VCF SE 6.0 – Exhibits

Hands-on demonstrations of historic computing are the heart of the Vintage Computer Festival series.

Registered exhibits:

Kenbak Mark-8 Altair IMSAI CompuPro — Flash Corliss — Mableton GA

No, not a super long, complex password, though I guess it could be.  These were some of the pioneers of early hobby computer building.

On display are the computer kits from the 70’s that will give the viewer an appreciation of just how far we have come.  From no bus and no software to S-100 busses with multiuser networks, a decade of innovation made a world of difference in computing.

Tandy 12345K PC Compatibles — Alan Hightower — Austell GA

Various running examples of Tandy’s commercial offerings in the IBM Personal Computer compatible marketplace. Tandy 1000 HX, Tandy 2000, Tandy 3000 HD, Tandy 4000, and Tandy 5000 MC with era correct displays and interactive software including DeskMate, Sierra Adventure Games, and more!  (Alan has some very unique one-of-a-kind items!  A must see! — Ed.)

Atari 400 and 1200XL — Gregory Vicars — Cincinnati OH

This exhibit will show two different models of Atari which both encountered critizism.  The Atari 400 was much maligned for it’s membrane keyboard.  The Atari 1200XL was criticized for its high price and the last minute design changes from the initial  XL plans.  These design changes actually helped drive sales of the Atari 800 instead.   Both machines have their fans, but neither achieved the success that other Atari models did.

The Wonderful World of Pro-Log — Flash Corliss — Mableton GA

Not as well known as HP, Apple, or Microsoft, Pro-Log Corporation was also started by two guys in their basement.  Pro-Log saw the revolution that was coming with the microprocessor and the Intel 4004, so they started building the tools that would be used by the engineers as the adoption of software design began to take off.

On display are the Pro-Log tools (programmers, emulators, development systems, and card racks) that were offered in the early 70’s and 80’s, including their first product – the M810.
This fully restored 1702A programmer (one of only 3 known to exist in the world) gave engineers an easy way to program EPROMs for the Intel 4004 and get from design to market fast.  Pro-Log also invented the STD Bus which helped run factories as the rise of the robots took off in manufacturing.  A sampling of those items (from a 4004 single function card to a multiprocessor cage) will also be on display. ( Be sure to allocate some time if you get Flash going about Pro-Log machines! 🙂 — Ed.)

Vintage calculators and storage — Kyle Owen — Madison AL

Numerous vintage calculators and types of computer media and storage will be on display, from the 1960s to the near present.  (Kyle has an impressive collection of calculators!  Come check it out– Ed.)

Future-Retro Audio — David Kuder — Warner Robins GA

Modern and classic sound on the x86 PC platform.  Recent hardware retro addons such as the OPL2LPT and CVX4 will be demoed, as well as Soundblaster AWE32, and external software midi synths running on single board computers.

My 80’s — Luke Legg — Mableton GA

Computers get shared in all sorts of ways.  This exhibit will showcase machines that came from my father and grandpa to me in the 80’s.  The VIC 20 my grandfather’s, C64 my dad’s first PC and the NES, his family’s console.

Transportables and Heavy Laptops — Flash Corliss — Mableton GA

After the desktop, but before the notebook, were a class of machines labeled transportables.  Essentially desktops with a handle, these beasts meant you didn’t have to be strapped to a desk anymore to get your work done outside the office.  As technology advanced, these 40+ pound work horses were miraculously miniaturized to half their weight in just a few short years.  Now weighing just 20 pounds, these “laptops” could rest on your legs until either the battery died in 45 minutes or your knees gave out.

On display are the makes of Osborne, Kaypro, Panasonic, Tandy, Zorba and others.  Some will be apart for you to gaze into their inner workings.  Take pictures with your phone and realize your palm device has more computing power than every computer on display – COMBINED.

GEOS – a GUI in 8-bits — David Iwanicki — Jacksonville FL

Macintosh introduced the Graphical User Interface to the public at large, but priced it out of reach for most casual home users. Berkley Softworks was inspired by what they saw and GEOS was the result.  On display will be a Commodore 64 running the original GEOS v1, a Commodore 128D running GEOS v2 in Hi-Res with 4 drives, and an Apple IIGS running the Apple release of GEOS.

