Older ABDLs will remember clearly a major transition in their lives; the day they learned that there were other ABDLs, after growing up thinking that they were the only ones. Back then, the ABDL community was much less visible than it is now. This visibility developed mainly in two concentrated spurts. In the 70's, a presence in letters and magazines developed, followed in the 90's by an electronic expansion via TV and the Internet.
While references to ABDL-like interests in print might date back to 1910 (Allen, 1969), ABDLs had little visibility until the 70's. While there could have been previous efforts, a letter-based ABDL community began with Kent Perry, who started placing personal ads in various papers. Building on these growing mail-based networks, in the late 70's a few adult magazines dabbled with diapers and a few ABDL periodicals started up. Interestingly, these appear to have been initiated mainly by three women, who weren't AB/DLs themselves; Linda Latex, Florence of Amber Enterprises, and Cathy Slavik. In 1980, Tommy founded DPF which consolidated some of these efforts into a much more visible organization, headed by something the community hadn't had before - a full time ABDL advocate and businessman.This presence was acknowledged by academia. This included surveys conducted by Dr. Speaker for his masters thesis (1980) and doctoral dissertation (1986). The latter could be ordered through DPF. "Infantilism" was added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in 1987, as a type of masochism. While this provided ABDLs who were too young to frequent adult bookstores with a chance to learn that they were not alone, the one-sentence definition wasn't that informative. (Infantilism was removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in 2013.)
Starting in the early 90's, TV shows on adult babies started appearing. The notable daytime talk shows included Donahue with Dr. Moser, and Jerry Springer, with Tommy. (Adult babies would be a recurring theme on Jerry Springer, although with a sharp decline in quality and validity from the first with Tommy, to the fourth with Oprah and a midget.) It would take a decade for the topic to make it on to prime-time dramas such as CSI and ER (which coined "adult baby syndrome").During this time, another electronic network was becoming established - the Internet. Before the World Wide Web, the online experience was much different that it is today, particularly for ABDLs. Back then ABDLs might stumble across Alt.Sex.Fetish.Diapers, and then get connected to email-based BBIF, founded by Boogles in 1992. Alternatively, they might come across other babyfurs while wandering around FurryMUCK. While not the first ABDL web page, Understanding Infantilism was founded in 1995 by BitterGrey.
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