|About CCIL: History
Vision Statement |
Non-Profit Status |
Policies for Usage |
Financial Information |
Volunteers & Contributors
Our Humble Beginnings
1993 - Jordan Seidel, a young man in his early 20's, read about this "Internet" thing and decided that there should be an organization created in Chester County to ensure that Chester County Citizens are given equal access to this new (Internet) resource. He read how those without this technology would be at a disadvantage in the years ahead.
He searched and found Eric Raymond, a local "hacker", to write the computer program and do the technical work. He also assembled a board of directors of local people to help him to form a non-profit corporation.
Perry Pepper, the President of Chester County Hospital stepped forward and allowed him to use a dormitory room in the nurses quarters to house the equipment and gave a grant of $5000.
West Chester University provided our first internet feed (19k bps) and a grant of $2600.
1st National Bank of Chester County provided a grant of $6000 to purchase the equipment and modems. Later on, a friend of Eric Raymond's
(Avi Freedman) provided the a faster internet feed 56K, which was shared by all users!
1994 March - The system was launched. No graphics just text. It was a glorified BBS centered around a city metaphor. We didn't have users we had citizens. Your information was not in the "system" directory it was on "technology place" and the place you changed your e-mail address was of course...the "Post Office". The early days were plagued with tremendous technical challenges and the system could be down for weeks at a time while we dealt with system crashes.
Expanding our reach
1995 October - we received our first grant from the Philadelphia Foundation to launch the "FreeLink" project. Jordan wanted to make sure that EVERYONE in the community could have access to the internet.
The plan was to place computers in all the locations that people gather so that it would be convenient. We would provide the equipment, the phone lines and even the people to teach how to use it. This was a very ambitious goal with just volunteers and a small amount of money to purchase equipment and pay for all the phone lines. The initial Free Link sites included the YWCA, La Communidad Hispanica, WC Community Center, West Chester Senior Center, Avon Grove & WC Library, and the Coatesville Community Center.
Our hopes were to expand to many locations, however the concept did not take off as we had hoped. Accessing the Internet from public places was not something that generated great demand.
A change of place
1997 - We were met what seemed at the time our greatest challenge. The hospital needed us to move from the nurse's dormitory so they could remodel the building.
Dr. Adler, the President of West Chester University stepped in and, not only provided us a room for our equipment, but gave us access to their fiber optic internet feed....10 feet from where it entered the campus. Needless to say our technical people were doing hand springs over this much connectivity this close to us. With this expanded connectivity we were able to launch graphics access shortly thereafter.
Volunteers step in
Technical volunteers redesigned our web site, added many new interactive pages and added user access to mailing lists.
Also added was a new user interface for administering the system with non-technical volunteers.
It was about this time period that CCIL hired a part-time executive director.
2001 - We found that the technical demands of running a 24/7 internet system was beyond the scope of our volunteer staff so CCIL outsourced the core system monitoring to Linuxforce, a leader in the new Linux software movement that was gaining popularity. CCIL system was reconstructed on a Linux platform.
With the system now stabilized after a change in system administration, the focus of the organization turned to serving the core groups that the organization intended to support - the underserved and technologically marginalized.
2009 - Thanks to the efforts of Tanya Baxter, CCIL received a generous grant from the West Chester Area Education Association that enabled us to continue servicing our 1500 members via CCIL's own dial-up as well as third party broadband connections and to provide new laptop computers to deserving college bound graduating seniors. CCIL upgraded its servers and made both current and historical CCIL documents accessible online. CCIL expanded its outreach by translating some of its support material into Spanish.
CCIL is very much more than just another Internet Service Provider, however. There are several organizations that have used our system for the good of the community.
The Chester County Homeless Shelters list vacancies so that others shelters can see were there might be an open bed that night.
The Chester County Cerebral Palsy Society has a support group that communicates by e-mail since many can not leave home.
We host the West Chester Senior Center's Bookstore Buddies mailing list.
We host the web site for a local fire company, several churches, a soccer team, softball teams, we even hosted the West Chester Bicentennial web page last year. We hosted a web page for the West Chester PTOC to post information about the school board candidates.
For more information about our community involvement see the Friends of CCIL web page.
Chester County InterLink is one of the few remaining Free-Nets left in the nation. Very few places can boast that they have a volunteer organization providing access to the Internet for free and with out commercialization. Chester County is truly connected community.