gnus was written by Masanobu Umeda. When autumn crept up in '94, Lars Magne Ingebrigtsen grew bored and decided to rewrite Gnus.
If you want to investigate the person responsible for this outrage, you can point your (feh!) web browser to http://quimby.gnus.org/. This is also the primary distribution point for the new and spiffy versions of Gnus, and is known as The Site That Destroys Newsrcs And Drives People Mad.
During the first extended alpha period of development, the new Gnus was called “(ding) Gnus”. (ding) is, of course, short for ding is not Gnus, which is a total and utter lie, but who cares? (Besides, the “Gnus” in this abbreviation should probably be pronounced “news” as Umeda intended, which makes it a more appropriate name, don't you think?)
In any case, after spending all that energy on coming up with a new and spunky name, we decided that the name was too spunky, so we renamed it back again to “Gnus”. But in mixed case. “Gnus” vs. “gnus”. New vs. old.