In more-or-less historical order. Add your own exhibit here!
LGP-30 Replica project
The LGP-30 was probably the first “personal computer” in 1956. Its simple, low-cost architecture requires only 15 bits to be held electronically, in tube-based flip-flops. This is made possible by a bit-serial architecture, which manipulates the 32-bit registers one bit at a time, driven by clock and control signals from its magnetic memory drum. – Shown is an FPGA-based simulation which reproduces the original circuit and timing on the bit level. A small control panel and display provide access to a pocket-sized LGP-30, measuring 6*10 cm². Optimize your programs for best synchronization with the virtual spinning drum, for the full experience of early-day programming!
Jürgen Müller, HH
The DEC PDP-8
Birthplace of personal computing before the era of the microprocessor. This exhibit will demonstrate how utterly unique the PDP-8 was in the evolution of computing. Born in the era of paper tape chewing, front panel programmed dinosaurs, it evolved all the way to running a proper operating system (even multi-user virtual machines!) from 10MB disk cartridges. Shown is a PDP-8/L with paper tape/teletype from before the days of computer screens, and a PDP-8/f with TU-56 magnetic tape drives.
Jos Dreesen, ZH
Reviving the PDP-6
The PDP-6 was the first Big Computer from Digital. It was hugely influential as the precursor to the PDP-10, which powered online services like Compuserve. The PDP-6 itself was not exactly a commercial success - hugely complicated, it suffered from reliability problems. Only 27 were made, none survives. This exhibit shows both a software project: to simulate the electronics in the PDP-6 to such a level, that the original software can run again. And a hardware front panel completes the revival of this extinct but important dinosaur.
Angelo Papenhoff, DE
DEC stuff: lebende PDP-Konsolen
Up until the 1970s, computers had 'front panels', that allowed the operator to interact with the computer through lights and switches. Proud owners of the remaining “Blinkenlight panels” can bring them back to life with modern electronics. Presented here is the BlinkenBone project, with live PDP-11/40, PDP-11/70, PDP-15 and PDP-10 KI10 front panel systems. To complete the series, a non-operational PDP-12 is added. Also shown are these systems as simulations on a touch screen - open source software that allows you to experience these systems at home.
Jörg Hoppe, DE
Reviving an IBM System 360/30
The IBM System/360 was the dominant mainframe architecture in the 1960s and 70s. The 360/30 was a small machine, introduced in 1964, and found its way into countless universities and companies. It used simple 8-bit data paths and registers internally, but its microcode provided the full IBM 360 architecture used in larger machines - that sometimes were hundreds of times as fast. Only a few Model 30s survive today, and only one is thought to be in a working state at present. Shown at this exhibit is an original front panel, now driven by a faithful recreation of the original hardware in an FPGA.
Lawrence Wilkinson, ZH
Swiss computing at its finest : Smaky, Lilith and Ceres
A product of LAMI, the EPFL’s micro-computing laboratory, the Smaky computer was developed in the mid-1970s and was the brainchild of Professor Jean-Daniel Nicoud. It was technically well in advance of its time and, equipped with a lot of teaching software in French, was a serious competitor to the Apple Macintosh in Swiss French-speaking schools. It was marketed by the Epsitec company from 1978 onwards. The Bolo Museum is proud to be able exhibit the most noteworthy Smaky models for this edition of the VCFe.CH.
Around the same time, Niklaus Wirth, Switzerland’s most famous contributor to computing, and his ETH team are developing the revolutionary Lilith computer. This is a single user workstation, specifically made to efficiently execute the Modula-2 language, also developed bu Wirth.Later on, Wirth’s Oberon system continued where the Lilith left off. Also shown is a Pascal MicroEngine, providing a different take on microcomputing inspired by Wirth's work. Furthermore we hope to be able to demonstrate a Ceres-3, a Lilith follow-up machine running Oberon. Emulith, the Lilith emulator, is available for hands-on experience on running a Lilith system.
aBCM Association, VD; Jos Dreesen, ZH
Start of the microcomputer revolution: the Altair 8800 (1975) and IMSAI 8080
The Altair is famous for being the very first microcomputer that the general public could buy. Together with the IMSAI, the first microcomputer clone (of the Altair…) still famous from the 1983 WarGames movie, these were also among the last computers equipped with a full “Blinkenlights” front panel. Try toggling in a program and see how much it hurts!
