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Usenet creator Jim Ellis dies
From: InfoSec News <isn () c4i org>
Date: Tue, 3 Jul 2001 03:01:56 -0500 (CDT)



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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