[vcf-midatlantic] Vintage Computer Federation at Lehigh Valley FAST 2016

Herb Johnson hjohnson at retrotechnology.info
Thu Sep 15 12:20:15 EDT 2016

Thanks from me for your excellent report on your own activities and 
exhibit. Your exhibit is good vintage-computing outreach. Can you also 
report on the other exhibits there? I am (and others I correspond with 
are) interested in how children today are presented with STEM 
technology, by the various groups that support (and sell) STEM; and how 
the kids themselves present their own efforts and school-sponsored 
projects. We compare that, with how we old-people learned about 
computing and electronics, in our youth.

The vintage-computing connection to STEM in my opinion is this. In the 
vintage era of the 1960's and 70's, "STEM" was represented as "the space 
race", and it was mostly a federal/schools program on education 
fundamentals. There were few products to offer, not many computers. 
Apple and the Apple II were the educational "push", but that came later. 
And the "personal computer revolution" as group events, was mostly a 
product of adults in locally-formed clubs, that met in homes or in 
public spaces (libraries, museums, etc.). Kids were not a big part of 
either of these, until the video gaming rise (and fall) in the later 

NONE of this was particularly "competitive" as in contests between 
groups to perform any kind of tasks or games, with scoring and 
regional/national contests. Efforts to nationalize computer clubs, 
didn't pan out. Later there were top-down organizations, around Apple or 
IBM or other specific product lines; and most supporting magazines or 
publications or conventions, or BBS's or email lists.

STEM of course, in the schools and as supported by national groups and 
international corporations, is quite a contrast. The common point is 
that these circumstances - STEM in schools, what became vintage personal 
computing groups - is how these introduced "computing" technology to 
youngsters. We vintage-computing owners look back at vintage computers 
and remember our involvement, and our machines. I have no doubt that 
some STEM participants, will look back at their experiences and products 
used, with the same sort of "vintage" interests.

But more relevant today to us, is when STEM participants - still kids - 
come to vintage computing events and exhibits, and evaluate "our" 
technology based on their STEM competitions and events. They will expect 
the kinds of "computing" they have experienced; and will have no 
experience with some of our earliest vintage computers which we display 
and describe.

Todd's report, in my opinion, gives us a glimpse into the present (and 
the future) of vintage computing.

The kid's attraction to printers, for instance, is that they are loud, 
use paper, and move paper around - not that they would actually READ any 
papery-bloggy-texty things not on a screen! And of course, the parents 
have their own expectations and histories, directly related to vintage 
computing, but likely influenced by their kid's participation in STEM. 
Todd and his colleagues, reported on both, thanks!

(Sorry if that appears long-winded. But these are not simple concepts or 
even widely-held point of view. It takes time to explain such things. 
And frankly, it's a little frustrating to me, when I post such remarks. 
Why? Because I get little response. If there's no reaction, I assume I'm 
either off-base, boring, overwhelming, or irrelevant to those reading 
this list. So let me know if what I say, means anything to those reading 
it. Thank you.)

Herbert R. Johnson,  New Jersey USA
http://www.retrotechnology.com OR .net

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