Jim Ellis; Co-Creator of Usenet, a Precursor of World Wide Web

Jim Ellis, 45, who helped create the information-sharing electronic bulletin boards that predated the World Wide Web, died Thursday of non-Hodgkins lymphoma at his home in Beaver County, Pa.

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 a fellow Duke University graduate student, Tom Truscott, thought of linking computers to share information.

Usenet quickly become a popular means of trading and sharing information internationally before the World Wide Web came into existence.

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.

Ellis and the other creators of Usenet made no money from it, said Ellis' widow, Carolyn, because it was not set up as a commercial venture.

"They launched this thing and had no idea where it was going," she said.

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