Last week’s VCFMW 9.0 was my first Vintage Computer Festival. I went into it not really knowing what to expect, but anxious to meet some of the people I’d only known through the COSMAC ELF forum on Yahoo: co-exhibitors Josh Bensadon, Lee Hart, and Bill Rowe. It turned out to be more of a closed gathering than something like the Midwest Gaming Classic, which draws a lot of interest from the general public and winds up with shoulder-to-shoulder crowds. In many ways, I think that’s a good thing; it lets those with a deep and genuine interest in yesteryear’s technology converse with less distractions. I do wonder, though, whether some of the historic machines at computing’s foundation will be lost or forgotten in coming decades.

In any case, I had a great time meeting a lot of extremely clever people and swapping stories involving rattly teletypes, programs loaded off punch cards or paper tape or cassette, and machines assembled with solder and good intentions. It was also fun watching the reactions to Lee’s beautiful Galileo model, his wickedly small 1802 computer that fits in an Altoids tin, Bill’s “Olduino” project with an ultrasonic range finder demo, and Josh’s extensive collection of old 1802-based computing equipment. A broad selection of photos from VCFMW can be accessed from the links found here.

Josh Bensadon, Lee Hart, Bill Rowe, and Dave Ruske in the COSMAC exhibit at VCFMW 9.0

Biography of an Old Computer

Prompted by the upcoming VCFMW 9.0 and Herb Johnson’s excellent overview of the COSMAC exhibit, I’ve put together a page on describing the ACE computer and how it came together over a number of years. Note that this ACE stands for “Association of Computer Experimenters” and refers to an RCA CDP1802 based computer, not the Jupiter ACE. If all goes according to plan, you’ll be able to see this machine at VCFMW. Drop by and say “hi!”