VCF East Speaker Bios

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Thomas CherryHomes

Even though Thomas kept using and programming new systems, he never stopped programming and using old ones. For the last 20 years, he’s been active in not only preserving retrocomputing knowledge, such as IRATA.ONLINE, but also creating new hardware, such as FujiNet.

Mark Fisher

Mark Fisher has been an Atari enthusiast since his first Atari 400 in the early 1980s, transitioning to a full-fledged professional software developer in the 1990s.
Reigniting his passion for 8 bit computing, after discovering the miniature marvel that is the FujiNet in November 2020, he extended his realm of expertise to embrace both the Atari and recently, Apple 2 platforms.
His latest work includes developing “fujinet-lib”, a cc65 common library for these platforms, paving the way for cross-platform development from a single source on the FujiNet from the comfort of modern hardware.

Daniel Balsom

Daniel grew up with a Compaq Portable PC and has been fascinated with computers ever since. Daniel recently entered the emulation scene with the goal of replicating the machines that defined their childhood.

Carl Claunch

Carl Claunch retired from a long career in IT working in end user, vendor, consulting and market research firms. He fills his days restoring old computers, volunteering at museums and watching rockets as he lives near Cape Canaveral. Currently he is restoring an IBM 1130 that belongs to Infoage, after returning a working 1130 to System Source Museum, and remotely assisting teams working on 1130 restorations in Switzerland and France.

Maki Kato 

Hi, I’m Maki Kato. I’m a lifelong learner and a vintage computing fan. My vintage focus is on Motorola M88k processor and also Z80 CP/M machines. At my day job as CTO, I oversee technical matters at Matrix Group International, a DC area digital agency. Prior to that, I’ve done enterprise IT work for Amtrak, The Motley Fool, Lockheed Martin, IBM Global Services. Outside of computing, I rock climb, tree climb and sometimes operate amateur radio.

Steven “Mac84” Matarazzo

Steven is a vintage Macintosh enthusiast with a passion for creating videos, repairing systems, and archiving disks and materials.
Tune into the Mac84 YouTube channel or visit to check out his latest work.

Ron “Ron’s Computer Videos” McAdams

With an insatiable curiosity for technology and a profound respect for the past, Ron McAdams has carved a unique niche for himself as the go-to expert in the world of vintage computing. His YouTube channel, “Ron’s Computer Videos,” serves as a digital museum and workshop, where enthusiasts and newcomers alike can explore the fascinating history and inner workings of computers that laid the groundwork for today’s digital age.

Born into a family with a strong penchant for science and technology, Ron’s journey into the world of computers began at an early age. He was captivated by the beeps and clicks of the machines and mesmerized by the glowing screens that promised endless possibilities. This early exposure sparked a lifelong passion, leading him to pursue a career that blends technology with education.

Before becoming the esteemed content creator he is today, Ron garnered a wealth of experience in the tech industry. Working in various capacities, from software development to IT consulting, he accumulated a deep understanding of computer systems. However, it was his love for the classics, the machines that started it all, that truly defined his path.

In 201X, Ron launched “Ron’s Computer Videos,” a channel dedicated to demystifying vintage computing for a broad audience. From the iconic Apple II to the revolutionary Commodore 64, his videos delve into the history, restoration, and operation of computers that many had forgotten. Ron’s expertise is not just technical; it’s historical, offering viewers a comprehensive look at how these machines influenced modern computing and culture.

Ron’s approachable style and depth of knowledge have made him a beloved figure among vintage computing enthusiasts and tech history buffs. His tutorials on maintenance and repair are invaluable resources for collectors, helping to keep these classic machines running for future generations to appreciate. Meanwhile, his historical deep dives offer context and appreciation for the technological leaps we often take for granted.

Outside of YouTube, Ron is a frequent speaker at tech conferences and vintage computing fairs, sharing his knowledge and passion with a wider audience. He also contributes to various online forums and publications, staying actively engaged with the vintage computing community.

