Hughes to shut down his computer business

       Dave Hughes, general partner in Old Colorado City Communications, informed his customers last week he will stop providing Internet service to them on Jan. 15.
       That will end 23 years of his computer communications business operating from the Templeton Building at 2502 West Colorado Avenue.
       Hughes, who will turn 80 in May, joked that he wants to “retire from getting calls from customers 24 hours a day after they connect a wrong cable between their computer and radio and call me to tell me my network is down.”
       The retired U.S. Army colonel, Korean War veteran and self-titled “cursor cowboy” will not be completely riding into the sunset, however. He continues to be a board member for both the Old Colorado City Historical Society (OCCHS) and the Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN), both of which he helped found in years past. For the former, he is working to develop an advanced website; for the latter, he is vice chair of a committee seeking to bring a historic overlay to the older Westside.
       Also, Hughes remains interested in the economic welfare of Old Colorado City, whose major redevelopment he helped bring about as an employee of its merchants' group (then the West Colorado Springs Commercial Club) in the late 1970s and early '80s. He even sought a position on the board of the current merchants' group (the Old Colorado City Associates) last year.
       He started Old Colorado City Communications in 1984, offering what was then the city's first pre-Internet dial-up personal computer communications service. Currently, the business also provides high-speed Internet (including wireless), but competition stiffened in recent years when corporate Internet providers extended high-speed capabilities to the Westside.
       “I started this as a business because it took US West [now Qwest] 13 years and Adelphia [now Comcast] 9 years to get an Internet connection just three miles from downtown to the 92 commercial buildings of Old Colorado City,” he elaborated. “Finally they are here, sort of.”
       The upside of that presence is that Hughes's shutting down will not leave any of his customers “in the lurch”; they can switch to Qwest or Comcast, he noted.
       He will remain connected with broadband from his house on 24th Street. One entity will continue to benefit from his wireless Internet capabilities - the Old Colorado City History Center. The museum is at 1 S. 24th St., within easy line of sight, he pointed out.
       Hughes was one of the city's earliest personal computer users, employing a Radio Shack Model 1 to store and process data pertinent to his Old Town redevelopment efforts, he recalled.
       Before starting Old Colorado City Communications, Hughes set up the city's first political computer bulletin board, which he dubbed “Rogers Bar” (after a then- popular Old Town tavern) in 1980.
       Other technological ground-breaking by Hughes included the first Westside Internet service in 1990 and the city's first commercial wireless internet service in 1995, “even before Wi-Fi [wireless fidelity - a marketing term] existed,” he pointed out.
       For the first four years of the business, when Hughes was partnering with Louis Jaffe, the name was Chariot Communications. After Jaffe left, Hughes changed the name to Old Colorado City Communications and became partners with his daughter Rebecca, who still owns 20 percent of the business, and Larry Fox (now deceased).
       The business has always been on the second floor of the Templeton Building, but recently, as Hughes scaled back operations, he relocated to a smaller office.
       Through the business, Hughes has traveled the world, focusing on spreading wireless communications to rural areas. After a project involving small schools in Montana, the National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded him seven grants totaling $2 million between 1995 and 2000, “which sent me into the rain forests of Puerto Rico, onto the steppes of Mongolia, the middle of lakes in Wisconsin, to the coldest regions of central Alaska and the hottest desert mesas of southern New Mexico,” Hughes said. “Much of that later NSF work was developing ways for biological and environmental university scientists to connect up to fields of their remote data sensors.”
       Hughes trekked to Nepal in 2003, working with Sherpa climbing guides on a pro bono basis to expand their wireless Internet capabilities in a project he named “Linking Everest.” In 2006, he was a principal speaker at a wireless conference/workshop in Dharamsala, India, attended by about 250 representatives from 38 countries and addressed by the Dalai Lama of Tibet.
       Hughes was awarded the Electronic Frontier Foundation Electronic Pioneer Award in 1993. In Old Colorado City, he is immortalized by the Dave Hughes “cyberpath” between 25th Street and the largest of the three public parking lots, which also states his e-mail address: dave@oldcolo.com.

Westside Pioneer/press release