A Brief History of
The Hobart Computer Users Group
By John James
(updated by Peter Campbell and then by Charles Hunt)
The Group started out as the Tandy Hobart User Group and was formed on the 28th April 1984 so that users of the Tandy Model 1,111,4 and 4P personal computers could have mutual support from others who owned these machines. It was from the initials of this name THUG that the newsletter's name was derived, "Thuggery". However, objections in the early part of 2003 to the name led to a change. As from July 2003, the newsletter was renamed Keyboard & Mouse, these being the principal ways you operate a computer. It then went through a period where it was only published occasionally, due to the rising cost of printing it. However, the Editor then started an electronic newsletter, Bytes & Pieces. A couple of years ago this became Keyboard & Mouse and morphed into an A5 Landscape format, as this best suits online reading.
The first issue of Thuggery appeared in October 1985. A simple news sheet had been distributed before that date.
Names prominent in the foundation of the Group are, Peter Silver, Glen Gibb, Bert Smith, Kristen Rees, Dennis McDonald, Len Powell, John Hamilton, John Hutchens, Graham Conrad, Andrew Marshall, Byron Combes, Vaughan Roberts, Mike Knott and Glyn Roberts. All of these persons joined the Group during the first few months of its existence.
There is a record of a CP/M Users Group being started by Andrew Marshall and Byron Combes in 1984 and first using the CSIRO building in Stowell Ave, Battery Point for a meeting on the 10th September 1985. The topic of the meeting was the Z80 Processor, hardware and software. In 1986 this Group merged with the Tandy Group.
Another group that was formed in about August 1985 was the Southern Tasmanian Amstrad Club. This group met at Elizabeth College to support users of the Amstrad CPC range of home computers. As time went on and the Amstrad computer range extended into IBM-compatibles, the group evolved first into the Southern Tasmanian Amstrad and PC Club and then into the Personal Computer User Group. By that time they were meeting at the Derwent Regional Library.
About 1987 after Tandy Australia announced it was leaving Model 4 and 4P users "high and dry" and not importing the latest model 4D the word "Tandy" was dropped from the name and replaced by "The". The Group then became The Hobart Users Group.
In 1995 it was decided that the name The Hobart Users Group did not adequately tell anyone what the Group was all about and the name was changed to The Hobart Computer Users Group.
The first one or two meetings of the Tandy Group were held in Tandy's back shop, and then at Kirksway House, Battery Point.. The venue then changed to the CSIRO building in Stowell Avenue, Battery Point and for a time one of the bi-monthly meetings was held at the Telecom premises at 125 Main Road, New Town. From 1992 to 1995 all general meetings were held at New Town.
In 1995 and 1996 some meetings were held at IEMC, 165 Main Road, Moonah and from January 1997 until 9 January 2001, all meetings were held at the IEMC through arrangements made by Paul Turvey who used to work there. The Group moved to the New Town Senior Citizens' Club, 22-28 Creek Road, Lenah Valley, when the IEMC auditorium was converted by its owner into office space. Now we are meeting in G A Wood Hall behind Scots Memorial Church, 29 Bathurst Street, Hobart. It is hoped that this more central venue will prove more attractive to members than the Lenah Valley venue. The Group's postal address changes from time to time to suit the member of the Committee charged with the responsibility of collecting the mail. The current address is shown on the Group's website.
When it was decided to wind up the Personal Computer User Group in 1997, its Committee decided to donate the remaining funds to the Hobart Computer Users Group Inc., as several of their members had joined this group. At least three former members of the Personal Computer User Group have served on our Committee. They are Colin von Bibra, Peter Campbell and Cindy Campbell. Colin provided membership badges and was Secretary until his death, and Peter until his death was Webmaster and Editor .
The general structure of the meetings has not changed much over the years but the content certainly has. For example in 1991 it was noted that the last of the Tandy Model stalwarts had converted to MSDOS. At one time the group ran tutorials on Basic Programming and Batch files were big news. Understanding MSDOS commands and the content of your Autoexec.bat and Config.sys files were essential topics. However the main theme of the Group of helping one another with problems and endeavouring to keep abreast of the latest technology appears to have remained constant.
Some things pass into oblivion like the Public Domain Library and others like the creation of the Group's Web Pages (now located at http://hobartpcgroup.org.au) are born. Both of these events occurred in 1996. The Web Pages were hosted at first by Tasonline. As the Group outgrew the space available on that host, "free" websites were tried. Following donations from two members, who preferred to remain anonymous, the domain name http://hobartpcgroup.org.au was obtained and the Web Pages were moved to Stokia Network. The cost of web hosting and the registration of the domain name are now borne by the Group.
The Public Domain Library had flourished for many years and provided members with donated Freeware and Shareware programs at minimal cost (most of the donations were made by Art Storm of the USA). The death-knell of that facility came when CD Roms came on the market. One CD-Rom could hold about as many programs as the whole library. They were relatively cheap and were often free with computer magazines.
In January 2000, Paul Turvey, though not then on the Management Committee, contacted Bob Purdon at Southern Internet Services to find out how to start an email list. Bob responded by creating the HCUG-List. When that list became a target of spammers, various things were tried and eventually a new list, run through Stokia Networks took its place. That list was available for members' advertisements, discussion, cries for help and is used to notify publication of our newsletter called Keyboard & Mouse. After problems ensued in contacting Stokia Networks, a WordPress site was established originally through wordpress.com and now as a stand-alone hosted by Tristan Rogers .
I am indebted to John Hamilton and particularly to Glyn Roberts for their help in providing information for this article. Readers may like to refer to Glyn's article on the subject in the May 1994 edition of Thuggery. I also gleaned information from various other issues of that Newsletter and I came across a little pearler when someone wrote "Problems only started when I switched on". Isn't that so true? Peter Campbell provided the information about the Personal Computer User Group and any updates that became necessary since this was first written.
Since this Group's inception the following persons have held the office of President: Byron Combes, Glyn Roberts, Michael Knott, Gordon Hudson, Charles Hen, John James, Jenny Clark, Peter Campbell, Cindy Campbell, Paul Turvey, Paul Horne Henry Sharp and, currently, Patricia Rogers.
I wish the Group success in the future and I am sure that so long as people have computer problems and feel the need to learn more about them there will exist a Group such as ours.