This post is part of a new series about the history of kink online.
In the 1980’s most people—even in affluent communities—didn’t use “the Internet”. By and large, it was a nerd thing, and an academic thing, and a government thing. When kinksters and organizers in early 80s San Francisco pioneered some of the first quasi-above ground kinky social spaces, the Internet was definitely not part of their toolkit.
But in the late 80s, and especially early 90s, for folks who were privileged and nerdy and winners of a certain geographic-lottery, there was an online community of newgroups (which are a lot like message boards) called Usenet. And Usenet is one of the very first places kinksters ever had to gather online.
Their first newsgroup was called alt.sex.bondgae (a.s.b). To understand this, before a.s.b, for many people, it was literally impossible to learn about BDSM or meet other kinksters, with any degree of anonymity. If you were shy, or concerned about outing, or in a city with no organized munches or play scenes, there was no community. A.s.b. changed that.
The link above, is not to the original Usenet group—that’s not how Usenet worked. But our friends at Google have archived almost all of it. Though it is now totally overrun with spam, here is the very first post recorded by Google. From 1989 to ~1996 you can find a lot of amazing content. The first tech-savvy kinksters had a lot to say about privacy, free-speech, consent, relationships, the media and a whole lot more.