Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen passed away Monday. He will be missed by all in the vintage computing community.
Allen and childhood friend Bill Gates started using computers in high school.
“Microsoft would never have happened without Paul,” Gates wrote today. “In December 1974, he and I were both living in the Boston area — he was working, and I was going to college. One day he came and got me, insisting that I rush over to a nearby newsstand with him. When we arrived, he showed me the cover of the January issue of Popular Electronics. It featured a new computer called the Altair 8800, which ran on a powerful new chip. Paul looked at me and said: ‘This is happening without us!’ That moment marked the end of my college career and the beginning of our new company, Microsoft. It happened because of Paul.”
Together they ported Dartmouth BASIC to the Altair, made it available through M.I.T.S. on paper tape, and the rest is history. He beat cancer in the 1980s, retired from Microsoft, and became a philanthropist and entrepreneur.
Fast-forward many decades: Allen began his own museum efforts in the mid-2000s, first with PDPplanet.com and now with Living Computers: Museum+Labs which is a good friend to Vintage Computer Federation and hosts VCF Pacific-Northwest.
“Whether you collect cars or computers, or I have a few World War II airplanes… It reminds you of the more limited things engineers were able to do. That was a time of true craftsmanship and innovation,” Allen told me in 2006. “I think there’s a fascination with having something from a certain period of time and they’re still working artifacts.”
We wholeheartedly agree, Paul, agree and will bootstrap our Altair from a 4K BASIC paper tape in your honor.
One of our most senior members, Dan Roganti, computed his last cycle recently. You may know his as “Ragooman” in our forums. Dan was incredibly friendly to all, always the first to offer technical help, wickedly funny, and insanely smart. He was as happy working on an Apple II or Commodore 64 as he was on an Altair 680 or a IBM system/36. He also drew most of the artwork for the VCF East t-shirts. About two weeks ago, while in hospice care, he asked us to share this video in the event of his passing. It’s funny!! Please watch it, enjoy, and hug your loved ones a little tighter tonight. Dan will always be with us — the Force was strong with him.
The next Federation event, VCF Pacific Northwest 2019, is in March 2019. But there are lots of non-Federation events happening between now and then! Our good friends at Vintage Computer Festival Midwest are having their 13th show September 15-16 outside Chicago. The HP Handheld Conference is September 29-30 in San Jose. Wild Hare Computer Systems’ Data General event, Nova is 50, is October 22-24 in Denver. Tandy Assembly is November 10-11 in Springfield, Ohio. You should go to all of them!
Update, September 14: We just learned about another event, Warpstock 2018, happening today through Monday (Sep. 17) in Calgary. Go there to celebrate OS/2!
It’s here! Vintage Computer Festival West XIII is this weekend (Aug. 4-5) at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California. The hours are Saturday 9am-6pm and Sunday 9am-5:30pm. You’ll find dozens of hands-on exhibits of historic hardware and software, an awesome lecture schedule, our famous consignment booth, and much more. The social media hashtag is #vcfwest — don’t miss the show! Special thanks to our supporters at Hackaday and the Association for Computing Machinery.
Update, Aug. 3: Online ticketing is closed. Tickets will be available at the event.
Vintage Computer Festival West XIII is near, and now you can get tickets online to save time at the show. Tickets are $20 for one day and $30 for both days. Computer History Museum members can pay half-price (at the door). Admission to the door is also half-price if you buy a museum ticket that day — as is museum admission if you buy a VCF ticket that day! We also posted the speaker list. It covers everything from Apple to DOS to a musical to PLATO to technology intellectual property!
Our museum is full of incredibly historic computers, but our production network is modern. We are almost finished rebuilding it! The last major component, which we installed on Saturday, is a rackmount UPS courtesy of Minuteman Power Technologies. Thank you Bill A. over at Minuteman! Our other components were donated by individuals: Martin F. provided the HP rack, two Cisco switches (one with power-over-Ethernet, and one with Ethernet-to-Thicknet conversion), Cisco access point, bare-bones Supermicro server, and patch panel. Jason P. gave us an APC-by-Schneider console. Bill D. provided a suitable computer that’ll become our dial-in BBS server. Dean N. contributed a pair of solid-state drives, one for each server, and he’s getting us all the necessary patch cables. Be sure to visit our supporters page for the full list of companies that help us achieve great things.
It’s almost time for Vintage Computer Festival West XIII! The show is August 4-5 at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California.
You’ll find dozens of hands-on exhibits, incredible lectures, a huge consignment sale, and much more — plus the museum’s own tours and hands-on demos.
There is still time to register your exhibit, but it’s tight! Go here ASAP to sign up. We also need more volunteers! Email the event producer email@example.com if you can be a helper.
Vintage Computer Festival East XIII is almost here. You’ll find 32 hands-on exhibits, 15 tech talks, 3 incredible keynotes, our biggest consignment room ever, vendors, club tables, kit workshops, learn-to-solder classes, museum tours, food, and much more! Click here for all the details about tickets, the schedule, directions, lodging, and everything else you need to know to make the most of your experience here.
Congratulations to our partners at Vintage Computer Festival Southeast (via the Atlanta Historical Computing Society) and Vintage Computer Festival Italia (via the Vintage Computer Club Italia) for their successful events last weekend and this weekend! Both groups posted pictures on their Facebook pages: Southeast, Italia.
Next up are our two flagships: Vintage Computer Festival East (May 18-20) and Vintage Computer Festival West (August 4-5). There’s also a great fall event, Vintage Computer Festival Midwest, hosted by our friends at Chicago Classic Computing.