A Brief History of SFMUG’s Beginning
as remembered by John Tollett
Do you ever find yourself sitting at the Mac, wondering just exactly how the Santa Fe Macintosh User Group got started? I mean other than the unofficial rumors you may have heard around the virtual water cooler. Well, here's the inside, up-close and personal, seldom-told story of how it happened.
It was November, 1993. I had been working with Dave Rohr only a month or so. He and his wife Roni had recently moved to Santa Fe from New York where he had become familiar with NYMUG (New York Macintosh User Group). One day at lunch he asked me if there was a Mac User Group in town. I didn't think so.
?We should start one,? he said.
?Yeah. We should do that,? I replied, figuring this would hold him for, oh, six months or so until he forgot about this silly idea. I didn't want to step on his rose colored glasses and dampen his newbie enthusiasm. And I hated to see the guys disappointment when we fell flat on our faces. After all, this was Santa Fe, and Santa Feans just aren't into groups and having to drive across town for meetings and stuff like that.I told him that we could talk to J Scott, owner of The Printmaker (a former service bureau in Santa Fe) since she had started another computer user group but I didn't know exactly what had happened to it. Actually,
I did know that it had disappeared after one or two random meetings and I secretly hoped a meeting with J would discourage him from wasting any more time on such a ridiculous fantasy. (This is a CLUE, Dave. It died. It took too much volunteer work. There weren't enough people who cared. Or had the time to devote to it.).
Weeks later, just when I'm sure he's way too busy with work to be thinking about new projects to fill what little spare time he has, he asks if I'll go with him to a lunch meeting at Cloud Cliff to meet with J and a couple of Printmaker people. Nice lunch. Everyones interested and wants to offer their moral support and wish us the very best of luck, but they doubt that they can devote any of the time or energy that will be necessary to make it a success (Listen up, Dave).
Clueless Dave fails to realize that this is a problem and leaves the meeting feeling encouraged. ?Looks like we're going to have to do this ourselves? he says. ?Yep, I guess so" I reply, pretending to be upbeat and supportive.
A week after that first Cloud Cliff meeting, I'm browsing through the bookshelves at my office and come across a book titled Jargon, by Robin Williams. I had heard the name before, and I knew she had written some best-selling Macintosh books. So I scanned through the Jargon book, chuckling occasionally (because you know how she is) and eventually turned to the last page of the book, About the Author. “Hey, Dave! Have you heard of Robin Williams? The Mac is not a typewriter? The Little Mac Book? She lives in Santa Fe now! We should call her and see if she'll help us. I'll bet she's been in a user group before.?
Next thing I know, Dave has e-mailed Robin and we're on our way to Cloud Cliff for another meeting. At Cloud Cliff, Dave and I watch the door, hoping we'll recognize Robin when she comes in. ?Do you know what she looks like?? he asks. ?Nope. But in her photograph I think she's wearing a hat.?
?Yeah. I think she always wears a hat. Every photograph I've seen of her, she was wearing a hat. She's a hat person.?
The first hat comes in minutes later. Obviously not her, since the woman immediately looks the other way when we stare expectedly at her. Hat number two arrives. Bingo. It's Robin, her sister, Shannon, and a visiting friend from California. By the time lunch is finished, I know that this is going to work. The enthusiasm and excitement is contagious. There's a lot to do, but doing it together is going to be fun!
Two more meetings. One at Harry’s Road House and later a dinner meeting at Robin’s house. Soon (March, 1994) we’re ready for the first official SFMUG meeting, held in the Main Library’s community room, downtown. Approximately 50 people attend and the presentation features a brand new Macintosh PowerPC. A half-dozen attendees volunteer to serve on the first board of directors. We've been meeting monthly (more often for some of us) ever since.
So, for what its worth, Cloud Cliff is the birth place of SFMUG. The contributions of many volunteers since then have been, and continue to be, invaluable, but this was the very beginning, as seen from my vantage point.
As far as I know, the only part I've left out is the Friday night meeting in Red River at the Mother Lode Saloon, the weekend before the inaugural SFMUG meeting… but no one remembers very much about that meeting anyway.