Ten Year History

MassCUE is a sharing organization with each member a full participant. How about doing your bit for this SHARED project. Please send your notes to algot@runeman.org. You certainly have your own favorite memory of a MassCUE event. The following "history" doesn't even talk about:

MassCUE's Semi-official, Completely Informal, and Just Partially Finished History of:

The First Ten Years

December of 1982 was a good time to start something new. Together with a few other like-minded individuals, Len Huber started the Massachusetts Association of Computer-Using Educators. The group felt the need for a state organization to try to pull together all computer-using educators to share their newfound joys and troubles. The group's big decision was that a semi-annual conference, held at different sites around the state would be a good idea. There were dues of $10.00 a year to cover mailing costs for statewide meeting announcements and to pay for refreshments at the meetings. Out went the first notice, and fifteen educators met for the first conference, hosted by Alan Lipp at the Easthampton Middle School in Easthampton (which nobody at the time thought was an odd coincidence).

It was early in March, just days from Shakespeare's and Julius Cesar's dreaded Ides of March. It was an auspicious occasion. Len and the others were eager to see some statewide support organized for K-12 computer users. Back then there were some programming books available about controlling computers like Digital, Atari, Apple, Radio Shack, and even IBM, but there were few "experts" who had focussed on the educational potential of computers. "What hardware should I buy?", "Have you seen any good software on nouns?", "Is my version of BASIC able to draw circles easily?", and other questions were difficult to answer. Computer dealers didn't have experience, and teachers were making "it" up as they went along. There were some schools hooked to mini-computers, but the new microcomputers had caught everyone's imagination and everyone needed support.

The second conference was on October 1, 1983 Assabet Regional Voc. Tech. in Marlboro where 18 people presented ideas and firmed up the structure of goals and by-laws. The person intending to be the conference "host" had actually left the school, and it was lucky a custodian was around to unlock the door, a custodian who could be persuaded to let the conference happen at all!

In March 1984, there were 25 people hosted by Katie Dunn at Simmons College.

October 27, 1984 in Needham, there were 30 attending. Inabeth Miller, from the Harvard Graduate School of Education gave us the views of an educator turned filmmaker and then software publisher, and educator again. The Saturday-only conference had morning coffee and Danish, but still didn't offer lunch. There were eight presentations in two morning sessions:

9:00 - BASIC programming for Teachers, Computers and ESL, Advanced Placement in Computer Science, Computer Careers for Teachers

10:00 - Computers go to High School, Introduction to Logo, Computers for Problem Solving, Artificial Intelligence.

MASS-CUE REPORTS, edited by Charlie Schiller, was the official newsletter and publication of conference proceedings. After the break for "bag lunch or find a cheap restaurant close by". There was a single afternoon presentation: Introduction to Educational Software. The business meeting met at the same time. Jim Modena, host of the conference, took the job of treasurer as officers were elected for the first time, and Len Huber passed the MASS-CUE (our beloved name was all caps and had a hyphen back then) checkbook to Jim with a balance of almost $250.00. Jim figured he could handle that level of high finance. Little did he know what lay ahead.

In Marlboro in March of 1985 Algot Runeman was the only non board member to sit in at the general business meeting. No secretary was present, and Algot foolishly agreed to take notes. 20 years later he was still at it. Everybody else was off creating the Computer Coordinators SIG with Alan November.

Fall 1985 at Arlington High, hosted by Tom Vaughn, had keynote Bob Perlman. Snow made driving home difficult.

In March of '86 in Shrewsbury the semi-annual meeting was hosted by Tom Plati who later became one of the inaugural winners of the Technology Pathfinder award. We finally topped 100 conference participants and entered a new era.

It was June 1987, when the first MassCUE Calendar (notice the missing hyphen and fewer caps) came out to complement the quarterly MassCUE newsletter 'onCUE' that was formed from 'The Computer Coordiator News'. 'MassCUE Reports' continued as part of the conference booklet.

