History of alt.dbs as recalled by John Katen.

I have tried to put some of my memories into a coherent form. The attached file is that attempt. I hope it may help some. It is hard to believe this much time has passed! But, then again it isn't all *that* much time. :) Send your comments, when you get the chance. I will be interrested in some of your memories of the early days.

John Katen



This paper represents my attempts to remember the origins of alt.devilbunnies Memory is, at best, a reconstructive event. I make no claims of accuracy or thoroughness! I don't remember specific names or facts. I do not ask any one to believe me, but only present it as a curiosity.

The time between the first mention of what would become the devilbunny and the creation of the group was a short one. Perhaps, only a matter of months. Certainly not more than a year. The posts were to off topic to be tolerated for a long period by the resident usenet news group.


I started attending classes on a full time basses in the Spring semester of 1978. The first class I attended that would have allowed me access to usenet was in the Fall semester of 1979. I do not remember the time schedule of the events that led to alt.devilbunnies. The last class I took was in the Fall semester of 1987. The group was created between 1979 and 1990. I would guess around the mid to late 1980's. I don't know if the group was always called alt.devilbunnies. It may have been called something else early on.


The devilbunny got it's start in a usenet group devoted to student living. In this group, students all over the world discussed various aspects of being a student. Attending class from home, (my parents don't realize I require my time to study, I'm not just home), living on a shoestring, etc...

One of the popular methods of economizing was to obtain lodgings by the exchange of domestic services. One prime interest was the never ending chore of dusting. A string started on the best method of dusting off tables and objects. A great deal of discussion was devoted to the modern inventions of Johnson & Johnson. Various chemicals used, etc... Soon followed a discussion of the amazing places dust gathered.

One student observed that the area under the bed seemed to be a virtual dust magnet. The student complained that one could clean under the bed every morning and still find dust the next morning.

Another student observed that if you didn't clean under the bed, a dust culture would form. The culture had lumps in it that would be hard to clean up. It seems that the best method was to use vacuum cleaners. Soon, a general discussion of these lumps started. Observations of size and number followed. The length of time required for the lumps to grow was discussed along with the number of lumps encountered.

One student asked what these lumps are called. Several students replied that they are called dust bunnies. This is where the fun started! The name was cute and seemed to pique the humor of the students. Students started to offer humorous hypothesis as to the origins and composition of the dust bunny. A connection between the dust bunnies and the toe monster was hypothesized. It was observed that if you didn't clean under the bed regularly, enough dust bunnies would gather to form super colonies and you would get a toe monster.

This theory was tested by several male students, (males rarely clean, no less clean under the bed). They reported that supper colonies did seem to be forming. The dust bunnies they observed appeared to be growing in size and actually became aggressive. The aggressiveness was usually only evident when the smaller dust bunnies are disturbed and the aggressiveness was usually directed at the offending broom or vacuum cleaner. No humans are attacked.

The connection between the dust bunnies and toe monster was confirmed by some of the more intrepid students. These students sacrificed cleaning under the bed to see what would happen, (again, males). The group pleaded with them not to do it! Eventually, they reported strange things happening. Sounds from under the beds, movements under sheets, etc... Finally one student reported awakening without toes! Soon others reported missing a toe or two. It was reported no pain was present and blood was missing. Discussions started to run wild! It was observed that the toe monsters had a marked preference for the toes of the young children. It was hypothesized that the toes of older people are tougher, (and possibly not as tasty!), thus the preference for the toes of the young children. The lack of pain and blood was said to be a result of the saliva of the toe monsters.

At this time, another student wrote that she/he had decided to clean under the ice box. The student reported that an amazing colony of horribly grotesque dust growth had formed. No small dust bunnies had been observed, only the larger varieties. They had been observed to be denser in mass than the larger dust bunnies found under the beds. They are also more aggressive than the larger dust bunnies under the bed. They would go into a frenzy at the sound of the vacuum cleaner! Students had been warned not to venture into these dark recesses without the protection of a vacuum cleaner.

It was hypothesized that the small dust bunnies are the larval stage to this life form. The larger, colony dust bunnies are a mid stage and the denser dust bunnies found under the ice box was the breeder stage of the dust bunnies.