Ron McAdams is not just a YouTuber; he’s an educator, historian, and custodian of computing history. Through “Ron’s Computer Videos,” he continues to inspire curiosity and respect for the technological innovations that have shaped our world.

Andy Finkel

Andy Finkel is a notable figure in the history of personal computing, especially known for his contributions while working as an engineer at Commodore, a company famous for its influential personal computers like the Commodore 64 (C64) and the Amiga. His journey in the tech industry is marked by innovation, problem-solving, and a deep commitment to enhancing user experience through software and hardware integration.

Finkel’s career at Commodore began during the early 1980s, a time when the personal computing revolution was in its infancy. He was part of a talented team of engineers and developers tasked with creating affordable, accessible, and powerful computing devices for the mass market. Finkel’s work primarily focused on software development, including operating systems, utilities, and games that would leverage the hardware’s capabilities to the fullest.

One of Finkel’s significant contributions was to the development of the Commodore 64’s software ecosystem. The C64 became one of the best-selling personal computers of its time, thanks in part to the robust library of software that Finkel and his team developed. This library not only showcased the C64’s capabilities but also made it an attractive platform for both educational purposes and entertainment, cementing its place in computing history.

Following the success of the C64, Finkel continued his work with Commodore on the Amiga project. The Amiga computers were known for their advanced graphics and audio capabilities, which were far ahead of their time. Finkel’s contributions to the Amiga’s software, including its operating system and development tools, played a crucial role in demonstrating the machine’s advanced capabilities. His work helped the Amiga secure a niche market in video production, gaming, and creative work, where its advanced features were particularly valued.

Throughout his tenure at Commodore, Andy Finkel was known for his problem-solving skills, innovative approach to software development, and his ability to work closely with hardware engineers to push the boundaries of what was possible in personal computing. His efforts contributed significantly to the popularity and legacy of Commodore’s computers.

After Commodore, Finkel’s career continued to evolve, but his legacy in the computing world remains closely tied to his impactful work at Commodore. His contributions have been recognized by the wider technology and gaming communities, highlighting the lasting influence of his work on the evolution of personal computing.

Dave McMurtrie


Sean “Action Retro” Malseed

Sean Malseed, the enthusiastic force behind the “Action Retro” YouTube channel, is a revered figure in the vintage computing community, particularly among Apple aficionados. With a deep-rooted passion for Apple’s rich history and the evolution of computing, Sean has dedicated his platform to exploring, restoring, and revitalizing vintage Apple computers and software. His journey into the realm of retro computing began with a fascination for the technological innovation and design ethos that characterized early Apple products, leading him to become a collector and expert restorer.

Through “Action Retro,” Sean shares his extensive knowledge and technical skills, offering viewers a mix of restoration projects, upgrades, and hacks that breathe new life into aging technology. His content ranges from bringing obsolete Apple machines back to full functionality to conducting experiments that push the boundaries of what these vintage systems can do in a modern context. His engaging tutorials, detailed repair guides, and insightful commentary have not only preserved a significant chapter in computing history but also inspired a community of enthusiasts to appreciate and engage with old technology.

Sean’s expertise and enthusiasm have made “Action Retro” a treasure trove for anyone interested in the crossover between past and present technologies. Beyond his YouTube channel, he is an active participant in the retro computing community, contributing to forums, collaborating with other retro tech enthusiasts, and appearing at conventions. Through his work, Sean Malseed continues to demonstrate the relevance and potential of vintage computing in today’s digital age, making him a respected and influential figure in the field.

Bill “Amiga Bill” Winters

Amiga Bill is a Commodore Amiga live streamer on Twitch, YouTube content creator and Founder/President of the Westchester Amiga User Group (WAUG) in Westchester County, NY since 1988. Amiga Bill streams every Sunday on Bill and brings the Amiga community together with over 1,000 unique viewers on each stream. He showcases all the latest Amiga news, games, software, and demos while interacting with the vibrant Amiga community. Guests are a big part of Amiga Bill’s show as well. He interviews people in the computer industry about their current or past projects. Some of his guests have included Ken and Roberta Williams (Sierra Online), RJ Mical (original Amiga Dev team), David John Pleasance (Commodore UK Director), Chris Huelsbeck (Video Game Composer), a plethora of modern game developers, computer artists, and many more.


