Hands-on demonstrations of historic computing are the heart of the Vintage Computer Festival series. You will find several dozen exhibits totaling more than a 100 vintage computer demonstrations all in one place!
Update: Exhibit registration for VCF East XIII is full. Email email@example.com to be placed on the waiting list.
MOBIDIC Emulator — Jeff Salzman, York, Pennsylvania — This exhibit is a non-exact replica of the Fieldata-compatible MOBIDIC computer. The original was designed at the U.S. Army Camp Evans Signal Laboratory — now the InfoAge Science Center, which hosts the VCF computer museum and VCF East — and assembled by Sylvania. The exhibit will demonstrate a small sample of code. Much of the exhibit will be a presentation of MOBIDIC history and theory of operation.
The Expandable Apple — Tony Bogan, Brielle, New Jersey; Daniel Cooper, Altamonte Springs, Florida; Ken Golomb, Middletown, New Jersey — The Apple II, in stark contrast to its contemporaries that came out the same year (1977), is an extremely expandable machine. Designed to simply pop the lid off and expose 8 internal expansion ports, a joystick/paddle port, along with cassette in/out and composite video external ports, not to mention built in color (which neither of its other 1977 alumni had) the Apple II spawned a massive third party and hobbies expansion community. See numerous original Apple II, II+, and IIe machines with all manner of add-ons. From 1980 networking, hard drive storage systems, digitizers, music synthesizers, multi-processor machines running multiple operating systems, and much more. Also see the “modern solutions to retro problems” machines (IIe and IIgs) with modern accelerators, floppy drive substitutes, memory expansion and video adapters, all manufactured in the 21st century along with machines with the period correct equivalents (if they even existed!)
ST-506 Drive Era — David Gesswein, Bethesda, Maryland — ST-506/412 drives represent the transition period when hard drives became common storage for personal computers. This exhibit will show examples of drives and systems using them, the technology that made them work, and some of what came before and after to give context. It will also cover the issues with keeping them running and modern replacements.
Late CP/M Portables — Mike Loewen, State College, Pennsylvania — In 1983 and ’84, CP/M’s star was fading and MS-DOS was emerging as the favored OS for microcomputers. There were still CP/M systems on the market though, and this exhibit will feature three of the more uncommon CP/M portables of the time: the Telcon Zorba (1983), Otrona Attaché 8:16 (1983), and Osborne Vixen (1984). The Otrona even had a 16-bit coprocessor installed which allowed it to run MS-DOS 2.11. These systems will be running typical CP/M applications and games from the period.
Vintage Macs — Charlie Baldinger, Greenwich, Connecticut — This exhibit is a display of several Macintosh generations including the Classic, SE, LC III, and iMac G3. All will be running interesting applications and games.
Atari 8-bit Desktop Publishing And Printers — Bill Lange, Somerset, New Jersey — THE PRINT SHOP is a basic desktop publishing software package originally published in 1984 by Broderbund Software. The software used a simple interface along with its extensive clip-art libraries, to create signs, posters and banners. It was one of the most popular non-game applications available for 8-bit computers. THE NEWSROOM desktop publishing software published by Springboard Software was also a best selling productivity application for 8-bit computers. It is a lightweight desktop publishing system that allows users to design and create newsletters, brochures, forms, and other simple publications. These two fun and innovative productivity software packages were responsible for consuming reams of tractor feed computer paper and gallons of printer ink! I will also display a selection of Atari 8-bit compatible printers, including the Atari 820 40-Column Printer, the Atari 822 Thermal Printer, the Atari 825 80-Column Dot Matrix Printer, and the Star Micronic Gemini 10X 80-Column Dot Matrix Printer.
The Atari ST Being Other Things — Peter Fletcher, Quakertown, Pennsylvania — In 1985, Atari Corporation introduced the ST line of computers as a low-cost alternative to the Apple Macintosh. The ST shared the same Motorola 68000 CPU as the Mac, featured a graphical user interface not unlike the Mac, and offered a color monitor option that the Mac did not all for about half of what Apple was charging. In fact, the ST was the first computer with 1 MB of RAM to be sold for under $1,000. This exhibit, however, isn’t focusing on the ST in its native form, but rather the ST’s ability to emulate other computing platforms. The exhibit features software and hardware emulation of various kinds. Software emulation of platforms such as the ZX Spectrum, CP/M, DOS, and the Atari 8-bit line are being demonstrated. Hardware emulation of both the Apple Macintosh and IBM PC are also being shown. Be sure to stop by and experience the Atari ST being other things!
