Happy 30th Anniversary TAPCUG - (1984 - 2014)

THE EARLY HISTORY of TAPCUG, Modified from a DataLine article by Ann Copeland


Way back in 1984 three friends bought new personal computers, PCs, from the Byte Shop on 6th Avenue.  No one had any idea on how to use these new contraptions so they decided to form a small study group and meet at Lew Chichesters nearby office just off 6th Avenue. Quickly this little group turned into a bigger group so they arranged to meet across 6th St. at the Swazy  Library meeting room. Bill Zawlocki was the first group leader, but he  did not stay around very long. Lew Chichester took over as the 2nd  president who I though was President for Life when I joined TAPCUG in 1988 because Lew was in the presidents office until 1992.

As word got around, the group grew to several dozen computer enthusiasts and outgrew the Swazy Library meeting room, so they moved again over to the Lakewood Librarys much larger meeting room. Several Special  Interest Groups, called SIGs, their acronym, were formed and they met  in various locations, mostly in small offices and homes.
Note: we did not have WiFi access in those early years,
since it hadn’t been invented yet....

When the membership nearly doubled in one year our early founders decided it would be appropriate to get organized as an official organization. They drafted a Constitution and By-laws along the lines of other  computer clubs. APCUG, the national computer association, was very helpful in this process. You will see the APCUG logo on most of the  DataLine newsletters. Sometimes we forgot to pay our dues, oops!

The TAPCUG By-laws and Constitution have been up-dated only a few times, but we always maintained our  original mission, to share our knowledge of computer use in a fun way and to encourage interaction among the  membership.

Garnet  Larson, who was the treasurer from 1986-1991 and President from 1991-1993, filed the information with the IRS to obtain 501c3 status for TAPCUG. She was known around Tacoma as the authority in this field of  501c3 procurement. Although, in 1997 it was questioned if we really were a charitable organization or just a not-for-profit group.

Sadly, 1997 was a year of chaos for TAPCUG with 3 sets of officers elected in one year. We had a great loss of members that year, and therefore a big income decrease from membership dues. We somehow managed to get through it with the outstanding leadership of president Nico Roos. We were  very fortunate to have a reserve/savings in CDs of around $5.000 to help us through this downturn. I still dont know why it all happened. If anybody does know, please clue me in.

Back to speaking of TAPCUG early officers, SIG lead-ers and support staff. . . .

Dick Fairchild was the 1st newsletter editor from 1987 to 1994, and he was also the V.P. as well. He was instrumental in obtaining outstanding speakers and programs for our meetings. Dick association with APCUG and his attendance at many computer conferences gave him the opportunity to bring in many vendors with interesting information for the SIGs and the general membership meetings. Did you know that the SIGs often hosted special evening events featuring vendors such as Microsoft, Center Point, and Media Vision. I wonder how many of these early vendors are still around? Many were gobbled up by Microsoft, etc.

These vendors would bring their products to raffle off to member attendees which is how our raffle got started. Although this sounds really generous, the raffle winners were expected to write an article evaluating the new product. The articles appeared in the Data Line as well as being sent to the vendors. So it was a “win-win.¯ Early member, Dohn Swedberg, was a prolific writer and managed several SIGs as well. Dohn was a very enthusiastic early member who started another computer group for youngsters.

The number of SIGs has varied throughout the years from around 4 up to as many as 13 depending on the  “interest of the year¯ and who was able to be the SIG leader. SIGs  varied from Desktop Publishing to Data bases to Genealogy to Investing. The SIG leaders were also in the learning process so everyone benefitted from these sessions. And some members happily took on several SIGs at once. I believe that Dohn had 3 SIGs going one year.

Our dear past president, Neil Stahfest, told me that he found out about TAPCUG from a flyer posted on a library bulletin board, and he joined TAPCUG right away. He, too, was a very dedicated early member. He went  to every TAPCUG meeting. Although, he missed a meeting in 1987 and was elected V.P. in charge of selecting program presenters. Now, if the  program presenter didnt show up, guess who presented the program; Neil, of course.

Once in 1994 Neil presented a program on Shareware (freely available programs) and brought some disks for members to purchase. Out of this grew our Disk of the Month (DOM). This has been a generous contribution to our budget over the years. We estimated that it brought in around $65 to $125/mo., not bad. Even to-day our dues have remained at $30/yr.; pretty amazing in spite of the ups and downs in the economy.

We have maintained a reserve/savings of  close to $7,000 in CDs in case of a financial disaster and our bank  balance has fluctuated around $2,000 each month even though our membership has declined from over 250 in the 1990s to less than 100  members today.

Fortunately, TAPCUG expenses have decreased considerably since the days when we were printing and mailing the Data Line at a cost of nearly $300/mo. Another great saving has been the rental cost for our meeting rooms. We have moved several times over the years, from the Libraries at no cost, we went to the IBEW Union Hall  in 1990 on Mullen St., near Home Depot on Center St. The rent started  at $135/mo., but then it went up a bit over the years.

We were  lucky to get this large meeting room which had all the amenities. Garnet Larson worked for the IBEW Union so we thank her again for her ability to arrange use of this facility for us. In 1994 we had to find another meeting place rather quickly. President Robin Rego had some connections with Pierce College and we got to meet in their auditorium. This location created some difficulties because of the long drive from Puyallup to get there so we went looking around again.

