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Free Computer Network Goes Offline

August 5, 1999

CLEVELAND (AP) _ Cleveland Free-Net, the nation’s first free community computer network, is already a victim of the Year 2000 bug.

The system, which started as an electronic bulletin board in 1984 at Case Western Reserve University, is scheduled to go out of business on Oct. 1. Its operators said the system would self-destruct at year’s end because the computer program written for it can’t recognize the year 2000.

Operators have decided to get out early.

``It’s just sad to see it go,″ said David Bunsey, who has accessed Free-Net almost since its inception. ``It’s an institution.″

Raymond Neff, vice president for information services at the university, said rewriting Free-Net’s computer program would take too much time and personnel. And it still wouldn’t have the ``glamour of the Web,″ he said.

As its name suggests, Free-Net is free service and is a tool for computer users to communicate. But does not offer flashy graphics or services offered by commercial Web sites.

At one time, Free-Net had 10,000 users a day. Now there are about 7,000.

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