If you reach back into ante-Web history you will find that there were several different and interesting information systems. One, WAIS, was a document retrieval system and the other, Gopher, was an information presentation system. Joel Dunn (Keeper of the Archives) was working with WAIS, Gopher clients and servers and thought to index the postings of the FF@ list with WAIS and publish it with Gopher. At the time he was searching for a project to help him learn these technologies and found that this was a match made in heaven. Some quick programming to format the data , some server configurating, and the index was online. He didn't think many folks would avail themselves of the index, but announced it to the list in the summer of 1993. In the days of Gopher and WAIS, usage was sporadic, but the Web blossomed and made access simple using Gopher emulation. In 1994 he converted the archive index for native Web access and the usage of the index exploded as the Web interface quickly became the Internet standard.
The FF@ Archive can be accessed at http://ffarchives.jdunns.com
You can also try Joel's new user interface Experimental FF@ archive access at http://bullhead.ais.unc.edu/~longlegs/sils/OARS_survey.html
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