VCF West — Exhibits

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Hands-on demonstrations of historic computing are the heart of the Vintage Computer Festival series. You will find several dozen exhibits totaling more than a 100 vintage computer demonstrations all in one place!

Exhibit registration for VCF West is closed. For more information, contact

Registered exhibits:

Portable Storage Media — Foone Turing, Milpitas, California, with Amber Turing, Ramona Sagan, and Rose Willard — I’ll show floppy disks, optical discs, and all manner of flash-based storage. This is a collection of all the various ways we’ve stored data for transfer between computers in the 52 years since the invention of disks.

Sun Microsystems IPX Lunchbox Computer — Simon Wynn, Redwood City, California — The Sun Microsystems IPX was an entry level Sparc-based UNIX workstation introduced in 1991, with an eye-popping $11,995 price tag. On display is a restored and fully-loaded system, together with Sun peripherals, and the classic Type 4 keyboard and optical mouse. During the show, a variety of software and OSs will be demonstrated, including SunOS, Solaris, WABI Windows 3.0 emulation on Sparc, early Netscape web browsers, and the original 1.0 version of NCSA Mosaic written by Marc Andreessen!

Re-creating Vintage Computers — Chris Davis, Willmar, Minnesota, with Gabe Davis and Eli Davis — Building modern-powered vintage computers is a passion of mine. I find it an enjoyable way to learn and experience history, plus it’s a great way to teach my kids. I’ll demonstrate and have several vintage computer re-creations on hand, including an Altair 8800 based on the Arduino Duo, an ATMEL-powered Kenbak-1, and a modern Apple I replica.

SF Acorn User Group / Bay Area Retrocomputing Club — Phillip Pearson, Mountain View, California, with Chris Collins, Alex Perez, Luca Severini, and Anthony Curtis — A selection of British home computers, following on from SFAUG’s exhibit in 2018. More detail TBD, but we’ll have the full selection of Acorn machines, from the Atom, BBC Model B, BBC Master 128, Electron, and Archimedes series, plus modern add-ons (some developed by team members).

The Return of TACOBOT — Steve Toner, Sundance, Utah — The award-winning TACOBOT video game, shown last year running on the homebrew STUPID computer, returns in arcade game form running on a Motorola 6809 processor and using techniques from Don Lancaster’s Cheap Video Cookbook for video output.

The Apple Lisa Documentary — David Greelish, Johns Creek, Georgia, with Tamara Greelish — This is an exhibit about the Apple Lisa and information about the upcoming film, to be released in autumn 2019.

ATARI 400/800 Computers 40th Anniversary — Kevin Lund, Livermore, California, with Bob Woolley, Robert Bridges, Garrett Holthaus, and Bill George — The SLCC (San Leandro Computer Club) proudly presents an exhibit of the original Atari 400 & 800 computers. We will have compete working 400 and 800 systems with all the peripherals on display to see and use. Come play games like the first FPS game ever released: Star Raiders! We will have a kiosk used by Atari at C.E.S. booths running the 400/800 sales interactive program E.R.I.C. along with displays of all the original released Atari software and more. Come enjoy the celebration!

RetroShield for Arduino Mega — Erturk Kocalar, Sunnyvale, California — I designed several Arduino shields to connect 8-bit microprocessors to the Arduino Mega microcontroller system. Arduino Mega emulates ROM, RAM, and I/O devices so the real 8-bit microprocessor executes code.Examples include 6502, Z80, and 6809 boards running Apple-I, Simon6809, and Z80 Efex monitor code. More are under development.

Apple 1 and Apollo Guidance Computer — Jonathan Siefken, Boston, Massachusetts, with Bobby Livington — RR Auctions will preview these items for their upcoming sale.

The Wonderful World of Quake — Chris Satterfield, Fairfield, California, with Zachary Hardesty — Quake is a game we all know and love from the 1990s, but what makes it so special? It had ports to various different platforms other than just Windows and DOS. I’ve got a Quake multiplayer setup consisting of different platforms other than the basic Winquake/DOS Quake. These include the RS/6000 series, Sun Ulta, Daystar Genesis, and possible SGI.

Microprocessor/Controller Trainers: Past and Present — Francis Bauer, Santa Rosa, California — I will demonstrate several trainers/development boards that help people learn how to program and how to use various microprocessors/microcontrollers for prototyping new designs. Among the trainers on display will be a couple of relay-based trainers that are fun to listen to as well as watch as they run programs.

Apple ll Rev. 0 vs. Rev. 7 Replica — Logan Greer, Fresno, California — I built a replica Apple II based on Mike Willegal’s earlier CAD files for the motherboards. The new boards will become part of kits to be available for sale online.

