Ruth Lewart (President 1990-1992)

Cass was co-president the first year. We won a contested (yes, contested) election! When two newcomers announced they were seeking the presidency, John Cammarata, who contributed in so many ways to BCUG in those years, quickly recruited Cass and me, both long time members, to run against the "unknowns." We had about 56 members at the time, so as I was about to retire, thought it would be a manageable job. Cass also agreed. By the time I stepped down, we had well over 300 members, and I wasn’t so sure about it being a manageable job.

Shirley Estelle, one of our two "newbie" opponents, came on the Board, and lobbied for a regular, monthly newsletter. Fred Kagel, president previously, had long put out an informative newsletter, but not on a regular schedule. Shirley won. I think the monthly newsletter contributed a lot to the surge in membership. She became the editor. The early editions looked quite amateur, as dot matrix printers were what we all used. Shirley, to my horror, used cut and paste to insert all the clips that she had assembled, but the software to insert graphics hardly existed, and decent scanners weren’t affordable, so she had little choice. But the 10-page newspaper came out regularly, in advance of the monthly meetings. We had a logo contest some time later, and the winning entry was a text-only entry by Sally Zegarelli, presumably done in a DOS version of WordPerfect (that’s an insiders joke, as Sally didn’t believe in graphics or Windows.) I don’t recall the time frame, but Margot Sinnott (still a member today) contributed a picture of a bee – a rather crude bee had been a mascot already in the TRS-80 days, when the Club was named BUG80. George Somers, a founder and first president of BUG80 had designed it. Shirley asked me to connect the new bee (Margot’s) with a chip. Without benefit of Photoshop, the bee and chip (which I scanned) became the pair that adorn our newsletter today. The bee flourished, while Sally’s logo disappeared from the Masthead.

We had no workshops then, in spite of Shirley’s urging – probably I didn’t pursue the idea aggressively enough. But to compensate, we had terrific attendance at General Meetings. There are about 125 seats in NAS 100 (later we moved to the Forums), and sometimes almost all were filled. More times than I care to recall, the presenters didn’t show. The members didn’t seem to mind. Our meetings went on until at least 11 PM! The format was very similar to ours today. The auction was a big deal, because we had plenty of software coming in all the time – you only had to ask. Our display equipment was primitive, but nobody ever complained about keystoning or a fuzzy image – we were lucky if we got an image that didn’t swallow some colors. And we had an auctioneer extrordinaire, Stu Haber, who could have auctioned off the Brooklyn Bridge. We were accused of not being social enough, but our members eschewed dinners, sweatshirts/teeshirts with logos, and almost anything that would make us look like a cohesive group. John Cammarata proposed we have name tags, but I ended up with the job of producing and "managing" them. We had a huge canvas sheet, to which the name tags, in alphabetical order, were pinned. When a member entered the room, he got his or her name tag. At the end of the evening, the tags were dumped into a box. I then took these home, spread the canvas over a bed, and reattached all the name tags in alphabetical order. I don’t know if the effort was cost effective, but members liked the name tags, so I kept it up.

We started participating at the Computer Shows during this period. And we had our first flea market, chaired by Al Brown, at a Ken Gordon Show. He donated two tables. A lot of members staffed the tables – we were very busy, lots of customers. All of us had a ball. We also turned a nice profit. We sold old Apple computers that we thought wouldn’t move. But customers were hungry for everything computer-related in those days, so we moved lots of merchandise.

What were members interested in? A late 1993 survey, analyzed by Irv Leveson, showed WordPerfect just edging out Word; Excel just edging out Lotus and Quattro Pro; PC Tools just beating Norton. Members wanted more Random Access and additional meetings; both a videotape and CD-ROM library; and the BBS wasn’t used.

(Possibly more as I recall other trends)

Some of the members I’ve mentioned, and who contributed so much to BCUG, are, sadly no longer with us. But if you scan the membership list there are many that date back at least to the time I served, and will remember (or probably improve on) my memories.