VCF East Talks

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Games Development Back In The Day – Thom CherryHomes
Game consoles such as the Atari 2600 and 5200 had no ability to develop software on itself, so the software had to be developed on systems with sufficient tooling, disk storage, and RAM. This talk shows how an S-100 based system is used along with a cross-assembler, a text editor, and an Intel HEX loader to produce software that can be uploaded to the target system via a simulated cartridge emulator.

Bridging Past and Future: Enhancing Retro Computing with Modern Applications – Mark Fisher
A journey through the process of reviving vintage computing with modern tooling. Delving into practical cross-development applications for Atari and Apple 2 through the FujiNet platform and a common Network Library, the talk highlights how adding a ‘SmartPort over SLIP’ protocol to the Apple2 Emulator allows faster development, and brings together lessons from real hardware trials, programming challenges, and the future of retro-computing.

Cycle-Accurate 8088 Emulation – Daniel Balsom
Despite the age and popularity of the 8088 CPU, the secrets that allowed cycle-perfect emulation were only recently unlocked. In this talk I will discuss the various reasons for why cycle-accurate emulation of the 8088 is so difficult and describe the challenges faced and techniques used to develop MartyPC.

How to approach restoration of 1950-1970 IBM computers – Carl Claunch
There are many lessons needed in order to work on older IBM products in order to complement even the best general electronics and computer knowledge. First you must learn a new language with terminology that is unique to these systems. Next you must learn to deal with the peculiarities of the IBM documentation. Finally, as with any old system for which current parts are unavailable, a variety of techniques must be mastered to repair or replace whatever may be defective if you hope to successfully restore the system to full operation.

Teaching Ghidra to disassemble your CPU – Maki Kato 
Ghidra is one of the best open source reverse engineering tools available today. Sometimes retro computing tasks involves disassembling old software. If a disassembler is not available for your machine’s cpu instruction set traditionally you had to write one. However now with Ghidra there is a plugin mechanism for cpus so instead of writing a disassembler you can just describe the cpu to Ghidra. In this talk we will spend 15 minutes intro and demo of Ghidra’s features followed by details about how to create a plugin to disassemble a new otherwise unsupported instruction set.

Macintosh Collecting and Repair Tips – Steve Matarazzo, Ron McAdams

Discuss vintage Macintosh repair strategies and tips as well collecting advice.

Andy Finkel, Commodore Engineer – Interviewed by Dave McMurtrie

Dave McMurtrie, Expert Commodore Historian will interview Andy Finkel on his experiences at Commodore Business Machines.

Friday Roundtable moderated by Sean Malseed (Action Retro)


Palm’s webOS – the mobile platform that almost was – Jon Wise
Palm’s webOS was their attempt to reinvent the once-great PalmOS for a more connected era, and briefly gave Apple and Google a run for their money as a more open alternative to their mobile duopoly. Based on a remarkably accessible Linux environment, with a beautiful and fluid user interface written in purely web technologies, webOS pioneered many of the user interface paradigms that we use today. Learn more about the architecture and development patterns from the legacy platform, as well as some of the apps and services that have been built to keep webOS alive and useful in 2024 — and beyond!

The U.S. Army’s role in harnessing the transistor – Fred Carl
The once classified history of the Army efforts and funding required to make the invention of the transistor into a usable component for military needs. The radio and television industry had no need for the device and were unwilling to make the investment.

HomeComputerMuseum: The interactive computer museum as a business – Bart van den Akker
The talk is about the creation of the HomeComputerMuseum in the Netherlands. Why we started, how we started and what we became, being one of the largest museums in the world and running entirely independent.
Bart was originally Linux system administrator with a high-level expertise on VoIP. Also a musician and a collector of retro computers. I’ve been collecting since roughly 2010 which ended up becoming a museum in 2018.

Al Charpentier, engineer and co-creator of the Commodore 64 – Interviewed by Dave McMurtrie

Dave McMurtrie, Expert Commodore Historian will interview Al Charpentier on his experiences at Commodore Business Machines.

Saturday Roundtable Moderated by Jeri Ellsworth


#FujiNet (State Of The Union) – Thomas Cherryhomes
FujiNet has been steadily growing into a mature and stable project. Thom talks about the challenges of bringing up new platforms such as the Apple 2, and TRS-80 Color Computer. The FujiNet Game Lobby with 5 Card Stud will also be shown, with an explanation of how the server components integrate together. Finishing with what interested people can do to help the project.

An engineers GUI journey, VAX to DOS to WIN to WEB – Byron Stout
Take a walk through a progression of User Interface standards and advancements from a Software Engineers perspective from 1986 until the early 2000’s. The GUI we use today wasn’t always the only path as we’ll see from demos and real world application examples used on a variety of platforms.

Something about the Mac – Ron Nicholson

Ron Nicholson was one of the engineers working on the original Macintosh 128k. He created the disc controller ASIC and the CMOS clock chip. He will tell his story and part in the creation of this machine.

Ghosts of NABU past & present – DJ Sures, Leo Binkowski

In the first half of this talk DJ Sures will talk about NABU past. He will: delve into the intricate process of resurrecting the NABU computer, a task fueled by a deep family connection to its original creators. I embarked on a challenging journey of reverse engineering the machine, starting with recreating the internet adapter server. This pivotal component once again connected NABU to the modern world. This breakthrough was just the beginning. Inspired by the original vision of NABU, I ventured further, developing a suite of software that the creators had only dreamed of. This included an internet-connected operating system, interactive chat applications, engaging games, practical utilities, comprehensive internet access, innovative text-to-speech capabilities, and more. Each development paid homage to the original intent of the NABU but also pushed the hardware beyond its perceived limits, showcasing what could have been and now is. This presentation will highlight the technical feats achieved and reflect on the significance of preserving and innovating upon our digital heritage.

In the second half of this talk Leo Binkowski and Brian Johnson will talk about NABU present. A lot has happened in the NABU reconstruction world. Leo will be happy to present an entirely new cycle full of software, including some original games, many educational titles, and current information from 1985. Leo will update everyone on new findings of an almost completely intact NABU from 1985!

MicroCore Labs emulators – how they work, how to build one – Crawford Griffith

Ted Fried of MicroCoreLabs has designed and built a series of emulators that plug into CPU sockets of vintage computers. These emulators use Teensy (Arduino-compatible) boards and custom-designed PCB’s to emulate vintage processors: 8088, 6502, Z80 and 68000. The design and architecture of these emulators will be explained, and information will be shared how they can be economically built. Ideas for how these emulators can be used to debug and extend the capabilities of vintage computers will be discussed.

Sunday Roundtable – Apollo Guidance Computer moderated by Frank O’Brien

Updated March 25, 2024.