[vcf-midatlantic] MARCHIAN invasion of Trenton

Herb Johnson hjohnson at retrotechnology.info
Thu Mar 23 15:47:00 EDT 2017

I attended the TCF and saw talks by Frank OBrien (Apollo Guidance 
Computer), Neil Cherry (Home Automation / Internet of Things) and Evan 
and Jeff's robotics presentation.

The TCF "flea market" was flea-sized to be sure. But good people brought 
vintage computing things, proportionally it was a large piece of a small 
pie. One of my friend bought an SGI Octane 2 (newer model) , a SGI 
Indigo 2 High Impact and a BeBox ($1000) were also offered. Ther were 
even a few 360K floppy drives and diskettes for sale.

I bought, from another vendor of many things vintage, another TI 99/4A, 
with transformer and TV interface, to test the TI I bought not long ago 
- both worked by the way. A book vendor had many vintage computing 
books, some VERY vintage (my era); from his father's collection so he said.

Neil's talk was most informative, despite his protests as posted here. 
The key concept from it, in my opinion, was "MQTT", which is a 
message-based protocol between sensors and controllers - "publishers and 
subscribers" in the lexicon. The widespread adoption of a messaging 
protocol is a signifigant step - akin to TCP/IP for networking, my 
impression. The rest of the talk was about things talking with things to 
do things. Neil, practice this phrase: "details of implementation or 
scope are beyond the limited time I have available today. Contact me 
afterwards and I can give you references. Thank you."

Evan is correct, in his reportage that I said his and Jeff's robotics 
talk was more technically informative, than my discussion with a student 
and faculty-member of their $40K demonstration robot. I could not get 
those persons, to describe the programming interface to their tower of 
plastic and motors. Evan showed a BASIC program with peeks and pokes. 
The 20th century won that "battle of the 'bots". Am I a judge? I worked 
on robotic system interfaces to minicomputers in 1975.

Frank always gives an entertaining talk, and he's a published expert on 
the Apollo Guidance Computer. He claims the DSKY human interface 
designed in the early 1960's, presaged personal and embedded-computer 
human interfaces to come. It may be fun to confirm that claim, the 
interface has a design history. But "success has many parents..."

I have photos, to answer another post, which I'll put on a Web page in 
due course; a link will be posted here. I'll point to other photoed 
sites or sources, if their publishers give me Web links and permission 
for use of selected photos. Those who are photographed should contact me 
and name themselves.

Herb Johnson

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

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