[vcf-midatlantic] VCF West XIII - My experience

Alexander Pierson ajpierson1 at yahoo.com
Tue Aug 14 00:47:45 EDT 2018

 Now that I'm back home, I can give my VCF West rundown.

I ran into a handful of folks that I knew from previous years and events, and a few more from online who were interested in seeing the Cactus.  It was nice to see Jeri Ellsworth for the first time since I was 16.  When Jason Scott came around, I made sure to get a picture with him.  Brian Benchoff of Hackaday was unable to see VCF East this year, so it was a nice surprise to see him out at West.  I briefly got to meet Marc of Curious Marc on youtube.  He seemed to be constantly busy all weekend, so we didn't get to talk much.

The PDP-1 exhibit was great to see.  I played Space War, and fulfilled a dream I've had for a few years.  The next day, I saw the IBM 1401 schpiel, then submitted a punchard with my name for processing and printing on the 1403. I only briefly ran through the museum proper, and made a point of visiting a few specific prototypes, minis, and micros that I had always wanted to see.  I had no idea Shaky the robot was that massive.  The Data General Nova was fantastic to see in person, for some reason it speaks to me.  

It was nice to meet all the west coast counterparts I had heard about, and seen in photos, and finally make connections with them.  I mentioned the OSI-300 to Larry Pezzolo (I think it was Larry anyway -- my memory is fuzzy), one of the other exhibitors.  The next day he rolled up with his in tow!   He gave me a copy of the OSI's schematics, hand drawn onto a poster sized piece of paper.  

I had a bit of transit damage on the Deposit switch on the Cactus, and had to make repairs on-site, and later in my hotel room to the Status Control board.  Madeline Autumn-Rose lent me her soldering iron to replace the switch.  Everything operated fine after that.  
Erik Klein was kind enough to lend me a Televideo 910 terminal to use while I was at the show. It worked great, and now I kinda want one of my own.

I talked kit building with Oscar Vermeullen, got some good advice on the subject.  
The consignment room had a very different feel compared to other ones I've visited in the past.  I scored the entire year of Byte magazine issues from 1977.  That means I have the November issue with the Kompuutar, which qualifies as next-of-kin to the Cactus.  Makes me wonder if any examples survive to this day.

The highlight of the entire visit was probably when Eric Schlaepfer and I combined the MOnSter 6502 and the Cactus.  It’s now the third machine to interface with the MOnSter, and the only computer not made by Eric himself to run his processor. I was honored to have the experience. The Cactus had a special NMOS board constructed just for this situation, which required minimal tweaking on sunday to get it to work right (turns out it was bus contention on the R/W line). We ran it at 50KHz for about 20 minutes, running BASIC and showing just how slow text output could be.
All in all, I had a ton of fun, and I hope I can fly out to see West again some day.  The stars kind of aligned for me to make it this year, so who knows if I will have such luck again next year.

Thank you to all who helped me out!
-Alexander 'Z' Pierson
    On Wednesday, August 8, 2018, 4:10:44 PM EDT, Jeffrey Brace via vcf-midatlantic <vcf-midatlantic at lists.vcfed.org> wrote:  
 On Wed, Aug 8, 2018 at 2:04 AM Mike Loewen via vcf-midatlantic <
vcf-midatlantic at lists.vcfed.org> wrote:

> On Wed, 8 Aug 2018, Jeffrey Brace via vcf-midatlantic wrote:
> > Got to meet Steve Russell who created Space War and have him sign a Space
> > War t-shirt. Didn't even know the guy was a docent there or what he
> looked
> > like. I saw him in the bathroom and held the door open for him as he
> uses a
> > walker, then later sat down for lunch and found out who he was. You never
> > know who you run into there.
>    When I visited the CHM in 2005, Lyle Bickley gave us a sneak preview
> of the
> PDP-1 (it wasn't yet open to the public).  He fired it up, and we also
> played
> Space War.  I noticed a speaker on top of the machine, and asked if they
> had a
> music program running.  Lyle said that Peter Samson was helping to
> recreate
> the music synthesizer he wrote at MIT for the PDP-1.  As we were leaving
> the
> room, he said "Oh, there's Peter now!"  He introduced me to Peter, who was
> also a docent at the CHM.

Yes, they first played the music program. Incredible! Very interesting
story how they got the PDP-1 and how they got it working.

> Mike Loewen                            mloewen at cpumagic.scol.pa.us
> Old Technology                          http://q7.neurotica.com/Oldtech/
Jeff Brace
Vice President
Vintage Computer Federation

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