[vcf-midatlantic] Trenton

Herb Johnson hjohnson at retrotechnology.info
Wed Mar 21 17:46:29 EDT 2018

Since TCF is walking distance from my home, I was there this year. It 
was, as Evan says, much like the last few years. There's one or two 
vendors who bring vintage-computing items, and then several others you 
see at hamfests with modern computers, and a few parts vendors. It's 
early in the hamfest season so it's good to see these folks again. I 
bought some widgets, my friends bought some vintage things, I scarfed up 
the tossouts at the end. There was a 3D printer dealer there.

The talks are of the same sorts as recent, mostly about doing modern 
computing in various aspects. Since early personal computing included 
"embedded" issues like networking, operating things, coding - modern 
computing topics in embedded work are of interest to many of us oldies. 
THey show off some college-engineering student work, some robotics.

Neil Cherry's talk was fine, and I recommend looking at IoT stuff 
through the eyes of vintage computing "nuts and bolts". Frank O'Brian 
spoke on the Space Shuttle computer - he's part of Infoage, wrote about 
the Apollo Guidance Computer. Other talks may be of interest to some who 
read this.

A surprising talk, was by a high-school student, who is making his own 
semiconductors in his garage. When his talk began with "here's how a 
semiconductor works...." I was worried.  Spoiler: he's using 1990's 
class small-run semiconductor technology, and a bit of optical hacking, 
and some common household items. And he's getting it done. Best talk 
I've heard in years, me being a BSEE from the 1970's, that's what I 
learned then. Not sure the "gamers" would be interested, but the 
"makers" among us ought to be.

The Sarnoff Collection had a table during the morning, and opened their 
museum in the afternoon which is a short walk away. Go there sometime, 
to see the COSMAC computers, some blue LEDs (RCA uncovered the breakthru 
technology), and radio/TV stuff if that's of interest. I work with them 
so they get my attention. The 1802 *is* a New Jersey microprocessor.

TCF has topics of interest to modern computing technologists, and also a 
strong amateur radio component. You can get your ham license in a day 
spent there, like many hamfests offer. It's not the parking lot of 
old-tech dealers it used to be, but it's not a bad way to spend a 

Herb Johnson

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

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