October 17, 1986 was a Friday that didn't seem to end, but did at midnight, actually. Board members, conference committee and even Sheila Watson of Apple Computer stuffed folders, the first ones prepared ahead of time so the anticipated masses could move quickly through the registration procedures designed by Lucille Harper. Conference attendees no longer needed to stuff their own folder at the registration table. The last item to be put into the folder was actually printed by 11:00 P.M., no need to rush! Wellesley's conference, hosted by Alan November, was also the first to have vendor participation and a total of 350 people attended. The new era was upon us with a vengance.

School-Based Conferences

March 19(?), 1983Easthampton Middle SchoolEasthamptonAlan Lipp15 - 30
October ??, 1983Assabet Regional Voc-TechMarlboro??18
March ??, 1984Simmons CollegeBostonKatie Dunn25
October ??, 1984Needham High SchoolNeedhamJim Modena30
March ??, 1985Marlboro High SchoolMarlboro??35
October ??, 1985Arlington High SchoolArlingtonTom Vaughn45
March 29, 1986Shrewsbury High SchoolShrewsburyTom Plati100
October 18, 1986Wellesley Junior HighWellesleyAlan November350
March 28, 1987Nipmuck Reg.MendonCindy Donatelli425
October 24, 1987Foxboro HSFoxboroChuck Drayton350
March 26, 1988Haverhill HSHaverhillDick Silverman420
October 22, 1988Milford HSMilfordMary Pavento430
April 8, 1989Westfield HSWestfieldLaurene Belisle450
October 28, 1989Lexington HSLexingtonEdward Goode425
April 7, 1990Apponoquit Reg.MiddleboroClaudia Soares275

It was actually in Westfield that the idea of fixing the location of our conferences was born. Laurene Belisle had everything organized with a staff as efficient as the military. Alan November asked Laurene to transfer her conference organizing skills to a role on the board where she oversaw the efforts of the next two converence hosts. Alan actually cornered Laurene and talked her into doing a hotel-based conference after the Apponoquit attendance numbers showed our semi-annual school-sited conferences were too uncertain when held in schools if too many people had to drive a long way (Western Mass participants, say no more). For Apponoquit, many people stayed in a local hotel to avoid the morning ride to reach the site. We needed a central location. Hesitantly, the board, dragging its collective feet to avoid making a drastic mistake and losing every cent of our bank balance to pay for a hotel booking, finally agreed to a two-day conference located at a convention center hotel.

In what has become legendary speed and efficiency, Laurene Belisle took control of planning a hotel site for a two day conference. She had much gentle and supportive prodding from Alan November. "Yes, Laurene, you're doing a fabulous job. You have everything under control. Oh, by the way, can we fit another presentation into the 10:00 session?"

On October 26, 1990 conference registration began on Friday for "pre-conference" presentations lasting three hours. There was a Friday night recognition dinner, and the full day conference went off on Saturday with only electrical hitches. The vendor area was in the garden court of the Sheraton Hotel (which later became the Holiday Inn and remained the conference site for several years). By noon, the inadequate power supplies had blown their breakers twice and Earle Hancock and his assistants had wires running over the balcony railings from second floor guest rooms on separate circuits to the mostly tolerant vendors. The afternoon, with its draped extension cords running down behind the shrubbery, was better. (Electrical problems actually first hit our conference in Haverhill when the multimedia centerpiece presentation knocked out everyone's power and had vendors wondering if MassCUE had its act together.)

Starting in 1990, the special interest groups (SIGs) of MassCUE began to take shape as Chuck Drayton assumed a board role of coordinating the SIG information to the monthly calendar. By the spring of 1993 when Chuck passed SIG Coordinator reins to Ron Koehler, the MassCUE special interest groups were alive and well in almost every county of Massachusetts and spreading into neighboring Rhode Island. Topical SIGs for special needs and telecommunications also have regular meetings...

Oh, rats! It's getting late, and the MassCUE History Project isn't nearly done. Hey, wait a minute. This deserves some thought! How would it be if everybody took the time to enter a few notes, memories of MassCUE on this Wiki, a shared effort.

Thanks, for their input, to: Lucille Harper, Jim Modena, Joan Hamilton, Pauline Lamarche, Earle Hancock, Martin Huntley, Alan November, and...
Special thanks to Len Huber who started it all.

Page last modified on May 11, 2011, at 07:51 AM