Retro Edition: VCF East, April 17 – 19

Around this time last year we were planning our trip to the Vintage Computer Festival East in Wall, NJ. This year we’re doing it all over again, and according to the announcements coming out of the planning committee, it’s going to be a very, very cool event.

This year marks fifty years since the release of the PDP-8, regarded as the first commercially successful computer ever. The historic Straight-8 from the infamous RESISTORS has been restored over the past few months, and it’s going to be turned on again for the festival. There will also be a half a dozen other PDP-8s at the event, but these are 8/M, 8/E, and 8/L models and not constructed completely out of discrete diode transistor logic.

Keynote speakers include [Wesley Clark], designer of the LINC computer and [Bob Frankston], co-creator of Visicalc. There will, of course, be a ton of educational and historical sessions on Friday. Our own [Bil Herd] will be there talking about vintage microcomputer architectures along with a dozen other fascinating people talking about really interesting stuff

As far as exhibits go, there’s literally everything you could imagine when it comes to retro computers. There will of course be a fully restored and functional PDP Straight 8, along with PDP-11s, Apple Newtons, Ataris, Network gaming on C64s. Hollerith cards, VisiCalc, mainframes, teletypes, video toasters, an RTTY amateur radio station (KC1CKV), a flea market/consignment thing, and all sorts of retro goodies. Oh, a Fairlight CMI will also be there. I don’t know how they got that one.

More info for VCF East at the official site, Facebook, and Twitter. If you’re in the area and want to exhibit something really, really cool, there’s still room for more. If you want a better feel for what will be going down at VCF East, check out our megapost wrapup from last year.

Of course if New Jersey isn’t your thing and you live a few blocks down from Peachtree Avenue, Lane, or Street, VCF Southeast 3.0 will be held in Roswell, Georgia the first weekend in May.

11 thoughts on “Retro Edition: VCF East, April 17 – 19

  1. I thought all pdp-8 had a letter designation. We had a pdp-8L in the computer lab at UWMilwaukee in 1975 and I had a pdp-8I in my spare bed bedroom I restored with the help
    of Newman’s computer exchange from Mich. The only pdp that I had without a letter was a
    pdp-1 from Milwaukee water works which was diode ttl. The pdp-8l that I used to operate at
    UWM had 32K core on it and would swap 128 user with the TTS-8 timeshare & OS8 op sys
    4Kuser at a time.
    Interesting note, the PDP-8 OS8 user manual had complete documentation on file allocation table structure. The pdp-8 in a 12 bit word length. When Bill Gates bought DOS 1.0 operating system from Seattle Computer it didnt have a FAT structure and IBM would buy
    it from Gates without it. DOS 1.0 has a 12 bit FAT structure.

  2. First computer I touched and actually worked on. PDP-8e. The boot “ROM” consisted of a board with a completely populated array of diodes (32 words deep). You created your boot program by clipping out the diodes you didn’t want. The remaining 1s and 0s was enough to bring up the ASR33 TTY and it’s paper tape reader (for more sophisticated programs).

  3. I just read the wiki on the pdp-8 and its not on target with everything. Anyway ,you made me think about the 8E and professor Levine had the pdp-8E and I had the the 2 8ls and the 8I.
    The part that wikis got wrong is the users of the pdp-8s were some of the most prolific software writers ever and freely traded their software with other users(OPEN SOURCED!)
    and one another before it became the right thing to do and deterred virus writers of that time.

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