She flaps her arms and rewards him with a drooling grin. Otherwise," he jokes, "they'd be food." And then: "As adult humans we learn to mask our emotions, including joy.

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He left home at 18 for Cleveland, earning bachelor's and master's degrees in computer science at Case Western Reserve University. "I remember realizing that it wasn't everyone else who had a communication problem.

It had to be me." Among his conclusions: "I miss what other people would find obvious. Right and go crazy about her and settle down." Newmark worked at IBM for 17 years, first in Boca Raton, Fla., then Detroit. Newmark didn't start preaching the merits of the Web until moving to San Francisco to work in computer security for Charles Schwab in 1993.

He'd eventually like to charge for job listings in Los Angeles and New York.

Not surprisingly in Los Angeles, TV/film/video/radio jobs is the most popular category, particularly for producers of reality shows.

Nielsen//Net Ratings says the traffic at Craigslist ranks in the top 20 U. general interest portals, with the likes of MSN, Yahoo and AOL.

San Francisco is home base, but Craigslist maintains websites for 45 major cities, including Los Angeles, London and Montreal, and has plans to expand throughout Europe and Australia and into the Philippines and Bangalore, India.

His discomfort is with first encounters—and as every shy person with a computer knows, those encounters come easier over the Internet, especially to Craigslist visitors. His father, a salesman of food, insurance and promotional items, died of lung cancer about six months after Newmark's bar mitzvah.

His mother worked as a bookkeeper and reared him and a younger brother. It came when he was a sophomore, in a language communications course.

"Feel free to look in the medicine cabinet," he tells a new visitor to his home.