Ash is the queen of retro streaming. As an entertainer, host and broadcaster her mission is to share her passion for video games. She is driven to connect with her audience through heartfelt conversation and enthusiastic live streaming gameplay. You can find her on Twitch where she broadcasts energetic, wholesome, and family friendly content. She loves Amiga!!!

AshSaidHi is a Twitch streamer known for creating content that spans a variety of genres, including gaming, Just Chatting sessions, and sometimes creative content like art or music streams. Streamers on Twitch like AshSaidHi often build communities around their personalities and the types of content they produce, offering interactive experiences where viewers can engage directly with the streamer through chat.

Given the dynamic nature of Twitch and its content creators, the specifics about AshSaidHi, such as her current streaming schedule, the games she plays, or the other content she produces, can change over time. Twitch streamers often participate in collaborations, special events, and community engagement activities that highlight their diverse talents and interests.

For the latest information on AshSaidHi, including her streaming schedule, recent broadcasts, and community events, it’s best to check out her Twitch channel directly. There, you’ll find live streams, video archives, and possibly links to other social media platforms where she shares updates and interacts with her community.

Kate (“Cat,” “Lady Ailuros”) Szkotnicki

Kate the Cat cut her teeth on her family’s Apple //c when she was just a wee kitten.  Nowadays she dabbles in all kinds of retro, from Apple II, to Mac, to DOS, to whatever she feels like. She’s the host of RetroMetal, her own show on Twitch, where she plays the retro games on the vintage machines. When she’s not tinkering with old machines, she’s educating the next generation in her day job as a high school English teacher.


Jon Wise

Jon Wise is the curator of webOS Archive, the unofficial home of Palm and HP’s legacy mobile platform. As a former web developer, now technology consultant, Jon remembers fondly an era where smart phones were fun, form factors were creative and interesting, APIs were open, and consumers weren’t drones in a data collection factory.

Fred Carl

Fred Carl, although not widely recognized in mainstream history, is a notable figure in the realms of technology and historical preservation, particularly for his contributions as the founder of InfoAge. InfoAge, formally known as the Information Age Science History Center, is a museum and educational center located in Wall, New Jersey, dedicated to preserving and educating the public about the history of information technology and electronic innovation.

Fred Carl’s vision for InfoAge was to create a space that not only commemorates the historical achievements in information technology but also inspires future generations to explore and innovate in the fields of science and technology. His efforts have led to the establishment of a unique museum that houses exhibits on a range of topics from early radio and computer technology to space exploration and military history, reflecting the diverse aspects of the information age.

Before founding InfoAge, Fred Carl had a passion for history and technology, which he pursued through his education and career choices. His background likely includes a blend of technical expertise and historical research, equipping him with the unique skills necessary to spearhead a project like InfoAge. Carl recognized the importance of preserving technological artifacts and the stories behind them, understanding that these are crucial components of our cultural heritage.

Under his guidance, InfoAge has grown into a significant educational resource, hosting numerous exhibits and workshops that engage the community and promote STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education. The center is situated on the historic Camp Evans site, a former military base with its own rich history in technological development, further adding to the depth of the museum’s offerings.

Fred Carl’s legacy extends beyond the walls of InfoAge. His work emphasizes the importance of remembering and understanding the technological advancements that have shaped our world. By preserving this history, Carl has ensured that future innovators can learn from the past to build a better future. His dedication to education and preservation makes him a pivotal figure in the ongoing narrative of technology and innovation.