In February 1995 we moved to the Lakewood Senior Center which is on the campus of Clover Park. We just called it the Clover Park facility since this was the location, not to be confused with our current meeting room at the Lakewood Community Center. We stayed at Clover Park for 9 years even though the rent was pretty pricey at $175/mo. Oh well, we  had over 250 members and income from lots of dues and the DOM income,  too. Several SIGs could also hold meetings there in the evening. It seemed as though we had found our permanent home.

Ten years later, however, in 2006 when Cyndie Carr was president we looked around again and decided to move to the Lakewood Community Center, where we are meeting now. Since our membership had fallen off and the dues  income was dropping, a less expensive rent would help our budget. We  are able to use this meeting room for only $75/mo. WOW! This rental  bargain happened mostly because we agreed to provide volunteers who would have a weekly Open Lab¯ to help anyone, members or not, with their computer problems. We have this Open Lab every Friday from 10 AM until noon. Sometimes we have a dozen or so people who have never heard of TAPCUG who come in to get some help and advice. Sometimes there are only 2 or 3 folks, or even nobody. On these mornings we just help each other and maybe go out to lunch together. It is always fun and we learn new computer skills as we help others. This is why we encourage  all members to participate in the Open Lab on Fridays.

Over the  years we have merged with a couple of other computer clubs : the Apple Pickers (Adobe group) in 2002 and recently with the Toggle group. Several of their members were already TAPCUG members, too. We expect to continue our clubs existence for at least another 30 years and hope you will enjoy talking to some of the former early members while you eat your Birthday Cake and toast your punch to our wonderful organization.

TAPCUG meeting in progress, Come join us.


If you have additional information, please email it to us: or

Also, we would be happy to email you the 8 page Timeline.

by Richard Meier

1948 - IBM610 programable computer for data entry
1959 - IBM 1401 variable word length decimal computer
1959 - IBM 1620 used at Clover Park Tech College
1962 - NY Times first reference to personal Computer¯
1969 - IBM 1401 used by Richard Meier at PLU
1970 - Datapoint 2200 desktop computer
1970 - Richard Meier teaches 2nd computer class in Business Department
1972 - Edryce Reynolds,PLU Data Processing Dept Chair, buys Sperry Computer System
1974 - IBM intro 3740 data entry system, and 8 floppy disk.
1974 - Gates and Allen build 16kb computer
1975 - IBM 360 is dominant mainframe
1975 - First 5 ½ floppy disk
1975 - IBM 5100 desktop computer
1975 - Altair 8800 single chip microprocessor, cheap and easy to build, included PONG game
1977 - Intro of microcomputers for personal interaction
1977 - Wozniak and Jobs build first Apple 1
1977 - TRS-80 intro, Radio Shack had 3,000 store advantage
1978 - INTEL releases 8086 microprocessor
1979 - Microsoft has BASIC programming language
1980 - CPM 2.1 with multitasking and multi user released
1980 - IBM license for PASCAL, COBOL, FORTRAN and BASIC
1981 - Microsoft delivers its adapted 86-dos to IBM.
1981 - Xerox intros 8010 Star Information System
1981 - IBM 5150 released, allowed 3rd parties to do software
1982 - Commodore 64 and VIC-20, millions sold
1982 - Compaq announces the first IBM pc portable computer
1984 - Apple announces the Macintosh at the Superbowl
1984 - Microsoft releases MS-DOS 2.0
1984 - IBM Personal Computer/AT released
1991 - Microsoft releases MS-DOS 5.0. full-screen DOS editor
1992 - IBM announces the ThinkPad at Comdex
1984 - Apple announces Power Macintosh for desktop publishing
1996 - Apple buys NeXT and Jobs returns to Apple
1998 - Windows 98 released.
1998 - USB and DVD player on most computers for plug-n-play
2003 - AMD ships 64-bit microprocessor for desktops
2003 - Wi-Fi included in homes and public places
2008 - Personal computers total one billion worldwide!

Two more pages of notes covering the past six years, but you already know the rest of the story.
This has been a fun project, researching and remembering everything  thats happened since 1969 when I first entered the world of data  processing. Many books have been written about the evolution of the  computer. However, what we are really interested in is the evolution of the computer and the activities and programs that evolved in the Tacoma Area Personal Computer User Group.

In 1991 our sig groups were interested in desktop publishing, multimedia, databases, hardware, education and genealogy.
Yet we dont know the general expertise of the early members in TAPCUG in the 1980s. Nor do we know their professional expertise or where they were working at the time. This information would give us some insight  as to the interest factor of the members. What I do know is that the  Data Processing Management Association was also active in the Tacoma area at the same time. I also know that they were the professionals in data processing and their companies were using IBM mainframes along with Sperry and others.

This reminds me of the tagline in an  old television show which said there were 4 million people in the big city, each with their own story to tell, or something to that effect. Thats how I feel now that were celebrating our 30th anniversary  in TAPCUG. Ann Copeland has read every early Data Line that we have  been able to obtain and we have listed the officers, meeting places, SIG groups and miscellaneous comments going back almost to the beginning. What we dont have is the personal involvement of the people that were our leaders and our members at that time. We dont  know where they worked and if their interest in computers was professional or personal in nature.

The research and  documentation accomplished so far would be incomplete if we did not try to answer these questions. Therefore, were going to pass out computer punch cards (yes, real, genuine computer punch cards) and ask everyone to tell us about their professional involvement or personal interest in computers. We are especially interested in this information from the old timers that no longer attend our regular meetings. We also want to hear any comments that you have relating to the history of TAPCUG and the computer industry in general, especially your personal involvement.

Richard Meier and Ann Copelan


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