Archive for March, 1979

EARLY DAYS OF THE VERO BEACH COMPUTER GROUP

Saturday, March 3, 1979 @ 10:03 PM
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Part One by Bud Greenlees, Historian

The Vero Beach Computer Group started about 1979. Three of us decided we needed a computer group in Vero. Bud Holman was pretty savvy in computers and was beginning to use a computer in his family’s businesses. Chris Hubbard was general manager of his family’s radio station, WGYL, and was beginning to use a Radio Shack Model TRS-80, Model 1, to keep records for his station. I was involved because I had a burning interest in computers as a hobby; I had been in the hobby since 1977 and was beginning to learn a little about it.

Our first meetings were in Chris’s office at the radio station. We were able to get enough chairs in the office to seat about six or seven people. We obtained new members largely by word of mouth, and our membership stayed small enough to meet in Chris’s office for about a year. Since this was before IBM made a Personal Computer, our members used a wide variety of computers: Radio Shack, Apple Commodore, North Star and miscellaneous others. I was using an old IMSAI (8080 kit that I had assembled a few years before. In those days there was no standard operating system. (DOS came in with the IBM personal computer in 1981.)

Our meetings provided us a chance to get together and discuss our problems. In addition, usually one of our more knowledgeable members would discuss computer basics how different parts of the computer worked, or how to write a program (usually in BASIC). In those days programs such as spread sheets, data bases or word processors were almost non existent for small computer users. If you wanted a program you wrote it yourself or typed it into your computer from a computer magazine. Most of us had floppy disks or tape recorders, thus we were able to save the programs for future use.
Our club organization was very loose. Bud, Chris and I were an informal board of directors and, since I was retired, I became sort of a jack-of-al1-trades for the new group. It fell, to me to call up all of the members each month and remind them of the meeting.

Finally, our group grew too large to meet in Chris’s office, and we had to find a new place. Milt Farber a member of our group and chief engineer of Radio Station WTFB, arranged for us to meet in a meeting room at the station. The station was on the beach across from the large motel now called the Village Inn. Before long the station moved, and we, too, had to move.
A new computer store in town offered to let us meet in their store. We met there only about two times when the store tried to take over and make us an adjunct of their business. We rejected this and had to find another place to meet. We decided to try meeting in a different club member’s home each month. That did not work out too well.

Glen Dodd, who was a member of the club by then, arranged for us to meet at the Mosquito Control Office. We met there until they remodeled the office and we had to move again. Glen again arranged for us to meet at a new place: The Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory. We met there until Glen was killed. Then we moved to our present location in the Indian River County Library. Eric Price, who was now a member of the group, arranged for our move. He taught a computer class before our meeting in return for our meeting room. After about a year we moved to St. Edwards Upper School, where we met until we moved back to the library in 1997 to get more meeting room space, (Our group had grown to more than 100 members.). We agreed to provide eight hours of instruction per month to library patrons in return for the use of the meeting room.

Along with the various moves, our group continued to grow. Calling members each month had become a laborious job. We decided to send out a monthly bulletin instead. Again, as Jack-of-all-trades for the group, I was designated to write the bulletin and collect donations for the postage.

Finally, in 1986, we decided to put the group on a more formal footing. Milt Farber wrote the by-laws for the group. In May of 1986 the bylaws, as revised, were accepted by the group. An interim slate of officers was elected and installed. They were: President Glen Dodd, Vice President Ted Quarchak, Secretary/Treasurer Vice Bud Greenlees.

In December of 1986 the new officers for the full year of 1987 were elected. They were: President Glen Dodd, Vice President Jim Sharp, Secretary/Treasurer Bud Greenlees. In December of 1987 the 1988 officers were elected and these officers were reelected for a number of years. These officers were: President Glen Dodd, Vice President Gene Oathout, Secretary/Treasurer Jim Sharp.

One other thing that should not be overlooked in this VBCG history is the contribution of Ed Gilcher in preparing some 17 club disks. These were well prepared and the programs were well selected. I believe that during the time that he was providing them our club attendance increased noticeably. This was still before programs, as we know them today, were filled with the small supplementary programs to provide such things as the date. Ed downloaded these programs from the various bulletin boards, edited them, and assembled them on disks.