Epson QA-10 — Mickey Dossey — Roswell GA

The most user-friendly computer in the world in 1983, the Epson QX-10 featured an integrated office suite and a custom keyboard with special keys.  The QX-10 was also one of the few CP/M computers with graphics capability, in addition to the iconic “green screen”.  Stop by and see the Epson running graphics demos, games, and its integrated Valdocs software. ( Mickey has great focus in his collection … he loves his Epson! — Ed.)

Japanese Retro Computers — Thomas Liebert — Cumming GA

Many of us are familiar with gaming consoles that originated from Japan such as the Nintendo Entertainment System, Sega Master System, NEC TurboGrafx 16 and many other generations that led to what we have today.  But what about the home computer market and what was that like in Japan in the late 80’s and early 90’s?  Come learn about one of the first computing standards that existed before IBM, the MSX, developed by Kazuhiko Nishi and Bill Gates, the Japanese computing giant NEC that owned over 80% of the Japanese home computer marketshare at the time with the PC-8801 and PC-9800 series, the famous computer known for it’s authentic arcade ports created by Sharp, the X68000, and also the Fujitsu FM-Towns which was one of the earliest computers in Japan to utilize the cd-rom drive to load the system OS directly.

We will have many of these operational and running various games and software applications of the time, even a few that have been translated into English for the very first time in only the last year or so. Learn about what is still being developed for these computers now in terms of software and hardware, and how they are becoming popular again in various gaming circles.
(Be sure to ask how they figured out the BIOS for the machines that it’s only in Japanese! — Ed.)

Modern Storage on Vintage Machines — Earl Baugh — Johns Creek GA

This exhibit will show some of the modern storage solutions for vintage machines.  It will include storage for various Radio Shack, Apple, and Commodore machines, as well as general SCSI solutions for machines that support that type of storage.

Atari 8-bit Streaming Video — Randy Kindig — Lebanon IN

This exhibit will show an upgraded Atari 8-bit with Ultimate 1MB and Sofia board for RGB video and demonstrate video streaming from a compact-flash card based SIDE2 cartridge.  Unbelievable video streaming on an 800XL!   (Don’t forget to ask Randy about the Floppy Days and ANTIC podcasts if you’re not already familiar with them! — Ed.)

Dogs and Detents — Ed Fair — Tucker GA

Our own Ed Fair will give yet another very informative hands on view of punch card equipment.  The Computer Museum of America has graciously consented to allow Ed to open up some of their punch card equipment and he will be doing some preventative maintenance on a 519 Reproducer including machine disassembly to the point where the significant operating parts can be examined.  He will also uncover one of the keypunches to show some of the operations of it.  If he gets brave, he might put power on both.   (In the current computer world this would be the equivalent of examining a database generator and a database replicator.)

Most members of the club and attendees may not have run across the terms dogs, detents, latches, or escapements as they pertain to computers, so this, as in previous exhibits by Ed, will definitely an education opportunity.

It’s all about HP… maybe — Shengyuan Huang — Atlanta GA

Few people know that HP made the world’s first 16-bit microcomputer, the 9825A… though HP chose to call it a calculator. This exhibit will show a HP 9825T(though labeled as 9825B) with a HP 9872A plotter. Other HP items exhibited will include an HP 100LX, 330LX, and 680LX palmtop, HP 75C computer, and various HP calculators: HP 65, HP 21, HP 25, HP 29, HP 33E, HP 34C, HP 41CX. (Though, ironically, HP then decided to call 41CX a computer…) The HP 65 is the first ever programmable calculator, which was even used in outer space.  We will show a few non-HP (but still interesting) items such as  Panasonic’s handheld translator, SHARP PC-7000 portable computer, and a  TI Silent 707 data terminal.

A history of the Graphical User Interfaces  — Nathan Lineback — Marietta GA
(including interactive demonstrations of VisiCorp Visi-On, Microsoft Windows 1.0, and others.)

This exhibit will show VisiCorp Visi On running on a Compaq Portable Plus, and Microsoft Windows 1.01 on a Columbia Data Products 1600 (The first IBM PC hardware clone). Also an additional “wildcard” computer running several earlier UIs in a VM or emulators, switchable at request.  The primary focus will be on Xerox Smalltalk.  If possible a fourth computer with an additional early GUI will be shown running on real hardware.  Also exhibited will be  manuals and disks for VisiCorp Visi-On, genuine disks of Windows 1.0 Premiere Edition, and a few assorted GUI related software packages.

