On Fri, 14 Oct 2016, Noel Chiappa wrote:
do go back that far, so it doesn't look like we're missing much. The earliest
ones there are from 13 March 1997, so we may be missing a few, but not many;
the first posts are clearly 'hi, here's who am I' kind of things, apparently
in response to an earlier message, which does alas seem to be missing.

I'm searching the alt.folklore.computers group (on Google; my ISP no longer runs a NNTP server) and I can't find Bill's initial invitation message. I find a later one from June 1997, cross-posted to lots of comp.sys.* groups, advertising the (existing) group, and a couple from some comp.sys.* groups from March 13th in which he says the list "just started."

In the March 13th messages, he gives the reasons why he required the little introduction message-

"I require the letter of introduction for several reasons. 1 - Only people who really want to be on the list will bother. 2 - If you can't follow directions I won't hear from you. 3 - It helps me get an idea of who's on the list and what they hope to get out of it. 4 - I like to respond personally to new members rather than run a robot list."

The first discussions started from Bill's replies to these messages, and when the list opened the ice was thus already broken.

Richard Schauer

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