Understanding Infantilism (.org)

ABDLs Online Before the World Wide Web

The ABDL community has gone through three major stages. The first was the birth of the mail-based community, from possibly the 70's. The second stage started in 1980, characterized by consolidation and development of DPF. The third stage, the period between the dawn of digital telecommunication in the late 80's to the dominance of the browser in the late 90's marked the decline of DPF and the development of the modern, online ABDL community.

From the perspective of history, it might appear that the online ABDL community appeared overnight. In fact, it was more of a gradual evolution. Even the rise of browsers such as Mosaic, Netscape, and Internet Explorer took years, starting with the demonstration of the World Wide Web in 1992. In spite of Al Gore's claims, the Internet is more attributable to President Eisenhower, although few if any foresaw what it would become. In hindsight, this transition included some aspects that might be hard to imagine today.


Before laptops, cellphones, and other mobile computing, computers were typically anchored to a dedicated computer desk. At school, the computer might be in a lab with many other computers. (In some labs, multiple "dumb terminals" were all connected to one computer.) At home, the family computer might be in the family room or living room. The characteristic shrill of modem was anything but discrete, and it might occupy the family's only phone line. The call also might also show up on the monthly bill: Phone services used to charge by the minute. Unlimited calling plans and DSL modems that didn't conflict with phone calls wouldn't come along until later. ABDLs going online back then would have to face a number of hurdles to privacy.

Balancing the lack of physical privacy, there was a sense that going online back then wouldn't leave a lasting trail. Given how expensive hard drive space was back then, this wasn't unreasonable. However, some of that history was kept. For example, many of the posts to Alt.Sex.Fetish.Diapers newsgroup are still available in an archive from Google.

Before "Inter..."

As foreign as it seems today, the expectation that all information would be connected to a single network is new. Especially in the early days of home computing, there were a number of sometimes-isolated, proprietary networks each trying to build their own collection of resources. A Bulletin Board Service (BBS) permitted home computers to dial up local servers modem-to-modem, and access information on that one server. Users who subscribed to more than one BBS could upload files from one onto another. The slowly-propagating files were mostly-mainstream. As online populations grew, the resources became more specialized. For example, Compuserve customers had access to an early human sexuality forum, known as HSX.

Before browsers

Of course, most of what would be on your screen back then would be text. While some DOS and Windows 3.1 systems might have had some window dressing, the actual networks mainly just handled text. UNIX and LINUX users would connect in to the community by running a command. Some accidentally: My introduction to the online ABDL community came when instead of typing "rm" (short for 'ReMove'), I typed in "rn" (short for 'Read News'). This fired up the usenet client.

Back then, there were a number of different protocols, each with dedicated applications that would be used to access them. Usenet was a message forwarding service that was started in 1979[1]. The introduction of NNTP (Network News Transfer Protocol) in 1986 permitted usenet traffic over the Internet, as opposed to telephone lines. Usenet had a fairly rigid tree structure, but in 1987 an "alt" category was added to the hierarchy, and a wide range of news groups soon followed. According to Mike R., Alt.Sex.Fetish.Diapers started in September of 1993, eventually to be joined by a few other ABDL-related newsgroups. It would eventually over-run with spam: Users resorted to marking relevant messages with a tilda (~) in the subject line.

A more enduring protocol was Internet Relay Chat (IRC), strarted in 1988[2]: Some IRC chat rooms such as diaperchat are still active today. Chat rooms were generally much less static than usenet newsgroups, with the relevant ones initially named "#diapers" or #dpf. (Those #dpf chat rooms weren't run by the Diaper Pail Fraternity. The name was probably selected simply as something that would have meaning only to ABDLs.) One symptom of the limited interconnectedness back then were IRC's "net splits". Servers would get disconnected, splitting chat rooms in mid-conversation.

Telnet is also notable. Among other things, it permitted access to MUDs and MUCKs. These were roleplaying games with user-built environments, some were combat-focused (Multi-User Dungeons or MUDs), and some chat-focused focused (MUCKs). Since these were text-only, the descriptions of characters, items, etc., might be bound only by the author's imagination and the reader's willingness to read the sometimes-large blocks of text on sometimes-small screens. FurryMuck in particular had an active babyfur community, with members such as Proxima building nurseries starting in 1995[3].

Before "browsers" became dominant, web pages with images that opened automatically weren't the norm. Back then, transmitting images, sound files, etc. - anything but text - might involve converting the binary file into text, and then posting it to a newsgroup. If it was large, it would need to be chopped into multiple parts. (Since Internet connections were slow, there would typically be separate newsgroups for binaries, such as alt.binaries.pictures.erotica.fetish.diapers .) The recipient would then download the parts, patch the parts together, convert the text back into binary data, and hopefully get a working binary file. The practice of opening one application to access any information simply, regardless of media, was novel back then.


Many of the abstractions that permit the large, modern ABDL forums were absent back then. Most were effectively single-channel. The room/channel paradigm was in place, but because there were so few people on any given network, all the ABDL discussion might be in a single room or channel. As new users wouldn't be able to search past discussions, some forums maintained lists of frequently asked questions and their answers (FAQs). For example, Boogles maintained the Alt.Sex.Fetish.Diapers FAQ as well as its list of resources, which were periodically reposted to the newsgroup.

The old spark

Modern, mobile computing is better in almost every way. However, for those ABDLs who first became connected to the community through the old mish-mash of electronic means, there might be a nostalgia for all of these hassles. Those tiny screens filled with green or amber text were their first window into a larger world.

- Updated:6 March 2016  1st:3 March 2016     

Do you have Questions, tips, suggestions, or other feedback?

[icon] Books and Other References:
  1. Giganews Usenet History Retrieved 3 March 2016, from http://www.giganews.com/usenet-history/
  2. History of IRC (Internet Relay Chat) Retrieved 3 March 2016, from https://daniel.haxx.se/irchistory.html
  3. Babyfur Retrieved 3 March 2016, from http://en.wikifur.com/wiki/Babyfur