Premium Sound of the 90’s PC’s — Bobby Blackwolf — Johns Creek GA

When most people played PC games in the early to mid 90’s, they heard either bleeps and bloops from the internal speaker, or low-fidelity MIDI from an Adlib-compatible sound card. However, there were premium sound options for those lucky enough to have them. The Roland MT-32 provided production quality MIDI sound to even EGA-based games from Sierra On-Line and others, and the Gravis Ultrasound gave a massive sample-based musical boost to the Demoscene of the era. This exhibit will feature a Pentium-166 running MS-DOS 6.22 with either a Roland MT-32 playing old Sierra adventure games or a Gravis Ultrasound Classic sound card playing early 90’s PC Demos from Future Crew, EMF, Triton, Complex, and more.

Simulating the ENIAC Brian Stuart — Gloucester Township, NJ

The ENIAC stands as one of the most influential landmarks of early computing.  Financed by the US Army, it was designed and built at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.  Using about 18,000 vacuum tubes and taking about 150KW of power, it performed hundreds of multiplications and thousands of additions per second.  For most of it’s life, it operated as an instruction set processor, essentially a prototype of later CPUs.  The centerpiece of this exhibit is a complete and detailed simulator of the ENIAC.  It operates at the level of simulating each pulse used to transmit data and control throughout the machine, and it has successfully run each of the examples found in original ENIAC technical manual.

TI-99/4A : Inside & Out — Alan Rateliff — Tallahassee FL

Operational innards of two versions of the TI-99/4A console, running the “Don’t Mess with Texas” mega-demo, showing peripherals both original and modern such as the FlashROM and FinalGROM, 32k memory expansion, nanoPEB and CF7+, recently produced games and demos as shown at the TI Programming forum at AtariAge, and more.

Will also have available for viewing an Amiga 1200 in clear case with USB and DVI video, Commodore 64 Reloaded Mk2 in clear case. Will have some items for sale, TBA.

Vector based Video Games — Rob & Eva Mitchell — Atlanta GA

This exhibit will show a HP200LX, Vectrex,and Astroids Cocktail Arcade game.  The HP200LX has been used as development tool to run programs on the Vetrex (utilizing a special cartridge that allows the HP palmtop to connect to it).

The Mighty Minis — Kyle Owen — Madison AL

On the table, a 1974 PDP-8/M, along with various and sundry other computers that barely fit in an SUV.  They may be mini in name, but not in size or weight.  Music will be demonstrated over an AM radio at various times

Mechanical Keyboard Meet Up — Chris Tan — Atlanta GA

This will be an large area where vintage and modern keyboards with various keycaps will be shown, shared and swapped.  It will be a meet up point for keyboard users and enthusiasts  from around Atlanta and the Southeast.  This will be only on Saturday.

Apple II to Year 2K — Nolan Gilmore — Brookhaven GA

This exhibit will feature a few Apple products from the early 80s to the late 90s. Systems displayed will include an Apple IIe (1983), an Apple IIc plus (1988) and an Original 1984 Macintosh (128k) as well as many later Macintosh models with the newest machine being a 1999 Power Mac G4. Also on display will be the rear shell of another early mac showcasing the unique embossed signatures in the plastic molding of the original Macintosh development team.

Experience the Texas Instruments Home Computers — Mark Little  — Atlanta GA

This display celebrates the 37th year since the official introduction of the Texas Instruments 99/4a Home Computer (June 30, 1981 in Chicago), the home micro-computing market’s first true 16-bit machine. This interactive display includes: a working TI 99/4a console (classic silver/black) with a working Speech Synthesizer; a working TI Program Cassette Recorder; a working Peripheral Expansion Box (PEB) with 32k Memory Expansion and two half-height floppy drives; a pair of original TI remote controllers (joysticks); at least ten command module (cartridge) games for anyone to play, including popular favorites Parsec, Munchman, and Buck Rogers (all in original boxes); and various software on 5 1/4″ floppy disks, manuals and books related to the TI 99/4a. In addition, visitors can “take a look under the hood” of both the TI-99/4a console and inside the PEB. Take-one hand-outs are also available outlining the timeline of the TI 99/4a’s history, from its inception as an improvement to the beleaguered TI 99/4 in 1981, through to the price wars with Commodore in 1983 that forced its abrupt withdrawal from the home computer market in 1984. Finally, this year’s exhibit again features a rare working Texas Instruments CC-40 Compact Computer, TI’s final home computer, which was manufactured for less than a year beginning in March of 1983.

