Floppy Days 72 – Neil Harris, Vic-20 Commando Team

Interview with Neil Harris, Member of the Vic Commando Team

Welcome to the Floppy Days Podcast, where classic computers will always have a home. My name is Randy Kindig. This is the final of four consecutive episodes where I talked to gentlemen who were either involved with the development of the historically significant Commodore Vic-20, or who have written books on its history. In this episode Neil Harris is my guest. Neil was a key member of the Vic Commando Team within Commodore, the team that was responsible for the introduction of the Vic-20 and helping it to become the first home computer to sell 1 million units. Neil also later worked for Atari, when the Tramiels left Commodore and purchased Atari from Warner. Neil helps me walk through the history of the Vic through the eyes of someone on the front line. I think you’ll find this interesting.

Before we get to that, I have a few housekeeping items to cover and then we’ll get into the meat of the podcast.

Web site: http://floppydays.com

email: floppydays@gmail.com

Twitter: @floppydays

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/groups/floppydays

on iTunes and Stitcher (www.stitcher.com)

part of the Throwback Network (www.throwbacknetwork.net )

Google Play: https://play.google.com/music/m/I5bhao6ixoxkzq52qlku5mfb43q?t=FloppyDays_Vintage_Computing_Podcast

Links Mentioned in the Show:

New Acquisitions

News

Feedback

Interview

Source:: Floppy Days 72 – Neil Harris, Vic-20 Commando Team

      

Floppy Days 71 – Brian Bagnall, Commodore: A Company on the Edge

Interview with Brian Bagnall, Author “Commodore, A Company on the Edge”

Welcome to the Floppy Days Podcast, where old computers survive to tell another tale. My name is Randy Kindig. In the previous couple of episodes, I covered the history of the Vic-20 computer with the help of Neil Harris, Brian Bagnall, and Michael Tomczyk. Although I used some audio clips from each of those gentlemen to walk through the history timeline, I actually have a full-blown interview with each that I want to share with you over the span of three episodes. I’ve already published the interview with Michael Tomczyk, leader of the Vic Commando Team and assistant to Jack Tramiel. Next up, I am publishing the interview with Brian Bagnall, author of the book “Commodore, A Company on the Edge” and who is working on the follow-up book “Commodore: The Amiga Years”.

Before we get to that, I will very briefly cover upcoming shows and a bit of feedback, but then we will get right into the interview with Brian Bagnall.

Web site: http://floppydays.com

email: floppydays@gmail.com

Twitter: @floppydays

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/groups/floppydays

on iTunes and Stitcher (www.stitcher.com)

part of the Throwback Network (www.throwbacknetwork.net )

Google Play: https://play.google.com/music/m/I5bhao6ixoxkzq52qlku5mfb43q?t=FloppyDays_Vintage_Computing_Podcast

Links Mentioned in the Show:

News

Feedback

Interview

“Commodore, A Company on the Edge” by Brian Bagnall – http://www.amazon.com/dp/0973864966/?tag=flodaypod-20

Source:: Floppy Days 71 – Brian Bagnall, Commodore: A Company on the Edge

      

Floppy Days 70 – Michael Tomczyk (Vic-20)

Interview with Michael Tomczyk, Vic-20 Commando Team Leader at Commodore

Welcome to the Floppy Days Podcasts, where old computers are the best computers and new old computers are even better. Last month, I covered the history of the Vic-20 computer with the help of Neil Harris, Brian Bagnall, and Michael Tomczyk. Although I used some audio clips from each of those gentlemen to walk through the history timeline, I actually have a full-blown interview with each that I want to share with you over the span of three episodes. For this episode, I will be publishing the interview with Michael Tomczyk. Michael was with Commodore for some time, was an assistant to none other than Jack Tramiel, and was the leader of the team known as the Vic Commando Team. He was happy to talk about his time at Commodore and turned out to be a very interesting interview and a great guy with which to talk.