Living Computers: Museum+Labs — Josh Dersch, Seattle, Washington, with Casey Linden — On display is a working Xerox 8010 Information System (better known as the “Star” workstation) alongside a microcode-level Star emulator developed at LCM+L named Darkstar. Come experience GUI history and early desktop metaphors with Viewpoint and Star OS, do some hacking in Mesa on XDE, or delve into AI on Interlisp-D!

Early Handwriting: Apple Newton vs. Palm Treo — Thomas Conrad, Morgan Hill, California — Newton and Treo were both landmark device series in the history of mobile computing. But how well do they recognize your handwriting? The answers may surprise you.

The Future of Retro Computing — Jay Cotton, Livermore, California — This exhibit will feature a Z-80 machine, the RC2014, running CP/M and BASIC along with some games.

Rare Computers From Japan — Duncan Mac Dougall, Santa Clara, California, with Alex Cmaylo, Mitch Zollinger, and Thomas Daede — Japan had its own world of personal computers that, while popular in their native land, did not reach Western shores. This exhibit aims to show several different running examples of these impressive platforms that most of the West missed. We will be demonstrating several playable examples of an X68000, as well as several PC-98 systems, an MSX2+, a PC-88, and an FM-TOWNS.

RISCy Business — Cameron Kaiser, Rialto, California — Everyone remembers Apple PowerBooks and iBooks, but RISC laptops and portable workstations were otherwise an unusual bunch. This exhibit will have a collection of working classic RISC UN*X portables, including the Sun Ultra-3 running Solaris (SPARC), Tadpole SPARCBook running Solaris (SPARC), RDI PrecisionBook running HP/UX (PA-RISC), SAIC Galaxy 1100 running NeXTSTEP (PA-RISC), and the IBM ThinkPad 860 running AIX (PowerPC). A couple of surprise non-UN*X oddballs from the SH and m68k families will also make an appearance.

BSD: Then and Now — Madeline Autumn-Rose, Milpitas, California — Explore how BSD has changed from a running instance of 4.3 BSD in simulation to modern NetBSD on a vintage VAX.

6502-Based Microcomputers — David Henderson, Tempe, Arizona — This exhibit features an assortment of 6502-based systems including SYM-1 and KIM-1 single board computers, Ohio Scientific Challenger 1P, Commodore 128, Atari 130XL, BBC Master 128, and a 65816-based Apple IIGS Woz Edition. Most of the systems are operational and accompanied by user manuals and other documentation.

IBM 1620 Jr. / Recreating the Console Typewriter — Dave Babcock, Mountain View, California, with Steve Casner and Joe Fredrick — The goal of the CHM-sponsored, IBM 1620 Jr. project is to produce an operational version of the IBM 1620 Model 1 Level F computer that recreates, as much as possible, the experience [physically, visually, and viscerally] of operating a real IBM 1620. At VCF West 2017 we demonstrated the front panel and a partial simulator. At last year’s show we demonstrated a partial implementation of the console typewriter. This year we’re back with some improvements to Jr. and a completed, fully functioning, typewriter that not only works with the IBM 1620 Jr. but, by changing a hardware jumper, is a general-purpose ASCII terminal. The “CadetWriter” can be connected via RS-232 (TTL level) or USB to any mini, micro, mainframe, or replica computer as a terminal device. [See our sister booth for more information.] Come to our booth to see the IBM 1620 Jr. computer running a series of demos, including the historic BBC Baseball simulation program and learn of our plans to build a virtual IBM 1622 card reader / punch.

CadetWriter: A Wheelwriter-Based Computer Terminal — Dave Babcock, Mountain View, California, with Steve Casner and Joe Fredrick — Developed as a by-product of the IBM 1620 Jr. project, the CadetWriter is a general-purpose ASCII terminal. It can be connected via RS-232 (TTL-level) or USB to any mini, micro, mainframe, or replica computer as a terminal device. A commercial quality IBM/Lexmark Wheelwriter 1000 was adapted by interposing a circuit board containing a Teensy 3.5 microcontroller between the typewriter’s keyboard and motherboard. Custom firmware controls the typewriter and communicates with the host computer. To support the full ASCII character set, characters not on the printwheel are synthesized using overprinted characters and “period graphics”. The CadetWriter can print up to 16cps and is a reliable, low-maintenance, low-cost substitute for Teletype, DECWriter, Diablo, Spinwriter, ImageWriter, etc. teleprinters. Stop by our booth to see it in action or, better yet, bring your favorite computer and try it out.

Tandy/TRS-80 Color Computers — Michael Furman, San Jose, California, with Tim Lindner, Rob Inman, and Mark D. Overholser — The TRS-80 Color Computer was a popular home computer introduced in 1980 and sold by Radio Shack until 1991. Over the past few years the community of people keeping the CoCo alive has been vibrant and growing. We will demonstrate many of the ongoing projects and innovations in hardware upgrades, game/OS software, and PC/FPGA emulation.

