CNET News Video: Vintage Computer Festival: The rare, historic, and bizarre
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CNET News Video: Vintage Computer Festival: The rare, historic, and bizarre

3:44 /

Blow off the dust and get ready to dig through boxes. News.com\222s Kara Tsuboi takes a tour of the biggest garage sale for antique computers, vintage video games, and discarded gadgets--the Vintage Computer Festival at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif. And for the first time in decades, the 45-year-old LINC personal computer lights up.

^M00:00:01 [ Music ] ^M00:00:02 >> I'm here at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View where computer lovers from around the world, seriously, are here for the 10th Annual Vintage Computer Festival. This is gonna be interesting; let's go explore. Part garage sale and part museum, computer collectors are having a field day digging through the years of memorabilia hoping to find and buy items fro their wish lists of must-have vintage pieces. >> I collect antique computers and I like sharing stories about them with fellow collectors and people who might become collectors, and I also like finding homes for computers I've decided should move along now because I'm trying to reduce the size of my collection. >> We have the systems and everything, we still have all the stuff but we just want to see if anybody had anything really interesting. >> And your system's still running? >> Oh yeah we got a few of them. >> I started coming probably about 4 years ago and I was surprised at all the like-minded people I could find here which I thought I was kind of alone in the world with this kind of like fettishness [assumed spelling] old hardware, but I met a lot of good friends over the years here so it's been really good. >> Feverishly running through the crowds spotting deals were even a few young collectors. >> We traveled here mainly just to have fun. I thought we might find something; I just arrived. I usually collect anything old and pure related mainly from the 80's is where I usually go. >> And you weren't even born in the 80's were you? >> I was born in 1994. >> If you found the time to pull yourself away from the vintage Atari games and framed crazed supercomputer logic boards, the exhibit side of the room showcase some rare and hard to find equipment. ^M00:01:35 [ Music ] ^M00:01:36 >> This is a ComBrio, a very early digital synthesizer built by some Cal Tech students. >> It looks very quickly at the disk and tells us what's there. If I want to pick a sound like number 79, I push 7-9 upper keyboard load and it's done. The disk drive instantly accesses instead of waiting and loading like a lot of old programs used to do. It's much, much faster and for a musician especially someone playing on stage you want to have quick access to things; you want it to sound now; you don't want to wait until the middle of the song for it to load up. >> And check out this model of a differential analyzer. It was used by scientists nearly 80 years ago. >> The first one was built around 1930 by Vannevar Bush in IT and it was copied in the 1930's; many, many places had copies of them all around the world. They were mostly used in the 30's and 40's. By the 50's they were starting to be replaced by electronic analog computers, and then of course by the 60's the digital machines came along and they were history. >> The star attraction at this year's Festival was without a doubt the Link. >> It's got a monitor and a keyboard and it even has a tower. But yet this looks nothing like a personal computer, but in the 1960's the Link was as close as you were gonna get and this one is up and running. >> Also known as the laboratory instrumentation computer, the Link was first designed in 1962 to help scientists with research. Only 100 were made and only a handful still exists. >> How much would one of these cost back then? >> I think the basic machine was like 30,000 dollars in 1962 dollars. >> Gerald was one of the original engineers of the Link and one of the few who brought it back to life after collecting dust in various basements and garages. >> The memory are these two gray boxes over here; that is 1 thousand 12 bit words right there so that's the same in size as the one next to it. >> Whatever your interest is in computers, there is something here at this Festival that will amaze you or interest you or intrigue you. This machine looks kind of fun. Reporting from the Vintage Computer Festival in Mountain View, Kara Tsuboi, cnetnews.com

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