The War

The first weapons used by students had been the dust mop, dust rag, dusting chemicals and vacuum cleaners. The vacuum cleaners are of the common department store variety. The dust bunnies didn't attack humans, just the offending implements used. Attacks had been by the larger, colony bunnies. They would cling tenaciously to mops, rags and brooms. They would sacrifice themselves to clog up vacuum cleaners.

The breeder dust bunnies had been found to be the most aggressive. They could inundate the common vacuum cleaner in short order. Larger industrial type vacuum cleaners had to be employed to deal with them. Hoover, Kenmore and other brands had to be employed. The vacuum cleaners had to be opened more frequently to clean out the contents. The dust bunnies started to exhibit more intelligence. They started to concentrate on the engines of the vacuum cleaners. People had been warned to be careful when cleaning out the vacuum cleaner, lest the dust bunnies attacked them!

Short of the toe monster, (many an amusing speculation abounded about why the dust bunnies craved toes, especially of young children), no human had been attacked. This changed with time. A report of an incident came in from the midwest. A house wife had been found dead. Near by was an open Hoover. Autopsy revealed little, except that she died of asphyxiation. Speculation started to run wild.

Soon, reports started to be posted about other mysterious deaths of a similar nature. Finally, one student reported an incident of trying to clean out the vacuum cleaner. The dust bunnies literally exploded into the face of the student. They concentrated on the nose and mouth of the student. The student escaped to make the report. A general advisory was released to practice caution when cleaning vacuum cleaners. Cleaning under the ice box or any other appliance was discouraged. It was advised that an expert be called in to clean these appliances. Some one who had experience with these highly aggressive and disgusting balls of lint. (The breeder bunnies congregated under these appliances because they were undisturbed and usually had the resources required to breed successfully. At least that was the theory. They required dark, warm, moist places.) The first bunny fighters came from these origins!

Devil Bunny

How the name devilbunnies came about is very blurred in my memory. One memory indicates that people wanted to distinguish between the dust bunny and the larger creatures found under the appliances. The bunnies under the appliances had been devilish in figuring out what was really attacking them and the name devil bunny was suggested. How ever the name came about, it was recognized that if you wanted to protect the toes of your children, you had better deal with the breeders! Another memory says that the link between the horrid toe monster and dust bunnies was the origin of the name. A creature that preyed on children had to be the creation of the devil, hence devil bunny! It is most likely via a combination of these things that the name appeared.

Group Origins

More and more posts about the dust and devil bunnies started to appear. It caught on among the students like a wild fire. Soon the talk tended to center about the devil bunny. The antics of the students and bunnies were most amusing. It was pointed out by other students, (presumably not amused), that the threads about the bunnies had been taking up more space than discussions about student life.

The participants agreed and it was generally suggested that a usenet group be formed. A great deal of discussion was given as to what general grouping should be used. Because it was recognized that the group was going to be a humor group, it was suggested that it be a rec grouping. For general distribution purposes, it was suggest an alt grouping be used. Since most serious installations tended not to carry the rec groupings, it was argued that the alt grouping be used so that every one would still have access to the fun! I do not remember if the group had a formal charter. It was agreed by many of the posters that the group would be a humor group devoted to the exploits of the devil bunny and humans fighting the dusty menace. As I've stated, the time between the first dust bunny posts and the creation of alt.devilbunny was a short time. The exact timing of events are beyond my rather faulty memory.


By the time the group was formed, it already had a history. The hunters were experienced with the lethal use of industrial vacuum cleaners. The devil bunnies had some animal cunning and aggressiveness. They did not post and no characters had been formed. The group wasn't a role playing group. It consisted of humorous stories of dust and devil bunny encounters with student attempts to clean them. Allot of speculation was given to what the devil bunnies are composed of. Many had been gathered and dissected by various zoology students. Nothing could be found to account of the advanced behavior seen. No reason could be given to explain why they attacked the vacuum cleaner engines or why toes attracted them. There was speculation about body lint and its association with the lint composing the dust bunnies.

Eventually, early role playing did take place. The stories began to take on a more personal depiction of events. The stories had been about observation of behavior of the dust bunny, or experiments with the dust bunny. Not the depth of story seen today.

