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The Mac at 30: Tales from the Berkeley Mac Users Group

Dan Miller,Christopher Breen | Jan. 27, 2014
Before the Genius Bar and before Apple's own online forums, when the Mac was young and its users needed help, there were user groups

David Schwartz(1984: Radio telephone operator, Pacific Bell; 2014: Campus Shared Service IT department, UC Berkeley): In '89 I was selling home-stereo gear at a high-end audio store in Berkeley and decided I'd go back to school. And I thought, "Well, this time I should have a computer for school." So I bought a Mac SE and an ImageWriter.

I believe I called the BMUG Helpline to get help with making mailing labels in Microsoft Word. The guy who answered the phone said, "Why do you want to make mailing labels in Word? You should be using FileMaker. Come on down, I'll show you how." So that was the start of a long love affair with FileMaker and Macintosh.

I ended up hanging out at BMUG all the time. I was on the board of directors — went all the way through until the very end. I'm still doing BMUG West and enjoying every minute of it.

Duane Straub(1984: IT department, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory; 2014: Campus Shared Service IT department, UC Berkeley): In 1984, I saw my first Mac 128K at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. At that time, they cost about $3500, I believe, and I thought, "That's really neat, but I will never buy one myself." Eventually, Livermore became the world's largest Macintosh site with over 15,000 Macs.

A couple of years later, I went back to college, got an information systems management degree, and got into the ranks of doing computer support at Livermore. Within a couple of years at that, many of my coworkers considered me the top tech at the world's largest Macintosh site. I really liked that. I was living high.

The first computer that I owned personally was a Mac Plus. I still have that computer today. It has a 33MHz 68030 processor with 8MB of RAM.

Cal Simone(1984: Record producer; 2014: Jungian coach, writer, public speaker): I go way back. I operated a UNIVAC 1 and then went to mainframes. I saw the Super Bowl ad in 1984 — it said that on January 24, something-something-something would happen, something about the Macintosh, and I said, "What the hell is a Macintosh?"

A year later I was in a recording studio in New York called Unique Recording, which was the world's largest MIDI studio at the time, with 60 different synthesizers. And they had a Mac 512Ke — the extended Fat Mac — that I got to use.

Later that year, a guy wanted me to set up a little studio for him, wanted me to figure out what kind of computer, PC or Mac, to put in it, and which one was better for music. I could never understand from that point why anybody would ever use a PC again. I never understood that.


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