The Cactus: More 6502 Blinkenlights– Alexander Pierson, Falls Church, Virginia — The Cactus is a homebrew 6502 computer built to invoke the experiences of 1970s homebrewers using hand-wired circuit boards and 7400-series logic chips. Come discover the oddity that is the Cactus, and learn about the forgotten 6502 front panels that came before. Explore the improved front panel logic, now with perfected single step mode and software controlled switches. Play a game, toggle in a program, or write some BASIC.

MOnSter 6502 — Eric Schlaepfer, Sunnyvale, California, with Windell Oskay and Lenore EdmanThe MOnSter6502 is a complete, working, transistor-scale replica of the classic MOS 6502 microprocessor. It is 12×15 inches and has 4,769 components, including 313 LEDs so you can see all the internal registers and various internal control line states as it executes real live code! This year we plan to demonstrate a new version that runs inside a picture frame and displays various visualizations, including a clock mode.

The History of Videogames — The MADE, Oakland, California — A person can find themselves in a state of flow while playing a friendly game of tag or high-stakes game of blackjack, but that immersion is always being challenged by the real-world setting of the experience. A videogame can truly allow a user the opportunity to be so engrossed in play that they lose sense of time and space and enter into a flow state. Practically anyone who has played a video game can describe sitting down to play and then looking at the time only to realize what they assumed was a short play session lasted for hours! Please, grab a controller and go with the flow!

Building the First Computer — Brian Parker, Redwood City, California — I’m demonstrating the design and fabrication of Babbage’s Analytical Engine, 1833-1840. This half scale model in aluminum and steel will eventually be the size of an executive desk and run code off punch cards.

Solid-State Monopoly Game — Stephen Casner, Sunnyvale, California — This exhibit features a one-of-a-kind implementation of the famous board game Monopoly where all operations are controlled by a vintage microprocessor and there are no loose pieces, hence the “Solid-State” title. It is built as an oak table for four players to sit around. The game board is laminated to an aluminum panel in the center of the table with about 500 LEDs of four colors embedded in it to indicate player position, property ownership and improvements. Facing up in the center of the board is a video monitor that displays Chance and Community Chest cards and property deed cards. Smaller aluminum panels for each of the four players surround the center panel. Each contains big, lighted buttons to roll the dice and collect rent plus a calculator keypad and display to show the player’s cash balance and allow the player to perform transactions. The game was designed and initially built in 1978 an took first prize at the Personal Computing Festival Contest that was part of the 1978 National Computer Conference. The IMSAI 8080 that first served as the controller will also be on display, but it has been replaced by a small S-100 backplane mounted inside the table that holds three boards including an SD Systems SBC-200 Z80 computer. The software includes a little OS kernel so there can be a separate process for each player as well as the main process that runs the bank and performs the game functions. It’s all written in assembly language and occupies less than 16KB of ROM and 8KB of RAM.

The Modern Apple II — Les Barrows, Mountain View, California, with Eiko Okura — The Apple II was built with expansion and software development in mind. While years have passed, there are still new projects taking advantage of this remarkably open architecture. A few of the current developments we’ll be showing include Ian Kim’s A2Z80Plus board (Z80), Michael Packard’s continuing Apple II game software, Thomas Cherryhome’s alpha version of the IRATA.ONLINE PLATO client, and MiST FPGA Apple IIe core.

The IBM PC Family — Jarrod Coombes, Dublin, California, with Anthony Hoppe — The IBM family of early personal computers is large, but how large? Large enough that we need two tables to display them all. Come see our extensive collection of IBM 51xx-series machines, including the IBM PC, the IBM XT, the IBM XT/286, and the IBM AT. We will also have the IBM PC’s cousins on display, including the Portable, Convertible, and PCjr.

MakerLisp Machine — Luther Johnson, Chandler, Arizona — MakerLisp machine is a portable, modular computer system, designed to recapture the feel of classic computing with modern hardware. The machine centers on a 2×3.5″ CPU (about the size of a business card) which can be used stand-alone or plugged into a 2×8″ main board for expansion to a full computer system. A laser-cut wood enclosure holds a small keyboard, an LCD monitor, the circuit boards, and a prototyping area with a breadboard for electronics experimentation and development.

Vintage Video — Michael Hill, Daly City, California — Michael will present an exploration of modern media playback on vintage computer hardware such as the Commodore 64, Commodore PET, and Apple II.

Zilog Inside — Alex Nascimento, Mountain View, California — Alex will exhibit some of the most successful “Zilog inside” machines from Japan and Europe. He’ll also have rare machines and some recent machine re-launches.