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History: Lindsay Hunter and the SeniorNet Macs

SeniorNet Nelson lost an inspiring member in April 2018. Lindsay was deeply involved in the inclusion of Apple Macs into the Club and his support is greatly missed.
The following is an article, written by Roger Pittman, for the newsletter.


profiles lindsay hunter

Lindsay Hunter had always found computers fascinating, from his days in the police force during the early 1970s. At that time the computers were room-filling mainframe devices and financially beyond the reach of individuals. 

His brother Ian, a civil engineer, had access to a personal computer, and Lindsay was so envious that in 1980 he decided to import his own Sinclair Spectrum. He was wildly enthusiastic about the little digital wonder that he persuaded his wife Kay, a school teacher, to incorporate it in her lessons. He rigged it up to a classroom projector, and according to Kay “the kids were transfixed as I typed away on the keyboard”.

On retirement from the force, Lindsay started a business servicing the computers of small companies in Wellington, and amongst others won a contract to help voluntary organisations. In those days most businesses used Microsoft PCs, but one day a client turned up with a strange new beast, an Apple Macintosh computer.

The Mac was unusual at the time as it did not have a text screen, but instead used a graphical display and a mouse. Lindsay decided to buy his own Mac so that he could help his clients. “Self-taught”, says Kay, “he spent hours exploring the Mac’s capabilities and would extol its virtues to anyone who’d listen”. He grew to love the machine’s ease of use, reliability and elegant operation, even though most of his clients still used Microsoft PCs.

In November 2009 he moved to Nelson and became a member of NBMUG, the Nelson Bays Mac User Group. This was a small group of Apple enthusiasts who met each month at an upstairs room in the Farmers’ Arcade (appropriately above the Southtech Apple store) and later at Richmond Library.

In Wellington he’d been a member of Seniornet, but was not able to devote much time to the club due to work commitments. Now, in retirement, he sought out the Nelson branch and became a regular member. Much to his disappointment, he discovered that Nelson Seniornet was solely equipped with Microsoft Windows PCs and could offer limited advice to Mac owners.

lindsay hunter macs

Excerpt from the SeniorNet newsletter in March 1997:

Helen Gowland remembers Lindsay joining SeniorNet in 2009. She was in need of a portable computer to take on her travels and she asked him for his advice. Of course he recommended a Macintosh laptop! She had taught herself to use Windows on a neighbour’s computer, but when she bought her new Mac she had to learn the Apple way of doing things. Fortunately, fellow member, the late Nancy Malcolm had a Mac and the two women got together at Nancy’s home to help each other. As Seniornet had no Apple computers, Nancy’s home-based Mac group soon expanded to include Merle Moffitt and Shirley Dunlea. Helen was contributing her Mac photo-editing skills and Shirley demonstrated the newly-launched iPad. It was only a matter of time before Lindsay heard about them and
offered his experience to the rapidly growing group. They were a dozen strong.

“Nancy had found a kindred spirit in Lindsay”, according to her husband Bill Malcolm. “Her quiet passion for the Mac had found a vocal advocate in Lindsay”. Together, they would become a force for change at Seniornet Nelson.

Meanwhile, at the Learning Centre in 2010, Lindsay had been elected to the committee and the following year became president. He was now in a position to convince the committee that they should cater for the growing number of new members using Macs. He sought information from the Christchurch and Motueka clubs and together they became the first branches in New Zealand to incorporate Macs. Nelson bought its first Mac computer: an iMac they named “Kauri”, and so began the naming convention using names of native trees.

Trevor Lewis, a committee member at the time, remembers “It wasn’t long before Kauri was augmented by four new Mac Minis for the students’ use”. He recalls “Graeme Valpy, the technical administrator, suggesting they incorporate the new Macs into the Learning Centre without increasing the number of monitors, in order to reduce the clutter”. This was achieved by adding switches so that a Windows PC and a Mac could share the same screen.

Quite quickly the Learning Centre was able to incorporate Mac-based courses with 6 or more students. This was achieved by some students bringing their own machines. One member even lugged his large desktop machine to lessons! The first Mac-based course at Nelson was run by Lindsay and entitled “Introduction To Computers (Mac)” on 4th August 2010. Trevor Lewis tells me that according to club records, Lindsay taught a total of 162 hours from that date, nearly all Mac-related, representing 4% of all tuition to the time of his retirement from the club due to ill health.

The Learning Centre added Macintosh courses teaching Keynote (similar to Powerpoint), Pages (a word processor) and Numbers, similar to Excel. There were even Mac courses teaching photo and movie editing. Nancy’s forte was one-to-one tuition whilst others would present the courses.

It seemed obvious that Nancy’s home-based Mac Interest Group should move into Seniornet, which she organised and Lindsay convened. Within a year of purchasing the first Mac computer, Seniornet Nelson was offering a full timetable of Mac courses and interest groups.
Roger Pittman, September 2018