Mike Reiker

I’ve primarily been a software developer since 1970s. Started on IBM 1130 in high school with some VM/370, then PDP-11s (45, 70 mostly). Went kicking and screaming when I lost blinking lights with VAXes then Alphas. Built a homebrew 16-bit TTL computer in high school (early 70s, nothing left of it unfortunately), then a 68000 in early 80s (still have it). Took up homebrew computer building again recently with the Hode 16-bit transistor computer in 2021 and then the PDP-8/V vacuum tube computer in 2022.

Al Charpentier

Albert J. Charpentier has worked for over forty years in consumer electronics technology, with expertise in the semiconductor, consumer electronics and computer related industries and has been awarded 20 patents during his career. He led the development team responsible for the Commodore 64 Computer. Founder, CEO, CTO Ensoniq Corp. a leading manufacturer of high-end electronic musical instruments, audio chips and add-in audio cards for to the OEM computer makers, such Dell, Intel and HP. Ensoniq was acquired by Creative Labs. Founder, CTO of AgileSwitch that developed electronics control ICs for solar power systems and EVs, it was acquired by Microchip 2019.

Dave McMurtrie

With an extensive expertise in the history of Commodore International, Dave McMurtrie embodies the perfect fusion of technical prowess and nostalgic passion. His journey into the realms of computing traces back to his early encounters with Commodore computers, notably the groundbreaking Commodore 64, which sparked a lifelong fascination.

Dave’s career path seamlessly integrated his love for Commodore with a specialization in Unix Systems Administration. During the mid-90s, while navigating night shifts as a computer operator at a university, Dave found himself delving deeper into Commodore’s rich heritage, fueled by a potent blend of nostalgia and intellectual curiosity. Utilizing university library resources, he embarked on a journey of discovery, laying the foundation for what would become a deep interest and knowledge about the history of Commodore.

Over the years, Dave has emerged as an expert on Commodore history. His tireless dedication to research, coupled with a commitment to preserving the legacy of Commodore, has led him to archive invaluable internal documentation provided by former Commodore staff. These documents are available for public access at Working closely with Brian Bagnall, the well-known author of many Commodore books, Dave played a role in preserving a significant portion of Commodore’s early history from the Ontario Archives, including evidence documents from the Inquiry into the failure of the Atlantic Acceptance Corporation. Additionally, Dave founded the Commodore International Historical Society Facebook group, providing a platform for enthusiasts to connect, share, and celebrate the rich history of Commodore International.

Furthermore, Dave’s YouTube channel,, offers a unique blend of Commodore history and technical subjects.

Dave’s contributions to the retro computing community extend beyond the digital realm. At VCF West in 2023, he had the privilege of interviewing Leonard Tramiel, offering audiences an intimate glimpse into the inner workings of Commodore’s golden era. Moreover, his Commodore History presentation at VCF East in 2023 provided a deep dive into Commodore’s earliest history.

Today, Dave remains steadfast in his dedication to Commodore, integrating these classic computers into his daily routine. His passion continues to inspire and educate enthusiasts. Follow him on Twitter at @commodoreihs for more updates and insights.

Bart van den Akker


Moderator: To be announced.

We are in the process of finalizing the moderator for this discussion. Please stay tuned for updates. The selected moderator will guide our esteemed panel through a series of thought-provoking questions and topics, ensuring a dynamic and informative discussion.

For the latest updates on this session, including the announcement of our moderator, please visit our website at or follow us on our social media:

Dr. Rebecca Mercuri

Dr. Rebecca Mercuri has been referred to as “one of the leading
international experts on electronic voting. Her dissertation “Electronic
Vote Tabulation: Checks & Balances” was defended at the Engineering
School of the University of Pennsylvania, eleven days before the 2000
U.S. Presidential election. Her testimony and opinions were sought in
Bush v. Gore and referenced in briefs presented to the U.S. Supreme
Court. Rebecca’s advocacy for Voter Verified Paper Ballots has directly
influenced the wording of state, federal, and international election
legislation, standards and best practices guidelines.

