A history of VMUG and iMug 1985–2020: Help Desk, Computer Training and Public Domain Software

By Noel Jackling OAM

In 1991, VMUG initiated a telephone Help Desk system in which members who were experts in an application, offered free advice to other members over a wide range of applications as well as for basic troubleshooting. They allowed their details to be published in the monthly newsletter for this purpose.

This system remained in operation until 2000 when it was effectively replaced by the on-line discussion group list.

In 1991, VMUG arranged low cost training for members in key programs such as Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel and FileMaker, which were provided by Technisearch Ltd (a company owned by RMIT) and the accounting firm KMPG Peat Marwick.

In 1992, VMUG developed a system for selling public domain software, under which utilities, games and other programs were saved onto floppy disks and sold to members. Initially, those in charge brought a Macintosh to the meeting, on whose hard disk were some pre-grouped public domain software items, which were saved onto a blank floppy disk brought to the meeting by the member-purchaser.

Brian Livingston created an interactive screen page to search and order Public Domain software using HyperCard, which worked like the modern web page way before the web came into common use. Proceeds were used to subsidise the cost of the monthly newsletter. That system was soon refined so that the disks were pre-ordered and brought to the meeting in satisfaction of the orders.

In 1996 a consolidation of useful public domain software was issued on a CD—in an era that predated the 2001 incorporation of CD readers into a computer that could also burn CDs.

Michael Scheurer, Neal Bethune and Nicholas Crook were prominent in running the public domain software operation, and their efforts were succeeded by those of Derek Rawson, who ran the PD Software system during the last 12 months of its operation.

Next: Meetings

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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.