A history of VMUG and iMug 1985–2020: Meetings

By Noel Jackling OAM

Mac User Group (Vic) Inc./VMUG and iMug have always met in a venue in the central business district or nearby. As a result, it has attracted a large number of professionals who work in or near the city centre.

The earliest meetings were at the Department of Education in the Rialto Towers. Current member Murray Cropley attended some of those very first meetings.

For some time, meetings were held in the AMP Theatrette in the AMP Building in William Street. Brian Livingston, Ben de Jong and Noel Jacking are a few of the current members who attended meetings at the AMP Theatrette.

In 1990, VMUG assisted Apple Australia by providing computer training for its corporate clients in a program for its Business Corporate User Group. For a short time, Brian Livingston was a member of that group and organised one meeting that was an introduction to the then new Quadra Mac series (1991/92). This led to an invitation for VMUG to hold its meetings at Apple’s Victorian headquarters at Southbank Boulevard. Apart from a couple of interruptions due to office renovations, VMUG continued to meet there.

From about July 2000 until February 2005, VMUG met at Apple’s new headquarters in the Cadbury-Schwepps Building in St Kilda Road Melbourne near St Kilda Junction. Apple then shifted floors and relinquished its seminar room, so meeting at Apple’s premises ceased to be a possibility. About the same time, Apple’s support for user groups began to fade.

In the early to mid 1990s, this privileged status was extended to invitations to assist Apple mount its stand at PC shows at the Exhibition Buildings and Melbourne Exhibition Centre. Similarly, in about 1993, VMUG assisted Claris at a PC Show at the Exhibition Buildings.

VMUG’s association with Apple Australia became even closer when in February 1995 its Vice President, Struan Robertson, joined Apple as a systems software engineer. Until he left Apple in May 2006, Struan gave presentations at meetings at least twice a year, frequently of new products that members saw for the first time, and sometimes before public release. These were exciting times!

During the era when presentations to meetings were made on behalf of software corporations such as Adobe, Microsoft and Claris, it was not uncommon for the presenter to bring along a product such as FileMaker Pro, which was raffled that night to members in attendance. Discounted software was also occasionally available.

Steve McManus, Australasian General Manager of Claris, for a time came from Sydney annually to do a presentation, and on each occasion brought some give-away software with him. Claris also provided VMUG with a copy of its database software FileMaker, which was used as a tool with which to administer the group.

Special Interest Groups

In 1993, several special interest groups (SIG) were formed. These were the Publication SIG, the HyperCard SIG, the Communications and Networking SIG and the Graphics SIG (Derek Rawson). These SIGs mostly had a limited life span, but the Graphics SIG ran for a few years and the Melbourne Developers FileMaker Group ran from 1993 to 2010.

During most of that time, the Melbourne Developers FileMaker Group was organised by John Green and Noel Jackling. From 1993 to 2000, they wrote regular articles for VMUG News, or facilitated others to write them.

Towards the end of this period, the Melbourne Developers FileMaker Group met at the Chadstone Shopping Centre premises of the Melbourne PC User Group. The group attracted many FileMaker Pro professional developers and its meetings regularly attracted 12 to 20 members, who signed a confidentiality agreement at the beginning of each meeting. The group was the only one of its kind in Australia in which professional developers shared their expertise.

Two of those who attended from time to time had international standing, namely Ray Cologon, the author of FileMaker Pro 9 Bible and who in 2005 was awarded the top FileMaker award at the international FileMaker conference 'DevCon' in USA, the award for Leadership and Technical Excellence in FileMaker Pro.

The other was Nicolas Orr, developer of Base Elements, a FileMaker Pro diagnostic tool.

Meeting Organisers

In the earliest days, VMUG meetings were mostly organised by Ian Clark, but when Brian Livingston became president in about 1988, the VMUG executive agreed upon a meetings program, which Brian then organised.

The prerogative of the President to organise meetings was preserved during the reign of Robin Calder, but from 2003 to 2005, meetings were organised by Vice President Noel Jackling and Committee member Ian Woodside.

Late in 2005, Ian Woodside took over this function alone, a task that he performed with distinction until 2018. The arrangement was, though, that the President accepted the role of organising one meeting per year.

The last meeting at Apple was on Monday 21 February 2005. From March 2005 until May 2006, VMUG/iMug lead a nomadic existence, meeting at Melbourne PC User Group in South Melbourne, Nemmco in William Street, VTR Consulting at Roseneath Place, South Melbourne and CAE in Flinders Lane before beginning to hold meetings at Ross House in Flinders Lane in June 2006.


In January of the years 2008 to 2014, President Les Posen attended the MacWorld San Francisco expo, an event at which Apple chose to announce major new product releases. Apple CEO Steve Jobs was the keynote speaker for many of these. Jobs' presentation in 2008 was the last Jobs Keynote, when he introduced the first MacBook Air. This corresponded with the first of Les' MacWorld attendances.

Les continued attending each year until 2014, when there was a last MacWorld, after Apple pulled out, and its promoter IDG saw the writing on the wall without Apple. That first year without Apple, Les was interviewed on San Francisco local TV about whether Macworld could survive without Apple.

In 2008, Les ran a single hour session, but this increased to a one day, then a two-day course on Keynote and presentation skills.

One year, Les had senior Keynote engineers in the audience, who he introduced to those present at the session's conclusion. Then a Monash University colleague of Les, Dr Kim Silverman, principle Apple Research Scientist, gave a magic show, the link being presentation magic.

Les had lawyers, teachers, NASA Rocket scientists, CEOs and all manner of folk attending to learn the ins and outs of Keynote, and the evidence base for how to give engaging presentations. The term 'Death by PowerPoint' emerged.

Upon return to Australia, Les would do the presentation at the iMug meeting the following February or March, and members were able to engage in the latest Apple excitement and learn about third party products and peripherals that Les brought back with him.

Several meetings were held at Melbourne Museum with a guest presenter from the Museum.

Special End of Year Celebration Meetings

During a period of four years, 2007–2010, a special end of year celebration meeting was held in December, organised by Noel Jackling and Glenn Staunton. At the first of those meetings held at the Auburn Uniting Church, the then opposition leader, later Premier, architect Ted Baillieu, spoke about the impact of towers on city life, and Les Posen and partner Lili, demonstrated Israeli folk dancing. Details of these four meetings can be found in Appendix 1.

Decline of Meeting Attendances and the Rise of Virtual Meetings

Around 2010, several AGMs were held at Streetwise Software, Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn.

For a little under three years in 2014-16, iMug met at the Docklands Library, but the extra distance from the city militated against holding meetings there, despite the high quality of the premises.

In 2017, meetings then resumed at Ross House in Melbourne City. With attendances mostly quite low, the Society began to reduce its emphasis on the significance of meetings, whose frequency was dropped back to every three months.

In effect, as the significance of these meetings waned, the significance of the group email List increased, as did the significance of the advice given on the Discussion List by Stephen Withers, Anthony Caruana, Les Posen and other experts to other members.

In 2020, Charmian Gaud initiated Coffee morning meetings. Face-to-face meetings became illegal in March because of COVID-19, and with the amazing advance of videoconferencing technology, virtual video meetings became a reality. Under Charmian's initiative and guidance, they took on a social aspect in times of social isolation.

The 2020 AGM was very successfully held as a virtual session using ZOOM.

Next: The rise and impact of the Internet

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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.