Vintage Computer Festival West is August 3-4

VCF West is just a few weeks away! You’ll find three dozen incredible hands-on exhibits, a special exhibit with at least 10 original Apple-1 computers, a restored Apollo Guidance Computer, an amazingly detailed technical lecture by legendary Commodore engineer Bil Herd, our huge consignment sale, and much more!!! It’s all happening at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California, right in the heart of Silicon Valley — with special thanks to our supporters at Hackaday and the Association for Computing Machinery. Get your tickets online now to save time at the show! Click here for all of the details.

CHM’s Dag Spicer joins VCF board of directors

We’re honored to announce that Dag Spicer is our newest board member! Dag is senior curator at the Computer History Museum in Silicon Valley.

Dag’s background is in electrical engineering and history. He joined VCF to assist in expanding the grassroots involvement of computer enthusiasts in the story of computing, one in which every person on earth is now a part. Originally from Canada, Dag now lives in Santa Clara, CA. His hobbies include reading, hockey, and Cycladic art.

Click here to see our complete governance page.

VCF West: Call for exhibitors and speakers; online ticketing is open!

Vintage Computer Festival West 2019 is just two months away! The show is August 3-4 at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California.

We are going to have a fabulous show and hope to set a new record for attendance. Buy your tickets online now!

This year we’re having a special gathering of several working Apple 1 computers. Their owners will participate in a panel discussion to tell the stories behind these rare machines. We will also hear from the team who restored an Apollo Guidance Computer, and we’re always happy to welcome Commodore engineer Bil Herd.

Additional speakers and classes are pending but we still have room on the schedule for more of everything. So if you have something to share, please let us know!

If you haven’t signed up for your exhibit yet please do so ASAP. The sooner we get that list together, the sooner we can lay out the hall and get the program started. Click here for the exhibits page.

Comments/questions? Contact erik@vcfed.org.

VCF East wrap-up, win a prize!

Vintage Computer Festival East is in our rearview mirror. It was our biggest east-coast show ever! The highlights were the keynotes by Unix co-inventor Ken Thompson (with Brian Kernighan interviewing him on stage) and Atari hardware engineer Joe Decuir. Watch all of the show videos here.

We’d also like to thank all of the exhibitors, especially those who banded together to make anniversary-edition Unix and Atari exhibits. Additional special thanks to all of the volunteers and speakers, and of course to everyone who attended!

We wouldn’t end this blog post without also thanking our sponsor Hackaday and the Association for Computing Machinery. We also owe gratitude to organizations that simply retweeted us to large audiences, such as the IEEE, Bell Labs, and ArsTechnica.

Upload your show photos here. We’ll see you again next year!

Take our show survey and win VCF swag!

VCF East is three weeks away!

Vintage Computer Festival East is May 3-4-5 at the InfoAge Science & History Center in Wall, New Jersey. This year’s show features keynotes by Unix co-inventor Ken Thompson (who’ll be interviewed on stage by Brian Kernighan) and Atari/Amiga engineer Joe Decuir. We also have a DIY computing panel discussion, HUGE exhibits devoted to the histories of Unix and Atari. Plus dozens of additional exhibits, the massive consignment room, a single-board computer workshop, museum tours, learn-to-solder classes, and much more!

Exhibit sign-up opens for VCF East/VCF West

We opened exhibitor registration for VCF East and VCF West. This year we’re doing it through Google Forms. Click here to sign up for a VCF East exhibit or click here to sign up for a VCF West exhibit. Exhibit tables for both events will sell out, so don’t procrastinate! If you have any questions then contact Evan Koblentz (VCF East: evan@vcfed.org) or Erik Klein (VCF West: erik@vcfed.org).

Ken Thompson to speak VCF East

Ken Thompson, who invented the UNIX operating system with Dennis Ritchie at Bell Labs in the 1960s and 1970s, will be a star at Vintage Computer Festival East this year! It’s the 50th anniversary of when their work began. Thompson also wrote the programming language B, which preceded Ritchie’s world-changing language C. His accomplishments on these and other important works in computer science must be acknowledged. Ken will be interviewed on stage on Saturday morning, May 4, by Bell Labs’ Brian Kernighan of K&R fame. Brian himself spoke at VCF East in 2015.

2019 Vintage Computer Festivals schedule is revealed!

You keep asking, and now we have answers! For 2019 the Vintage Computer Festival series schedule is:

All four events are awesome! We promise you will have a great time there. Bring your friends, family, and coworkers too! Our events are truly “festivals” to celebrate the history of computing.

R.I.P. Bill Godbout, 79

Bill Godbout, a legend in the S-100 community for his 1970s-1980s work at Godbout Electronics and CompuPro, perished November 8 due to the Camp wildfire in Concow, California. He was 79.

There is a family-led GoFundMe campaign to support their needs in this difficult time.

Godbout was an important advocate for the industry-standard S-100 bus in its early days, as well as being a parts supplier for electronic music projects, according to 1970s microcomputing expert Herb Johnson.

Godbout was born October 2, 1939. He talked about his introduction to computing in an interview with InfoWorld magazine for their February 18, 1980 issue. “My first job out of college was with IBM. I served a big-system apprenticeship there, but I think the thing that really triggered [my interest] was the introduction of the 8008 by Intel,” he said. “I was fascinated that you could have that kind of capability in a little 18-pin package.”

Steven Levy, in his book Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution, wrote about Godbout’s Silicon Valley electronics business. “Bill Godbout… bought junk on a more massive scale — usually government surplus chips and parts which were rejected as not meeting the exacting standards required for a specific function, but perfectly acceptable for other uses. Godbout, a gruff, beefy, still-active pilot who hinted at a past loaded with international espionage and intrigues for government agencies whose names he could not legally utter, would take these parts, throw his own brand name on them, and sell them, often in logic circuitry kits that you could buy by mail order.”

“For those of us who lived and did business in the East Bay during the opening years of the personal computer revolution Bill was a friend. He operated Bill Godbout Electronics from a Quonset hut on the margins of the Oakland Airport,” explained Lee Felsenstein, associated with Silicon Valley landmarks such as Community Memory, the Homebrew Computer Club, Processor Technology, and Osborne Computer Corporation. “Bill was a friend and ally to the operators of the first generation of personal computer businesses that grew up in that early period.”

“My only direct interaction with Bill took place in 1979 after Processor Technology closed its doors. I was trying to peddle the next generation VDM card but Bill asked me to design and prototype a simplified VDM-1 S-100 card — I did so but he didn’t take it further for his CompuPro line of computers and add-ons,” Felsenstein said. A year or two later, “He was a member of the poker group that included Adam Osborne, George Morrow, and Chuck Peddle, and made a bet there that Adam would not ship his Osborne-1 computer on time. He lost that bet, but it was a real squeaker — I was involved.”

“Bill put on no airs — he was always ‘one of the guys’ and dealt in a straightforward way — this is worth noting for a time just after the opening gun when a new field often brings forth poseurs, popinjays, and pure phonies,” Felsenstein added. “Bill was none of those and we are all distraught to learn that he was taken from us in this terrible way.”

Budding engineer Mark Graybill got a job assembling clocks and other electronic gadgets at Godbout’s Oakland facility in 1976. “I’d jump on a bus after school, go down there, and originally I’d go in and work at an assembly station. I was lucky to be in the area at the time. It was cool to be doing something in electronics,” Graybill recalled. “He was kind of like the friendly uncle who’d let you take the sports car for a spin and laugh when you crashed it… I’ll remember him as the guy who trusted a 14-year-old kid with a sackful of hundreds of dollars of RAM because it was too difficult to take the bus down everyday.”