NATO was started somewhere around 2000 by Bob Penland from Philadelphia, PA.
According to Bob himself in a message board post on 7-6-2005,
"I started the club from the mailing list way back circa 99-00. There was a 2.3T List, mainly for SVO guys (anyone remember BugBug?) and there wasn't much put together for Turbocoupes. So, with a dozen or so people we formed turbotbird.com and got the club up and running."
"I think when I turned over operations to Pete there were 40-50 members, 15 or so who went to Carlisle the two years I was there. I wish I remembered all the names of the original members, I'd post them here."
"Skinny guy, pony-tail from Philadelphia; that was me. I've since sold my TC. My latest passion is my STi... but the TC still has a place in my heart. Thanks for the memories guys!"
According to Bob, "On a side note; I've been a member of other car clubs and am currently involved in the NAIOC [North American Impreza Owners Club] and I haven't found a community as active and loyal like this community. It's really impressive to see it grow and prosper 17 years after the last TC rolled off the production line."
An old member roster from February of 2000 seems to show there were somewhere around 40 founding members. These included (but were not necessarily limited to) Bob Penland, Bill Mitchell, Brandon Banks, Bret Spence, Brett Bassett, Brian Leavitt, Charles Dewitt, Dan Eaves, Darrell Horton, Andrew (?), Dennis (?), Erik Colangelo, Fred Harnishfeger, George DiGregorio, Irv Hall, Jack Lockhart, James Johnson, Jeff House Jr., Jeff Miller, Joe Simmons, John Winkelspecht, Keith Nubel, Kevin A. Rey, Kirk Williams, Martin Bokesch, Matt Allen, Matthew Jochum, Nate Killmon, Nathan Floyd, Nick Johnson, Peter Dunham, Phil Gesiakowski, Robert Myers, Scott Tooley, Wade Wagoner, Sam Ford, Richard H. Evans, and Allan Scott.