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.
“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.
VCF PNW 2019 will take place March 23-24, 2019 at Living Computers: Museum+Labs in Seattle, Washington. We had a great time last year and we are going to try to make it even better this year.
Exhibitor registration is open. I am also looking for speakers and volunteers to help me run the event. It seems early but time tends to speed up at the end of the year. Getting an earlier start should also help people who need to make travel arrangements.
Are you thinking about traveling from outside of the region? There is plenty to do in Seattle while you are here, including the Connections Museum, the Pacific Science Center, MoPOP, the Boeing factory tour, etc.
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.