VCF East, the fabulous retrocomputing festival held in Wall, NJ this last weekend was a blast. We had a great time, dropped t-shirts and stickers to just about anyone who wanted one, took a lot of pictures, and shot a lot of video. Now that it’s over it’s time for the post-mortem, with one insanely long post.
We saw some very cool stuff that merited its own post, and much more that we simply didn’t have time to video. The previous posts from VCF East:
- The Swyft Card
- Streaming Videos To A Commodore PET
- Briel Computers
- Flappy Bird for the TI-99 and Fahrfall for the CoCo
- AT&T UNIX Machines and a Prime Minicomputer
There’s still tons more, including a tour of the retrocomputer museum that hosted VCF East. The biggest talk was from [Dave Haynie], lord of the Amiga giving part three of a multi-year talk on the soap opera that was Commodore International.
Click that ‘Read more…’ to see all this.
There’s a reason VCF East was hosted at InfoAge. This former military base and the DARPA of the 1920s is also the home of MARCH, The Mid-Atlantic Retro Computer Hobbyists. The MARCH exhibits range from analog computers, up through homebrew terminals, eventually ending in the mid 80s with a Mac 128.
The President of MARCH and organizer for the VCF East was kind enough to take us through a partial walk through of the MARCH exhibits. Items of note include one of the first generation of PDP-8 minicomputers. This beast used diode-transistor logic and core memory. Also on the walk through is a TV Typewriter, and a Mimeo 1, the most perfect replica of an Apple I you’ll ever find.
The Commodore Soap Opera
VCF East, being located in New Jersey, has close ties with the Commodore community and over the past 10 years of hosting the event, they’ve been able to put together a series of talks from the people who were actually there.
The first talk in 2007 is from [Chuck Peddle], designer of the 6502, KIM-1, and the Commodore PET. The second talk in 2012 was given by [Bil Herd], covering Commodore from the departure of [Jack Tramiel] until the beginnings of the Amiga. This past weekend, [Dave Haynie] wraps it up with Commodore’s sad exit.
[Chuck Peddle]‘s talk at the 2007 VCF East
[Bil Herd]‘s Commodore experiences from the departure of [Jack Tramiel] until the release of the Amiga, VCF East 2012
[Dave Haynie]‘s talk on the Amiga, VCF East 2014
This is probably the first time all these videos have been embedded in one place. That’s interesting in itself – note the increase in video quality, and the fact that we can do YouTube videos over 20 minutes or so now. If you have a very good eye, you will also note [Bil] can only count to nine and a half now.
An Absurd Amount Of Pictures
Intel 8-bit (and one 4-bit!)
There were, of course, a lot of 8080s, 8088s, and other Intel 8-bit CPUs. One of the best displays was from [John Chapman] and his Lawrence Livermore Labs MST-80B. He has a really cool 24-bit hex display he’s also working on based on the old LED bubble character displays. All very cool stuff.
By far the best represented brand of 8-bit home computers was Commodore; everything from PETs with chicklet keyboards to Amiga 3000s. I’m an idiot, though; I was hiding my camera gear and random stuff behind [Rob Clarke]‘s exhibit of Commodore Oddities but somehow I didn’t get any pictures. Like I said, I’m an idiot. Still, he had most of the Commodore TED machines – the 116, C16, Plus/4, and 232 all made an appearance. Here’s some Amiga pics:
What good would a vintage computer festival be without people swapping gear, books, software, and hardware? VCF East had an entire room dedicated to selling, and it was cramped. The prices were pretty fair, as well: if I had to ballpark it, I’d say the prices were about half of what sellers on eBay are asking, although judging from a few forums I frequent, that’s about par for the course.
I was hoping to snag a nice Amiga monitor, but only ended up grabbing an old mechanical Apple keyboard (M0116, peach Alps switches), a few books, and a 14″ Apple CRT. The “cool” stuff went really fast, and surprisingly all the Commodore 64s were sold in the first few hours.
Interesting vendors of note include [Vince Briel] of Briel Computers. We did a whole post on him, but if you look closely you’ll see his next, unannounced project. The table full of software is from Eli’s Software Encyclopedia. Here are the pics:
All in all, VCF East was an awesome event, and well worth a day trip if you’re within a few hundred miles or so. InfoAge itself was great, and well worth the trip even if there isn’t an event going on. There’s a ton of stuff we simply couldn’t get to, and we’re looking forward to the next year’s activities.
If you’re too far away to visit the next VCF East, don’t worry: there’s VCF Southeast near Atlanta in just a few short weeks.
There’s still one more thing we need to post – InfoAge is also home to a great hackerspace. We’ll get around to posting that when the our computer stops crying from all this video rendering.
If that’s not enough for you, [Fran] also stopped by and shot some video. She’s done editing about a third of what she shot, you can find that below.