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VCF 6.0 - Speakers

Year after year, the VCF presents an amazing line-up of speakers and workshops for the computer history and vintage computing enthusiast. We are pround to present the session line-up for VCF 6.0.

This year we have multiple conference tracks. All talks that begin on the hour are in one track and the talks that begin on the half hour are in another. Each session is one hour in length and usually includes time for questions and answers at the end.

You may click on a speaker's photo or name to read a brief bio of that speaker.

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Saturday October 11, 2003

Evan Koblentz
10:00 AMEvan Koblentz
History of the PDA
The term PDA was coined by Apple Computer in 1993, and to most people today it's synonymous with "Palm Pilot." But in the big picture, the first handheld computer was the abacus, about 2,500 years ago. More tangibly, consider this: the first real PDA was actually invented in the late 1970s with features we consider leading-edge today, like a keyboard, removable memory, and modem. And it was about the same size and price of modern devices. So where have we really gotten since then, and how, and what's next? Take this tour of amazing PDA developments and learn what the past can teach us about the future.

Zbigniew Stachniak
11:00 AMZbigniew Stachniak
Microcomputing in Canada 1973-1983
This talk presents the genesis, developments, and achievements of the Canadian microcomputing industry in the 1970s and early 1980s. From the early 1970s, companies in Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal, Waterloo, and other Canadian cities were designing and developing personal microcomputers, digital word processors, computer graphics cards, monitors, floppy disk drives, software, and other innovative products and technologies. Some of these early companies have risen to be world industry leaders and to this day they manufacture state-of-the-art software and hardware products. This talk will focus primarily on the development of the microcomputer hardware industry in Canada.

Christine Finn
11:30 AMChristine Finn
Collecting the Collectors
Christine Finn, author of Artifacts: An Archaeologist's Year in Silicon Valley, has spent the last three years talking to lovers of vintage tech. Join her in an open forum about why collectors collect computers, who we are, and the future of collecting.

Len Shustek
12:00 PMLen Shustek
Keynote Speech
Len Shustek is the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Computer History Museum. Len will discuss the ongoing development of the Museum and its latest happenings.

Lynne Jolitz
Lynne Jolitz
William Jolitz
William Jolitz
12:30 PMSymmetric 375 & Berkeley Unix
Before 386BSD: The Symmetric 375 & Berkeley Unix
Symmetric Computer Systems, a venture-funded company founded in 1982 by William Jolitz, was a contender in the hot race to produce a personal BSD Unix system. The Symmetric 375 was the first system out the door with hardware floating point and virtual memory, beating Sun by years. It was the first system with open source supplied, integrated, and tested, from EMACS to SPICE for use in scientific and engineering work. And it was the first to ship systems with all software fully installed and tested, ready for use immediately.

William and Lynne Jolitz will discuss the design and development of the 375 computer and its influence on 386BSD—the first open source BSD system for the x86 platform released a decade later.

John Ellenby
John Ellenby
Gary Starkweather
Gary Starkweather
Dave Robson
Dave Robson
Peter Deutsch
Peter Deutsch
Charles Simonyi
Charles Simonyi
01:00 PMXerox Alto Panel
Xerox Alto 30th Birthday Bash Discussion
The VCF is proud to present a panel discussion about the Xerox Alto developed at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center during the early 1970s. The speakers include Mark Bernstein, John Ellenby and Gary Starkweather, and the panel will be moderated by Bruce Damer of the Digibarn. The discussion will focus on the construction and use of the Alto at PARC and elsewhere and how its development set the stage for personal computing to come.

The Alto personal workstation was commissioned by Xerox at their Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) in December 1972 and the first systems were constructed in 1973. The Alto was at the heart of PARC's mission to create an "Architecture for Information". By the mid 1970s a growing collection of networked Altos at PARC and elsewhere served as a research and development platform that brought us Ethernet, window and icon interfaces, on-screen full page document and image editing (later to be known as "desktop publishing"), laser printing, object oriented programming (Smalltalk) and many, many other innovations. The Alto served as the platform on which the Xerox D* Machines and MESA architecture was developed.

By the early 1980s the Alto and its successors allowed Xerox to begin marketing the Star 8010 workstation and the 9700 high volume laser printer. Needless to say, the personal computing revolutions of the 1980s and 1990s with Apple's Macintosh, Microsoft's Windows, desktop publishing, the Internet, the World Wide Web, multiuser virtual worlds and much more owe their direct lineage to the Alto.

