A Wandering through the Vintage Computer Faire

The Vintage Computer Faire was held last weekend at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View last weekend. Sellam Ismail, VCF Coordinator and vintage computer collector, was kind enough to send me a couple of passes. Unlike the cozy NASA-Ames location of several years ago, the Vintage Computer Faire, typically home of games, small computers like the Amiga, and the like, has begun to nicely complement the “Big Brothers” collection of DEC, IBM, and other gargantuans in the museum’s permanent collection. What better place to talk about the good old days but in a place surrounded by a VCF buff’s beloved machines.

Last year we did a presentation at VCF 2003 entitled Before 386BSD: The Symmetric 375 & Berkeley Unix (see the mention in Talk About Legacy Machines). Symmetric Computer Systems, a venture-funded company founded in 1982 by William Jolitz, was a contender in the hot race to produce a personal BSD Unix system. The Symmetric 375 was the first system out the door with hardware floating point and virtual memory, beating Sun by years. It was the first system with open source supplied, integrated, and tested, from EMACS to SPICE for use in scientific and engineering work. And it was the first to ship systems with all software fully installed and tested, ready for use immediately. William and Lynne Jolitz discussed the design and development of the 375 computer and its influence on 386BSD – the first open source BSD system for the X86 released a decade later. That was a fun talk!

The year before that, when the VCF was still at NASA-Ames, we put together a poster entitled Symmetric Computer Systems – The Story of a Systems Startup. And that was a lot of fun, let me tell you. Ever try to get an all-wirewrap handcrafted system running? We did…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.