Fellow SEBHCers: I have pulled together all my VCF pictures into my Google album (including the earlier prep pictures I had there):
In my previous posts I forgot to include a picture of Mike Loewen and his awesome HP demonstration – great job Mike!:
the final picture in the album is a selfie I took on the Cape May ferry as I headed home at sunset after a long weekend!
First of all, a huge thank you to everyone in this group who helped me prepare and particularly Terry Smedley for his brilliant implementation of the “big” LED display, and Alex Bodnar for tag-teaming with me on the floor. And of course all the rest of you who’ve chimed in - fantastic group!
A few thoughts, comments, “lessons learned”:
- Though it was a lot of work preparing exhibiting I’m very glad I did this. It was quite an enjoyable time.
- I thought the exhibits this time were a bit of a disappointment. I understand the thinking behind having an “IBM” exhibit (40th anniversary of the IBM PC) but a room full of IBMs and IBM clones is a bit boring (though there was a Z110 running Windows 1.01 off a floppy disk so that’s something I hadn’t seen before)
- The room Alex and I were in also had several vendors selling things. That’s fine but what we really wanted was to see and touch cool old technology.
- “Eye candy” is critical to attracting attention. One of the most popular exhibits was the team that was demoing all the hardware that The Weather Channel has used over the years. All kinds of cool visual stuff. That booth was constantly busy.
- The biggest draw of our booth was “Big Blue” – my H8-2020 with the blue LEDs. People were oohing and aahing over that. We placed it right near the entry and exit from the room, so it helped draw people in. The big LED display also was visible throughout the room so that helped attract attention.
- The exhibit helped open people’s eyes to the H8, which has had a minimal presence in the past (mostly just Alex). People knew vaguely of the Heathkit brand, but many didn’t even know they made computers. Several people thought it was a foreign company. A few commented that their father or grandfather had built Heathkits.
- Many people who stopped by and showed interest weren’t even born in 1980. I was pleased and impressed at the number of “young” attendees (i.e. people in their 30s and 40s, or even younger). Many have real passion to carry on the vintage computing mission.
- Games are always critical to bringing people in. The guy at the next booth got really interested in playing Alex’s Adventure game (thought I notice he was cheating a bit, referring to a web page map of the Colossal Cave). On my “Pioneer” (1977/78) system I had an old BH Basic version of Mastermind running, and one guy really got into that. We also ran MyChess, Invaders and Munchkin, which drew interest.
- A number of people said that we had revived their interest in digging out their old Heathkit computer and getting it going. I said our team was ready to help! I expect to see some new members on this list…
- Some of the demos I had planned turned out not to be that practical or effective. For example, I could demonstrate how to download programs via cassette tape (using a laptop to emulate the tape player) but I never got to demo that. In general, my spiel was to show the progression from a 1970s setup, to 1980s gaming system and then the H8-2020. I was generally not able to demonstrate sound very effectively just because of the noise level in the room.
- Quite a few people asked about the H11. Perhaps in a future demo we can have one of those running!
- I should have been prepared to demo the PAM-8 front panel better. It would have been good to be able to enter a simple assembly program and execute it. People asked about the front panel keypad but I’m not sure I really communicated that well.
The next VCF East is 29 April through 1 May 2022. Not sure I’ll be up to do a reprise. We’ll see if I can catch my breath by then.
Thanks all. Take care…