On a sunny day in April 1985, our two founding members, Sharon Zardetto and Richard Wolfson met at the old Computer Pros store (An Apple dealer which is no longer in business) that was located at the West Belt Mall in Wayne, New Jersey. Sharon, an educator and writer of a number of computer books as well as for the MacWorld and MacUser magazines, saw the need for a user group that concentrated on the then new Macintosh computer. As the computer was selling pretty well and there was no adequate instruction available, nor was there much software then available for the new machine, the users were becoming frustrated. They hung around Computer Pros and traded information. The staff at Computer Pros knew just about as much concerning the new computer as did the average user.
Sharon was introduced, by the Computer Pros staff, to Rich, who she did not then know, but was at Computer Pros at the same time. Since Rich was a professor at Montclair State College, Sharon thought he might be able to obtain meeting space for a user group. At first, Rich did not want to get involved, but eventually Sharon was able to convinced him. From this chance meeting between Sharon and Rich, two things occurred, NJMUG was founded, and Sharon and Rich were eventually married. Sharon and Rich wanted NJMUG to be managed by its members. Therefore, they convinced the membership to run the organization themselves. Rich made sure that the group had a place to meet at Montclair State College, and both Rich and Sharon acted as both guiding lights and technical advisors.
Richard Wolfson, Sharon Zardetto, and NJMUG's oldest continuing member, William Polestra at our 20th Anniversary meeting.
The early meetings were held at the Montclair State Student Union's annex on the third Tuesday of each month, the same day we still meet today. The early meetings were attended by about thirty people and was just about the only place Macintosh information was available in northern New Jersey. Montclair State was a great place to meet. In the beginning they supplied a relatively large (27 inches) television so that we all could see what was being demonstrated on the Mac's small screen. During these first meetings, the Macintosh could not be attached directly to the TV. Therefore, a TV camera was used to capture what was on the Mac's screen. Later on, Montclair State let us use their TV projectors.
The first officers and leaders of NJMUG were high school students and one college freshman. They were:
From the beginning NJMUG published a monthly newsletter. The first edition of the MacLedger was published in May, 1985 with Mike Waldorf acting as the editor. These first editions were printed on Apple ImageWriter printers and then duplicated for the membership on a copy machine. When Apple introduced the LaserWriter, we printed the MacLedger on a LaserWriter at the Computer Pros store and then produced multiple copies on a copy machine. Over the years, we had many members such as Bob Lazzerini, Bob Langer, Dr. Adrien Coblentz, Allan Warner, Agnes Idyk, etc. act as MacLedger editors.
In the beginning we had Adam Green, a 15 year old high school student, as our treasurer. The steering committee met at his house because he could not yet drive. We had a high school senior, John Gallauger, who ran a dial-up bulletin board, with one phone line, from his house, that became the group's first communication site (This was way before the Internet was easily available).
When John went to college, the bulletin board was taken over by Dr. Robert Gallo, and was located in Westwood, NJ. After he got tired of running the bulletin board, we were lucky to have Mike Bielen offer an old established two phone line bulletin board, called the "Whitehouse", that he then ran as our official bulletin board. Mike continued to operate the bulletin board for quite a few years and converted us over to the Internet while he was working for the Turnaround Team, a firm in Westfield, NJ that was a Web host. When Michael got tired, we then had Eric Mandela, a student from Rahway High School run the board and Web Site. During the time the Turnaround Team hosted our Web site, NJMUG supplied a convoluted Internet connection to the Rahway Board of Education, so they could gain access to the Internet. This was when the Internet was just becoming popular. When Eric got tired of running the Web site, Chuck LaTournous became our webmaster and later other members tried to run it. Finally, Jerry Glacken took it over and has been the Webmaster ever since.
On December 20, 1988 NJMUG was incorporated as a New Jersey Not-For-Profit Corporation. Dr. Richard Bernstein, who was then president of NJMUG, Dr. Adrien Coblentz, Robert Langer and Dr. Richard Wolfson were the initial Trustees. The incorporator was Edward Lippincott, our attorney, as well as a long time NJMUG member. After Richard Bernstein gave up the presidency, Mayer Fistal took over in 1997. However, when Mayer moved away from northern New Jersey, we convinced Bruce Mittelman, who was at the time our Vice President, to take on the job. He is still our president after many years of service. After NJMUG was incorporated, Marty Sobin became the treasurer, and also acted as corporate secretary. After Marty retired Allan Warner took his job for a few years.
In 1998, we started to move around the Montclair State campus to various buildings. There was a problem in using Montclair State, which was parking. Free parking was available, but it was quite a distance from the buildings where we held our meetings. When it rained or snowed, we had very few members in attendance. In the mid 1990s Montclair had a building boom. We had then further trouble finding a meeting space, sometimes meeting at a different place each month. We would leave a sign on the meeting room we used the previous month to direct members to the current building and meeting room. Finally, a new classroom building was finished with a wonderful large theater that had a TV projector mounted in the ceiling. This was a great room for our meetings until Montclair State started building again. The parking problem became more difficult. Not only were our members competing for fewer parking spaces, but we also were in competition with the large number of evening students who were also looking for parking spaces and classrooms.
In September, 2001 the steering committee and Trustees decided to find another location with better parking. We found the Allwood Branch of the Clifton Public Library. It was a good location, but we had to buy our own TV projector and had problems, at first, obtaining an Internet connection. Eventually, we donated an Internet router to the Library, which gave us a wireless Internet connection. The library's meeting space is not as large as what we had at Montclair State, but is now adequate. Through the years, our meeting's attendance has grown smaller to between 20 and 30 members. When we have a special speaker, such as someone from Apple, we use every chair available in the meeting room and some folks have to sit on the floor. The Library's meeting room holds about 50 people. At Montclair State, we had about 125 people at our largest meetings.
On October 19, 2004, NJMUG had its 20th Anniversary celebration. There was a party where Andy Ihnatko, a Mac commentator, author and columnist for the Chicago Tribune newspaper and MacWorld attended and gave us a very funny description of the history of the Macintosh Computer. Sharon Zardetto also spoke about the founding of NJMUG and how the Mac changed computer technology. During the party, NJMUG gave an award to William Poelstra, our oldest continuing member who has been at just about every meeting since NJMUG's founding and is still attends every meeting to this day.
The interesting thing about NJMUG is the general area where we meet. At either Montclair State or the Clifton Library, we are about 6 to 8 miles from Manhattan (New York City). We have had members over the years from advertising agencies, radio/TV stations and production firms, medical and educational institutions, graphic arts and the photo industry, as well as book, magazine and newspaper operations. The membership has been extremely diverse which gives everyone attending our meetings a broad prospective concerning the Mac's uses and abilities.
Richard Wolfson presenting William Polestra with a "Certificate of Appreciation" for being NJMUG's oldest continuing member.
The need for a Macintosh User Group still exists. The computer has become very complicated but at the same time is relatively simple. After mastering the machine's basics, which is easy, the user might run into a stone-wall when trying to accomplish more advanced functions. The advent of the Apple Store and Internet have helped somewhat, but the user group is an ideal way to transfer the required knowledge fast and efficiently to a small group of people who are dedicated enough to have come out at night on the third Tuesday of each month.
"Sharing Knowledge and Building Friendships Since 1984"
Then the New Jersey Macintosh Users Group is for you! By attending our monthly meetings, you'll:
Download our membership application and mail in with your membership dues or bring it with you to any monthly meeting.