VCF East — Keynotes

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Vintage Computer Festival East has a rich history of keynote sessions. We are proud to present this year’s keynotes about the Enigma machine, C++, and the 40th anniversary of appliance computers.

Friday — Saturday — Sunday

Friday, March 31, 2:00pm — Tom Perera, Ph.D. — “Inside the Enigma: The history, technology and deciphering of an early laptop computer and the real story of the Imitation Game”

Perera’s company,, is in the business of hunting for, researching, restoring, and selling Enigma machines and related items. The World War II German Enigma was arguably an original form of laptop computer. This talk will explain the history and technology of the Enigma and link it to the movie “Imitation Game” which tells the story of the cracking of the German Navy Enigma code and the extraordinary contributions of mathematician Alan Turing to this endeavor. In order to keep the audience interested and involved, the movie has allowed some inaccuracies and omissions in the history and technology and in the masterful portrayal of the eccentric mathematician Alan Turing by Benedict Cumberbatch. This talk will trace the actual story of the Enigma and the cracking of the Enigma Code and attempt to fill in some of the Enigmatic aspects of Alan Turing’s personality.

Perera will also give a more technical demonstration of how the machines work and a real-time disassembly of an Enigma in a separate session Friday. He will give further demonstrations and will offer for sale his Enigmas, Enigma simulators, other historic cipher machines, books, Enigma Library CD-ROM, and related items on Saturday and Sunday.

Perera was formerly a professor of neuroscience at Columbia University, Barnard College, and Montclair State University.

Saturday, April 1, 9:00am — Bjarne Stroustrup, Ph.D. — “The Origins and further Evolution of C++”

Stroustrup developed the C++ programming language at Bell Labs starting in 1978. He is currently a visiting professor of computer science at Columbia University and a managing director in the technology division at Morgan Stanley. His talk is sure to be an excellent follow-up to C language author and pioneer Brian Kernighan, who spoke at VCF East X in 2015.

Sunday, April 2, 9:00am — Bill Degnan — “1977: The year of the appliance computer”

Degnan is a co-founder of the Mid-Atlantic chapter of Vintage Computer Federation, a professional programmer and web developer, and formerly taught computer history at the University of Delaware. At his panel you’ll learn about the launch of the Apple II, Commodore PET 2001, and Radio Shack TRS-80 Model 1. Bill will guide the discussion to explore how the appliance computer facilitated the expansion of computers as an appliance into small businesses, schools, and the home. Panelists will be separated into three groups each representing the Apple, Commodore, and Tandy/Radio Shack perspective. The panel will respond to questions and share their knowledge and personal experiences. The discussion will continue from 1977 through the milestones of 1980s 8-bit appliance and home computing.