A history of VMUG and iMug 1985–2020: The early years

By Noel Jackling OAM

Internet Macintosh User Group Inc. (iMug) formally started as Mac User Group (Vic) Inc. on 8 February 1985, being incorporated under the Associations Incorporation Act 1981. Prior to that there had been some casual meetings of Macintosh users in the Rialto Towers with staff of the Department of Education and the accounting corporation KPMG Peat Marwick.

In Melbourne, there was already in existence an Apple user group, the Apple Users' Society of Melbourne (now AUSOM Inc.), which in 1980 was formed as an unincorporated association to cater for the interests of those who were using Apple ][ computers.

With the advent of the Macintosh computer in January 1984, Mac User Group (Vic) Inc. was formed to cater for those using Macintosh computers. Whilst the incorporated name was Mac User Group (Vic) Inc., from no later than August 1987 this incorporated association came to be known as Victorian Macintosh User Group (VMUG), a name that was never registered.

This early era in personal computing was characterised by users who had not learned how to use computers at school and in which the Internet could not be used to solve computer problems or gain information about computing and computer applications, because it did not exist.

Societies formed, called user or users' groups, in which meetings and newsletters were the vehicles by which those who had developed expertise in one area of computing shared their expertise with other group members, and novices could acquire basic skills. User group activities included providing information on new computers, peripheral devices, new computer programs and upgrades of old ones, and swapping of computer programs.

Mac User Group (Vic) Inc. or Victorian Macintosh User Group was one such organisation. It was formed for all computer users from novices to experienced industry experts and technology journalists to share their knowledge and expertise.

Initially, information about new hardware and software was provided at its monthly (for a time bi-monthly) meetings, commonly by software and hardware corporations, and in a session devoted to questions and answers. By August 1985, a first paperbased newsletter (16 pages) had been produced, full of useful information and a few advertisements. Until November 1990, newsletters were issued infrequently and irregularly. Peter Harding was the foundation President (1985– c. 1988). Ian Clark of KPMG was the founding Treasurer, and the key driving force. The March 1986 newsletter lists the then VMUG Committee as follows:

President: Peter Harding
Vice President: Tony Smith
Secretary: Steve Paynter
Treasurer: Antony Cohen
Committee: Mitchell Craig, Tony Thomas and John Wise

About 1988, Brian Livingston of RMIT became President, and he remained such until 2000.

VMUG membership card
1989 Membership Card of President Brian Livingston.

In 1988 Peter V. Green designed VMUG's first logo, a design that he now regards as ugly, but which he explains was created using the crude tools available in the then revolutionary Adobe Illustrator 1.0. The logo can be found on the December 1988 issue of the Newsletter (from May1991 called VMUG News) and the membership cards issued at the time. It reflects the view that this was a group associated with the Macintosh computer, and not the Apple ][.

Next: The 1990s – rapid rise and rapid decline

^ top of page


Table of Contents

  1. The early years
  2. The 1990s—rapid rise and rapid decline
  3. VMUG News
  4. VMUG premises in Ross House
  5. Help Desk, Computer Training and Public Domain Software
  6. Meetings
  7. The rise and impact of the Internet
  8. iMug Apple Collection at Museum Victoria
  9. An odd occasion
  10. iMug Widget—a small feature to advertise meetings
  11. A few prominent VMUG/iMug members
  12. In conclusion
  13. Appendix 1 - Four special December meetings
  14. Appendix 2 - Apple Effect timeline banner 1976–1990
  15. Appendix 3 - Apple Effect timeline banner 1990–2006
  16. Appendix 4 - Libretto to 'An Apple a Day'
  17. Appendix 5 - Libretto to 'The Very Model of a Modern Apple MacBook Pro'
  18. Appendix 6 - Office Bearers
  19. Appendix 7 - Life Members

Download the entire History of VMUG and iMug 1985–2020 as a PDF.