Early Gaming — Pete Rittwage — Augusta GA

Exhibit will include interactive/playable examples of very early handheld, computer, and other video games.  Examples will include the original Odyssey, PONG, Atari, Radio Shack TRS-80, Commodore, CP/M, and original IBM PC games. Also available for play will be many handheld electronic games from the 70’s including hits from Mattel, Coleco, Entex, Bandai, Tandy, and many others. (Pete has a Mattel Football game that I still have the muscle memory to play well — Ed.)

A Look at the Lynx — Mark Little — Atlanta GA

This small display showcases the world’s first color handheld console, the Atari Lynx, which hit the market in 1989 and was discontinued in 1994. Two working Atari Lynx II consoles from 1991, one of which sporting a new LCD screen upgrade, are available for hands-on gaming. Additionally, over 40 game cards, all with original manual booklets or posters and most in original cartons, are on display, along with various cases and other add-on accessories. Take-one handouts outlining the brief history of the Atari Lynx and its legacy are also available. And Mark Little, host and creator of the Atari Lynx HandyCast podcast, will be on hand in person to show off the system and its small but amazing library of games, many of them ports of popular arcade hits. If you’re a recent gamer, a retro gamer, or you’re just plain curious about seeing this ahead-of-its time system, be sure to check this display out. But bring lots of AA batteries… …just kidding; power will be provided.

The clicky-clack Tic-Tac-Toe Computer! (1961) — Jim B. Steiner — Atlanta GA

Jim returns with a show favorite, the Tic-Tac-Toe computer!   This device was designed from scratch, using parts and electromechanical relays from 6 pinball machines (and a piece of furniture). The computer  started as a project for the high school humanities class, but when the science fair coordinator heard of it, he encouraged Jim to finish it in time to enter it in the school science fair.  Additionally Jim was further inspired by the 1960 winners,  the inspiration for the movie “October Sky” Rocket Boys from the small town of Coalwood, West Virginia.  Needless to say, their success led him to have it finished in time to enter the school science fair. The Tic-Tac-Toe Computer then progressed from the High School Science Fair to the Regional Science Fair and to the State Science Fair.  Come see it still in operation and try your luck at beating it!

Altair-Duino — Chris Davis — Willmar MN

The Altair-Duino is an Arduino-based Altair 8800 hardware and software emulator.  It (almost) completely emulates the operation of the Altair 8800 with the maximum 64k of RAM, Multi-boot ROM, 5GB hard drive, and floppy drives.  Other devices that will be exhibited will be a Raspberry Pi based Digital PDP-8/I and an ATMEL-powered Kenbak-1 emulator.

The Evolution of Handheld Computing — David Greelish — Johns Creek, GA

First came simple handheld computers that ran MS-DOS (late 1980s). Then in the early 1990s, more sophisticated Personal Digital Assistants (PDA) appeared. The PDA ultimately failed as a new “third tier” computer platform to augment desktops and laptops, and essentially devolved into the electronic organizer. The rise and success of the Palm Pilot in the late 1990s ultimately led to some of the first “smartphones,” which were essentially a Palm device mated with cellular capability.

It took over 20 years for the industry to get it right, but in 2007, Apple arguably delivered the first true smartphone/handheld computer, fulfilling the concept for a third tier of personal computing. It was followed by the T-Mobile G1 Android phone a year later.

Come see many examples from this evolution, and see why I came to the conclusions that I have about this interesting and timely part of computer history.



Open DSKY : S&T GeoTronics LLC –Marc Tessier — Columbus,  GA

Makers of the World famous Open Enigma, we have added this year the Open DSKY which was a recent runaway success on Kickstarter. Both of these Open Source Replicas along with many other Open Source Arduino based projects are offered as PCB only, kits and fully assembled and tested units.

Idea23 : Custom keycaps — Juan Sifuentes — Allen Park MI

Idea23 makes and sells custom key caps for mechanical keyboards. Keycaps are made of resin using silicone molds. There will also be keycaps for IBM model M and F keyboards.