gaby.de/Computer Museum/1st Vintage Europe Informatics Festival 2000
A very personal report by Helmut Jungkunz
Nothing special about a meeting about old computers. At least most of the time. But there is an exception: the Vintage Computer Festival is something special in its genre. A gem for collectors and fans of rare vintage items. This time the meeting was not to take place in the famous Silicon Valley, but for the first time in good old Europe!
Reasons enough to wait a long time. There is no time to lose. Gaby and I had packed our gems and arrived early as we were exhibitors. Even as a resident of Munich, I had a hard time finding the location of the place in the ESV München Ost gym on Baumkirchner Strasse. If Gaby hadn't been there the night before, we would definitely have been quite late as there were no signs or other clues to guide us and the gym is actually a bit out of the way.
So we unpacked our things and parked the car. We then chose a table and dumped our gear on it. Just as we finished our basic configuration, we received the first piece of bad news:
three exhibitors had withdrawn their bookings in a very short time and much space would be empty. On top of that, there were almost no registrations for the planned flea market, so it had to be cancelled. Oh dear! we thought and no sign of any visitors so far…
Despite that, we started to reorganize our things and lay several meters of power lines when suddenly the door opened and I was staring at a strangely familiar and still strange face. A hand reached out to shake mine and my trained ears told me who it was: "Professor Dr. Paul Propellertrieb" (also known asPaul Lenz) had arrived from Hanover! What a pleasure! We hadn't seen each other since CEBIT in 1990 (I think) and so it had been the first time. In between there were several phone calls and some data exchanges, but no personal meeting took place. More on Paulie later.
Being curious by nature, we started exploring our neighborhood (Gawrsh, sounds like Windows!). Not bad and quite impressive even for sheer weight and size! There were "stone age" cupboards.(VAX 1130 and Co) with huge terminals and external CPU racks, as well as Winchester 8" drives and of course the entire venerable COMMODORE palette, from the PET (Personal Electronic Transactor) to the COMMODORE PLUS 4, were present. For these The latter were present .heard making pretty outrageous noises, not only had they gathered in a small crowd, but they were practicing a strange series of oddly melodic beep sequences (SHOOT-EM UP!) Not much else to say about this lineup. Although the local organizer , Hans Franke , had asked everyone to fill out a presentation information sheet in German and English, their own computers (and they were his) identifiable only by their name tags. (Some of the nameplates on Commodore computers could only be read by turning the unit upside down!) Completely isolated and alone at the table sat an old friend, an (AMSTRAD) Schneider CPC 464 and another veteran of the home era computer, the famous Dragon 32 .
Only a few of the exhibitors had come with a finished concept in mind. "A historical line from abacus to electronic calculators" was the name of a presentation, which was unfortunately mostly based on photos. They showed the collection of the exhibitor Matthias Schmitt presented at the Waldmichelbach/Odenwald Museum.
A rather cubic Robotron computer turned out to host a then-GDR-built Z1013 Single Board Kit computer that loads and assembles a program via a slow-motion cassette interface. Since computer software was not available in Ulbricht's time, radio stations in the GDR added encrypted program sequences to their broadcasts, which could be recorded via any ordinary tape and then decoded for use on these computers. There had even been a TV problem this afternoon at ZDF, one of the major broadcasters.
Another exhibitor had rather carelessly presented a random collection of Macintoshes and called it "Stages in the Development of the Mac." The other day, Gaby and I spiced this up a bit by adding our Mac Plus (1 MB of memory!) to this arrangement. This definitely improved the look a bit.
A real surprise and also a provocation wasMUNIAC, newly developed tube computer (a completely original concept, all born from one mind, as a studio). John Zabolitzky, the father of this device, had soldered many of the "Units," as he calls his uniform logic blocks, and integrated their functions into the growing computer. With its 10K Ops (Operations Per Second!) it's not exactly a shooter and probably dumb as a stack of hay, but beautiful!” said one visitor who had appreciatively readtechnical dataonly to continue with a broad smile. A truly amazing fact: someone developed this type of computer in the year 2000, one that fills 19-inch rack-mount packages and always has to fight the 10A power limit so it doesn't blow common fuses during startup.
For the general public, there were a few lectures, not only on MUNIAK, but on various topics. This was the point when the international nature of the event began to show. Many lectures were given in English, and many visitors from Germany were prevented from getting to not only less interesting things. My participation as a speaker forced me to stay with my team for the most part, but two conferences I consumed at least partially.
One was in the hands of the American partner.Ishmael stolon the subject"KIPU (QUIPOU) - Inka Mnemonic Recording Device". From a main cord, multiple vertical descendants and split cords and marker nodes created a hierarchical structure to allow documentation of historical and cultural events on the timeline.
The second lecture was based on a rather unusual thesis on computer collecting: "Digging Up the Future: Computers and Archaeology." Christine Finn, the teacher, had had a strange tingling sensation, which she knew from her profession as an archaeologist, when she entered a storage room with old computers and mixed junk.
Now touch nothing, what is where and how is it connected or related to things in its vicinity? Is the piece found in its entirety or is it part of a larger unit? Are there traces, descriptions, traces of dependencies with other things? As in Archaeology, it can be just as important here to first collect everything and examine the archived materials, document the finds and take photographs, whereby help can often be obtained through publications, e.g. WEB or you can discover the real meaning of an item. Unlike typical computer collectors, archaeologists among them often have to start with only a fraction of a device, rarely revealing its origin or purpose. With a lot of luck, similar pieces can be found, or together with the necessary knowledge, they can fit together a complex puzzle to assemble one of the legendary units.
The most fascinating eye-catcher at the Vintage Computer Festival was undoubtedly the Paul Lenz table. Even the legendary BigBoard computer caught my interest as it is a kind of ancestor of the European ZCPR machines. Its intelligent BIOS made it possible to use the most diverse disk formats through automatic login, similar to the technique used inStag Tilman CPU280, presented on my desk. (In short, a very traditional corner, also with Gaby Chaudry'sABC24 which we rescued from the scrap press at Elektronik-Flohmarkt in 1998). Paul had installed a SHARP MZ80 K with a small hardware addition. This "hardware addon" had many visitors gawking, some gasping, but there sure were a lot of people queuing.
Ten years earlier, Paul had participated in a competition on a TV show called "Mit Schraubstock und Geige" (somewhat translated as "With a vise and a violin") and had built a thing that took an egg, exposed it to a pseudo -x -ray. through a bulb, only to reject it if it turned out to be crude (in the words of the MZ80!).If you put a real hard-boiled (Easter-approved) egg in the machine, two markers would start circling the object and paint a nice spiral pattern in two colors. Now came the interesting part: the guillotine! Don't you dare laugh! This is a serious matter! The egg would then be clamped in place with a small vise, while a knife fitted to a car's windscreen wiper motor would cut the top off – snap! - with absolute precision. The egg is then returned to its origin and sits there waiting as a small elevator dramatically reveals a symbolic mini chest with voila! Salt and pepper in it (not forgetting the spoon)! When this was over, a melodious supermarket type triple gong was heard and a female voice wished you a very bon appetit. I can't remember exactly how many eggs we ate over the weekend, but it sure beat Easter.
Many, many thanksPablofor this brilliant presentation!
By the way, I recorded some on Video8 and burned them as MOVIE files to a CD, along with the Europe site and a snapshot of the US site and a bunch of extra stuff. Unfortunately, this English text was not available when the CD was made. But it's fun to watch the CD!
Helmut Jungkunz,email@example.comVCFE Imaging Overview