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The invention of the World Wide Web spurred both commercial and non-commercial distribution of pornography.
The availability of widespread public access to the World Wide Web in late 1990s led to the growth of Internet pornography.Usenet newsgroups provided an early way of sharing images over the narrow bandwidth available in the early 1990s.Because of the network restrictions of the time, images had to be encoded as ascii text and then broken into sections before being posted to the Alt.binaries of the usenet.Around this time frame, pornography was also distributed via pornographic Bulletin Board Systems such as Rusty n Edie's.These BBSes could charge users for access, leading to the first commercial online pornography.As a rule, these sites sort thumbs by category and type of content available on a linked gallery.
Sites containing thumbs that lead to galleries with video content are called MGP (Movie Gallery Post).
A 1995 article written in The Georgetown Law Journal titled "Marketing Pornography on the Information Superhighway: A Survey of 917,410 Images, Description, Short Stories and Animations Downloaded 8.5 Million Times by Consumers in Over 2000 Cities in Forty Countries, Provinces and Territories" by Martin Rimm, a Carnegie Mellon University graduate student, claimed that (as of 1994) 83.5% of the images on Usenet newsgroups where images were stored were pornographic in nature.
Before publication, Philip Elmer-De Witt used the research in a Time Magazine article, "On a Screen Near You: Cyberporn." Godwin recounts the episode in "Fighting a Cyberporn Panic" in his book Cyber Rights: Defending Free Speech in the Digital Age.
These files could then be downloaded and then reassembled before being decoded back to an image.
Automated software such as Aub (Assemble Usenet Binaries) allowed the automatic download and assembly of the images from a newsgroup.
There was a rapid growth in the number of posts in the early 1990s but image quality was restricted by the size of files that could be posted.