[vcf-midatlantic] Idea for an Exhibit - Novell

Herb Johnson hjohnson at retrotechnology.info
Sat May 26 11:15:37 EDT 2018

Time-out, please.

I appreciate there are mega-minds out there, that talk TCP/IP and know 
protocols forwards and backwards. They can manipulate Linux like 
Play-Doh. That's not me, I'm an old person that knows 8-bit computers 
from original use. I have those skills and others, I have some training, 
I know what "skills" means. And so my situation, likely applies to a 
number of other people, who own other 8-bit or 16-bit computers, who 
post in or read this list. We aren't mega-minds, but we know some stuff; 
and we have some vintage stuff.

Here's the deal as I see it. There's dead networking protocols from the 
8-bit and 16-bit microcomputing era. ARCnet. NOvell. Token Ring. And not 
quite dead in the Mac world, Appletalk (over Phonenet or on Ethernet). 
These are not in (much) use today. Hardware and software for them are 
scattered to the winds. Current hardware is powerful - but these are 
dead technologies, the two don't mix well.

Maybe there's some Web page or email discussion about each of these - 
but it's likely to be a group of mega-minds who will be talking about 
packet-drivers, who worked for Novell or Tandy, who are writing them in 
TK-TCL, to run on Sparc stations - completely above my pay grade, out of 
my reach, beyond my experiences and most of my vintage hardware. OK? And 
not just me.

The issue isn't "let's make protocol converters so ARCnet can talk 
TCP/IP and we can print pages and do Web browsers on TRS-80s". The issue 
is "look - I have ARCnet running between two computers!" OK? Base hits, 
not home-runs with bases loaded and fireworks. Sorry to be boring.

But - I'm not gonna be able to gather, say, ARCnet hardware and software 
together on some S-100 boxes and *make them work by myself*. OK? But I 
doubt someone else is going to stop what THEY are doing, ask me to do 
nothing otherwise too, work by email from hundreds or thousand of miles 
away - all to try to get some 4 MHz Z80 S-100 box to talk to an ARCnet 
card to some hub to some other ARCnet node (which I don't have or would 
be yet another S-100 box). Same with a pair of IBM-PC's or a pair of 
Tandy boxes, etc.

That's the general circumstance. People with some vintage computers, 
some vintage networking hardware - but no means to access a working test 
networking setup, no skills-set to reconstruct such a setup from 
scratch. OK?

But *maybe* if there's a group of smart-enough people with 
hardware-in-hand, they can come up with such a working test setup, for 
ONE networking protocol, that can be replicated by mere mortals.

*Maybe* they can exhibit such a setup, or bring it to some workshops. 
*Maybe* us mere mortals can bring our toys into that situation, and try 
to make them work. To do so efficiently, we would have to do some 
homework before-hand, right? To have the hardware ready, to have some 
software ready, some kind of testing, some kind of performance 
established - before we show up. Right? Think that through.

What's needed to make that happen? It means those "smart people" provide 
some resources online, so they can be read and downloaded, so these 
8-bit owners can read-up, prepare hardware, find resources, etc. OK? I'm 
just walking backwards, through some planning.

And *that's the hard part*, for the (excuse me) mega-minds. It's fun to 
talk about complicated things, among other people who already know that 
stuff. It's less fun, to explain it to those who don't. And the *least 
fun*? Laying out the ground-work, Web pages, drivers, software, docs on 
hardware (even finding hardware) - so we of lesser mind and resource, 
can run this stuff ourselves, learn how to make it run ourselves or with 
a little help.

*That's* the situation as I see it. That's my view, from my experiences.

Now -  if a few people who know this stuff, just want to set up some 
Novell or other dead-network and show it off - that's fine. It would be 
interesting, and certainly a challenge, and is a worthy exhibit. My 
memory is short - maybe such networking exhibits have occurred at 
VCF-East in the past. But how about, *preserving* that knowledge and 
"passing it forward"? How do you do *that*? That's what I'm talking 
about. That's what happens, afterwards.

For all I know, others HAVE done this - and have a Web site, and it's 
all there. Haven't checked lately, pardon my ignorance.

And if that's just outside the scope of what Bill Degnan and some other 
folks are talking about, of course that's entirely up to them to not do. 
This is a hobby and people do what pleases them and interests them. I'm 
presenting a point of view about Bill Degnan's proposal; I'm responding 
to his "idea for an exhibit". These are my responses ... and I'm done.

Herb Johnson

Herbert R. Johnson, New Jersey in the USA
http://www.retrotechnology.com OR .net
preserve, recover, restore 1970's computing
email: hjohnson AT retrotechnology DOT com
or try later herbjohnson AT retrotechnology DOT info

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