Or "Rednecks, Computer Geeks & Flea Markets"
by Uncle Hiram
What do you get when you cross a room full of Computer geeks with a bunch of Fanatic Genealogists? I mean besides a very messy office and 16 pizza delivery boxes. You get GenTech, an organization obsessed with the Technology that is involved with Genealogy. During the GenTech 2001 Conference I had the opportunity to visit with John Philip Wylie, Past President and one of the founders of GenTech. I would like to share with you our discussion of the history of GenTech.
Way back during the early days of the home computer revolution (Late 1980s to early 1990s) in Dallas there was a big computer swap meet/flea market called Super Saturday Expo. People would get together and swap parts, buy memory, spare boards, and discuss various aspects of Home Computing. One of these discussion groups was Genealogy. Originally there were four Genealogy "User Groups," in 1992 they added a fifth group for Family Tree. The Genealogy "User Groups" were growing consistently and the Super Saturday Board wanted to experiment with Specialized or theme weekends. As a result their was a need for a Genealogy Group to coordinate everything.
The heads of the five genealogy "user groups" got together and decided to conquer the world. (oops, sorry, Caffeine induced Delusion). I meant to say form a separate group to handle the Genealogy weekends. Al Sanford and his son, a Texas Lawyer, filed all the government inspired tax free status paperwork and GenTech was born. Right from the beginning it was a loud baby with big ears, big feet and a desire to conquer the world (ooops, sorry, I have to cut back on the caffeine. Just ignore that last sentence.)
The original GenTech board had six members, each of which tossed in $25 bucks to cover operating expenses. Dwayne Lenerd, with little more than dreams and typical Texican brashness, went out and sold five vendor booths for the first conference. The First Conference was held in Feb of 1993. The board decided to always hold their annual conferences in midwinter so that they didn't compete with the NGS Conference
Over the next several years they added more people, continuing to grow in importance and size, invaded a small South American country (STOP THAT, it aint funny anymore, behave). Just for the record they didn't invade any countries. GenTech became the place where the software designers could actually talk to the genealogists using the software, an ideal that has led to better software. GenTech will continue to explore its future and continue to grow (While attempting to conquer the world).
It takes about two years to set up each of their annual conferences. Mr. Wylie says he expects that the organization will always be informal and loose. (I guess owing to its roots) GenTech 2002 is going to be in Boston, GenTech 2003 in Phoenix, If you can attend one, they are well worth the price.
Very Soon: If Unk don't shape up the guys in the white jackets are gonna get him (GRIN)
- Adios and Keep Smiling!
- Bill Hocutt (Uncle Hiram)