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History of the Vero Beach Computer Group

This is a written history of the Vero Beach Computer Group’s early years. It was written in 1996 by Bud Greenlees. Since then, a lot has changed in both the club and computers, but this is one of our 

  • Early Days

    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.

  • Middle Days

    Part Two by Bud Greenlees, Historian

    The VBCG officers remained essentially the same through 1989 and 1990, with Glen Dodd remaining as president. New officers were elected for 1991 and remained in office through 1992. These officers were: President, George Blanton, Vice president, Eric Price, and Secretary-Treasurer, Bill Johnson. In February of 1991, Glen Dodd was killed in a freak accident while on vacation in Pennsylvania. He was hiking in the woods when a tree fell on him. Glen was our first president after the formal organization of our group and had been president for five years. He was the “Guru” of our group. He had the knack of explaining complicated computer problems in language fully understood by the layman. He also kept us up-to-date on the new happenings in the computer world. Our members in those days had almost a reverence toward him. The following is from the club bulletin for March, 1991:

    Glennon B. Dodd
    June 24 1948–February 2, 1991

    The Members of the VBCG learned that Glen died in a tragic accident while on his recent vacation in Pennsylvania. There is no way to express G!en’s loss to the members of our group. His knowledge and dedication to helping us all was a prize we shall always cherish. His loss is a staggering blow and we shall all miss Glen Dodd.

    Farewell Glen Dodd

    In March 1991, we moved back to the Indian River County Main Library. With Glen, our contact with the Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory gone, we felt that we should move. Eric Price, who had been working on computers for the library, arranged for our move by agreeing to teach a one-hour computer class before our meeting.

    In 1991, George Liner became our newsletter editor and served until 1994. Our 1993 officers were: President, Eric Price, Vice President, George Blanton and Secretary-Treasurer Tom Chadwick.

    That year we moved from the library to St. Edwards Upper School, again, with Eric’s aid. We would have slide projection facilities there, which we did not have at the library, and more of our programs needed these facilities. In March of 1993 we had 72 members.

    Our 1994 officers were President, George Blanton, Vice President, Eric Price, Treasurer, Russ McConnell and Secretary, Leslie Phelps. Leslie also edited the newsletter for 1994. In 1995 we were unable to get a slate of officers, or a newsletter editor, except for Treasurer, Russ McConnell. George Blanton offered to run the meetings for us until the group was reorganized. After four months of no newsletter, George was able to get George Liner to return as editor. He was just recovering from prostate cancer. After an impassioned plea for group reorganization in his first bulletin, a group of us got together to do the needed reorganization. We came up with the following group of officers: President, Bud Greenlees, Vice President, Fred Sterling and Treasurer, Russ McConnell.

    We did not have a secretary, but later Claus Schwanitz accepted the position. We began having a business meeting two weeks before the general meeting, and we included George Liner, our newsletter editor, as a board member. We also included Eric Price as a board member. In these meetings, we discussed the problems of the group and the program for the general meeting. This arrangement worked out well with the board working together. Fred Sterling, as vice president was given program responsibility and he did an excellent job. We did not have to scramble for programs just before each general meeting.

    At one of our first board meetings we nominated (and the club approved) Eric Price and George Blanton as honorary members for their work in trying to keep the club together.

  • Recent Years

    Part Three by Bud Greenlees, Historian

    The officers for 1996 were: President, Bud Greenlees, Vice President, Craig Stewart, Treasurer, Russ McConnell and Secretary, Claus Schwanitz. For personal reasons, Claus resigned in March and Barbara Campbell became secretary. George Liner agreed to keep bulletin editorship until we could find a replacement. By now our membership had grown almost to the capacity of the St. Edwards Upper School auditorium. At a meeting or two we did not have room for all of our meeting attendees. The board began looking for a new meeting location. Finally, Russ and I began negotiating with the Mary Powell, director of the Indian River Public Library. We agreed to provide eight hours a month of computer assistance to the patrons of the library in return for the use of the library’s main meeting room. We had our first meeting there, in May, and we have been meeting there since. The officers for 1997 were: President, Bill Westrum, Vice President, Joe Fredlock, Treasurer, Eric Price and Secretary, Larry White. Because of his business load Westrum attended only a few of the meetings and finally resigned. Joe Fredlock, Vice President, was away for the summer, and the operation of the club began to stall. The program for the first meeting after Bill resigned was provided at the last minute by Eric Price. I arranged programs and ran a couple of meetings. Then about twelve of us met to try to get the group back on track. From this group, a slate of the following officers were selected: President, Milt Farber, Vice President, Joe Fredlock, Treasurer, Eric Price and Secretary, Barbara Campbell. At the next meeting, the club approved these officers, and the club ran smoothly under the control of these new officers. Carroll Palmer took over the newsletter and is now its editor. Eric Price offered the group a good deal on new computers, if we wished to give them to the library to replace some of their old machines. The group agreed to provide three new computers. Mary Powell, director of the library, gleefully told me that the “Friends of the Library”, not to be outdone, donated four more computers. The officers for 1999 were: President, Joe Fredlock, Vice President Jack Pirozzolo, Treasurer, Paul Tardiff, and Secretary, Barbara Campbell. Jack Pirozzolo further refined the operation of the SIG groups. There are now 4 SIG groups for The Internet; Operating Systems New Users; Quicken and Word Processing Plus Related Subjects. The officers for 2000 are President, Jack Pirozzolo, Vice President Jean Grider, Treasurer, Joan Pannenborg and Secretary, Doris Hall. I think that this history of the group should include special credit to Eric Price for all he did to further the club. When we needed places to meet, he arranged for them by offering his time teaching a beginners computer course at the library, or negotiating with St. Edwards Upper School. When the group was floundering, he stepped in to help. He was always willing to help members with thorny problems.

  • Where We Are Now

    By Bud Greenlees, Historian

    2001 officers were Jean Grider, President, Sammy SanMiguel, Vice President, Joan Pannenborg, Treasurer, Doris Hall Secretary, and Rosemary Gagliardi as Editor. The 2002 officers are Sammy SanMiguel, President, Rafe Padgett, Vice President, Joan Pannenborg as Treasurer, Rosemary Gagliardi Secretary and Jean Grider Editor of the newsletter, “Homepage”

    In 2001 the Mac Users merged with the Vero Beach Computer Group bringing our membership to an all time high of 350 Members. Then the VBCG had a major setback when the Indian River Main Library was closed for renovation. Jean Grider found that we could hold our monthly meeting and the Mac SIG at Christ By The Sea United Methodist Church on A1A. Again Jack Pirozzolo came to our rescue when he found a place to hold our PC SIG’s. The Club at Vero has provided us with outstanding meeting rooms. Neither the beach nor a location so far west is convenient so we are eagerly awaiting the opening of the Library again where we are treated like royalty. Through the years our group has provided volunteer help for the computer section of the Library in addition to donating the three IBM Compatible computers and an IMac.

    We are moving forward each year. We have just updated our Web Site at where Milt Farber is our Web Master. Members will now be able to print their own copy of the newsletter, “Homepage” in living color by using Adobe Acrobat Reader. This will save the environment as well as the cost of copying and mailing each issue. Check it out.

    Jean Grider is now editor of the “Homepage”, our group bulletin, an important club unifier since George Liner first edited the bulletin in 1991.

    Postscript: Jean Grider encouraged me to add this last addition to our history and provided much assistance in its writing.–Bud Greenlees, historian.

    February 2004 Update – Bud Greenlees passed away on February 10, 2004. Bud was awarded a Lifetime Membership at the December 2001 General Meeting.  He will certainly be missed.