One of the posts was by a graduate physics student who proposed to bombard the devil bunny with sub atomic particles to attempt to see what was going on in the core of the devil bunny. I think this may have been the first posting that was in the role playing genre. Many of the students advised against this brass course of action. It was speculated that the results could be devastating. The student may have been attending the U. of Md. He went ahead with the experiment. The story he posted didn't bode well. It seemed that the subjects absorbed the energy and ran amok. They escaped and a new devil bunny was let loose into the world. What exactly happened to the student is not remembered, but other students reported the local facility closed down for several days. (The facility was closed down for routine maintenance, actually). It was after this that reports of unusual activities started to be reported about bunnies in the College Park area by U. of Md. students. Again, I would like to stress that my memories are faulty. Soon the bunnies were hopping up every where. This is probably where the take offs of the Bugs Bunny cartoons started.

Eventually, a student posted that he wanted to post as a devilbunny character. Sorry, I don't remember his name, origin of posting or date. This started a round of discussion about devilbunnies having the intelligence to post. How would they get access? How would they type? How did they learn english?

How these questions were resolved, I don't remember. People seemed to feel that if a player wanted to be a devilbunny, know one could stop him! I think the would be bunny said as much himself. He was warned that he would be a target for all the hunters and probably would not be joined by others. This turned out to be completely wrong. Many lurkers came forward to proclaim themselves as devilbunnies. The popularity of being a devilbunny almost led to a shortage of hunters. The hunters were out numbered.

The hunters started using more advanced weapons. One reported great success with flame throwers, due to the lint nature of the devilbunnies.

The early time of alt.devilbunnies had much flame to it. So it seemed to me! The *old guard* didn't like the intelligent devil bunnies or the role playing. This was eventually settled and things worked out. Then other types of creatures wanted to play. Magic and mysticism started to creep into the group. The tensions started to build between new posters and the old posters. It was into this fray that Obiwan came. It was at this time that the bunnies took on fur and the likeness of the actual rabbit. How this was accomplished I don't remember. Magic and mutation, perhaps. The first of the wars started.

The battles took place between individuals, not armies or groups. A devil bunny player would mob the hunter with bunnies. The bunny hunters had been outnumbered and decimated. They came up with weapons of mass bunny destruction to compensate. New hunters arose that could kill the devil bunny easily. I believe one of them was a *killer dinosaur*. Many complaints arose about this. Obiwan appeared in the midst of this and received flames almost immediately. Phrases like "take your star wars **** and get the **** out" was common. No one realized that Obiwan was female. The insults had been crude, like those exchanged by low brow men. Obiwan was a voice of reason in the chaos. When she pointed out her gender, (after a nasty attack on *his* maleness), the flames died down to a more reasonable level. Many lurkers came forward to voice their disapproval of the many flames.

Obiwan pointed out that the new members were bringing a new order of challenge and imagination to the group. The game should cater to more than intellectual pursuit. The *old guard* didn't like the new order of things. It was suggested that a FAQ be made for new gammers. Some suggested rules of play. This was discussed and rejected. Most gamers felt that formal rules would limit the game too much. Obiwan went on to form the FAQ.

It was at this time that I unsubscribed to the group. The flames made the group unbearable! The humor was lost and the group was not fun. I couldn't post or encourage Obiwan, so I lost interest. I didn't see the group again till I posted my first posting to this group. It seems to be the child of those early days.

The current devilbunny

As I see it, the devilbunny of today is a result of convergent evolution and divergent technology. It is a highly intelligent creature, capable of inflicting great damage. How it came to be this is beyond me. I lost interest and opportunity to follow the development of the group. The Fudd and use of the axe is an equal mystery to me. I don't remember the hunters taking on the title of Fudd, so this must have come after I lost contact. My memories may also just be failing me!

Future bunnies

With the development of the information highway and virtual reality, the game will surly get better. Fudds and bunnies may meet in a virtual world patterned after the midwest. Banter may be fired off as "bullets" of information to subscribers. The possibilities are limited only by the imagination.

The DevilBunnies Web Page /