Thursday, August 1, 2013

Vintage Computers - WVTF Public Radio & why we call our museum "Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum"

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A good question came up during an interview with me by  Robbie Harris, (New River Valley Bureau Chief, WVTF / RADIO IQ / Virginia Public Radio) about our museum collection -- Why do we call our museum the  "Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum" ?

Here is the interview as it played on WVTF take a look/listen CLICK
Here is the short answer:

The reason I call our museum  "The Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum"  is because of the "Bugbooks" . About 1974 I was part of a team that produced these books. The first two Bugbooks were written and published by Professor Rony and I.  I named the books bugbooks because the small digital integrated circuit looked like a bug with its legs.  Professor Rony typed the manuscripts and we self published the first few printings of the "Bugbooks" .  These books were the start of a book series called "The Blacksburg Continuing Education Series" .  The books covered various topics of digital electronics, computers and software. Dr. John Titus and Dr. Chris Titus joined the group and became important members of our team.  During the period 1974 to 1984 about 75 books were published with a circulation of over 1 million copies.  Our team hired 31 other authors to help write books in the series. In addition to the books our team designed several computers and other teaching / engineering aids that were sold world wide. John Titus was the computer designer and I designed the digital engineering  / teaching hardware aids.  Many engineers, technicians and  electronic hobbyist of the late 70's and 80s used  these books and hardware.  All the books and hardware are on display in our museum. A reoccurring comment from  folks visiting the museum is - I  learned digital electronics from the "Bugbooks". The Bugbook story involves many relationships, interesting events and eclectic people.  It is my  intent to get the details of these adventures in writing -- soon I hope.

The Bugbooks covered many electronic/digital topics - here is the cover to a private label publication of one of the "Bugbooks" our group did for the  Radio Shack Corporation.

Here is the interview Robbie Harris played on Public Radio about our museum 7-29-13

The whole story associated with the "Bugbooks" is fascinating and it took us down many paths during our 31 years of teaching at Virginia Tech (VT). A few topics included along the journey included teaching electronics & automation at VT and hundreds of microcomputer workshops in various countries, book publishing, designing electronic teaching hardware, working with dozens of eclectic folks, working with the many companies that sold our books & hardware - the list gets long and includes some interesting litigation that is always present in complex relationships.
"By David Larsen" KK4WW Computer Collector / Historian

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