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James Ellis; Computer Security Expert Helped Popularize Internet

July 02, 2001

James T. Ellis, 45, the computer scientist who helped popularize the Internet by creating its forerunner Usenet, died June 28 of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma at his home in Harmony, Pa.

In 1979, Ellis and three other young computer scientists started Usenet, a widely distributed messaging system that links thousands of discussion groups involving millions of computer users. Usenet remains in use, although most modern computer users are more familiar with e-mail and other communication systems that have supplanted it.

Born in Nashville, Tenn., and reared in Orlando, Fla., Ellis earned bachelor's and master's degrees in computer science from Duke University. He went on to work for the Microelectronics Center of North Carolina, the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center, and the Computer Emergency Response Team at Carnegie Mellon University.

Considered an expert on computer security, he was working on security issues for Sun Microsystems at the time of his death.

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