Introduction to BMUG

Source: Stephen Howard, "An Introduction to BMUG," BMUG Newsletter 4:2 (Summer/Fall 1988), 3-5.
Location: M1007, Apple Computer Inc. Papers, Series 12, Box 13, Folder 1.

Once upon a time, a powerful productivity tool was just a cute beige box. Once, the Berkeley Macintosh User Group was just a lot of people getting together on Thursday nights. Once, this Newsletter was thin.

Now, it's 1988 and Macintosh computers are pushing the frontiers of technology for real people, and, as we predicted, they are now dragging the rest of the industry with them. BMUG was formed in 1984 to provide information about and assistance with graphical interface computers. Incorporated in 1985 as a Federal non-profit educational organization, BMUG has become one of the world's largest and most influential user groups. Our members come from every walk of life and every level of sophistication. Our staff and volunteers combine unequaled technical knowledge with experience, curiosity, and patience. We've been around as long as anything in the Macintosh world, and it shows.

BMUG currently has between four and six thousand members worldwide, and we are growing every month. Companies, families, and individuals continue to support our dual functions as "user insurance"-- a helpful voice at the other end of the phone when the computer turns on you-- and as a source of unbiased critical information in this fast-paced, confusing computer industry. We offer many products and services to members and to the public. Some are available only in the San Francisco Bay Area, but others reach to the far corners of the world.

Chief among our activities is the production of what you now hold: the semi-annual Newsletter, sent free to all members. This unique collection of commentary, tutorial, review, and advice is compiled from the submissions of our members, other user groups, and industry leaders. Don't forget to read the author's name on each article, it might belong to your neighbor and it might belong in the trade press.

It is BMUG's policy not to accept any advertising for this publication to ensure that the opinions expressed within are as impartial as their authors. We feel it is important that a forum exists for the discussion of important issues without interference by commercial concerns. As a result of both the quality and objectivity of these contents, the BMUG Newsletter is widely read by users seeking honest information and industry leaders seeking honest feedback.

Members also receive access to the BMUG Multiline Bulletin Board System. Our BBS is one of hundreds on the EchoMac exchange running under FidoNet. Thousands of users participate in this international non-profit telecommunications network, (p. 4) making it the third largest Macintosh information service in the world. BMUG consistently ranks as one the primary contributors to this free exchange of Macintosh information.

Local members can call our BBS directly, using one of five phone lines to get online quickly. Distant members can use a nearby EchoMac node to communicate with us-- and the rest of the Mac world-- with just a local call. In this issue of the Newsletter we are printing previously unpublished information on the locations of the world's EchoMac nodes. Most are available free or for a small support fee. For the novice or veteran modem user there is no better bargain than EchoMac.

Anyone interested in the world of shareware and publicly distributable software can peruse the BMUG Shareware Library on floppy disk or CD-ROM. We maintain the lowest priced, safest, and highest quality collection of Macintosh shareware in the world. At press time, the library filled 280 double-sided floppy disks and 3/5 of a PD ROM. The very latest updates are available on our BBS as well. Although we can not guarantee that we will be able to maintain our low prices forever, we will always provide useful software that is tested for compatibility, propriety, and virulence. Unlike electronic services and many commercial shareware distributors, support for our disks by a live human being is just a phone call away. BMUG is also a licensed distributor of Apple's System Updates and HyperCard, both of which are available at the earliest opportunity. Unfortunately, HyperCard is only available in person and on the PD ROM since we must confirm proof of purchase.

BMUG members with computer questions can call our free Technical Help Line to get a solution to virtually any problem. Our full-time staff answers hundreds of phone calls every day, which gives them experience unparalleled in the rest of the Macintosh world. The Help Line is open 9 am till 6 pm PST, Monday through Friday. If there is no answer when you call it means all the support people are busy, so leave a message and we will call you back-- anywhere in the United States.

For members living in or visiting the Bay Area, BMUG has meetings nearly every day of the week. Our Main Meeting is still held Thursday nights on the UC Berkeley campus and is attended by one to five hundred people each week. We print calendars of scheduled speakers and demonstrations, but it is always wise to call the Announcement Line to check for last minute changes. During the rest of the week, we have Special Interest Group meetings at our office. Groups currently meeting are the Design & Graphics Group, HyperCard Browsing, HyperCard Scripting, Developers/Programmers, Database Developers, Beginners, Enhanced Beginners, Telecommunications Group, Professional Users Forum (PUF), bmuse (the music group), Environmental Design Group (CAD), and the A/UX SIG. These meetings provide a way for people to get together in small groups to exchange experiences and information. Personal contact and participation has always been one of the best aspects of user groups, and we encourage all our distant members to get involved in a local user group.

In addition to our continuing services, we always have a few special projects going. The latest to come to fruition was the BMUG PD ROM disc for CD-ROM players. This (p. 5) little 12 cm piece of plastic contains our entire software library, every article from our Newsletters, and most of the messages off of Infomac, the USEnet Macintosh forums, and Delphi electronic information services. The PD ROM was a commercial product and represents something of a change in the scale of our efforts. For the first time, we created a product for the general public instead of simply for our members. The PD ROM went to final pressing at the same time as this Newsletter went to the printer, and it should be available in stores nationwide as you read this. If you have the chance and the inclination, go to a local Apple dealer and ask to see the BMUG PD ROM. Even if you have no intention of buying a CD-ROM player, we would like to know what you think of our disc. Our members are our harshest critics. Send your comments to the "PD ROM Project" at the regular BMUG address.

Other projects in progress or in the wings include the BMUG RAP (Registration Assistance Program), the Shareware Directory, formal training classes, a BMUG Beginners Book, and just possibly a BMUG HyperCard Book. Do any of these sound interesting? Some are already underway and others are just twinkles in volunteers' eyes, but you could be a part of the fun. Nearly all BMUG special projects are organized and accomplished by volunteers. If you like or dislike the way things are being done, let us know what we should do instead. Or better yet, let us know what you can do to help make this organization better.

Behind every successful non-profit organization there stands a group of very dedicated people. In BMUG this group is known as Team BMUG. Some are paid employees, most are volunteers, and all have harnessed their enthusiasm to push this group towards excellence. It is not an easy task.

In an industry where information and technical knowledge are often viewed as commodities, it is all too easy to sell what you know to the highest bidder. Despite our lack of pecuniary appeal, BMUG has thrived over the years. It is an honest desire to help people that started this group, and that is what keeps it going today. We are grateful for the support of our members everywhere, and hope that each of will continue to find value and pleasure in what we do.

Thank you, and enjoy your Newsletter.

Document created on 20 April 2000;