Hello everyone, I’m back. My last Presidential
Ramblings column should have been in last month’s newsletter but got
lost somewhere along the way – probably my fault. Hopefully by the time
you read this it will be available on the web site.
(Click Here to view)
Now that I’m the “Immediate Past President”, it might be good to discuss the role such a position might play in the club. There is, of course, no such official post in DACS. This is unfortunate and something I’ve have wanted to change. In many organizations, the Immediate Past President (IPP) is an official voting member of the board. There are some issues with this in DACS because our directors are all elected, while officers are appointed by the board. Many clubs – civic organizations in particular – have provisions for an orderly succession of leadership. I wanted to create the post of Executive Vice President in DACS. This person would work with the president (and the IPP) for a year before becoming president to assure a smooth transition from president to president. This would also ensure that no one gets stuck in the job of being president because there is always someone ready to take over. And when someone becomes president, s/he is not overwhelmed with the job because there are people available to help. In my opinion, all board-level jobs in DACS should have term limits.
An orderly succession of officers makes for a more dynamic club where more people participate and that just can’t be bad.
Trenton Computer Festival
The 30th anniversary Trenton Computer Festival was held last weekend. Thirty years! What computer were YOU using 30 years ago? TCF moved back to its roots this year and was held much closer to Trenton on the campus of The College of New Jersey in Ewing Township, NJ. The show was smaller but the flea market bargains were incredible. For instance, brand new CAT-5 patch cords for 20¢ each (minimum of five). Or a brand new Netgear PCI Ethernet card for $4 (it was in a box of items marked $5 so I offered $3). Inside I bought a new 400 watt ATX power supply for $10. My best bargain (or possibly worst waste) was an APC Smart-UPS 1400 uninterruptible power supply for $25. When I made that offer I was assuming that the batteries would need to be replaced (about $70). These units retail for over $600, so it seemed worth the risk.
One of the reasons I made an effort to drive down to TCF was to see a promised “historic computer exhibit”. The Mid-Atlantic Retro Computing Hobbyists (MARCH) filled a handball court with many cool exhibits including several S100 CP/M rigs, a couple of Apple Lisas, a bunch of Apple ][‘s, a variety of Tandy TRS-80’s, a SWTPC 6800, a SOL I and a complete PDP-8 with several terminals. Most were up and running so you could play or at least talk with the owners. Someone was busy entering the boot program into the PDP-8 (using the front panel switches one instruction at a time) so I couldn’t talk to anyone there.
One table had some literature about MARCH and collecting in general. I picked up a pamphlet listing active computer museums all over the country, and ordered a book called “Collectible Microcomputers” by Michael Nadeau. The book ($23 delivered direct from the author) arrived in just two days and it’s really cool! Totally professional, the book is printed on heavy clay paper with great graphics and layout. The book includes a section on how to find early computers and what to do when you do. The bulk of the book is descriptions and pictures of more than 600 microcomputers made between 1971 and 1993 from the US, UK and Japan. There is at least a sentence about each company (sometimes as much as a page) and then information about each computer including the processor, the year(s) sold, key features, accessories and software, the original price and a realistic estimate of current value. For many machines, this is $5, but for something like a NeXT dimension (original price $17,615) the current value is estimated at $100-400. My only complaints about the book are that it completely ignores even low-end workstations from Sun, H-P and Apollo as well as all the small handheld computers from Hewlett-Packard like the 71B, 75C, and 95LX, to mention just a few. Let me know if you’re interested and I’ll send information on how to get your own copy.
As an organization MARCH is just getting started. They have an active email list on Yahoo Groups at http://groups.yahoo. com/group/midatlanticretro. Their web site will be www.midatlanticretro.org when someone puts it together.
I promised that I would continue to write for DACS.DOC. Whether I can keep up the every month pace remains to be seen. We always need content for the newsletter. DACS.DOC wins award after award and the big reason is that we produce so much of our own content. Of course, the spiffy graphics and tasteful layout don’t hurt!
Jim Scheef is Outgoing President of DACS.