AKA David Ralph Hughes
Born: c. 1928
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Journalist, Activist
Party Affiliation: Democratic
Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Electronic bulletin boards
Military service: US Army (1950-73, to Colonel)
Dave Hughes was a leading expert in the earliest years of inexpensive telecommunications networks. He signed on-line in 1979, using a Radio Shack Model 1 and an Acoustic 300 baud modem to connect to The Source, the first nationwide bulletin board. Finding it far too oriented for experts instead of ordinary people, he used hacker software to establish the first dial-up electronic bulletin-board system in 1980, called Roger's Bar after his favorite tavern. He subsequently provided advice for the founding of numerous other BBSs, and support for the North Atlantic Presentation Level Protocol Syntax (NAPLPS), an early telecommunications graphics standard.
In 1987 he established Montana's Big Sky Telegraph regional conferencing system, and in 1990 he organized the connections for what may have been the first on-line course, a semester long math class for high school students in Colorado, Montana, and Wyoming taught by MIT's George Johnston. In the mid- and late-1990s Hughes was a key supporter of spread-spectrum communications, and he was instrumental in publicizing the then little-known fact that the technology's inventor, Hedy Kiesler Markey, was actually actress Hedy Lamarr. In the 2000s he has overseen a NSF-backed program to extend digital wireless access to biological scientists in the rain forests of Puerto Rico and other areas where on-line access for scientists has been problematic.
A decorated veteran of the Korean and Vietnam Wars, Hughes is rarely seen in public without his Stetson hat, string tie, and cowboy boots. He remains an outspoken advocate for open on-line participation, arguing that newspapers are failing because they have not adapted their websites to allow easy, meaningful, and moderated reader participation and professionally-vetted citizen journalism.
Wife: Patricia ("Patsy")
University: US Military Academy, West Point (1950)
Teacher: English, US Military Academy, West Point (1955-58)
Army Distinguished Service Medal
Combat Infantryman Badge
Joint Service Commendation Medal
Legion of Merit
Silver Star (three times)
EFF Pioneer Award 1993
National Science Foundation
Valley Forge Award 1951
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