With a bachelor’s degree in classical guitar (in addition to bachelor’s,
master’s and Ph.D. degrees in computer science and computer engineering)
Rebecca has a deep commitment to the Arts. Musical interests have
included: owning a vintage RCA theremin; research in directional hearing and room simulation; and development and marketing of interactive software in music education. Her work at RCA’s David Sarnoff Research Center in the early 1980’s resulted in the creation of the first interactive videodisc software for the company’s capacitance players, that had earlier been deemed non-interactive and ridiculed by Sony and MIT. She also was a member of the RCA Labs’ Advanced Microprocessor Development Group that had been working on a personal computer to rival the early Apple ][ and IBM PC. Some of the programs that she developed, that RCA decided not to market, were released to her and sold by Rebecca’s company, Notable Software.

Following an Assistant Professorship at Bryn Mawr College, and
fellowship years at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and the Radcliffe Institute, Dr. Mercuri decided to re-establish Notable Software as a forensic computing company, where she continues to serve as an investigator and expert witness on a wide range of civil, municipal and criminal cases. She is a Senior Life Member of the Association for Computing Machinery, a Senior Member of the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), and a Distinguished Scientist in the IEEE’s Computer Society.

Joyce Weisbecker

Joyce Weisbecker was the first independent video game developer (male or female) and has written and sold seven games for the COSMAC VIP and the Studio II.

Early interests in mathematical models and signal processing led to a career as a Product Development Actuary and, later, as a Radar Systems Engineer.

A few of the fun projects in “dramaturgical engineering” (see “The Darfsteller” by Walter M, Miller, Jr.) and in neuromorphic engineering that Joyce has designed and built/coded are:

A video game that was designed around the concept of a naturally recurring dramatic scene that pulls the player deeper into the action each time it repeats.

A neural network the detects auto insurance fraud by treating the insurance application as a literary text. The literary genre of the story “told” by the text is identified and all instances of nonfiction are labeled “Honest” while all instances of fiction are labeled “Fraudulent”.

An electronic circuit that behaves like a simple retina-brain-muscles nervous system that acts as if it is “aware” of the location of the strongest source of input. It exhibits hyperacuity (similar to sub-pixel accuracy in computer graphics) and habituation (similar to how our eyes adapt to a dark room or to bright sunlight). The circuit accepts three analog inputs and produces eight 1-bit outputs, each of which is a flag indicating the presence (or absence) of the peak input signal at a specific location in its “retina” (as defined by the three inputs) with the 8th flag set whenever all three inputs are approximately equal. The output flags serve as on-off switches for a set of “eye-muscle” motors to turn its “eye” to “look” in the direction of the strongest input source.

Joyce received a BS in Commerce (with majors in Actuarial Science and in Decision Science & Computers) from Rider University and a BSEE and a MS in Computer Science from NJIT.

She attributes her love of “trying to figure out how the mind comes to understand how the things and people around us work” to seeing her mother’s passion for teaching and simple science demonstrations and her father’s enthusiasm for magic and computer instruction set design.

Rebecca “Burger Becky” Heineman

Rebecca “Burger Becky” Heineman is a pioneering figure in the video game industry, known for her extensive contributions as a programmer, designer, and company founder. Born in 1963, Heineman’s career in gaming started in the early 1980s. She earned the nickname “Burger Becky” from her colleagues, a moniker that has become well-recognized within the gaming community.

Heineman’s journey in the world of video games kicked off with a bang when she won the National Space Invaders Championship in 1980, showcasing her exceptional skill and passion for gaming. This victory was a springboard into her professional career, beginning with her work at On-Line Systems, which later became Sierra On-Line, a company renowned for its adventure games.

Over the years, Heineman has worked on numerous groundbreaking titles across various platforms, showcasing her versatility and pioneering spirit. She was a founding member of Interplay Productions in 1983, a company that played a crucial role in the development of the role-playing game (RPG) genre with titles like “The Bard’s Tale” and “Wasteland.”

