Monday, February 3, 2014

Vintage Computer the MITS Altair 8800 at Frostfest - ( Hamfest ) in Richmond VA

Mits Altair 8800
Click here to see video of #21 Altair
Ham Radio folks Feb 2015 
We will have a larger display of vintage computers including  Apple 1 computer clone, Altair 8800 & 680 + others and  some vintage ones for sale at Frostfest February 7th 2015 in Richmond VA

I went to the 2014 Hamfest ( Frostfest ) in Richmond VA to sell some of my ham radio equipment an a vintage MITS Altair 8800 microcomputer.  The Altair 8800 along with a few books from our old "Blacksburg and Bugbook" series created a crowd of folks at our booth.

My wife and I met many very interesting people who had used our books years ago or had their own Altair 8800. Some were just excited to see a real Altair 8800.  Many folks hear about the computer but never  had the opportunity to see one. We took the cover off and a many of photos were made of the computer.

                                Hear Davids comments about the fun time at Frostfest.

Here is a fun video of young person full of energy ready to restart Digital Equipment Corporation.

Here are a list of just a few of the vintage computer folks we met. Photos are lower in the blog .

- A person that had taken my class "Electronics for Scientist" at Virginia Tech in 1990.
- Fellow that visited me at VT in 1975 about using our books and teaching methods at his
- 3 gentlemen that had their own Altair 8800's all original owners.
- At least 5 folks that had used our books 30 years ago and still had the copies.
- 2 that started their own classes using our books back in the late 70's.
- Several that purchased books from the our old series we had with us - They all wanted a
   personal autograph in the book and I was pleased to sign the books.
- 2 That used the books and promised to write a story for this blog. I am looking forward to the
- A young lady that remembered using the MMD1 computer  trainer that came out of our
 "Blacksburg Group" in the late 70's and was designed by Jon Titus.
-A current Techie fellow doing Angle investing in tech start ups inviting me to come and give a
- A young retro computer fellow who plans to start up "Digital Equipment Corporation" again.
  - Golly the list keep going - you get the idea just a lot of folks interested in the Vintage
  Computer things and many had some association with our old work.

Here are photos of some of our visitors interested in Vintage Computers. 
Click on photos to enlarge 
david Larsen KK4WW W4AVD KJ4XZ
Altair 8800 Microcomputer owners 
These 3 fellows all have Altair 8800  computers and are original owners. Unusual to have 3 visitor that are 8800 owners. I don't know the order of the names but that is me with the white hat - Dave KK4WW
The others are George W4AVD,Will KJ4XZ and Dick Stanley.
Here is a fun short video of the 3 and our chat about the MITTS Altair 8800 "CLICK"

Bob Stratton KE4GDC
Tweet and Bob KE4GDC 

Bob Stratton and friend on the left "Tweet" - Tweet used some of the minicomputer trainers designed by Jon Titus in our Blacksburg Group many years ago. Bob KE4GDC and I had some real interesting chats about vintage computers and funding tech start up companies. Bob may invite me to give a Microcomputer History talk to a group of his associates.  That would be fun.

Curtis Anderson N4ON
Curtis Anderson N4ON 

Curtis Anderson N4ON. Curtis and I had great talks about our early teaching days of teaching digital electronics and our involvement in the Bugbooks. Curtis is really into history things - old railroads, Telephones and lots more take a look
I am looking forward to Curtis writing some history things for my blog.
See comments below from Curtis.

Here are some comments by Curtis when he visited our museum 2-16-14

Ray Fantini KA3EKH
LR - Gaynell KK4WWW , Ray KA3EKH

Ray Fantini KA3EKH - Ray was more interested in vintage minicomputers and was surprised I had just sold two original PDP8 Minis.  I have a PDP11/10 he may be interest in having.  That is the last minicomputer in our "Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum". I am just having microcomputers in the museum now.

( October 2014 - I decided not to sell the PDP11/10 and have it on display in our museum .)

Gaynell Larsen KK4WWW  Frostfest
Gaynell KK4WWW at Frostfest 

Here is my wife Gaynell KK4WWW helping at the flea market table. We have a lot of fun working and traveling together. Look for Gaynell operating DX from Dominica as J79WWW. We will be there the last two weeks of this month - Feb 2014.
Gaynell is very good DX operator take a look at her J79 operating
 as J79WWW "CLICK video '

David G Larsen
David G Larsen

Great fun at Frostfest and lots of new ham and vintage computer friends.

"by David Larsen"  KK4WW Computer Collector Historian   
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  1. I assembeled an Altair also. Had issues with the underated power supply. Had ripple on the +5. Also replaced the single shot CPU clock with an 8224 clock generator. Charlie KA2MKQ

    1. Hi Charlie - Great to hear from you. Do you still have the Altair ? I hope so. The one I had at Frostfest really created a lot of attention and Gaynell and I had a great time swapping stories with young and old vintage computer folks.


  2. This is from email I received from Curtis Anderson N4ON - We had some good discussions at Frostfest - David Larsen

    A "Bugbook" caught my eye as I scanned the tables at the recent Richmond, Virginia ham radio swap meet called Frostfest for good reason. To my surprise, on the name tag he was wearing read the name David Larson. I grabbed my camera and started asking questions and we begin sharing stories dating back to the last century. I wanted David to know how important the Bugbooks were in my life and to so many others. I had attended a three day seminar over the Christmas holidays at Virginia Tech in 1980 I recall, where I was introduced to the book series. I returned to Richmond to my full time technical job and part time community college continuing ed teaching
    position and by that fall offered classes on a number of subjects using the
    Bugbooks as our textbook. It took no time at all before the continuing ed classes became part of the college degree programs, the books were that good. I grabbed the Bugbook off the table, asked David to autograph it as we swapped stories, email addresses, and blog links. I should have known a ham radio operator had something to do with a book series with a "bug" name!


I look forward to your comments and will respond.