VCF West — Exhibits

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Hands-on demonstrations of historic computing are the heart of the Vintage Computer Festival series. Click here to learn about becoming an exhibitor at the show.

Following are the registered exhibits. This page is updated often.

Computer History Museum — Mountain View, California — The museum, as local host to VCF West, will have its own exhibition table at the show. Come learn all about the museum’s recent expansion and opportunities to become involved in their work.

Current state of the art in Apple II — Lester Barrows and John Valdezco, Mountain View, California — The promise was “Apple II Forever”, and there still exists a vibrant community of software and hardware development for the Apple II line of computers. Our exhibit focuses on current projects which are bringing new life to a hardware line that launched in the 1970s. Software includes new releases of ProDOS and GS/OS, as well as new products such as Ninjaforce’s Kaboom! and Michael Packard’s current project, Alien Downpour. Also on exhibit will be new hardware such as Nishida Radio’s IIgs DVI adapter, new IIe and IIgs memory cards from A2Heaven, the 4play modern joystick adapter from Lukazi, a new 4-channel sound card from Manila Gear, the CFFA 3000 CF/USB storage device, and the new prototype TransWarp GS board from UltimateApple2. Manila Gear’s John Valdezco will be here to talk about his current Apple II hardware projects. At least two Apple IIgs systems will be running live demonstrations, including Ninjaforce’s 4 player Kaboom! game.

Newbear 77-68 — Simon Wynn, Redwood City, California —  I will display a fully restored and functional Newbear 77-68 Motorola 6800-based system. The 77-68 was one of the first home computers available in the UK. It was available as a kit and I’ve owned the system that will be shown since 1979. The system was restored and expanded to include a simulated floppy drive system using an SD card, and it now runs FLEX OS, BASIC, PL/M etc. I will have a full set of documents, photos, and articles.

Adventure — Thomas Conrad, Morgan Hill, California — Play the first “Adventure” game on a 1982 IBM PC. Input via keyboard, lots of fun!

Alice Group: New hardware and obsolete software — Bradley Grantham, San Jose, California — We’ll demonstrate two computers we’ve built in our group’s quest to run old software. The Alice III surface-mount single-board computer runs CP/M 2.2 from a microSD card using an original Z-80 coupled with contemporary CPUs for I/O and memory. Festival attendees can run Sargon Chess, WordStar, and Microsoft Basic at the console. We’ll also demonstrate a brand-new YM audio player written in C. The Alice 4 handheld computer runs Silicon Graphics IrisGL demos circa 1984. Alice 4 contains a dual-core contemporary CPU and a custom GPU on an FPGA. A touchscreen LCD with an analog joystick provides interactive control of the 30-year-old demos, including multiplayer “arena” over wifi.

MOnSter 6502 — Eric Schlaepfer, Sunnyvale, California — The MOnSter 6502 is the world’s largest 6502 microprocessor, built from individual transistors to be an exact replica of the renowned 6502 microprocessor chip. Unlike the original, the MOnSter 6502 has over 300 colorful LEDs so you can actually watch the processor operate! You will be able to type in BASIC programs, experiment with Forth, or even write machine code. If you saw us last year, you will be delighted to see the second revision which has more LEDs than before. We’ll also be demonstrating the new version of our 6502 host computer, the MIM-1.

The First Practical Chess Computers — Cole Erskine, Portola Valley, California — The game of chess has been an attractive, yet intractable, problem for computer researchers since the mainframe era. Nearly 60 years ago, a program for the IBM 704 could play a complete game at an amateur level. Less than 40 years later, the reigning World Chess Champion was defeated by IBM’s Deep Blue in a six-game match. In 1977, the first chess computers accessible to consumers were introduced. On exhibit will be Applied Concepts’ Boris, the original Fidelity Chess Challenger, and a Synertek SYM-1 running Peter Jennings’ MicroChess.

Classic Atari Computers — San Leandro (California) Computer Club —  SLCC is an Atari enthusiast group since 1980. We will demonstrate first- and second-generation Atari 8-bit home computers. We will have a complete 800 system with all 12 original peripherals. We may also show a working 1400XL and the very rare 1450XLD. We’ll also show a 4160STE, Mega STE, Falcon030/FX-1, STacy, and STBook.

Cray Supercomputer Components — Tony Cole, San Mateo, California — Come check out the guts that make a supercomputer do its thing! You’ll get up-close-and-personal with boards from a Cray-1, Cray-2, and Cray X-MP.

