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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

There was no formal training program: People just talked and shared information. The help was professional in spirit, though. What a volunteer helper was able to do was what they were able to do, if that makes any sense. Sometimes, the help was good and other times not so good. Many BMUG volunteers went on to professional support jobs in local Mac companies and consultancies.

Steve Jobs: In and out at Apple

Raines Cohen: I recall seeing a letter from Steve Jobs's assistant thanking us for sending the first BMUG newsletter, which was the size of a book — 120 pages long — and one of the first examples of laser printing. We didn't know it, but by then Steve was already on the way out.

David Morgenstern: I certainly didn't feel that the sky was falling when Steve Jobs left that first time. He came to a BMUG meeting after he'd been in the desert for a while making the Next computer. He came and showed us the NextCube and a laser printer that worked off of the Display PostScript [that was] built into the Next software and the megapixel display. I remember we had this guy Harvey who wanted to crack open the laser printer to see what controller it used, to see if you could hack it, and Steve was really concerned about that: "Stop that man!"

Raines Cohen: Mostly it was interesting to see over the years, as Apple's leadership changed, how they lost the discipline of message control. You remember the infamous Gil Amelio keynote [at Macworld Expo] that lasted forever; that was just an example of how things were out of control. When Jobs came back, they refocused.

Ron Hipschman: You could tell things were off track by some of the T-shirts that came out of Apple at the time. I have one that was given to me by an Apple employee — if they wore it they'd be fired — so they gave it to me. It's the Jurassic Park logo but with an Apple in the middle, and it says "Jurapple Park" — because so many people had evolved out of Apple at that point.

David Morgenstern: I was at the party launching System 7.5, I think it was, and they gave out T-shirts that said something along the lines of "Sucks Less." They were a little defensive.

Cal Simone: After Steve came back, I went to the Flint Center [in Cupertino] to watch the unveiling of the iMac, where he said, "We've got 27 different products, now we're going to have four" — and they only had three of them available! He simplified the product line and gave names to things instead of the numbers. And that was basically it. Apple just came alive.


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