Free Geek Timeline

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This was the founding year of Free Geek. The organizational structure was pulled together, the name, logo, and mission statement developed. We began renting space and attracting volunteers.

  • Formed initial board of directors
  • Feb 15, website Registered
  • Mar 10, Dot-com bubble bursts setting off economic recession and heightening unemployment of high tech workers
  • Apr 13, Filed articles of incorporation in the state of Oregon [1]
  • Apr 22, Earth Day at Pioneer Square in downtown Portland. First tabling event for Free Geek.
  • Set up logo and T-shirts
  • Collected names at Earth Day event
  • Created bylaws
  • Applied for 501(c)(3) tax status with IRS
  • Acquired space (rental, 5,000 sq ft)
  • Sep 1, first day of business
  • Developed networking infrastructure
  • Nov 11, First Open House
  • Dec, Established mailing lists for ASS, Education, Events, Hardware, Volunteer, News, Funding, Linux
  • Dec, Developed first version of Freekbox
  • Formed staff collective (3 people)


In 2001 Free Geek was discovered by the media (necessitating a waiting list for volunteers). We started systematically distributing computers to adopters, established the Build program, and began providing internet access spots (GAP boxes) in the community. We were struggling financially, hoping for grants. By the end of the year we had established a volunteer run thrift store.

  • Feb 3, Website suggests donations for old computers [2]
  • Feb 17, Four computer adopters participate in the first "Getting Started With Your FreekBox" class and leave with Freekbox 1 systems.
  • Apr 14, Big Meeting, discussed structure of organization
  • Aug 11, Received E-cheivement Award from the National Public Radio program E-town
  • Sep 21, Waiting list for adoption shifts is over two months long
  • Oct 25, All Volunteer Meeting
  • Oct 29, Website advertised mandatory $5 fee for monitors [3]
  • Fall
    • First GAP box installed at Red and Black cafe [4]
    • Thrift Store first advertised on web site [5]
  • Nov 10, Open House
  • Dec 16, FreekBox application classes advertised on the website cover AbiWord, Gnucash, Gnumeric, Netscape, Netscape Mail [6]
  • Dec, Expected funding falls through. Things look grim.


This year saw the transition from (Mandrake based) Freekbox 1 to (Debian based) Freekbox II, the start of a quality control process, and the development of an imaging system

  • Jan 12, All Volunteer Meeting (to discuss funding fall through ramifications). Decision to not sell systems in the store.
  • Apr 7, Website advertised mandatory $10 fee for monitors [7]
  • May, Staff expands to 4 people
  • Jun, Community Council proposed
  • Jun or Jul, First major corporate donation (100 or so Vectra Pentiums) allow us to catch up on FreekBox production. Freekbox 2 introduced.
  • Jun 29, Geek Fair 2002
  • Jul 26, Approved Sales Coordinator position at the first Community Council meeting [8]
  • Aug, We begin selling systems in the store. Much discussion in the "Full Circle Back to Halt" thread. [9] The word "storebox" first used. [10]
  • Aug 12, Proposed doubling of space via a lease (though already paying a storage fee for using the new space)
  • Aug 13, Change hours of operation to 11 to 7 (was noon to 8)
  • Aug 26
    • Council meeting. It is reported that folks in South Bend are interested in starting a Free Geek.
    • We are running four build workshops per week
    • Adoption Program waiting list is reported to be 6-8 weeks long [11]
  • Sep 24, Last "Getting Started" class for Freekbox 1.
  • Sep 26, Possibility of doing consulting for City of Vancouver raised, but it may be related to prison labor (CREAM project) [12]
  • Oct 2, Establishment of "social" email list [13]
  • Oct 24, Staff members get paid $1,000 per month. Monthly expenses are around $9,000 per month. [14]
  • Oct, Do we call volunteers "members", "workers", "volunteers", or what? Should everyone wear a badge of some sort? Discussion ensues. [15]
  • Nov 21, Council Meeting: [16]
    • Freekbox II released "into the wild"
    • Problems associated with large grants going out of the country (Argentina/Ecuador) begin to get on our radar
  • CREAM project proposal [17]
  • Dec 19, Retreat planned [18]


Discussed this year: laptops, propagating other Free Geeks, etc.

  • Jan 15, Vagrant visits similar organization in Wisconsin [19]
  • Jan 16, Free Geek Michiana posts to the council list at the mothership [20]
  • Jan 16, First contact from ISP whiz to coho [21]
  • Sep 21, Adoption Program waiting list is about 4 weeks long [22]
  • Dec, Potato and fromage stunt pulled on Collab list.


  • Aug 6, Free Geek Principles proposed. [23]
  • Aug 18, Principles approved at Free Geek Community Council [24]
  • Dec 2, After nearly four years, the end of the Adoption Program waiting list is announced [25]



  • Jul 28-29, Intergalactic meeting. [26]


  • Mar 6, IRC meetup [27]