Time Warp: Online Porn Shocker From 1991 – The Horror Of UseNet Porn

by Violet Blue on April 18, 2011

Intimacy InterruptsAs many of you know, I’m a tech columnist on CBS Interactive’s blog Tech Broiler. This week we’re celebrating the 20th anniversary of ZDNet, which is a little nuts. A tech site celebrating decades of anything? It’s a nice feeling at a time when AOL/HuffPo is throwing great writers and superb tech blogs out with the trash. (IMO: they’ll pay for their stupidity eventually.)

Anyway, for the 20th, the guys at ZDNet went overboard and decided to do a huge set of features across all the blogs. We all wrote something fun and 1991 tech flavored. I went the extra mile and interviewed people who were actually having sexual experiences with computers back then – and did I get some stories!

I decided to have some fun and write a piece as if I was a total anti-porn and anti-sex prude from 1991. I’ve read enough “omg there’s porn on the interweeeeebs that will eat your baaaaabies” articles on sites like Guardian UK and Fox News and more to last a lifetime, so thought it would be fun to give their tired old schticks a kick in the shins. Brace yourself for the shock and horror of…

PORN SHOCKER! Seedy UseNet and BBS Red Light Districts Deliver Filth

It’s every decent person’s complete nightmare.

What if something as innocent and wholesome as your television set delivered unmetered filth into your very own home at the click of a button?

Surely this can’t be happening today in 1991 – but the scourge of pornography knows no time for civility.

Hold on to your normal life, and get ready to protect your children from the menace of pornographic stories and images that are coming out of ordinary computers – at this very moment.

That’s right: from perverts in raincoats to orgies and the kind of sickness found in so-called “Adult Book Stores” – it can all be found by anyone with access to a Computer Center or a cheap copy of Computer Shopper Magazine.

BBS and UseNet Porno Shocker

“John” was just like any other college student with a bright future. Everything about his life was normal, until one day through the course of his work-study job in the college Computer Center, he had a taste of the forbidden fruit. (…read more, zdnet.com)

VB note: I love how one commenter totally didn’t get it and thought it was real! Maybe I faked anti-porn sensationalism a little too well… :/

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Image by photosur.

Violet Blue

The London Times named Violet Blue "One of the 40 bloggers who really count" and Self Magazine named TinyNibbles one of the “Best Sex Resources for Women.” Blue is an autodidact and pundit on sex and technology, hacking and security, porn for women, privacy and bleeding-edge tech culture. She is a journalist for ZDNet, CBS News, CNET; she's an educator, speaker, crisis counselor, volunteer NGO trainer, and the author and editor of over 40 award-winning books.

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{ 5 comments }

1 Matthew April 18, 2011 at 11:17 pm

Superb article :) It certainly reminds me of my first online smut experiences; a little after BBSs, but before the web took hold. Fascinatedly browsing alt.binaries.pictures.erotica.* – then, based on the name only, downloading multiple parts for a single picture, using a UUdecoder to assemble them and a jpeg viewer to see them.

With that in mind, I shouldn’t really admit to my first experience of the kind of depravity the internet is capable of… but it’s just too tempting when you said ‘John never knows what kind of sick image he’s going to get.’ Matthew, OTOH, knew exactly what kind of image he was going to get when he foolishly, via the above procedure, downloaded ‘woman_pissing_into_another_womans_ass_via_bag.jpg’.

Not to denigrate folk who that appeals to, but I’m glad my own preferences are at least a little more down to earth ;)

2 violet April 18, 2011 at 8:17 pm

Thank you!!! Yay!

3 Jen April 18, 2011 at 7:48 pm

Congrats!! Excited to read it

4 violet April 18, 2011 at 6:34 pm

Well, I don’t think I’d go so far as to call them “grown up”… But writing with them is a lot of fun. It’s really cool writing with, planning riffs and having daily online conversations with the whole ZD crew. I’m absorbing a lot – and I’m honored to be with such a bunch of seasoned, accomplished and very salty dogs.

My big news is that they’ve promoted me – CBSi has given me my own tech blog! I haven’t formally announced it yet, as it’s being pulled together as I write this, though the URLs have been switched on and people have been taking notice. I hope to make a formal announcement tomorrow. There was a lot going on with this monday anniversary special…

5 Alan Ralph April 18, 2011 at 2:09 pm

As someone who was online around that time, I had a good chuckle at that piece. Given the technology of the time, this was very much delayed gratification. ;) As for ZDNet turning 20, I guess that means that they’ve finally grown up now. :D I remember when they were still in Web-1.0 short trousers – the house was pretty crowded then, and several of the kids ended up living with their step-dad CNET or being put up for adoption or into borstal…

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