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

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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.”

Behold The World’s Smallest Working Macintosh!

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Mini Mac and Steve Jobs Doll
A Steve Jobs doll towers over this 1/3 scale mini Macintosh. (All photos: John Leake)

It stands shorter than a Steve Jobs doll. It can be held in the palm of your hand. It runs System 6, and elicits squeals of delight from vintage Mac fans.

It is the Smallest Mac in the World.

Hot on the heels of the news of the world’s oldest working Macintosh comes a breakthrough of much more modest proportions. John Leake, co-host of the RetroMacCast, has created what may be the world’s smallest working Macintosh using a Raspberry Pi computer, PVC, some off-the shelf parts and a Mac emulator running under Linux. He calls it “Mini Mac.”

Why? As Leake writes on his blog, “this is one those ‘because I can’ projects with no practical use – my favorite kind!”

The Five Greatest Apple Hardware Mods Of All Time

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Apple makes some really great software and hardware. We love it. But sometimes there are certain little things you want out of your computer that Apple can’t or won’t provide. That’s why we have jailbreaking and modding.

We love it when someone takes an Apple product and morphs it into something completely different. There have been a lot of Apple hardware mods that have crossed our desks over the last few years. Some have been simple, while others have required over a hundred hours of work. Here are the five greatest Apple hardware mods we’ve ever seen.

Remembering Our Digital Past With Computer Historian David Greelish [Interview]

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Vintage computers and books in David Greelish's collection

Apple is all about the latest and greatest, inventing (and selling) the future. The computer marketplace as a whole evolves with ever accelerating speed – that two year old iPhone or laptop, so passé. Sometimes its helpful to take a step back and appreciate the long view of computing.

David Greelish is a computer historian who has been studying vintage computing for many years, as a writer, collector, podcaster and now vintage computing festival sponsor. His journey has included playing Star Trek text adventures on teletype machines, rescuing orphaned Lisas and Commodore 64s from unloved futures, and lobbying Apple to create a visitor’s gallery of company history in their new corporate HQ. He’s still getting flak for that last one.

Cult of Mac contacted David to hear his story.