[vcf-midatlantic] Ken Thompson video

Bill Degnan billdegnan at gmail.com
Wed Nov 11 01:05:29 EST 2020

On Tue, Nov 10, 2020, 9:26 PM RETRO Innovations via vcf-midatlantic <
vcf-midatlantic at lists.vcfed.org> wrote:

> Since I'm quite a ways away (in Iowa) from many of the rest of the
> group, I'm not privy to all of the politics and such occurring here, but
> perhaps my thoughts will be seen as an "outsider's view":
>   * Bill Degnan:  I'm not sure I understand the statement "VCF MW and
>     VCF E are two different kinds of show."   Are you referring to the
>     fact that VCF-Midwest shares the name VCF with other shows but is
>     not managed by the VCF Federation?

See comments below, with <snip>'s

Is it that the show style is
>     significantly different than the other shows? (As Alexander notes, I
>     think other VCF shows run the same was as Midwest).  I worry about
>     this continuing need to single out MW as a different thing.
>   * I'll be honest.  I attended at least 2 VCF-East shows, but skipped
>     attending in the past few years, for the following reasons:
>       o VCF East did not seem welcoming to hybrid exhibitor/seller folks
>         like myself.  While I have not attended the last few fests, the
>         2 I attended I was placed in the consignment room, which was a
>         poor fit for many of us (Bob Applegate selling his new
>         reproductions, the Model M KB restoration guy and a few others
>         next to the pile of broken machines and stacks of old software
>         titles).  In all the fests, there are those who just want a
>         sales table and some sell old stuff. but it felt demeaning to
>         lump everyone who was selling something into 1 space, and a tiny
>         space at that.  Even if more current shows allow a larger space
>         for sales, I still prefer to be in the exhibitor space.


> Jim

Ok now you asked for it.  Excuse the rambling response as I shate the true
history of MARCH and the Federation.  Some people aren't going to like
reading or wanting to believe some of this, but I am simply reporting the
facts as I see them from my perspective.  It's still a free country.  If
you disagree, prove me wrong.

First of all, I was a co-founder of MARCH and I was on the first board of
both MARCH and VCFed, for many years.  Evan did not found the group, *we*
all did, but from the beginning it was he who wanted to find a space in NJ
as headquarters for an east coast VCF after Sellam gave up on what was then
just *the* Vintage Computer Festival.  It was Evan that put in the effort
to run the mailing list and run VCFs.  Others myself included ran the
workshops in our homes and the first Festivus' or two while Evan
concentrated on the VCFs and to secure the InfoAge space.  Evan was  not a
fan of workshops, and basically I said, well then don't come.  But we
agreed let's all have a party 6 months after VCF so we have something to do
in between the formal event.  That's how Festivus started.

We founders pretty much as quit in frustration for various reasons one by
one and new people took over that seemed more interested in franchising
"vintage computing" than fostering the community aspect of the original
group.   Not everyone but it was no longer the same with the new
corporation and heavy handed attitude.  But that happens I suppose.

Ask yourself: why is there no club out west or north west?

Here is the part that will ruffle some feathers...stop reading now if you
dont want to hear some hard truths.  Personally I thinks it's just how it
was and is, objectively.  I have nothing to gain here.

Bottom line the board tricked Evan to give up his board position.  I was
vocal about this then, privately, but not publically.  Evan accepted  a
paid position convinced he would have the same power but that was never the
plan in my opinion.  Turns out I was correct.

That was the moment VCF became a business

A few years later the vcf board created the local NJ committee placing Evan
as a defacto team member, knowing full well he'd have no power, rub
everyone the wrong way and quit or get kicked out.  And guess what... the
Infoage steering committee did the board's dirty work and took care of the
Evan problem for the vcf board. You have to understand for a time Evan ran
the bank accounts and essentially the MARCH name.  For some this would not
do!  Well done I suppose but please everyone should acknowledge their role
in this messed up drama.  No one likes being a pawn or admitting that they
were being manipulated.  No one wants to be exposed.  Maybe you dont care,
even better.  But can you blame Evan for being a little pissy and hard to
work with?

I was way more involved in MARCH before we became the Federation and I
never really cared for the switch, and I quit after the transition for
reasons that I'd rather not get into here.  Jeff Brace took my place.  I
came back to the board for a while because I was promised a few things that
never materialized and I left again, this time for good.   I never liked
the idea of controlling all of vintage computing and not supporting
independents, nor refusing to promote one-off events.  But my opinion was
in the minority and it was Federation or be ignored.  So I left and started
Kennett Classic.  No hard feelings.

Other established groups resisted joining the Federation at that time so
it's not really accurate to say everyone running a VCF is under one
umbrella .   Jason Timmons et al made a separate deal with Sellam to use
the name vintage computer festival for the MW event, run independently,
*prior* to the formation of VCFed.  This why it's not under the Federation
umbrella.  The South East event was independent as well and is a little
more connected to vCFed.  The new VCF West and northwest shows were formed
after Brutman and Erik Klein joined the board and they pretty much own them
through the board.  There is no "club" there just a shell for yearly
vcf's.  It's just business.  The European VCFs are more or less independent
but play along as they either dont care about the USA group or dont know
better.  Its loose at best.

In the old days Sellam Ismail ran VCFs and he is the one who set the
standard for how to do it. Back then there were all kinds of goings on it
was a lot of fun.  VCFMW is the closest thing to the original  VCFs run by

OPINION...I don't get why the NJ club needs the vcf corporate umbrella at
all.   The club *is* the group and should be independent.  The old club
part still exists because the members keep it alive but VCF leadership does
not foster the club community they just own the artifacts and the logo.
 Otherwise there would be similar groups out west, right?  It's the NJ club
that made the west coast shows viable again.

 The board meetings were all about money and planning VCFs and complaining
about Evan.   I suppose no one cares about the breakdown of east vs west
revenue, but suffice it to say it ain't even

 Maybe you can see why I started an independent thing in Kennett as did
Dave McGuire.  A lot of us said screw it we dont need to be franchised.

 MidWest is the most fun because its organic and the people are more laid
back.  There are three or four vintage-themed clubs that join together for
the one event.  Swap tables on top of exhibits on top of vendors is the way
it goes.  You can drink a beer or two at night and hang out and mess around
with old computers, talk, listen to music and trade junk.  It's more of a
party and a workshop and a swap all in one.

Here is a cynical thought experiment.  What is preventing the board from
planning to swipe the museum out of InfoAge and move it to a city like
Philadelphia?  Now that Evan is out of the picture the next phase could be
to move the museum.  Imagine when InfoAge asks for money or otherwise makes
it easy to justify to pack up and leave.  You running the InfiAge committee
may watch as professional museum curators will assume possession of your
hard work after years of collecting and restoring everything.  It will be
couched in "it's best for the artifacts and more people will get to see
them..etc"  yes/no?  It remains to be seen.

Youch I know, but ?

I believe everyone needs to stop bickering about Evan and start asking more
questions about this Federation, the bank accounts and apparently the
lifetime appointments of the board members.  Where are the elections for
the real power?  Find a way to bring Evan back into the fold, or Evan be
the leader that made this group great and start another group.  There are
plenty of racquetball courts in NJ.


Bill Degnan

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