Heineman’s technical prowess is not limited to game development; she has also been involved in creating game engines and technology, contributing to the advancement of the gaming industry’s technical foundations. Her work has spanned several generations of consoles and computer systems, adapting and innovating with each new technological wave.

Throughout her career, Heineman has been recognized for her contributions to the industry, including her advocacy for LGBTQ+ rights within the tech and gaming communities. As one of the first openly transgender women in the video game industry, she has been a vocal and inspiring figure, working towards greater inclusion and diversity in gaming.

Today, Rebecca Heineman continues to influence the industry, working on new projects and sharing her wealth of knowledge and experience with the next generation of game developers. Her legacy is not just in the games she has helped create but in the paths she has paved for future developers in a more inclusive and diverse gaming world.


Thom Cherryhomes

Byron Stout

Ron Nicholson

Ron Nicholson is a notable figure in the tech industry, recognized for his contributions as a member of the original Macintosh engineering team at Apple and as the founder and Director of Engineering at Amiga. His technical contributions span across various Silicon Valley companies including HP, Sigma Designs, and Silicon Graphics, with work on FPGAs, network ASICs, RISC workstations, the Nintendo 64, the original Apple Macintosh, and the Commodore Amiga. Nicholson is credited as a co-inventor on 11 U.S. patents, many related to the Amiga 1000 architecture.

DJ Sures

In the late 1970s, Jon Kelly and John Bobak left their careers to create a computer network that connected the world well before the internet. A few people were hired to prototype and design the product, including Ron Sures, the father of DJ Sures, who revived the NABU computer in 2023. While the NABU Network was unsuccessful with its vision, the revival of a “new old stock” stash of NABU PCs allowed DJ Sures to reverse engineer and produce software that followed the original goal of a network-based computer focusing on community engagement. Not only has DJ Sures created the concept of an “Internet Adapter,” but a cloud-based operating system, utilities, games, and software that pushed the limits of the z80-based NABU, including synthesized speech, 3d ray casting, and full motion video.

Leo Binkowski

Leo Binkowski has been writing software for over 4 decades. He got his start right out of high school writing video games for NABU, a unique Canadian Computer Company that tried to create the internet in the mid 80s. He eventually became Director of Content Development, and will provide some interesting artifacts and context to the NABU experience.

Crawford Griffith

Software developer and Computer System Architect for 37 years, electronics hobbyist since a teenager, software developer since high school. Bought my first computer (OSI Challenger IIP) with my own money in high school. Ham radio operator (KB3SHG), vintage computer enthusiast (OSI, DEC, S-100), Maker (wood, metal, solder, code), Fixer of things.


Frank O’Brien

Frank O’Brien is a noted expert on the Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC), the onboard computer used in the Apollo spacecraft that played a crucial role in the success of the Apollo missions to the Moon. He wrote “The Apollo Guidance Computer: Architecture and Operation,” a comprehensive book detailing the development, architecture, and operation of the AGC. His work is highly regarded for its in-depth analysis and has become a key resource for those interested in the technical aspects of the Apollo missions.

O’Brien’s interest in space and computing has led him to become a significant contributor to the field of aerospace history and technology. Besides his writing, he has been involved in various educational and preservation projects related to space exploration history. He often participates in lectures, presentations, and discussions on the AGC and the broader aspects of space exploration technology.

His background combines expertise in computer science, a deep understanding of the Apollo program, and a passion for educating the public about space exploration’s technical and historical aspects. While specific details about his personal life and professional background outside of his work on the AGC might not be as widely publicized, O’Brien’s contributions to the understanding and appreciation of space exploration technology have made him a respected figure in the space and technology communities.

Frank O’Brien has contributed to the spaceflight community as a volunteer to NASA for 30 years. He is one of the editors for NASA’s primary resource on the Apollo moon landings, the Apollo Flight Journal. Because of this work, he was accepted as a Solar System Ambassador for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the premier center for planetary exploration. As an Ambassador, Frank speaks several times a month to community groups, senior organizations, and museums about the NASA mission.

