About BLU // About BCS

(From the October, 1996 BCS Journal)


Dear BCS Member,

As many of you know by now, the Board of Directors voted unanimously on September 10, 1996 to dissolve the BCS. All operations ceased the next day, and the Society will have moved out of its offices in Waltham and Cambridge by the time you read this letter. An open letter from the Board of Directors to the membership appears elsewhere in this magazine.

As a member of the BCS since 1978, it is with some sadness that I write to you as the last Executive Director of the oldest and largest computer users group in the country. This has been a difficult time, but among the hundreds of members with whom I have spoken since the Board vote, a common sadness seems to be giving way to pride, and to a realization that the BCS was a vital force in the lives of its members and in the development of the computer industry. The title of this magazine "BCS Journal - End of an Era" was chosen because it best reflects the sentiments expressed by the great majority of members and friends and industry leaders who have written and called in the last month. And this final publication is dedicated to the more than 100,000 members who have supported the BCS over the past two decades.

It is clear that the world around us has changed significantly since the BCS was founded in 1977, when it was the only place to find out about personal computers. There are now billions of dollars a year of private sector services that compete directly with the services the BCS offered. And the incredible rate of change in the industry, as well as the integration of computers into our daily lives, have made the BCS no longer unique. These factors have taken their toll on membership in recent years. The BCS has not kept pace with the times, and the financial model on which it is based appears to be no longer viable. But it has accomplished much and it has left a rich and exciting legacy.

It is always sad when a place that you have called home disappears, but the real strength of the BCS has always been the volunteers who ran the individual groups and programs. The number of subgroups that have already announced plans to continue meeting is evidence that the energy and vitality that made the BCS so special is still there. The movement that the BCS represented will clearly continue in new forms. Contacts for these groups are listed in a section of this magazine.

We have also negotiated with several user groups, software companies, and local vendors to offer services in place of the services the BCS would have provided you under your remaining membership. You will find in the pages of this publication a list of the member benefits that we have arranged for other groups to provide to you at no cost or reduced cost. For Mac users, BMUG has offered to provide free membership, with full benefits, for the remaining term of your BCS membership. For PC users, Microsoft has generously offered to upgrade everyone to Windows 95 for the cost of shipping and handling only. In addition, many of the partners who have previously provided BCS members with discounts are continuing to offer these discounts, and are joined by several new vendors offering current BCS members additional discounts on such services as Internet access and training. I want to express warm thanks, on behalf of the membership, to all the groups that have stepped forward to help.

We are expecting to find another institution to maintain the BCS web page, so that people visiting www.bcs.org will learn what happened to the BCS and will find links to the many other on-line resources for former BCS members, including listings and web pages for BCS groups that are continuing to meet. ZipLink has graciously agreed to host a web site for these groups.

I also want you to know that we are following all the formal legal procedures required for non-profits to dissolve in Massachusetts, and that if any assets remain after we pay our bills, they will be appropriately distributed to other non-profits in accord with these procedures.

By the time you read this, the furniture and equipment will be sold, the last publication printed, the web server moved elsewhere, and the lights will be out at the BCS offices. But the memories and the lives touched and the good works done will live on. I hope each of you got something valuable from the Boston Computer Society. It - and you - made a difference.

Franklin E. Smith
Interim Executive Director