We’re At The Vintage Computer Festival This Weekend!

VCF

This weekend takes some of the Hackaday crew to the Vintage Computer Festival East in Wall, New Jersey. There’s going to be lots of cool stuff, some dork walking around handing out Hackaday t-shirts and stickers, and more awesome retro computation devices than you can shake several sticks of RAM at.

On the agenda for Friday are a host of talks that include bootstrapping CP/M, assembly programming, disk imaging, and a talk from our very own [Bil Herd] on how to not kill yourself with a CRT monitor.

Saturday is when things really heat up with exhibits including a PDP-8, a 1960s UNIVAC, Chromeco Dazzlers, VAXxen, and a whole slew of computers that weigh less than several hundred pounds. There’s even a real Apple I. Seriously. There are also workshops that include some really obscure work from the late, great [Jef Raskin], and more talks, including [Dave Haynie]‘s recollections of Commodore’s circling the drain.

The VCF is hosted at InfoAge, an exceptionally cool vintage technology treasure trove that’s more than worth the visit, even if there weren’t a vintage computer festival going on this weekend. We caught up with the InfoAge guys a while back, and needless to say, if you come, you’ll have fun.

If you see somebody walking around with a Hackaday t-shirt on, be sure to tell them you’re a fan. If they don’t know what you’re talking about, ask them who they got the shirt from. Regular updates to follow, including a video of someone loading the Hackaday Retro site with an Intel 4004 microprocessor. I didn’t think that was possible either.

Oh, watch our Twitter or something. That’s a thing now.

Basking in the vintage glory of InfoAge

Last weekend’s Maker Faire wasn’t only about the latest and greatest. Some of the groups there brought up the latest and greatest from earlier eras. InfoAge is a historical science and technology learning center based out of the former Camp Evans in Wall, New Jersey, and they really know how to put on a show using old technology.

I made it to two booths at Maker Faire claimed by members or associates of InfoAge. First up is the booth from MARCH, the Mid-Atlantic Retro Computing Hobbyists. They’ve got a PDP-8, a PDP-11/20, a few VAXxen, IBM mainframes, entire kilobytes of core memory, and enough C64s, TRS-80s, Commodore PETs, teletypes, and punch cards to get to the moon several times over.

The feature of MARCH’s booth was a nearly 100% accurate Apple I reproduction. Yes, the same computer built by hand by [the Steves] who later went on to found Apple Computers. In the video (above, and after the break), a MARCH member demonstrates booting BASIC from a cassette interface with the help of an iPod and typing in a simple program.

Next up are the guys from the radio technology museum at InfoAge. They decided to celebrate the 100th anniversary of [Edwin Armstrong]‘s invention of the regenerative radio receiver.

The regenerative radio receiver is an extremely simple device; it can be built out of baling wire and some variants use only one tube. In the video, [Al] shows off his recreation of a regenerative receiver with fancy olde tymie components that include a variable capacitor and a B cell battery (it’s a recreation using a bunch of 9 Volts, but yes, B batteries do exist).

It goes without saying that InfoAge is really cool, and certainly worth the visit if you’re ever in the area. Bonus: it’s only 20 miles away from where [Penzias] and [Wilson] earned their Nobel Prize for discovering the Big Bang.

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