I recently experienced the Badger Badger Badger! meme for the first time. Ten or more years late. But while I was unaware of it until last night, when I watched it for 15 minutes in a trance; in retrospect, it permeated the net I've inhabited for years. It's what all those Ubuntu people were referring to when the "breezy badger" release came out. It surely influenced memes I did see, including the recent nyan cat.
Interestingly, the first sentence of Dec Wars refers to another (more shortlived) Usenet meme:
Have you ever wondered what happened to all those characters eaten by arpavax?
The arpavax meme developed when a particular Usenet node, arpavax, began deleting the first several lines of messages that passed through it. In response, people began starting messages with some blank lines:
This continued for some time after arpavax was fixed.
In 1982, Usenet doesn't understand memes yet. While Dawkins coined the term in 1976, it's not been applied to the network. But, from a modern perspective, a few early memes can be seen in the posts here.
The first I noticed was Dec Wars, "the Adventures of Luke Vaxhacker, episode n" featuring 3CPU, Con Solo of the Milliamp Falcon, PDP-1 Kenobie, etc. It has so far been continued in episode n+1 episode n+3 episode n+4
I realized Dec Wars was not just a peice of amusing writing, but a meme when I came across a present-day reference it it. 30 years later and it's still in people's heads! Now, seeing a recent flurry of posts requesting it be reposted by people who only caught some of it (and what happened to episode 2?), I'm sure that it's a meme.
I've got my eye out for more early Usenet memes. A message I read today titled "Confessions of a UNIX Junkie" looks promising to be one. Good writing, tying into a long-running meme about computer addition that was only edging into popular conciousness in 1982, and with a final line that any Linuxer would appreciate: "Doomed, I'll never be happy until I've seen the kernel with my own eyes, license or no license!"