No, up until the Abrams re-mess, Trek was one expanding body of work. There were the inevitable inconsistencies and a variety of approaches, some of which worked and some of which didn't, but it was still one big story with a fairly consistent philosophy.
That's the way it looks to us now, after having had years to get used to it. But believe me, people have always been denouncing new interpretations of Trek, from the animated series to the movies to TNG to ENT, as being too great a departure from the Trek they knew to be counted as a legitimate continuation. Good grief, when TNG came along, most of the TOS cast was aggressively negative toward it, complaining that it wasn't the real Star Trek
, and plenty of TOS fans felt the same way. It was years before TNG managed to win over the fanbase as a whole, years before it became an accepted consensus that TNG was part of the same "expanding body" as TOS rather than a radical departure or a different continuity altogether. (Heck, to a large extent, Roddenberry meant
for TNG to be a different continuity, a soft reboot that quietly ignored or retconned aspects of TOS he regretted in retrospect.)
For that matter, I can't believe you've forgotten just ten
yeras ago when plenty of people on this very BBS were adamant that Enterprise
had to be a separate reality from the prior Trek series and were infuriated when anyone suggested that it was part of the same "expanding body" as previous Trek. Come on, the arguments were epic, as ferocious as the arguments about the Abrams films today.
So, to borrow a line from another franchise, all this has happened before and all this will happen again. You think
that the Trek of the past has always been consistent and the new stuff is the first time there's ever been a radical break, but that's because you don't have the perspective of history. There's nothing in your reaction to the Abrams films that I haven't seen multiple times before in the past thirty-odd years of Trek history. Purist fans have always been insisting that only the old stuff was "real" Star Trek
and that the newest interpretation was wrong.