Short of ordering cryonics material over the phone in 1994, I didn't become officially active with Alcor until spring of 1995.
I'm aware of at least one effort at associate membership prior to those days, so this brings the official count to three in my book. The second attempt also included a basic news letter of detailed activities within Alcor which were not included in Cryonics Magazine, but this activity ended up shifting into the direction of free posts by Alcor. As of today, these news posts are almost completely based on staff member Board reports from the monthly meeting.
The advantage to these reports is that it gives the general public some or a lot of exposure to what is covered at the monthly Board meeting, but it does not include some of the details that may occur in an article intended for traditional print; one can take a position which is better, but I can't say I have one.
To the extent Alcor associate membership is of value to those who sign-up today or in the past is best spoken by those who became associate members.