Home Computer Games! — The MADE (Alex Handy & friends), Oakland, California — This year the Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment  MADE will focus its exhibit on home computer games. The MADE in 2017 relaunched Habitat, an MMO for the Commodore 64, which is now playable online via emulator or even on the real hardware. The MADE also features playable exhibits across dozens of platforms, some of which will be shown here. We will demo an Apple IIgs with flash cartridge, Macintosh OS 7.5 game machine, and perhaps a Commodore Amiga.

Vintage Toys & Noise — Michael Hill, Daly City, California — A selection of audio/visual gadgetry used with vintage computers, including an interactive exhibit using Commodore, Apple, and other machines interfaced with some modern hardware to create sound and
visual effects.

The Amazing Commodore Amiga 2000 — Bill Borsari & friends — Orinda, California — Thirty years ago Commodore launched a new class of Amiga computers. The Amiga 2000 took the series into the world of productivity systems. A new system featured nine internal card slots and mixed Amiga Zorro and ISA types, thus enabling technologies like the PC bridge boards and NewTek Video Toaster. The 2000 quickly became the platform of choice for innovative hardware projects. This display will feature several radically different Amiga 2000 models to see and use. One system is a full-fledged Video Toaster 4000. Another system is an emulation powerhouse with a period PC 286 and MacOS running side-by-side.

Retro Battle Royale: Amiga vs Atari — Bill Borsari & friends — Orinda, California — Relive the epic 1980s home computer battle between the Amiga vs. Atari. Makers of each system tried beating the other with new features and better software. Each hour we will change the games on the system to a different genre: Racing, Platformer, Space, Role Playing and more. Games covering the best that both have to offer. Players will earn tokens to vote for their favorite systems and at the end of the VCF West we will declare a winner.

Tek Graphics and Apple Lisa — Lyle Bickley, Mountain View, California, and Bob Rosenbloom, Santa Cruz, California — The Tektronix 405x Terminal with plotter and/or paper tape will demonstrate cool graphics. The Apple Lisa 2/5 (Lisa 2 with Profile External Drive) will be running the original Lisa Operating System and Lisa Office System software.

Apple Network Server — Cameron Kaiser, Rialto, California — Apple’s forgotten “big iron,” the Apple Network Servers were arguably Apple’s first true Unix-based servers (running IBM AIX), almost certainly the largest computers they ever built (about the size of a small refrigerator), and their last general-purpose computers that were not Macintoshen. The exhibit will show a running ANS 500 for interaction with participants, as well as a prototype Shiner, which was the code name during development.

Rare Computers from Japan — Duncan Mac Dougall, Santa Clara, California — From the start of the personal computer age, Japan had it’s own unique ecosystem of platforms that never made it to U.S. shores. This exhibit aims to show off some of the more popular examples of systems that the West missed out on, such as the PC-98, PC-88, X68000 and MSX2+. A sizeable chunk of gaming history originated on these platforms; some titles are from franchises that will be familiar to Western audiences, while others are totally unique, innovative and original.

Boot Bytes for Notes — Jeff Albrecht, Mesa, Arizona —  This exhibit contains four S-100 systems. One is a a California Computer Systems machine configured with 4 SSM SB1 synthesizer cards for 8-bit music played from 8″ floppy disks. The others include models from IMSAI, Wameco, and Ithaca Intersystems. In addition there will be an Altair 8800 to illustrate kit construction. Original publications for most of the computers will be on display. A number of S-100 post-era cards will be on display and also demonstrated.

Xerox Alto — Carl Claunch, Los Altos, California; Luca Severini and Ken Shirriff, Mountain View, California; and Marc Verdiell, Atherton, California —  The Alto was a revolutionary computer designed at Xerox PARC in 1973 to investigate personal computing. In an era still dominated by punched cards and dumb terminals, the Alto was very far ahead of its time: it had a portrait-oriented bitmapped graphic screen, a mouse, a WYSIWYG text editor (that would later become Microsoft Word), and the first ever Ethernet interface. It could print on a laser printer (using a language that would later become PostScript) and boot off the network. All this in a 1973, microprocessor-less, 74-series TTL 16-bit design with 128K of Intel’s first MOS memory. This seminal but never commercialized machine directly inspired the Lisa and Macintosh, and in turn most modern GUI-based personal computers. We will demo a machine originally owned by Alan Kay, loaned to us by Y Combinator, and which we restored to full functionality.

