Position Statement Jeff Salzman

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Jeff Salzman – Position Statement for Steering Committee 

My own personal history, experiences, curiosity, and affinity toward
vintage computing has set me firmly in a hobby that I enjoy. I believe in
the goals of the VCF-MA, not only for the preservation of vintage computer
systems, but for the opportunities the organization provides to the public
for those who want to discover and learn about the earlier days of
computing. It would be an honor to be a committee member in part of the
process that helps to define the operation and future vision of the VCF-MA.

As suggested, here is a brief bit about myself… (OK, maybe not a “brief
bit”, but the text will still fit on a SSDD floppy disk of any kind.)

I have been a “vintage” computer fanatic since back when these systems were
called “cutting edge.” I was the guy, um… kid, who would walk into a
Radio Shack, much to the chagrin of the store manager, to play with the
TRS-80 computers they always had on display. That is, of course, after I
ran out of money at the mall arcade first. 🙂

Throughout my childhood and young adulthood, I have always been into
computers. Especially after getting my first computer, a Commodore VIC-20,
back in October 1981 (which I still own, BTW). Shortly after that, I bought
a second computer for myself, a TI-99/4A.

(WHA…??? What kind of nerd wants TWO computers for themselves in 1982?!?
—- >THIS NERD, That’s who!!!)

Since then, I have rolled on personal computing as a commonplace activity
in the home. I just happened to do so by riding on the Commodore bandwagon
throughout the 1980s (please don’t hold that against me. LOL) and had to
have the newest model of their computers as soon as I could afford them. I
had an appreciation for other systems that were available to consumers, but
just didn’t have the space or income at the time to support the continued
ownership and upgrade of two or more cutting edge systems from multiple
manufacturers. 🙁

I got a Commodore 64 in 1985, then a Commodore 128 in 1987, then a
Commodore Amiga 500 in 1989, selling each previous system to be able to
afford the new one. Staying informed about what computers could do, and the
growing pains within society as they grew into important appliances for
work, home, and fun, turned personal computing into a hobby which I have
continuously explored to its limit.

Then the 1990s came…

I found myself unable to continue the run of what are considered uniquely
vintage computers today, along with the other specialized home
computer systems that were earning a vintage status even then. Trends were
changing. 8-bit was dying. 16-bit was even dying… I ended up (GASP!!!)
buying my first IBM PC compatible, a 386DX. And like a junkie, I fell deep
into the monotony and dependence of the architecture. I sold my soul to the
industry, repairing and upgrading PCs for a living… in hopes that I could
get a hit on a slightly used and outdated 30-pin SIMM that was leftover
from the customer’s upgrade. Maybe even a disk drive/multi-I/O controller
card, or if luck graces me, a 2x CD-ROM with sound card!!! All just to keep
my frankenstein PC alive and contemporary as the years went by. I still
remember a lot of the “PC compatible days” from the 1990s, and even the
1980s. Many still consider them too closely tied to modern PCs, but as the
recent VCF-East showed everybody, they are far enough removed from their
modern cousins to break the perception of those close ties. But I digress.
In the 1990s, I missed the ‘ol 8-bit days. And there was hope… I was able
to find those now near vintage 8 and 16-bit home computers, the ones I
couldn’t afford to buy more than one of in the 1980s, for next to nothing
at many of the flea markets and yard sales I visited. Some people actually
GAVE them to me because they thought they were junk at the time… Hello

So now I find myself at the turn of the century. I’m knee deep in a lot of
vintage 8 and 16-bit home computers that I just HAD to have, and could not
see going to scrap. I had quite the collection, and I started to work
through that collection, repairing and using them, reliving my youth, and
enjoying every moment of it.

Then somewhere around 2004, I learned about M.A.R.C.H. and what the
organization was all about. I was even asked to design the organization’s
logo. It was then that I knew I wasn’t the only one who (secretly) held a
fondness for vintage computing, thus re-energizing my hobby toward the
appreciation and preservation of vintage computing.

I eventually found myself attending the VCF East as an exhibitor so I could
show off what I had in my collection, and demonstrate to the next
generation what we had available to us in my generation. I have been doing
a completely different exhibit each year in an attempt to show off the
variety of vintage computers, along with an array of uses.

As my attendance as an exhibitor continued, I became increasingly involved
with M.A.R.C.H. events, like the Workshops and Festivus. When my kids got
older, I found even more time to become involved with the (now) Vintage
Computer Federation. You would (and still could) find me at almost every
Workshop, if not for working on my own stuff, but working through items in
the warehouse and museum.

I hate to see broken vintage computer systems. The Workshops give us an
opportunity to do our part in keeping these systems alive, and even more
so, allow us to share that experience with others bearing the same
interests. Those are just a few of the many reasons VCF-MA exists for the
avid hobbyist, or the piqued interest of a museum visitor, or whatever
insight the organization discovers that can promote the knowledge and
history of vintage computing.