The three-part mission of The Softalk Apple Project is to preserve, explore, and extend the content legacy of Softalk magazine. As part of our "Extend" mission, we encourage community members to contribute "More to the Story" and "Then & Now" articles. This short story is totally awesome and fits into both the "More to the Story" and "Then & Now" categories...
After posting the first two "More to the Story" articles about "Softrek Going Mobile" adventure (Part 1, Part 2), I decided to dig a little deeper to see if I had any more slides from our Softrek travels. And indeed there was; a whole roll's-worth box with a few gems – shots of Bear working on the Softrek computer before we hit the road, a selfie of me taken in my bathroom mirror, more on the road photos, and one of the Softrek-mobile parked outside a local authorized Apple dealer store.
While on the road with Softrek, we served as Softalk's "Ambassadors of Good Will and Cheer." Dave "Bear" Fitzgerald and I stopped at authorized Apple Computer retail stores whenever we had a chance. Among the newly discovered photos, the one at the Apple computer store was perplexing. I could not remember where this MCS Inc. computer store was. So wannabe History Detective that I am, I thought, "What are the chances?... No way... after all these years... But what the heck. It's easy enough to check it out." So the game was afoot! :-)
My most obvious clue from the photo was the "WBIR Radio and TV Studios" sign popping up toward the rear of the MCS store. So a quick search told me that WBIR is now the NBC affiliate in Knoxville, Tennessee. I went to the station's website, checked out the About and Contact pages, and found a live map. I clicked on it and zoomed in. But... it just didn't look right. Sure, a lot would have changed in thirty years, but I didn't see anything like in the photo.
But now I knew that MCS Inc. was in Knoxville, and it had been an Authorized Apple Computer dealer. So on to step 2.
A Google search for "MCS Inc. apple computer" and WHAM! Totally awesome! Search result #1 led me right to the modest one-page informative website for MCS Services, Inc. where the masthead's slogan proudly proclaimed: "Providing Apple Computer Solutions since 1978, approximately 12898 days, 19 hours, 54 minutes, and 42 seconds!"
I next selected the footer text for the address: 2831 Broadway, Knoxville, TN 37917, right-clicked and did a web search... and WHAM, again!!! :-) Not only is MCS Service, Inc. still in business; they are in the same wonderful location with a fresh coat of paint (and it looks like WBIR is no longer a neighbor). I resized the window and scroll-wheeled in from the map to 'Street view' and there you have it:
After thirty-one years, so much has changed... well, except for MCS Services remarkably not only still being in business but doing it all these years in the same location! What is so amazing is how quickly and easily I not only figured out where this picture was taken, but I went zooming in on a "live map" on the Internet that let me do a virtual visit from my office chair in Cedar Rapids. I used the camera controls to walk around the store, up and down the street, even get as close as I could to the position I used to take the original photo.
With this much progress in just over thirty years, imagine what is ahead in the next thirty!
Congratulations MCS Services! You good folks are truly a "living legend" of early Apple Computer retailing.