Z network

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The Z-Netz in January 1993. Connections show the nightly netcalls ( peering ) for routing the messages.

The Z-Netz is a self-administered mailbox network .


Initially, this net was named Cerberus net, or simply Cerberus , after the three-headed hellhound Kerberos in Greek mythology . The technical basis for this was initially the Zerberus mailbox program developed in the mid-1980s , which was maintained and sold by the Zerberus Gesellschaft für Kommunikation mbH from 1992 until its dissolution in 1999 . Later only the term Z-Netz was used to document that the use was not tied to a specific software.

The Z-Netz was the first German-speaking mailbox network that was organized democratically, placed non-computer topics such as environmental protection, politics and literature in the foreground and created a counter- public . Building on the Z-Netz structures, new networks emerged such as the T-Netz (partial network boards ), the union-oriented Solinet and the left-hand CL network (subgroup of at times over 200 mailboxes and their own CL boards).

The Z-Netz has been using the specially developed ZConnect protocol for exchanging e-mail and news since 1992 . Occasionally it still uses mailboxes, which are mainly operated as a gateway to the Internet. In principle, ZConnect was more than just a protocol, as developers of the relevant software decided on the standardization in a democratic process. This process led to widespread acceptance among developers who provided software for this niche market. The developers of CrossPoint and NCBMail should be mentioned here as representative of all of them .

Nowadays z-netz. * Is essentially a small German-speaking Usenet hierarchy. Active groups exist mainly in areas where there is no special group in de. *, E.g. B. z-netz.alt.liebesleben.geschichten, z-netz.old.rechnerkrieg, z-netz.freizeit.role-playing.dsa or z-netz.alt.esoterik.reiki.

technical structure

As of January 1993, the network consisted of around 380 connected mailboxes that were open to users for reading and writing via modem dial-in. Messages to users of other mailboxes were collected and forwarded using a separate routing process. For this purpose, there was regular peering between the mailboxes via so-called NetCalls . These usually took place at night, but sometimes several times a day.

Although many mailboxes provided several telephone lines for dialing in, text messages were often handled via so-called points . These were personal clients on the Amiga, Atari and MS – DOS PCs of the users, which established the dial-up connection only for the exchange of messages and enabled the user to read and write messages offline.


  • Rena Tangens , padeluun , Peter Mandrella and others a .: MailBox in a nutshell. With Cerberus and CrossPoint to the citizen networks . Bielefeld 1998, ISBN 3980218260 (out of print)
  • Rena Tangens and padeluun: Information is fast - truth takes time . In: Thomas Ernst, Patricia Gozalbez Cantó, Sebastian Richter, Nadja Sennewald, Julia Tieke (eds.): SUBversionen. On the relationship between politics and aesthetics in the present , Bielefeld 2008, ISBN 978-3-89942-677-9
  • Who Owns the Internet? 20 years of networking, Munich 2008 (free download, PDF)
  • The data thrower , No. 31: The Z-Netz

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Herbert Kubicek , Ulrich Schmid, Heiderose Wagner: Citizen information through "new" media? Analyzes and case studies for the establishment of electronic information systems in everyday life. West German Verlag, Opladen 1997, ISBN 978-3-531-12991-4 , pp. 113 f., 121
  2. SUBversions. On the relationship between politics and aesthetics in the present , p. 93 , accessed on August 30, 2012
  3. ^ Annette Bruhns: Digital village fountain. The alternative public meets in the citizen networks , Spiegel Special 3/1996
  4. Rena Tangens & padeluun: Some pieces of the mosaic for the collective network memory
  5. ZCONNECT - The data exchange procedure, Version 3.1. In: zerberus.com. March 1995. Retrieved February 13, 2018 .
  6. Documentation on ZConnect. In: elektron-bbs.de. October 15, 1995, accessed May 3, 2020 .
  7. ^ The Z network