30 years of joy, pain, friendships, frustrations, and wonder

As others are marking the 30th anniversary of the Apple Macintosh Computer, I thought I would put my spin on this occasion. In 1984, the Mac was an under powered revolutionary device. It was the beginning of the trend of taking the power of a computer away from the "priests" who controlled access to large room sized computers and returned this power to the people. This started a creative revolution that continues today. Having access to this power back then was intoxicating.

Growing up, we did not have computers. The first computer I saw (from a distance) was as a Sophomore in High School. Only the "advanced" math students were allowed to approach this machine. During the summer of my junior year I worked for my family business. The young women worked at the punch card machines, and I would take their output and use a sorter that would magically put the cards in order and detect rejects, which were returned for retyping. Once the cards were sorted, the stacks were collected and brought to a collating machine, which somehow ran this giant IBM computer, which printed out the output from the cards for further processing. The programs were hand wired on to wire boards that held the program instructions. These were placed inside the machine before running the collator. It was a very noisy place! In one announcement, Apple changed the world by practically eliminating all those jobs and devices.

Having this personal power was also quite confusing to many people. In 1977, this gave 13 year old Jonathan Rotenberg an idea that led to the formation of the Boston Computer Society. The goal was to "Demystify" personal computers. I was one of the founding members, and was quite active in the BCS. I had bought an Osborne 2 "sewing machine portable". It confused me so, but the BCS Osborne group helped me understand how to harness this power. Wordstar and Visi-Calc were awesome.

I discovered the world of Bulletin Boards and played Dungeons and Dragons while connected to a computer in California. I would go to BBS meet-ups all over New England. This is where I met Dave Hamilton and John F. Braun Mac Geek Gab.
This is before the World Wide Web and the Internet existed.

The BCS hosted Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, who introduced the Mac to the east coast of the United States. I was there, standing off stage on the left wing. The BCS immediately started the BCS Mac User Group. This group grew so fast there was no room at the BCS main office, so the Mac Group moved to their own office/clubhouse in Somerville. MA.

BCS Mac published a monthly magazine sized newsletter. One of the writers was a young Andy Ihnatko, who became famous by penning an April Fools article about Mac being recalled due to their stuffing catching fire (my recollection). After BCS Mac meetings, we would invited the guest speaker(s) to dinner. During one of these dinners both Macworld Magazine and Mac User magazine competed with each other to persuade Andy to write for them, and he hasn't looked back.

Macworld Expo ran 2 shows a year. The west coast expo was in San Francisco in January, and the east coast expo was held in Boston during August, and later in New York City. My biggest thrill from the Boston Expo was sitting 10 feet from Bill Atkinson while he demo'ed Hypercard for the first time to the show attendees. While the expo conducted lots of business during show hours, most of the wheeling and dealing happened after show hours at the many vendor and user group parties. Keeping track of what was happening where was a tough task, taken up by MacWeek's Robert Hess. He unfortunately passed away in 1996 and the list, now called The Hess Memorial Macworld Party List. It is now maintained by Ilene Hoffman. It is the best place to find out what is happening after hours at the now once a year Macworld|iWorld show. The Expo was also a place for all the user groups to get together in the User Group Lounge where I had some nice long discussions with lots of people, including the revered elder user group pundit and now eminent podcaster, Chuck Joiner MacVoices, the Talk of the Mac Community. So many memories and stories that I don't have room for here.

Technology kept us all on our toes. The internet grew with Gopher, something called the World Wide Web, FTP servers, Chatting servers, and other services. I was Chairman of the BCS On Line Service Committee during this time. Since we were tech savy, America On Line asked BCS to host on line chats covering various topics, and gave free access to those who volunteered. AOL was formed out of AppleLink Personal Edition. As the internet grew, there was less reliance on user groups to keep users up to date. This led to the eventual demise of the Boston Computer Society. It was a sad day when that happened. I had made so many life long friends and acquaintances from this group. The rise of Twitter, Google, Email, RSS feeds now keep me in the community, and Podcasts specific to the Mac are a joy to listen to, and keep me learning. The iPhone and iPad are truly wondrous devices. We have come a long way in 30 years.

Thanks Apple for liberating us all.