Definitions for usenetˈyuzˌnɛt, ˈyus-
Random House Webster's College Dictionary
Computers.an extensive system of newsgroups: a branch of the Internet.
Origin of Usenet:
1980–85; use(rs' )+net (work )
A world-wide distributed discussion system consisting of newsgroups classified hierarchically by subject.
Origin: From USENIX group of computer programmers using the operating system Unix, from users of Unix
The New Hacker's Dictionary
[from ‘Users' Network’; the original spelling was USENET, but the mixed-case form is now widely preferred] A distributed bboard (bulletin board) system supported mainly by Unix machines. Originally implemented in 1979--1980 by Steve Bellovin, Jim Ellis, Tom Truscott, and Steve Daniel at Duke University and the University of North Carolina, it has swiftly grown to become international in scope and is now probably the largest decentralized information utility in existence. As of late 2002, it hosts over 100,000 newsgroups and an unguessably huge volume of new technical articles, news, discussion, chatter, and flamage every day (and that leaves out the graphics...).By the year the Internet hit the mainstream (1994) the original UUCP transport for Usenet was fading out of use — almost all Usenet connections were over Internet links. A lot of newbies and journalists began to refer to “Internet newsgroups” as though Usenet was and always had been just another Internet service. This ignorance greatly annoys experienced Usenetters.
Usenet is a worldwide distributed Internet discussion system. It was developed from the general purpose UUCP architecture of the same name. Duke University graduate students Tom Truscott and Jim Ellis conceived the idea in 1979 and it was established in 1980. Users read and post messages to one or more categories, known as newsgroups. Usenet resembles a bulletin board system in many respects, and is the precursor to Internet forums that are widely used today. Usenet can be superficially regarded as a hybrid between email and web forums. Discussions are threaded, as with web forums and BBSes, though posts are stored on the server sequentially. One notable difference between a BBS or web forum and Usenet is the absence of a central server and dedicated administrator. Usenet is distributed among a large, constantly changing conglomeration of servers that store and forward messages to one another in so-called news feeds. Individual users may read messages from and post messages to a local server operated by a commercial usenet provider, their Internet service provider, university, or employer.