For over 20 years, he has volunteered at Infoage, and is now the Technical Director of the Infoage Space Exploration Center.

Frank is a former pilot and aircraft owner, and graduated from Rutgers with a degree in Computer Science and an MBA. He is also the author of a very successful book on the computer that flew astronauts to the moon.

Marc “Curious Marc” Verdiell

Hello. I work in a rented lab space under Dr Evil’s volcano, where I build robots and restore pieces of vintage tech assisted by my faithful minions.

Well, I wish. In real life, I am a tech executive in Silicon Valley. I hold a Ph.D. in Opto-Electronics from University of Paris. I am a former Bell Labs researcher, an Intel Fellow and founder of several tech startups in Silicon Valley, all related to high-speed fiber optics communications. I have over 60 U.S. patents and published over 100 refereed research papers.

In 2009, I started building an R2-D2 robot just for fun. Then, in 2015, I became a volunteer at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA, working on the IBM 1401 Restoration Team. At the Museum, I met many like-minded tech historians and restorers (in particular Carl Claunch and Ken Shirriff who appear frequently in my videos), and it all went downhill from there.

My well-equipped basement lab, which was originally dedicated to serious startup development work, is now put to fun use for R2-D2 building, test equipment, and vintage computers restorations. Which is an outlet for my engineering passion, since they don’t let me turn the knobs in the lab at work anymore. Under the pseudonym CuriousMarc, I make videos of these enginerding adventures on YouTube.

As you’ll quickly realize, I concentrate on highly engineered, tour-de-force pieces that represent the best of their time and could not be easily replicated today. The more clever and contrived the better. In my choice of pieces, I also pay attention to the intrinsic beauty of the engineering and design. I want to celebrate engineering so good, it has almost turned into art.

Working on this old stuff forces me to deal with the very fundamentals of electronics (and electro-mechanics). The principles are exactly the same as today, but nothing is hidden in mysterious circuits – you can understand and fix everything. Years of Moore’s law has sure given us gobs of transistors, oceans of memory and a glut of gigacycles, but many times, particularly in consumer hardware, these are simply used to cover up poor and inefficient designs – and resource devouring software. What Intel giveth, Microsoft taketh away, as they say. It often irritates me that my PC takes many seconds to react to a simple command, in which time it has executed many billions of unnecessary instructions and consumed a few gigabytes of memory, no one knowing exactly what for anymore. Nothing like this in old hardware: designs are pure and efficient, and the lack of resources is compensated by engineering mastery and immense cleverness, which is a joy to reverse engineer. Not only does it teach us timeless electrical fundamentals and engineering tricks, but it also gives us a much better appreciation of today’s tech. How did all the technology we take for granted came to be? It will make you a far better engineer and inventor if you take the time to be a thorough student of the inventions of your illustrious predecessors.

Finally, and this is the cherry on the cake, I sometimes have the privilege to meet the very inventors, engineers and entrepreneurs that built these exceptional machines. And then I can actually engage in knowledgeable engineering conversations with them! I have met the inventors of the laser diode, the Xerox Alto, the IBM 1401, the Ethernet, and many of the people that built and programmed the Apollo guidance computer. And that, my friends, is priceless.

Carl Claunch

He retired from a long career in IT working in end user, vendor, consulting and market research firms. He fills his days restoring old computers, volunteering at museums and watching rockets as he lives near Cape Canaveral. Currently he is restoring an IBM 1130 that belongs to Infoage, after returning a working 1130 to System Source Museum, and remotely assisting teams working on 1130 restorations in Switzerland and France.

Ken Shirriff

Ken Shirriff restores old computers, including an Apollo Guidance Computer and a Xerox Alto. Current projects include radio hardware from Apollo and a Space Shuttle teleprinter. His blog ( discusses reverse engineering everything from chargers to microprocessors. He wrote the Arduino IRremote library and added seven characters to Unicode.

Updated March 27, 2024.