The DigiBarn, Don Woodward, and others will be displaying a number of artifacts at this presentation including an Alto II/XM, early Ethernet drops and transceivers, and a number of D* Machines including the first (D0, the "Dolphin"), the D1 Xerox Star 8010 "Dandelion", a running network of Xerox 6085 "Daybreak" workstations, the Bounty Board "Dlily", and derivative systems such as the Elixir Desktop.

More information about the Alto and D* Machines can be found at the DigiBarn Computer Museum.


Sunday October 12, 2003

Joey Tuttle
10:00 AMJoey Tuttle
A Personal History of the IBM 5100
The IBM 5100 is the predecessor (at least in model number) of the IBM 5150 PC. It was a self-contained, portable (if you were strong) desktop computer that supported programming in BASIC and APL. Development of the 5100 began in 1973 at the IBM facilities in Rochester, Minnesota, and the first models were shipped to customers in September 1975.

This talk will feature personal recollections of the development of this pioneering computer.

David L. Jaffe
David L. Jaffe
C. H. Ting
C. H. Ting
Kevin Appert
Kevin Appert
Dwight Elvey
Dwight Elvey
11:00 AMForth Panel
Using Forth with Vintage Computers
This one-hour presentation will briefly describe and demonstrate Forth and how it can be used with vintage computers.

Forth, a threaded interpretative language, is simple to use and has been ported to most microprocessors. Forth's strengths include small kernel size and applicability to implementing emulators, assemblers, and programming tools and applications.

A short discussion of Forth's design and a demonstration of its use in a tethered environment will be presented. The demonstration will feature the recovery of data from a Heathkit H89 with a hard-sector formatted USART-encoded floppy disk to a PC over a serial interface, with Forth being employed on the PC and assembly language on the H89.

Additional demonstrations will include a mechanical robotic hand and an ultrasonic transducer wheelchair interface.

Todd Fischer
11:30 AMTodd Fischer
IMSAI History and the New IMSAI Series Two
Todd Fischer will be discussing a bit of IMSAI history as well as discussing the IMSAI Series Two, a reincarnation of the classic IMSAI 8080. As a bonus, Todd will be bringing along for show and tell the actual IMSAI computer that co-starred in the film "War Games", along with the rarely seen "IMSAI Doll House", an IMSAI demo prop he built in early 1977 to demonstrate the capabilities of IMSAI's IMP-48 single-board computer as a home environment controller.

Jef Raskin
12:00 PMJef Raskin
From Poly-88 to Mac to The Humane Environment
A lot has been learned about cognetics and interface design since the days of the GUI, which was state of the art when I first conceived of the Macintosh project 27 years ago. I started to do better in the late 1980s, but fickle venture capitalists doomed that project. After taking some time out to bring up a family and to give serious attention to learning cognitive psychology, I restarted design development on a new project, "The Humane Environment" (THE). Just as the GUI made computers much more accessible than earlier disk operating systems, THE makes computers far easier to learn and use than GUIs. But they also are more productive and efficient. And, as GUI were when they were introduced, THE is a quite different way of looking at how we work with processor-based products.

This talk will begin with the development of the Macintosh GUI at Apple and then segue into future directions with THE.

Sellam Ismail
12:30 PMSellam Ismail
VCF Shenanigans
Sellam will fill everyone in on the latest happenings at the Vintage Computer Festival, including future events and interesting projects, plus the status of the Vintage Computer Festival Archives.

Bruce Damer
01:00 PMBruce Damer
The Joys and Trials of Computer Collecting
Bruce Damer, curator of the DigiBarn Computer Museum, will talk about what happens when an innocent passion for old computers turns into an obsession that takes over one's life...and barn! In this talk you will learn useful things such as:

1) Spotting the really valuable donations and how to best handle them and the kind people who bequeath them unto you.

2) How to gracefully decline other people's offers of donations while getting those same folks to volunteer to contribute their stories.

3) How to handle the press and put on a great open house without driving your spouse or neighbors crazy, and yet have all the stuff carefully arranged so that it makes sense.

4) How to create a web site for your collection that folks can actually use and contribute to.

5) How to one day "grow up" and become more professional with a long term museum type of vision without losing the fun and community aspects that draw in the right people and best contributions.


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