Apple Portable, Pocketables, and More! — Rick Karrer, Galloway, New Jersey — Come see a large collection of Apple portable and pocketable products that represent an historic overview of Apple notebook computers from the Macintosh Portable to more modern Intel machines, Apple’s handheld mobile devices from the Newtons to iPhone and iPads, and Apple’s iPod music players. This hands-on exhibit is design to give you an overall perspective of how far we’ve come in portable and mobile computing, and what you can do to keep old machines chugging along today. Many of these machines have been upgraded to solid state boot drives (even the iPods!), modified, and tweaked, while retaining their original appearance and functionality. The devices will run many games and applications.
Simulating the ENIAC — Brian Stuart, Gloucester, New Jersey — The ENIAC stands as one of the most influential landmarks of early computing. Financed by the US Army, it was designed and built by civilians 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. This simulator is a substantially improved and expanded version of the simulator exhibited two years ago. It features enhanced graphics, new visualization modes, and a complete simulation
of all units in the system developed at Penn. Additionally, visitors will have the opportunity to operate the simulator using a control box similar
to one used by the original ENIAC programmers.
Vintage Handheld Computers — Dave Shevett, Berlin, Massachusetts — Mobile computing has come a long way in the last 50 years. This exhibit will include examples of mobile computing devices from the first programmable calculators onward.
Mechanical Computing — Bob Roswell, Hunt Valley, Maryland — Various calculators that are mechanical and electromechanical from companies such as Burroughs, Monroe, and Millionaire. The machines themselves are not fully computers. But the people who operated them were!
More European Computers — Jeremie Marsin, Brockville, Ontario, and Thierry Mazzoleni, Montclair, New Jersey — The RetroBaguette guys are back to present a large array of European computers that they couldn’t bring to VCF East XII! German, British, and French computers such as the Alice 90 or the Acorn Archimedes will be on display, fully functional, and usable.
Cromemco Cyclops (Biclops, Triclops) — Bill Sudbrink, Silver Spring, Maryland — Return of the RAM based cameras, this time fully integrated into the S-100 bus system, displaying the images, real-time, on the Dazzler display. Hard copies will be available (via teletype) and other “computer vision” controlled applications will be demonstrated.
The Demoscene: Unleashing the Power of Your Micro! — Brendan Becker, Baltimore, Maryland — Imagine an underground art scene that has been producing synchronized audiovisual demonstrations (“demos”), rendered in realtime, for display on your beloved Commodore, Atari, PC, or even a retro game console. This scene has been producing demos geared towards breaking records and doing things never thought possible on these old systems. They’ve accomplished 3-D rendering and CD-quality sound on an 8-bitter, discovering new video modes, and have even done movie-quality realtime effects on a modern PC but with only 4KB of program code. What’s more, this scene has existed for over 30 years! Demos are premiered at demoparties where they compete for prizes and bragging rights for years to come. Visit the booth to learn more about the scene, where you can watch new demos live in the U.S. and Europe, and discover some truly awesome art and achievements!
Microcomputers With an Identity Crisis — Douglas Crawford, Pottstown, Pennsylvania; Chris Fala, Landsdale, Pennsylvania; and Todd George, Quakertown, Pennsylvania — Coming out of the 1970s, personal computers were becoming a BIG THING. The landscape was diverse. Everyone was doing their own thing. No one knew where the market was heading. The stakes were high to try to hit the mainstream. What might dominate? CP/M? DOS? MAC? OS-9? Xenix? Apple II? Commodore? TRS-80? What processor? Z80? 6502? 6809? 8088? 68000? One approach was to design in more than one microprocessor and support dual systems. With one of these you could change your computer’s personality at will and take advantage of two worlds of software, theoretically at full clock speed too. This exhibit will have several examples of these inherently versatile machines, focusing on demonstrating their “alter egos”, and examine how well this plan worked as the mass market converged on the IBM/Intel platform.
