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The Network News Transfer Protocol (NNTP) is an application protocol used for transporting Usenet news articles (netnews) between news servers and for reading and posting articles by end user client applications. Brian Kantor of the University of California, San Diego and Phil Lapsley of the University of California, Berkeley authored RFC 977, the specification for the Network News Transfer Protocol, in March 1986. Other contributors included Stan O. Barber from the Baylor College of Medicine and Erik Fair of Apple Computer.
Usenet was originally designed based on the UUCP network, with most article transfers taking place over direct point-to-point telephone links between news servers, which were powerful time-sharing systems. Readers and posters logged into these computers reading the articles directly from the local disk.
As local area networks and Internet participation proliferated, it became desirable to allow newsreaders to be run on personal computers connected to local networks. Because distributed file systems were not yet widely available, a new protocol was developed based on the client-server model. It resembled the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP), but was tailored for exchanging newsgroup articles.
A newsreader, also known as a news client, is a software application that reads articles on Usenet, either directly from the news server's disks or via the NNTP.
During an abortive attempt to update the NNTP standard in the early 1990s, a specialized form of NNTP intended specifically for use by clients, NNRP, was proposed. This protocol was never completed or fully implemented, but the name persisted in InterNetNews's (INN) nnrpd program. As a result, the subset of standard NNTP commands useful to clients is sometimes still referred to as "NNRP".