DMA is the oldest club if its kind in Southern Ohio and one of the first computer user groups formed in the nation.
In April 1976, the first meeting of the “Dayton Computer Club” was held at the University of Dayton. Charter members paid just $5 for a 12 month membership. That first meeting was inspired by the January 1975 issue of Popular Mechanics magazine. The cover of that issue featured the Altair 8800. An order was placed for the 8800, but that model was already sold out, and an Altair 680 was delivered instead. The unit was assembled on the kitchen table and one of the group involved suggested forming a club. Dave Lundy suggested the name “Dayton Microcomputer Association, Inc.” (DMA), a play on the acronym for Direct Memory Access.
DMA was incorporated as an Ohio nonprofit in February on 1980, listing David Taylor, Conrad Phillippi, and Ralph Smith as trustees. We soon acquired 501c3 status from the IRS.
UD CONNECTION – Early on, DMA was officially registered as a student activity of the University of Dayton. Our faculty advisor was Brother Ben Zalewski. He helped provide meeting rooms, helped launch OTAP, secured a place for our Usenet server in one of the UD computer rooms, and much, much more.
BBS – Bulletin Board Systems were in frequent use in the years before the web was available. Dave Schwab managed and maintained the DMA BBS in his basement. A long list of local BBS numbers was included in Computerfest programs thru the fall of 1997.
DMAPUB – Early in 1992, Gary Turner led the group that built and installed a Usenet server at UD. It was the only non-university equipment in the computer room in Miriam Hall. The university offered the space and access to the internet. Connected by phone lines, this server provided DMA members with access to Usenet news groups. Email was added soon after. Enhanced internet services also offered Telnet, FTP, Gopher, and Lynx. Members could request a shell account that provided file storage and a place to host a personal website.
In 1995, the DMAPUB server was moved from UD to the RCINet offices in downtown Dayton. The operating system was updated from System V UNIX to Linux. A voicemail server that had been living in Bob Hazlett’s basement was also moved to RCINet. DMAPUB eventually moved twice more, to 119 Valley Street and finally to Dave Nevel’s basement. Once DMA moved our website and email online, PUB was finally retired and turned off.
WEBSITE – Our website went live in 1995 as DMA.org, hosted on DMAPUB. Ken Phelps did the initial design and Dave Lundy served as Webmaster until 2017, when Brent Kerlin took over. Carol Gudorf created and maintained the Computerfest website, Computerfest.com. In 2009, when DMA decided to close the Resource Center at 119 Valley Street, all our web activity was moved to a free-to-nonprofits account on Dreamhost.com.
DOMAIN NAME – In 2012, our original domain name, DMA.org, was sold to the Dallas Museum of Art. We adopted the domain name DMA1.org. (We are the original DMA after all.)
DATABUS – DMA began publishing a newsletter very early on, the issues ranging from 1 to 32 pages. Dave Lundy suggested the name “Databus”. Editors included Marilyn Mix, Diane Pencil, Bob Kwater, Gary Turner, Dave Lundy, Bob Hazlett, Bob Esch, George Gibbs, Jim Rowe, Glady Campion, Nancy Christolear, and Martin Arbagi. The Databus provides information on the structure of the organization, current meeting topic, upcoming events, SIG news, technical articles, and much more.
COMPUTERFEST – When DMA was just a few months old, they joined a coalition of user groups called the “Mid-American Association of Computer Clubs” (MAACC) in order to provide additional resources for their members. In the fall of 1976, MAACC sponsored a small computer swap meet in Cleveland Ohio. During the next few years, the event began to grow, hosted each year by one of the member user groups in Cleveland, Detroit, Louisville, Columbus, and Toronto, Canada. When MAACC began to fold, DMA brought Computerfest to Dayton
That first Computerfest in Dayton in 1984 was held at the Dayton Convention Center with nearly 40 exhibitors and some 500 attendees. Dave Taylor chaired the event. As the show continued to grow, it was moved to larger facilities at Sinclair Community College (1985) and finally to the Hara Complex. From 1996 through 2004, two shows were held each year at Hara, spring and fall. Keynote speakers included internationally known experts such as Mad Dog Hall and Stewart Cheifet. At its peak, Computerfest covered more than 120,000sqft of the Hara Complex with hundreds of vendors and over 40,000 attendees per show.
DAYTONLANFEST – Computer gaming was introduced at the fall 2003 Computerfest, just as the main event was beginning to wind down. DLF events attracted as many as 240 gamers to a single event, including several nationally ranked gamers. Attendees brought their PCs and game consoles, enduring up to 48 hours of non-stop gaming. They competed for cash and “swag” (products donated by vendors).
OHIO TECHNOLOGY ACCESS PROJECT – OTAP ran from 1995-2008 as a project of DMA. Initially collaborating with and borrowing space from the Technology Resource Center (TRC), OTAP grew quickly. In 1998, it moved to larger quarters at the DMA Resource Center at 119 Valley Street. Donated computer equipment was evaluated and refurbished by volunteers. The completed systems were placed with nonprofits or individuals with special needs. OTAP was recognized as a Microsoft Authorized Refurbisher (MAR) and a partner of the National Christina Foundation. APCUG selected OTAP for their Jerry Award program in 2002, giving OTAP their top award: “Best Overall Project”, which included a check for $1500.
COMPUTER CHRONICLES – DMA was a long-time sponsor of “Computer Chronicles” seen on WPTD, our public television station, until the show was cancelled by PBS in July 2002. This show helped improve computer literacy for viewers in the local Dayton area who weren’t able to attend our meetings. Stewart Cheifet brought his Computer Chronicles camera crew to Dayton and shot a full episode about the spring 2000 Computerfest event.
WIRELESS DAYTON DAYS – In 2005, the City of Dayton contracted with Harborlink to provide free wireless service to outdoor areas in the center of the city. WirelessDaytonDays was a community service project, spear-headed by Peter Hess, to publicize the service. A kick-off event was held at Sinclair. In order to maximize publicity, Peter set up a booth at free public events in Dayton, filled with laptops and plenty of volunteers to demonstrate the service and answer questions.
COMPUTER MUSEUM – Curated by Gary Ganger, the Dayton Computer Museum is an extensive collection of older, discontinued, and classic computer equipment. Gary maintains a certain number of these systems in working condition. He shows a small portion of the collection at the Techfest event at Sinclair College every year. DMA has been trying to convert this collection into a working computer museum for the benefit of Dayton area residents.
UD Scholarship – In 1993, DMA established a scholarship with the University of Dayton. Every year, UD provides this award to one student who is pursuing a major in Computer Science, Computer Info Systems, or Management Info Systems on a full-time basis.