Events to Restore vintage computers

This Web page last updated June 5 2013, links updated June 29 2023.


[workshop] This Web page describes activities for the repairing and restoring computers of the 1970's and earlier. My home Web page for computer restoration provides background information and links to related pages. I think local events like theses, are important and even critical for the preservation of "vintage" computing - stuff from the '60's and 70's, often poorly and inaccurately described as "hobby" computing. There's nothing hobby or amateur about many of the computing devices of the 1970's. All that will be lost, if "the old ones" like us don't get together to preserve knowledge, share it with others, and make it all work again. [Workshop photo courtesy of Mike Loewen.]

Over time, I'll consider these points and this page may change. I welcome comments and contacts from organizations with these interests. - Herb Johnson

Local Workshops

[SOL designer]

On June 30 and July 1 2012, the MARCH club sponsored a vintage computer repair event, at their site at the Infoage museum and science center in Wall NJ. Follow the Web link for details. Vintage computer owners were organized to attend by Bill Degnan, who is also a MARCH officer. MARCH President Evan Koblentz made local arrangements and participated. Several people brought a substantial amount of vintage systems to repair: Commodore 64's, Processor Tech SOL's, Osborne 1's, Apple Mac IIci, AT&T 3B2. On-site repairs included a PDP-8, an IBM 029 keypunch. In this photo, Herb (left) gets an autograph on his SOL, from the designer Lee (right). In the background is Will Donzelli.

On May 18-19 2013, the MARCH club sponsored another vintage computer fix-it repair event. Follow the Web link for details. My work included restoring my PDP-8/f to operation, see this page for details.

Dan Roganti and Bill Degnan are working on S-100 restoration support information and have had CP/M workshops in 2010. One of Dan's Web pages is about UARTS on S-100 serial cards. Dan's plans are to build a series of documents on aspects of restoring S-100 systems. Here's what told me in June 2010: "All of this is geared towards the CP/M workshop that we had back in April. Basically, what I like to prepare is a hands-on guide from what we learned at the workshop. This would be for someone who has a just a bare S-100 system which they like to build up into a complete CP/M and taking the information they find here to navigate their way through the process of installing the various pieces, beginning with the serial card. This is something you normally like to have to get beyond the front panel operation. Thereafter one can then move on to installing a Rom Monitor, which will be another webpage that I'll add sometime. All these little steps will help you get up to the ultimate goal of installing CP/M. It's slow going, but little by little it will come together."

[fixing H89]

In June 2009, Mike Loewen held a weekend "Vintage Computer Workshop" in State College PA On his Web site, he shows several people at work in his garage, on computers ranging from a 1960's vacuum tube analog computer, to several Heath/Zenith H89's. Mike himself worked on an IBM keypunch station. But everyone helped everyone else on something else. Look at this linked Web page to learn more about Mike's workshop, as an example.[Photo courtesy of Mike Loewen.]

Ham Radio events & exhibits

The early origins of microcomputing in the early 1970's, included major interest by radio amateurs - hams. They produced digital construction articles in several ham magazines such as 73 and QST. Those magazines carried ads for micro-computers, as did electronic hobby magazines. As hams constructed radios and digital devices early on, they saw the advantage of programmable digital logic, and of microprocessors, for personal and ham radio use. The earliest sources of old computers parts, were at hamfests. In the 1990's hamfests included vendors of current import (Chinese, Tiawanese mostly) desktop computer boards and chips.

Into the 21st century, I thought it plausible that, as interest in local electronic vendors and in hamfests declined, vintage computerists and ham radio would join forces again, to display and discuss vintage computing at hamfests. However, for the most part by the 2020's, hamfests have very few vintage-computing items available. There's a declining amount of recent personal computers too. Hamfests still provide some computing-relevant parts and electronic test equipment. There's always someone with something old, cheap, or exceptional. Check the ARRL Web site for upcoming hamfests in your state or region.

Dan Roganti and the PVCUG - Pittsburgh Vintage Computer User Group - exhibited at the Breezeshooters Hamfest near Pittsburg PA in early June 2009. It's the third year they exhibited. The Breezeshooters is an informal organization of amateur radio operators, headquartered in eastern Pennsylvania USA. Their Website is at this link.

Here's Dan's announcement of the PVCUG's participation in the event, posted in various vintage computer discussion groups (email lists): "Just wanted to let you know about the exhibit I'm holding at the Breezeshooters Hamfest next month, Sun.Jun.7th. We'll have a bunch of early electronics, computers, and video games from the 70's and early 80's on display - even some that you can play with. We'll have a bigger display than last year with about 25 machines on display. If anyone would like to bring anything for the exhibit, feel free to let me know and I'll make room. The Hamfest is the largest in the tristate area, also with 30 acres of flea market space--only $5 admission. We'll be located indoors in bldg.2. Come out and shoot the breeze. Pics from last year [and this year] are at this link."

Old computer events

Check my Web page of museums and public-accessable computer collections, to find events at those venues.

VintageTech in California USA, supports a number of "Vintage Computer Fests" each year under that name. They are primarily in the USA but also in Europe. A range of old computers from the 70's, 80's, and earlier are displayed by their owners or discussed. Some of these events include workshops. Individual owners show their own projects, and items they are producing for others. Many participants were active in computing in the era they support, so they can provide their experiences to others. Some items are sold during these events.

The earliest of computer festivals included the Trenton ComputerFest, first held in 1976 at a college near Trenton NJ. These annual gatherings provided critical support and communications for early personal computing, and a flea market to buy support hardware and earlier computers. They have been held annually since, and so it's the longest-running such event. It's returned to its original location within the last few years. However, the vintage or old computer features of the show are now minimal; the event primarily represents current personal computing. There is still a "flea market", mostly of recent computing items. There are a few talks about old or vintage computing, and representatives from "vintage" or current computer clubs have a few exhibits. In Feb 2013, I was one of several MARCH members invited by MARCH to exhibit vintage computers at TCF 2013. See my exhibit and others' vintage systems at the show on this linked page.

Contact information:
Herb Johnson
New Jersey, USA
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