Commodore Amiga Genlocks — Bill Winters, Tarrytown, New York, and Anthony Becker, Ossining, New York — The Commodore Amiga was one of the first home computers that gave you the ability to do professional video work for an inexpensive price. Many know the Amiga for The Video Toaster, but there were other video tools available that were less expensive than a complete Toaster system. In this exhibit we will demonstrate one of the most common tools – the genlock as well as some software that people used to create video with the Amiga. Attendees can come to our display, get on camera, and record a video clip of themselves with Amiga graphics overlaid onto the video.
Atari Program Exchange — Allan Bushman, Wallingford, Connecticut — Atari Program Exchange was a division of Atari Inc., set up to sell user-submitted programs which were mainly sold through APX’s catalog by mail. The APX program was an “app store” in this context. for everyday users to submit programs that might have a more limited appeal than Atari’s professional line. The exhibit will demonstrate how the Atari Program Exchanged worked, display many of the software packages (disks, manuals, catalogs, advertisements, etc.) that were offered, and run a number of the unique APX programs on an Atari computer on display.
Modified Atari 800XL — Ralph Dodd, Toms River, New Jersey — The exhibit consists of an Atari 800XL 8-bit computer that has the UAV (Ultimate Atari Video) upgrade. It also has 128 8K programs built into the console selected by switches on the rear of the computer. A homemade cartridge has 128 16K programs that are selected by switches on a black box which also contains an SIO2SD device. (An SIO2SD is a device that allows you to load games/applications into 8-bit Atari computers via the Atari SIO interface from SD/MMC cards. It handles ATR, XFD, COM, and XEX file types.)
Silicon Graphics — Ethan O’Toole — Chantilly, Virginia — A working display of two Silicon Graphics workstations. Probably the original Indigo and an Octane2. I’ll have a few memorabilia items assuming I can locate them in storage (SGI trading cards.) I will also show a copy of the SGI Indigo advertisement that brought my attention to the unique computers. There may also be 3D glasses for demonstrations via the computers.
Commodore 64 Computer Eyes: 8-Bit Digital Portraits — Jeffrey Brace, Ocean, New Jersey — Years ago my family had a portrait taken at Sears on a vintage computer and printed out. I wanted to recreate that fun experience by offering a vintage computer souvenir to attendees. I’ll use hardware and software to capture your image, save it, and print it out on a dot-matrix printer. In 1984 Digital Vision created a piece of hardware that you could connect to a video camera to capture a still image and save it. I will use a Star NX-1000 to capture your image and print it on a black-and-white dot-matrix printer.
RB5X “Intelligent Robot” — Ethan Dicks, Columbus, Ohio — A classroom and hobbyist favorite, the RB5X is a fully programmable robot from 1983 with sensors and lights that you can program directly in BASIC thanks to its INS8073 “TinyBASIC-on-a-chip”. It even talks!
Vintage to Modern Commodore — Alexander Jacocks, Middletown, Maryland — I will showcase a number of recent enhancements for Commodore 8-bit computers, and compare them to the original devices that they replace. Examples include the 1541 Ultimate II+, Commodore 64 Reloaded Mk.2, TheC64 Mini, RRNet, and others, all running on hardware such as the Commodore C-128DCR, traditional Commodore 64, and more.
Get Warped And OS/2 It! –Jameel Akari, Troy, New York — I’ll show off then-advanced features of IBM OS/2. While most home & office users in the 1990s suffered through operating systems such as Windows 3.x and Windows 95, there was also IBM OS/2 as a remarkably capable and advanced — though obscure and obtuse — alternative. Come see a demonstration of OS/2 3.5 and 4.0 Warp on age-appropriate hardware, with included applications and features, along with third-party software.
Computer Talk Before TCP/IP — Alex Bodnar, Oxford, Pennsylvania — This exhibit will show two microcomputers with non compatible disk formats. They will talk to each other via Kermit and/or Xmodem. Keyboard-to-keyboard and file transfers will be shown.
