KansasFest: Final notes from ‘Nerdvana’

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KansasFest
The future and its foundation have a tense history.
Photo: David Pierini/Cult of Mac

Cult of Mac 2.0 bugCult of Mac’s David Pierini traveled to KansasFest to meet Apple fans intensely devoted to the Apple II computer line. The machine turns 40 next year.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It’s rare we hear the term personal computer anymore. Yet personal is the only word to begin to understand KansasFest and a small but feisty community of preservationists who love the Apple II line of computers.

The 28th fest concluded Saturday and within the event’s first hour, attendees were already making plans to attend next year, the 40th birthday of the Apple II.

KansasFest is a second-chance childhood for one programmer

Martin Haye, left, and Ivan Drucker talking Apple II hacking at KansasFest.
Martin Haye, left, and Ivan Drucker talking Apple II hacking at KansasFest.
Photo: David Pierini/Cult of Mac

Cult of Mac 2.0 bugCult of Mac’s David Pierini traveled to KansasFest to meet Apple fans intensely devoted to the Apple II computer line. The machine turns 40 next year.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – They say they travel to KansasFest to feel like kids again. Fest attendees stay up all night laughing, arguing and eating pizza. They program and play games on their Apple II machines and call each other nerd or geek.

Bullied and closeted as a boy, Martin Haye describes KansasFest as the childhood he wished he’d had.

“If I had this when I was 13, I would’ve been fine,” says Haye, 48, a programmer for the California Digital Library who lives in Santa Cruz. “I didn’t try to fit in but I was little, I carried a briefcase to school, I was a target. I have a good life now, but this week is the most intense, sustained, predictable happiness I’ve ever had.”

KansasFest solder session proves there’s fun in melting metal

Rachele Lane watches her husband, John, try his hand at soldering at KansasFest.
Rachele Lane watches her husband, John, try his hand at soldering at KansasFest.
Photo: David Pierini/Cult of Mac

Cult of Mac 2.0 bugCult of Mac’s David Pierini is at KansasFest this week to write about the community of people who celebrate the foundational Apple II computer.

KANSAS CITY, Mo – If you’re going to carry a torch for the Apple II computer, you better know how to control its heat and melt a little solder.

The Apple II will turn 40 next year. Many of these seminal machines will light up like new thanks to a community of people who have to be their own Genius Bar. So KansasFest is not just about love, but the labor of keeping that love alive.

This guy makes badly aged Apple computers sparkle again

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Javier Rivera takes the yellow out of vintage computers at KansasFest.
Javier Rivera takes the yellow out of vintage computers at KansasFest.
Photo: David Pierini/Cult of Mac

Cult of Mac 2.0 bugCult of Mac’s David Pierini is at KansasFest this week to write about the community of people who celebrate the foundational Apple II computer.

KANSAS CITY, Mo – Love is a chemical reaction and Javier Rivera has the formula to make love feel brand-new. He just mixes salon-strength peroxide, some arrowroot and OxiClean laundry booster.

At KansasFest, an annual gathering of loyal Apple II lovers, festgoers bring their yellowed computers to Rivera, whose special mix can remove the yellow staining on the computer’s plastic pieces and make them look like they just came off the assembly line.

Apple II fans find themselves in hog heaven at KansasFest

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Kathryn Szkotnick worked quickly to grab all the pieces for an Apple IIGS during KansasFest's
Kathryn Szkotnick worked quickly to grab all the pieces for an Apple IIGS during KansasFest's "Garage Giveaway."
Photo: David Pierini/Cult of Mac

Cult of Mac 2.0 bugCult of Mac’s David Pierini traveled seven hours and (39 years) this week to Missouri to witness the annual celebration of the Apple II computer known as KansasFest, which runs through Saturday.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Yellowed keyboards, monitors and disk drives sat in orderly piles. It certainly wasn’t pretty to look at, not when you compare these ancient artifacts of personal computing to a shiny new MacBook Pro.

But 80 infatuated campers could only see their first crush and they were ready to pounce. In a matter of minutes the gear would be claimed, and this dash and grab Wednesday was the kickoff the 28th annual KansasFest. If you don’t know KansasFest, the short answer is found in a cheer shouted to officially open the event: Apple II forever!