Martin Decurtins, ZH
First home computers: the Trinity
“There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home” – Ken Olsen, CEO Digital Equipment Corporation
The Radio Shack TRS-80, the Commodore PET 2001 and an Apple II Euro-plus are demonstrated with some of their famous software. The KIM-1/Apple I/Altair of last year were pretty hard to use. But in 1977, a trinity of comfortable and affordable home computers emerged. Some unknown guys in a garage made their Apple II; a small calculator company made the Commodore PET; but just before those, Tandy (Radio Shack) launched their TRS-80 Model-I. Without confidence in this computer nonsense, the boss of Tandy produced 3000 units at first, saying they could always be a show item in the shops if nobody would buy them. He sold 250,000 – and was left in the dust by Commodore and Apple…
Joint exhibit from various private collectors
All the well known (and not so well known) models from the company that brought computing to the masses. From the KIM-1 to the Amiga, via the PET and CBM-II business computers, the VIC-20 and of course the best-selling home computer of all time, the Commodore 64. No other company made either such a diverse range or the volume of personal computers as Commodore. No man did more to bring computing to school kids than its legendary founder Jack Tramiel. If you are in your forties, you either get weak in the knees seeing a C64, or you still hate it. Doesn’t matter. Play the games of the Golden Age at this exhibit.
Rob Clarke, ZH
The creative British computer industry in the 80s: Sinclairs, Dragons, Orics, Aces & the BBC Micro
American companies had started the microcomputer revolution. But British innovators picked up the challenge with extremely inventive machines – creativity born out of the need to lower the cost of computers, and innovation that led to many new approaches. Amongst which, the ARM CPU, the only microprocessor to scare Intel today.
Joint exhibit from various collectors
16 bit for the masses: TI-99/4
The Texas Instruments TI-99/4A was released June 1981. The TI-99/4 series holds the distinction of being the first 16-bit personal computer. The TI-99/4A added an additional graphics mode, “lowercase” characters consisting of small capitals, and a full-travel keyboard.
Michael Gisiger, BE
MS-DOS: IBM’s revolution that came to dominate them all
When IBM introduced its PC, that was the beginning of the end of diversity in computer design. Now that IBM made a microcomputer, how could it not be the future? Little did people realise that the IBM PC was hastily put together by a small team that had very little support within the giant - and had to use only standard components for their machine. In hindsight, not its performance but the standardised expansion architecture was an essential key to the success of the concept. Soon enough, Commodore, Atari, and many others were marginalised, to be replaced by a new breed of (Asian) clone manufacturers. The exhibit shows the forefathers of today's desktop PC: The original model IBM 5150 PC, the IBM 5160 XT, the IBM 5170 AT workhorse and a rare intermediate model; the strangely in-between IBM 5162 XT-286.
Hans Thijs, AG
The Amiga History, from the Joyboard to the Walker
Exhibiting the HiToro Amiga joyboard, an A3000 Unix, A3000 Tower, A1000 with Sidecar, A2500, A1500 or A4000D/060, A1200 for real time demo coding and the Amiga Walker. We will turn on the appliances, and let people use AmiX and/or AmigaOS, I will personally interact coding real time demos in assembler and showing what an Amiga can do. Also the Walker shall be turned on, only once a day: we'd make a little “event” for turning it on, it is always a special experience.
Stefania @ ESOCOP TI
Unix workstations of the 80's and 90's
UNIX based workstations were the backbone of the industry in the 80's and 90's. An great number of suppliers made available an enormous selection of machines, running different flavours of UNIX. Shown here is a wide selection of early and later workstations, such as the PDP11/73 running Ultrix-11 or the Motorola Powerstack E100 running Solaris, among others.
