EARLY HISTORY OF THE APPLE USERS’ GROUP (SYDNEY) 1978–1989Compiled by John Rotenstein Apple IIe image from Wikimedia Commons, courtesy Museo All About Apple (photo by Marco Mioli). Reproduced with permission under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License. For a total source about Apple II computing, visit A2Central.com
1978: The Beginning. Only a select few have been witness to the entire history of the group. Therefore one such person can best tell the early history. Let’s start with an extract from ‘Applications’. February, 1980:
The Apple Users’ Group, Sydney, Australia was established on November 20, 1978 from a meeting at Computerland. The AUG was established by a small group of Apple enthusiasts, supported by Computerland and its employees. The first Committee was Roger Keating, Peter Webster, Neil Bennett and Bill Hood. The group met once a month, established a program library and published four issues of the APPLI-CATIONS newsletter.
During this time, the group held its meetings in Computerland, which was then located at 55 Clarence Street, Sydney.
The group magazine — then named APPLI-CATIONS — was not entirely regular, and actually stopped publication after only four issues, because those involved did not have enough time to devote to the task.
1980: A New Decade of Computing. Computers were now almost within the reach of all. The main change for the group in 1980, was that of venue. Previously all meetings had been held at Computerland. So as to preserve the group’s independence, a new meeting place was sought. This was Science House in Clarence Street also.
At the meeting in May 1981 there was much unrest in the group over the topic of Copyright laws. It meant that the group would he held liable if it knowingly allowed copying of copyrighted material at a meeting. The President — Roger Keating — felt that officials of the group could be prosecuted and therefore the group should include in its policy that such actions are not condoned.
Bill Hood warned that, as there was no constitution for the group, such a motion was meaningless. Due to the uncertain feelings of the group, the President resigned, as did the Vice-President and the Treasurer. The latter two did, however stay until the next elections, and Bruce Kehlett took over as Acting President. Following this, a Committee was formed to draft a constitution for the group, to be ready for the July meeting. The Science House meeting place had now become too small for the growing group, and another location was again sought.
The August meeting was the first meeting to be held at the venue of Sydney Grammar School. This venue was used and enjoyed until the end of 1986. Market days were now held at the end of the year, to bring more members together. And the AUG (Sydney) was represented at many computer shows. Our Magazine, now called “Applecations”, was published ten times per year, and growing in content under a new editor.
1983: And Still Going Strong. After five years the group was moving onwards. Membership was now around 500 — one of the biggest Apple User Groups in the world at that time, and in a good financial position. The constitution was well under way, although many arguments of law were still dotting the meetings. Formality was part of every meeting.
1984: New Apples Bring New Members. The Apple//c and //e computers with their vast software following have breathed new life into Apple users. The further addition of the Macintosh also brought us many new members who did not want to pull their computers apart to insert weird and wonderful accessories. Now even these members are opening their computers to expand them. So it goes on. Always the club is stretching to meet the new challenges.
1986: Incorporation. At last the AUG (Sydney) has become incorporated under the new Associations Act of N.S.W. This gives security as well as responsibility for the Executive Officers of the group. We are now called Apple Users’ Group (Sydney) Inc. Our meeting place is to be changed due to a change in direction of computers at the school. Again a new venue is sought. Our membership now fluctuates just under 1500.
1987: A fresh start. A new venue at Sydney University also brings an influx of members from the Sydney Macintosh Users Group (SMUG). This also brings many new committee members to help.
The Apple//GS and Macintosh II provide more variety for the group to cope with. Our meetings are now split to cover the many interests of members. The magazine is now laser printed, adding glamour to it. And more equipment is needed for our overloaded Bulletin Board Service (BBS)*; our Software Library is also growing — to unbelievable proportions with so many programs added monthly.
The AUG ran two bulletin boards — one each for the Mac and the Apple//. Each board had 24-hour access. You had to be a member to use the service.
When you logged on for the first time, you were asked for a password. Using the word ‘VISITOR’ gave you limited access to the board. The Sysop (System Operator) then ascertained your membership status and shortly thereafter, you were granted full access privileges.
As can be seen from this short account of the AUG (Sydney)’s history, it has a lot going for it, and is bound to last for many more years.
What’s in it for you? Your active participation is essential. The important message in this is: ‘You will get out of your membership, what you put into it.’ If you sit back – wherever you are — then you will soon be bored. If you take part, either in person, by mail, phone or BBS you will benefit much more.
Source: The Member’s Handbook, December 1989
The system operated at the now unfamiliar modem speeds of 300 to 2400 baud… compare that to dial-up modem speeds since then of 28,800, 33,600, now 56,000… and broadband was unheard of in those days!
Sysops at that time were Richard Kemp (Macintosh) and Cameron Brawn (Apple//GS). Because of the incredible growth and easy accessibility of the Internet, and increasing capital costs to maintain the AUG BBS, it become redundant and was disbanded in March 1998.