Mary Camp on Greenbelt Computer Club
The Greenbelt Computer Club meets on the second Thursday of the month in the Greenbelt Community Center, and its announcements are in the Greenbelt News Review. On March 8, I attended its meeting and spoke to Mary Camp about the history of the club.
The predecessor of Greenbelt Computer Club was Greenbelt Internet Access Cooperative (GIAC). It was founded in July 1996, at a time when internet access in individual homes was still rare and expensive. GIAC negotiated and purchased internet service packages from internet service providers, and it in turn provided its members access at a discount. Doug Love and Neil McLeod were early founders of GIAC, and they started greenbelt.com, a community website about all things Greenbelt. Members of GIAC could then obtain email accounts and websites through greenbelt.com, and for many years, Neil McLeod was the site’s webmaster, adding a great deal of content to the site including a comprehensive community directory and photo galleries.
GIAC also offered a variety of free computer classes covering topics such as “How to Buy a Computer,” “Internet Security Software,” “How to Can Spam,” and “Inexpensive Graphics Software.” Mary Camp gave many of the lectures and sometimes speakers outside the group were invited as well. Sharon Natoli, a professional photographer who worked for the Washington Times, once gave a talk on buying digital cameras.
A great deal of changes have taken place since 1996. After home internet access became widely and relatively cheaply available, GIAC’s original purpose of providing cheap internet access to members is obsolete. GIAC is now Greenbelt Computer Club which still meets on the second Thursday of the month when GIAC Board of Directors used to meet. Members now talk about latest developments in the world of computing and whatever else they have in mind.
Mary Camp tells that her first contact with computers came in the early 1970s when she was an undergraduate student at Cal State University San Jose. She was in a work study program and worked at NASA Ames Research Center drawing graphs for the astrophysics group. She later went to graduate school in Oregon and moved to the Washington area when she started working for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. She worked at USDA’s downtown office first and later transferred to its Beltsville site. Camp was for many years GIAC’s vice president, and now she calls herself a “facilitator” in the computer club. She says that after Neil McLeod died in 2006, Peggy Bates, the group’s treasurer, was able to renew the registration of greenbelt.com, but the site has not been updated.
Rich Storty is the other member at the meeting. He worked for the Washington Metro for 33 years before retiring in 2003. He lives in Greenbelt East and after retiring, he has enjoyed going to various city activities. He is holding a Motorola Droid 2 smart phone which he has had for about ten month and still loves.
Mary Camp and Rich Storty talk about a range of issues from Apple’s new iPad, just released yesterday, to streaming movies on Netflix, ancient bag phones Storty used to have from the Metro, and Apple Lisa computers, amber and black monitors, and WordPerfect software that Camp remembers.
Storty says that his dream is to have a phone-sized computer that can produce a virtual screen in front of him.
The meeting ends at about 9:20 pm.