KIM-1 Diagnosis & Repair — Dwight Elvey, San Jose, California — I’ll show how to determine what failed on this popular single-board computer by using code and a ‘scope, test light, or meter.

From MIKE 3 to the Ferguson Big Board — Larry Pezzolo — Palo Alto, California —  Computers have been advancing at an incredible rate. In 1975 the first affordable computers became available to the enthusiast. A good example is the MIKE computer by Martin Research. It was advertised in the first few issues of BYTE magazine and shipped as a stack of boards with either an 8008 CPU or an 8080 CPU. It had a little RAM, a tiny monitor program, and a LED display panel with a calculator type keypad. The MIKE computers were not very popular, but the book Microcomputer Design by Donald P. Martin in 1974 became a bible for early microcomputer designers. In just five years improvements in chip manufacturing made memory better, microprocessors faster, I/O and control devices more complex, and everything cheaper. In 1980 the Ferguson Big Board was introduced. It was bigger, better, faster, and could run the CP/M disk operating system, all on a single circuit board. The Big Board was offered as a bare board or a kit of parts with instruction to build it. It did well and rights to manufacture it were sold to Xerox (Xerox 820) and Non-Linear Systems (Kaypro). Both became popular in their own right.

Wild Micros at the I/O Corral — David Henderson — Tempe, Arizona — This exhibit demonstrates the input/output skills of various breeds of microcomputers from Britain, Europe, America, and the former Soviet Union. Simple sensors and output devices are interfaced with vintage micros from the stables of Radio Shack, Sinclair, Apple, Elektronika, and Commodore. Race the 8-bit horses around the barrels at the rodeo, beat the stage coach with your Morse code skills using a telegraph key, draw western scenes by twisting dials and pushing buttons, find lost critters on the screen with a light pen, and check for stormy weather at the ranch with rain, sun, temperature and wind sensors.

Super Dimension Fortress Public Access UNIX System — Stephen Jones, Seattle, Washington — To celebrate the 30th anniversary of SDF.org we will a show previous incarnation of the BBS running on an AT&T 3B2/500 computer along with a Teletype 5620 and an AT&T 605 terminal.

Multics — Living Computer Museum (Jeff Kaylin, Cynde Moya), Seattle, Washington — The exhibit features a salvaged Honeywell 6180 Maintenance panel along with hardware modifications which allow Charles Anthony and Harry Reid’s DPS-8/M emulator to fully drive and accept input from the panel. A terminal will be provided for access to Multics.

Southwest Technical Products Corp. — Michael Holley, Bothell, Washington — Southwest Technical Products began selling audio and test equipment kits in 1964. The kits were based on projects published in magazines like Popular Electronics and Radio Electronics. They sold the kit for Don Lancaster’s 1973 TV Typewriter that was published in Radio Electronics. The February 1975 issue had a much improved computer terminal, the CT-1024. Later that year a computer based on the Motorola 6800 microprocessor was released. In the mid-1980’s they focused on point-of-sale computer systems. The display will include early audio and test equipment, a nixie tube clock, along with a computer with floppy disk and terminal. There will also be selection of period magazine and catalogs.

Floppy Disks! — Foone Turing, Fremont, California — They’re everyone’s favorite digital storage medium, and the icon of saving to this day. We’ll have floppies from the original 8″ to the high-capacity “superfloppies” of the late-1990s, plus all the rare floppies along the way that only got used it one computer. We’ll also have a Copy That Floppy! station so you can copy any floppies you bring to the table.

IBM 1620 Jr. — Dave Babcock, Simi Valley, California, and Steven Casner, Mountain View, California — 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. When completed, the IBM 1620 Jr. will consist of a real IBM 1620 front panel (upgraded with modern LEDs, new rugged toggle switches, and interfaced to a Raspberry Pi 3), a console typewriter (required to operate a 1620), a simulated IBM 1622 card read/punch device, a new cycle-level simulator written in C, and most of the original IBM 1620 software library. The project began in January 2017, all of the hardware work is completed, and development of the simulator is well underway. Come, see, and operate a 1960’s IBM 1620.

Proto Preserve — Hap Plain — Monterey, California — Here you’ll see a variety of prototype Apple systems.