The History of Groggs

GROGGS was created in May 1986, after a suggestion in INFO.SUGGEST.CURRENT developed into an irrelevant discussion which led John Stark (JAS11) to think of the idea of a general-purpose discussion file on PHOENIX. He created the first GROGGS, which was a crude clone of the SUGGEST system, written in about half an hour one weekend, with the addition of a NEWITEMS command, which displayed item-ids only (no userid, date or subject). This was "released" at about 1am on 4th May 1986, and the first contribution was A1240111 from AJT10 which read:

Thanks are due to JAS11 for trusting his filespace to the general rabble of computerists.....

It quickly caught on, and was soon given "official" permission to exist. Many suggestions for improvements were made, and by the start of the summer vacation GROGGS had a subject index and had been tidied up considerably. It really got going about three weeks into the Michaelmas term. Improvements continued, the most notable of which was the introduction of #GROGNAME in the item and reply headers. In January 1987 it was moved into its own filespace from JAS11, and on February 17th 1987 the filespace was officially handed over to PRC10 so that he could take over the task of running it as John Stark was in his final year.

On July 15th 1987, a similar fate befell Paul Clark - a potentially huge 3rd year project was looming, so it was time to name a new editor - JML11. During Paul's editorship, READNEW came into being, and decimated projects far and wide - plans for a faster, streamlined version were just taking shape... which, written by RobertEH10, RoyB108 and DavidRTR1, was installed in November.

But it soon came to pass that the pressures of late-night editing turned the once-dynamic "screenful of newitems" JML11 into a "zoned-out avocado" - and on the ominous date of Friday 13th November, John Levine handed over complete control of Groggs to AG109, the Australian ex-hacker. It was not yet known whether this was a wise move...

After much sharing and enjoying, on February 3rd 1988, amid a flurry of resignations and controversy, Alastair Grant donated GROGGS to REH10. During Alastair's reign as editor, significant changes were made to the software. New split item headers were introduced, instream datasets 'worked'; and navel watching became the 'in' thing. GROGGS became dynamic, forward going, and very big. Robert Hunt had finally made the ultimate coup, and wielded complete power over GROGGS and all who sailed in her.

The months rolled by; there was no sign of REH10 quitting - he soon reversed the downwards trend in the duration of Editorships. A year after his appointment, he was still ruthlessly in power, cleaning up GROGGS (amid much heated debate). Some of the previous Editors, narked at his long-standing power and ability to do nothing, tried desperately to start rebellions, even resorting to personal comments about his haircuts, but totally without success. Even his appearances on stage at the Arts Theatre didn't stop him. What, never? No, never.

Near to the close of Robert's time as Editor, a curious combination of circumstances at the 1989 GROGGS garden party -- rumoured to have involved alcohol, removal of clothes, Robert Hunt and Emma Body -- resulted in Emma (EPB10) becoming Editor for one day. Her reign was peaceful and harmonious, and thus unique in the history of GROGGS.

Finally, Robert decided that he had had too much and had done his duty to the GROGGers, and eventually he wearily handed over control of GROGGS on the 29th June 1989 to one of his fellow READNEW conspirators, David Robinson (DRTR1), who was so shocked he raised his left eyebrow.

At last a real programmer was again in charge of GROGGS; the software got bigger, better and faster. The eons rolled past; sub-editors came and went but the Editor stayed on. The GROGGS garden party became an institution; being held in such sacred places as Springfields gardens, and 18 Harvey Goodwin Ave - that notorious home for retired editors. GROGGS stayed ever popular; by the end of 1991 the total GROGGS weighed in at 80Mb of text. GROGGS even became an equal opportunities employer of sub-editors.

But on 14th February 1992, David relinquished the absolute power he had wielded for so long to Gareth McCaughan (GJM11), having been the longest standing Editor.

During Gareth's reign, the software got friendlier and more stable, and Groggs weathered an invasion of users with seven-character userids. Drivel was ruthlessly stamped out by a team of "fascist" sub-editors. In the summer of 1993, the only recorded (or likely) marriage between an editor and an ex-editor of Groggs took place. But this proved to be Gareth's downfall, for he decided that he really ought to spend some time with his family. On November 12th 1993 he resigned in favour of Martin Hardcastle (MJH22), once described by JML11 as "a pop-eyed wazzock on stilts with an old RS232 cable for a brain". Would he be up to the job? Time would tell...