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Boston Computer Society shuts down

Declaring that it has accomplished its mission to demystify personal computing, the Boston Computer Society's board of directors vote to dissolve the organization.

Declaring that it has accomplished its mission to demystify personal computing, the Boston Computer Society's board of directors has voted to dissolve the organization, ending an almost 20-year era as one of the world's most influential PC users group.

Gretchen Hardey, BCS's marketing director said today the organization had faltered as members turned in recent years to commercial training and information services that the society had specialized in since its start in 1977.

"What we did as an organization is now being offered commercially," Hardey said. She said the society "is no longer economically viable as a volunteer-driven nonprofit."

Financial losses and problems with management also contributed to the decision by the society's board. The organization lost $125,000 for the fiscal year which ended June 30. Society officers attributed the balance sheet woes to falling membership since the early 1990s, when some 31,000 PC users from across the United States and 40 foreign countries populated the group, according to a Boston Globe report.

After reaching an all-time membership high a few years ago, the BCS went the way of thousands of other defunct PC users groups in the United States that were unable to adequately adapt to a changing environment and the explosion in print and online information available to PC users.

As of yesterday, the society closed its Cambridge and Waltham offices and cancelled classes. However, email and other BCS online services will continue to function until next month. Board members said they will be in direct contact with members within a few weeks with arrangements for other user groups and companies to offer alternative services to 18,000 BSA members, Hardey said.

"We really had influence far beyond the (Boston) region with PC makers and user groups," remembers Hardey of the society's pioneering efforts. While commercial services today abound, Hardey said she expects the society to be missed in its role as a nonprofit user group.

The society, founded in 1977 by a 13-year-old computer buff, had been courted by top computer companies and executives in its heyday. They included Apple Computer, which held its East Coast debut of the Macintosh to a packed BSA audience in 1984, the Boston Globe reported today.