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Archive for Saturday, May 27, 1995

ON-LINE SERVICE POPS UP IN UNLIKELY LOCALE

May 27, 1995

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— A Topeka man has put Lecompton on the cyberspace map.

Jeff Walker thought he was simply starting a computer bulletin board service.

But soon after he opened Great America BBS, sandwiched between an antique store and a hair salon at 338 Elmore, he found himself running a curiosity shop as well.

"The people here in Lecompton are surprised, more than anyone else, that this is here," said Walker, a former Kansas University student whose business went on-line Nov. 15, 1994.

Walker said residents thought Great America BBS was an odd addition to their unhurried community, known more for its history as Kansas' third and last territorial capital than its potential in cyberspace.

But Walker said Lecompton made good business sense because it was a midway point between the attractive markets of Lawrence and Topeka and because it offered inexpensive office space.

Great America BBS connects about 100 subscribers and offers services like chat lines, games, forums and electronic mail. The service maintains 14 phone lines, meaning 14 people can be on-line at one time, and normal usage is 180 hours a day.

Walker, who attended KU from 1991 to 1994, operates the one-man business with an air of informality. During an interview last week, Walker wore blue jeans and a T-shirt with a photo of the band "The Modern Lovers."

If Walker's business dreams come true, Lecompton would serve as a starting point for much bigger venture.

"I'd like to see 80 lines and include Kansas City," Walker said. "I think that could happen soon. Eventually, I want to have several nationwide systems all linked together."

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