Rico Pajarola, ZH
A parallel world: Workstations from Sun & NeXT
Unix led a life in the shadows. From the perspective of mainstream users. But at universities and corporations, the Unix ethos thrived on these machines. Their code now lives on in Linux and *BSD – and thus, in the Mac, iPad, Android and in the internet infrastructure. Oh, and the Web was invented on the NeXT.
New Life for Old Silicon
Running current Linux distributions on vintage hardware.
Axel Beckert, ZH
Nostalgia laptops (1987 - 1997) revamped
- Compaq Portable 386, Model 2670, 1987 Dos 6.22 installed, warranty sticker till 1989
- IBM PS/2, Model L40 SX (Type 8543-A44), 1991 Debian Woody installed
- Zenith data systems, Model ZFL-181-92, 1992 MS-Dos 3.2 Zenith installed
- Apple Power Book 150, 1994 Mac OS 7.6 installed
- IBM ThinkPad 760XD (Type 9546) with docking station, 1997 Debian Sarge installed
Andreas Rudin, ZH
Vintage Hardware of the 21st Century
Pixel art: 80's graphics as a physical form
For the past 20 years, Mark Bern has been investigating the methodology of digital image processing. In his early day as a teenager he explored the image manipulation on his first computer – a Commodore 64. His artworks today, inspired by the possibility set of 80s computer graphics, uses several digital processes to create abstract forms resembling pixelated photos and the late cubism. He refers to his art as pixel art. Mark has been creative without showing his artworks to the public over 20 years. In 2013 his first public art collection was released and in 2014 his work evolved into 3D printed pixel art sculptures. Born in 1979, Mark lives in Zurich and Berlin. Before focusing on art he was an internet entrepreneur who founded and exited several web companies.
Mark Bern, ZH
Dragon - new tricks for the old beast
Born in the golden area of early eighties, the Welsh Dragon 32/64 (and American cousin Tandy CoCo) are machines that just won't die - a vivid community just keeps growing and new software and hardware products are being developed for pure fun and passion. The Dragon stand will display a variety of these developments, plus of course one or other of the classic games from the time where you got maximum fun per pixel and byte. Special attention will be given to the advanced operating system that can run on these 6809-based machines, crowned by last year's newcomer FUZIX - a minimal UNIX clone for 8-bit computers.
Tormod Volden, LU
Homebrewing: modern replicas of classic computers N8VEM, KIM-Uno, PiDP8 and PiDP11
Technology develops at break-neck speed. Today, there is no sensible use for 8-bit, 64 kilobyte computers with less processing power than a mobile phone. Yet, a new strain of retrocomputing emerged: designing and building your own system from a “bag of chips” and a circuit board. It actually is amazingly simple to create a functional computer on a little circuit board. These “trans-retro” machines may not have much practical use, but offer an interesting learning experience.
Also shown is a replica of the PDP-11 using modern low-cost parts. This is an open-source hardware project. About the real PDP-11: it is where Unix evolved, on its long way towards your tablet & smartphone… The PDP-11 had a huge impact on computing. It defined the later design of the 68000 microprocessor, and was where most influential early Unix developers cut their teeth. Introduced in 1970, PDP-11s are still on active duty in many surprising places.
Oscar Vermeulen, ZG
Paper Tape on USB
Visible bits and bytes - see, touch and understand data storage. The exhibited paper tape reader and puncher have been “upgraded” with Arduino micro controllers. Thanks to this upgrade this vintage storage system can be used on modern computers. I will show a VT510 Terminal as well for a more authentic look and feel. The full translation logic from serial to different punched tape formats is implemented on the Arduino. Therefore we can punch and read in 8-bit binary, 7-bit ASCII with parity and 5-bit Baudot for teletype. I implement more encodings whenever I get my hands on a tape in an interesting format.
Werner Meier, SG