[ISN] Usenet creator Jim Ellis dies

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Tue Jul 03 2001 - 01:01:56 PDT

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    HARMONY, Pa. (AP)  Jim Ellis, who helped create the
    information-sharing electronic bulletin boards that predated the World
    Wide Web, has died. He was 45.
    Ellis, who had been battling non-Hodgkins lymphoma for two years, died
    at home in Beaver County early Thursday, said his wife, Carolyn.
    Most recently an Internet security consultant with Sun Microsystems,
    Ellis was one of the creators of Usenet, which linked computers and
    allowed people to share information and reply to messages.
    Usenet began in 1979 when Ellis and another Duke graduate student, Tom
    Truscott, thought of hooking together computers to share information.
    At the beginning of 1980, the network consisted of two sites at Duke
    and one at the University of North Carolina.
    Usenet quickly became a popular means of trading and sharing
    information internationally before the World Wide Web came into
    By using bulletin boards later called newsgroups people who were
    linked to the system could share information and hold discussions. By
    late 1999, the number of newsgroups was estimated at more than 37,000.
    Allan Fisher, chief executive officer of Carnegie Technology
    Education, a subsidiary of Carnegie Mellon University which develops
    Web-based courses, said Usenet could be considered "the first big
    community application" of an interconnected system of computers.
    "The social importance was it allowed this community building and
    prefigured a lot of what happened on the Web," Fisher said.
    Ellis and the other creators of Usenet, including Steve Bellovin and
    Steve Daniel, made no money from it, said Carolyn Ellis, because it
    was not set up as a commercial venture.
    "They launched this thing and had no idea where it was going," she
    After working in North Carolina, Ellis and his wife moved to western
    Pennsylvania in 1986 when he took a position with the Super Computing
    Center in Pittsburgh. Later, he joined Sun Microsystems, working from
    his home in western Pennsylvania.
    "He had a good wit. He loved bridge. He loved his family of course,"
    Carolyn Ellis said. "He was not afraid of his impending death."
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