Vintage Computer Festival East 8.0: May 2012

The Vintage Computer Festival VCF East 8.0
was held Saturday, May 5th and Sunday, May 6th, 2012

hosted by and located at historic

There was one less regular attendee:
Claude A. R. Kagan
7-October-1924 – 26-April-2012

He founded the R.E.S.I.S.T.O.R.S. (the first hackerspace?),
worked on the TRAC and SAM languages,
and was quite a celebrated computer pioneer.
Most of us remember him as one of the regulars at TCF and VCF,
trying to convert us to use the Dvorak keyboard.

He and Dimitry Grabbe kicked off MARCH with their personal collections of computers & electronics.

His web site is

See the photos!
Jeff Jonas' photos
I took very few photos.
See the others above for more complete & fair coverage of all the displays.
David McGuire's BIG BLUE PDP-11/70 was clearly the star of the show
with 4 racks AND IT WAS RUNNING!
Such a huge installation requires sysops!
These vintage terminals were live and connected to the big PDP
The DEC VT05 is just SO RETRO!
wikipedia says: The VT05 was the first free-standing CRT computer terminal from Digital Equipment Corporation, famous for its extremely futuristic styling
Tech specs are on
David Gesswein restored his "straight 8" and it was all running!
The buzz of the Decwriter and chatter of the TTY were truly echoes of the past!
Here's a lovely touch to Gesswein's exhibit: a scene straight out of the 70s.
Paper tape from DEC and DECUS, in the original boxes!
Mike Ross' PDP15, exposed for all to see!
Bill Degnan's PC exhibit
Ian Primus' Apples to Apples exhibit
Herb Johnson's s100 exhibit
Ben Greenfield's custom computers starring the Minuteman-1 D17B Interial Guidance system
  • wikipedia
  • PDF: Investigation of Minuteman D17B Computer Reutilization
    by Charles H. Beck of Tulane Univ New Orleans LA Systems Lab
    Accession Number: AD0722476
    Report Date: JAN 1971
    54 pages
    Abstract: A large number of NS-10Q Inertial Guidance Systems have been declared excess by the USAF which contain D17B digital computers. This report describes the capabilities of these computers and many appropriate applications in which the D17B--a highly reliable and versatile serial-binary minicomputer--can be beneficially employed. Typical areas of application are control, data acquisition, and on-line communications. A single system design will suffice for the application of several D17B's to similar tasks. While such modifications are very inexpensive, the required interfacing must still be developed. This interfacing is the key to flexible use of these minicomputers; typical I/O devices include: typewriters, teletypes, flexowriters, magnetic and paper tape units, printers, and card readers. Despite the difficulties of limited documentation during the early phases of this investigation and the associated frustration, the D17B is now performing useful functions in the Systems Laboratory at minimal cost.
and amazing vintage memory:
core and the Raytheon CK1383A
Glenn's Computer Museum describes the tube memory and links to the datasheet.

Raytheon 8602/CK1383A Recording storage CRT
This is a storage and scan-conversion tube, not specifically intended for computer use but could be used that way. It's a variant of the 7702 (7702 offers either magnetic or electrostatic focusing; this one offers only magnetic). It can be written-into, then will hold the information for hours and provide thousands of readout scans. Has separate "write" and "read" guns. Typical use was "slowing-down" of radar video for transmission over phone lines. This is an analog device with 1200 lines of resolution, so in digital terms it was in the megapixel range, each pixel had a shades-of-gray capability, which nominally expands the equivalent digital capacity a lot more.
Ron Lawrence's "Radio Heaven" Tube Collection.
also features CRTs, radio & radar tubes, including the
by Major Harold A. Zahl for the WW-II AN/TPS3 radar.
the Amateur Computer Society of New Jersey Meeting #1 Reunion
The MARCH analog computer collection
EAI-20 donated by Nick Lordi
Heathkit EC-1 donated by Steve Anderson
GAP/R tube op-amps, Jeppesen E6B Flight Computer, slide rule donated by Jeffrey Jonas
Slide rule book a gift from the Thomas Kirk estate.

These relate directly to the VCF 2012 presentation
Kent Lundberg, Ph.D.: History and Impact of Analog Computing
Despite the ubiquity of all things digital, electrical engineers owe an enormous debt to analog computing. Many of our tools, technologies, and theories are descended from mechanical and electronic analog computers that were built in the early (and late) twentieth century. From the mechanical computers of Lord Kelvin and Vannevar Bush to the electronic systems of John Ragazzini and George Philbrick, analog machines helped win WWII, launch the space race, and solve thousands of industrial problems. Analog machines were used well into the 1970s, and some researchers still find pragmatic yield in their use today. Dr. Lundberg will discuss the history, personalities, impact, and legacy of analog computing in the fields of simulation, circuit design, and engineering education.
Someone wrote this nice BASIC program to scroll text across the Wang screen
(apropos of Dr. Thomas Kurtz Ph.D.'s BASIC presentation)
The MARCH Homebrew Room houses the growing collection of
single board computers / evaluation kits.
New hall signs helped folks find the museum, and bathrooms.
The Amdahl 4705 Front End Processor was fondly remembered
an enduring Camp Evans legacy
See also:

Credit where credit is due

Evan Koblentz spearheaded the effort but many folks worked hard behind the scenes for months before:

A quick summary of VCF East chronology, by Evan Koblentz

The first two VCF East shows were in 2001 and 2004. But they were run remotely by Sellam in California, so they were only modestly successful. It's hard enough running a show in your backyard, let alone across the country.

MARCH took over VCF East after that: Then we decided to try our event later in the year: We skipped 2010 [due to many reasons, technical & personal]
By 2011 everybody was rejuvenated, so we moved it back to spring:

updated 14-May-2012