Altair Jukebox — Bill Degnan, Landenberg, Pennsylvania — On page 6 and 7 of the February 1976 Dr. Dobb’s Journal of Computer Calisthenics & Orthodontia, the article “Music of a Sort” by Steve Dompier outlines the now famous program to cause a MITS Altair 8800 to generate AM band interference to a nearby radio tuned to an unused channel low on the dial. Steve discovered how to tune and time the interference to play music through the radio. Exhibit visitors will be able to interact with the Altair to play a choice of music selections via a modified version of the original program.
6502 Blinkenlights — Alexander Pierson, Falls Church, Virginia — The 1970s featured a variety of minicomputers and microcomputers that used toggle switches and lights for data entry and user interaction. However, during the age of the microprocessor, the 6502 was one processor that wasn’t seen with this sort of interface. Come see the Cactus, a 6502 computer project built with the intention of recreating the homebrew computer experience of the mid-1970s. While the Cactus isn’t finished yet, a mini OSI-300 kit that inspired it and a minimal chip-count 6502 breadboard prototype running BASIC will be available for visitors to interact with.
Retro MIDI Studio — Anthony Stramaglia, Florham Park, New Jersey — In the mid-to-late 1980s, MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) became widely adopted as the de facto standard to connect music hardware. High-end systems like the Fairlight CMI and Synclavier were out of reach of the average musician or studio, so the Commodore 64/128, Commodore Amiga, and Atari ST became attractive alternatives. Although best known for creating 8- and 16-bit chiptune music, these machines were also able to record, play back, and synchronize synthesizers, drum machines, effects, mixers, and even stage lighting systems via MIDI. I’ll demonstrate a few of these vintage systems running MIDI studio software to record and play back music using a vintage keyboard synthesizer.
The Evolution of Tadpole Technology — Connor Krukosky, Poughkeepsie, New York — This exhibit will showcase laptops, servers, and other hardware from Tadpole Technology. You may know them for their successful SPARCbook line, but Tadpole did much more than just SPARC in its long and diverse history. In fact, it’s hard to find a processor architecture they didn’t implement! Come on by to learn about and discuss the history of Tadpole, while also playing around with some of the SPARC and x86 based Tadpole machines on display.
Software Technology Music System — Corey Cohen, Matawan, New Jersey — In 1977, a division of Processor Technology called Software Technology released an S-100 board and software called “The Music System” for musicians to investigate creating computer-generated music. The Music System included a command processor, score editor, music compiler, and tone-generating subroutines. With a four-octave range, three voices, and stereo output capability, come see the state of the art in affordable computer-generated music in 1977.
Diversi-Dial (DDial) BBS — Michael Lee, Schaumburg, Illinois — I will demonstrate the Diversi-Dial (DDial) bulletin board service running on appropriate Apple //e hardware outfitted with Hayes MicroModems. Vintage terminals (DEC VT-100/220) will be available for dial-in access, along with available lines to dial-in from other exhibitors’ equipment. A remote link will be made to RMAC #34 which is a live system at d-dial.com.
Apple Lisa in 2018 — Jason Perkins, Springfield, Virginia, Eric Rucker, Newark, Ohio, and Andrew Stemen, Bremen, Ohio — The Apple Lisa is now 35 years old. This exhibit looks at running these systems in 2018, including common hardware problems, mass storage options/repairs, and finding/installing software. A 2/5 and 2/10 system will be shown, as well as the Apple Profile and Widget disks, Patrick Schaefer’s IDEFile disk adapter and USBWidEx host emulator, and Sigma Seven System’s Basic Lisa Utility.
Legends of Arcadia — Zach Weddington, Abington, Pennsylvania — Brought to you by the team behind Viva Amiga, Arcadia is an immersive, enlightening, and visually-captivating documentary chronicling the history and profound cultural impact of arcades. The film explores 100 years of arcade history, from turn-of-the-century penny arcades to the latest developments in virtual reality. Arcadia is currently in production with release planned for 2020. The exhibit will show videos and have classic arcade games available for free play.