when two University of Toronto staff members created a revamped news server package called C News.

The creators of C News, Geoff Collyer and Henry Spencer, got interested in the project when they discovered a bug in the B News software which needed to be addressed. From Henry Spencer: "The real beginning of C News was when B News's "expire" program stopped working entirely. After a quick look at the source convinced me that finding the bug wasn't going to be easy, I decided to just rewrite the program. The resulting code was simpler and cleaner and a lot more reliable, and it also turned out to be quite noticeably faster."

After Spencer's initial reworking of the B News code, his co-worker Geoff Collyer became interested in the project and the two began their collaboration. Soon, the two expanded the project to encompass an entirely new news server package.

"Henry and I were in frequent communication and pretty quickly realized that with relaynews generating the history file, and the news readers not caring greatly about the format of some fields, we had room to extend the format in useful ways that expire could exploit for greater speed. I think it was at about this time that we adopted the name `C News' and began to flesh out a full news transport," Geoff Collyer explained.

After two years of work, Collyer and Spencer presented the C News package at the Winter 1987 USENIX conference held in Washington, D.C.

Development of the C News package continued into the mid '90s and included the creation of NOV (News Overview), a new index which was implemented in 1992. This indexing system optimized header retrieval and threading, allowing for faster retrieval by newsreaders with little load on the new server. This system is still frequently used today through the NNTP XOVER command.

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