In the mid 1980s a group of ardent Apple Computer enthusiasts started to gather together to share a new hobby. There wasn’t a real ‘club’ at that time – at least in the formal sense of the word. Just a group of folks with a common interest in Macintosh computing. By late summer of ’86 the group had begun meeting in the auditorium of Colonial High School and soon after that the club meet regularly at Valencia Community College – East Campus.
The early founders included a physics professor at Valencia Community College , sales reps from different Apple resellers in Orlando, and the then President of Rollins College, Dr. Thadeus Seymour. Ed Jones, Geri Dixon, Steve Mazy, Kenny Knapp, Lou Butler and Ann Bennett (would later become President of MUGOO) were early members. Ann taught Apple computing to Orange County teachers on Apple GS and GS II’s. Attendees included a significant number of class room teachers in the Orange County school system – mostly at the primary grade level.
There had been a bulletin board service called AppleTree owned and run by Mike Ungerman and many members of the club had accounts. But, the club wanted a bulletin board service of our own so Denny & Monica were hired to create the new service. Denny was a geek programmer in the Mac environment and Monica was a coder for a company located in a bunker-looking building near the corner of South Orange Blossom Trail & Colonial Drive. Monica wrote code for DOD (Dept of Defense) in Fortran. Together Denny and Monica invested in the software (TeleFinder) and modems to set up the club’s own bulletin board service (BBS). It was a revolution to eveyone that one could simply buy a “modem”, plug it in to a phone line and a Macintosh and exchange information with others via a BBS. The club was “ONLINE”….. ! A very big deal.
Thad Seymour got the club space on the campus of Rollins College – FREE. The club had found a very nice home. The club grew by leaps and bounds. There was MONEY in a real bank account with the club’s name on it.
Tim Powell became President in ’89 or ’90 (and remained so until J. Patrick Dowling was elected in ’93). Tim was a cracker jack Mac consultant working 7 days a week and all night taking care of the club’s business. And he regularly attend the SIG meetings.
SIGs were a Big Deal in those days. One of our current members ran the Novice SIG for several YEARS. Neal Johnson brought his Mac SE and other materials to a meeting room at the main Library once a month & patiently helped new Mac users learn how to compute. There were, at one time or another, special interest groups focused on ClarisWorks, FileMaker Pro, Word, Adobe Graphics applications, Internet use, Business & Legal computing and a Novice SIG. And then the club incorporated.
A lawyer who’d had a SIG running monthly since ’90 at his office called the Business & Legal SIG – was asked if he would file the necessary papers. Dominick Salfi did just that Pro Bono (Free). Domnick is still a member and his SIG still meets monthly. Seven members/officers (among them Tim Powell, Paul Scheimer and J. Patrick Dowling) signed the original filings to set up a “Not-for-Profit” Florida corporation called MUGOO – Macintosh Users Group of Orlando, we finally had a name. Paul Scheimer was desitined to become a prime mover in the ‘new’ MUGOO.
Paul was a very smart, wealthy, dynamic man who served MUGOO well who only recently moved from Orlando to north Geogia. He is a true Mac Genius – before that title got the cache it has today. Graphics, science, networks, cross-platform – Paul knew it and help others do it. He was a dynamic speaker, very funny, and though he knew most of the answers to questions posed from the floor at a General Meeting, he allowed others to answer them.
Then came AOL, Netscape and the Internet. Even Apple made an attempt to provide an online environment called eWorld as the successor of its AppleLink dial-up BBS. eWorld bombed, but AOL and Netscape flourished. Members of MUGOO began getting dialup accounts. Within months MUGOO’s membership with internet access went from about 25% to 90%. (Two of our members have unique ties to that era. Bob Kortz has had an AOL account since the 1st months that company existed. Walt Sellers worked as a Senior Software Engineer in AOL’s Irvine, CA facility.)
The topics of the Internet – from which browsers worked best to which access providers to use – dominated our meetings for over a year. AOL was a constant problem for Mac users and still can be. But it WAS easy to use, as long as you didn’t want to do anything outside the AOL site or communicate with anyone who wasn’t an AOL user.
Then along came the “G” series PowerMacs.
In the late ’90s there were 3 independent Apple dealers in Orlando. Two of them approached MUGOO to donate excess used product inventory and peripherals. Those donation were followed quickly by a 3rd – the Osceola County School System. It was a LOT of merchandise, much of it useable. Over a period of almost a year MUGOO accepted, picked up, stored (in members garages & homes), acquired a free workshop, and then another one, and moved the entire inventory 3 times. It took a platoon of members, 2 big rented vans and one trailer.
R • D&S (Renew • Donate & Support) was born. It became the most talked about aspect of MUGOO. It involved 75% of the membership in one way or another. We held ‘Sales’. We donated Macs to 4 or 5 different community service agencies around Orlando. MUGOO almost made a deal with Gifts for Teachers to get paid for donating Macs, but at the last moment the deal died because we were not a real charity – we had not applied to the IRS for a (501-c-3) charitable donation exception certification.
The President of MUGOO at that time, David Sheddan, solved that problem. But in doing so, MUGOO died, and was reborn as FLMUG. Meanwhile, R•D&S had been forced to move yet again. When we were asked to vacate our last free workspace we couldn’t find any place else to go. Most of our inventory filled the largest size dumpster available for rent. It is ironic that when FLMUG finally got the right to act as a real charity could not continue our most meaningfull activity (donating Macs) because we had no place to work on them. The late ’90s were tumultus times for FLMUG. R•D&S crested and closed. Meetings were moved from Rollins to a new home at the Orlando Science Center then within the Science Center to the Café.
All along the way – from the late ’80s to just a couple of years ago – various groups of members traveled long distances to attend our meettings. With encouagement and finacial support from our Board of Directors, FLMUG has been the parent of still-active satellite MUGs. The 1st was the Leesburg MUG. Later the Mt. Dora MUG and most recently the Lakeland MUG.
The ubiquity of the Internet has revolutionized computing – and is killing computer users groups all over the world. MUG membership is crashing everywhere. Some of the largest on the planet don’t exist anymore – the DOM having been replaced by TCP/IP. FLMUG is valiantly trying to maintain its viability. Please take the opportunity to attend one of our meetings or and associated SIG, we believe that FLMUG can offer fellowship, education and fun (after all we use Macs and Macs are fun).
Thanks to J. Patrick Dowling for this history.