Before we get to that, I do have a few housekeeping items to cover, such as a few new acquisitions, some brief news, and a bit of feedback.

Links Mentioned in the Show:

New Acquisitions

News

References

Source:: Floppy Days 70 – Michael Tomczyk (Vic-20)

      

Floppy Days 69 – The Commodore Vic-20, History with Michael Tomczyk, Neil Harris, Brian Bagnall

The Commodore Vic-20 – History, with Brian Bagnall, Michael Tomczyk, and Neil Harris

Welcome to episode 69 of the Floppy Days Podcast, where our computers may be old, but that’s why we love them.

In the vintage computer timeline, we are in 1980. The next computer I want to discuss that debuted that year is the Commodore Vic-20. The Vic-20 is significant because it was the first color computer to sell for less than $300, at a time when other home computers with color graphics were 2 to 4 times that amount. It also was the first home computer of any type to sell over 1 million units.

In this first episode about the Vic-20, I want to cover the history of this machine: why it was developed, some of the stories around its development, what happened after its release, and when it was canceled. To that end, I contacted some notable persons that were involved with the roll-out and support of the Vic-20, as well as a person who was involved in documenting Commodore’s history. The first person I contacted was Michael Tomczyk, who was an assistant to Jack Tramiel at Commodore and who led the so-called “Vic Commando Team”. Michael was intimately involved in the marketing and support of the Vic. In addition, a key member of his team, Neil Harris, agreed to help with this episode as well. And, finally, I talked with Brian Bagnall, who you might recognize as the author of “Commodore: A Company on the Edge”. This is an amazing line up of people who are very familiar with the Vic-20 and its history and I’m very lucky to have been able to get their assistance with telling its story.

Before we jump into that, I will cover a few new vintage computer items I’ve acquired, cover a bit of news, and cover a bit of feedback I’ve received.

Links Mentioned in the Show:

New Acquisitions

News

Feedback

References

Source:: Floppy Days 69 – The Commodore Vic-20, History with Michael Tomczyk, Neil Harris, Brian Bagnall

      

Floppy Days 68 – Interview with Bill Kemper, HP Series 80 Software Engineer

Interview with Bill Kemper, HP Employee and HP Series 80 Software Engineer

Hello, again, and welcome to episode 68 of the Floppy Days Podcast. This will be a fairly short, interview-only show. As a final piece of the recent series of podcasts on the HP Series 80 family of machines, I was able to sit down and talk with Mr. William Kemper. Bill worked directly on software for the HP Series 80 and later was the manager of software engineering for the line until it was canceled. He then continued on for some time with HP until the merger with Compaq around 2002. In the interview, we discuss Everett Kaser, who worked for Bill, and who was one of my co-hosts for the HP Series 80 podcasts.

Links Mentioned in the Show:

HP Series 80 Forum at groups.io – https://groups.io/g/hpseries80

Source:: Floppy Days 68 – Interview with Bill Kemper, HP Series 80 Software Engineer

      

Floppy Days 67 – The HP85B Computer, Part 3, with Everett Kaser and Vassilis Prevelakis

The HP Series 80 (HP83/85/86/87)

This episode is the third and final in a series about the Hewlett Packard HP-85 computer, or more accurately, the entire line of similar computers known as the HP Series 80. Once again, I have the tremendously knowledgeable duo of Everett Kaser and Vassilis Prevelakis helping me impart information to you about that venerable line of historically significant desktop computers. In this episode, we will primarily be covering tech specs, peripherals, expansion, magazines and newletters, books, emulation, modern upgrades, connectivity to modern computers, buying one today, community and Web sites. Wow, now that I list this out, it’s obvious we have a lot to cover. In addition, I will briefly talk about my new vintage computer acquisitions, feedback and perhaps a little news.

Links Mentioned in the Show:

New Acquisitions

Tech Specs

Popular Magazines/Newsletters

Books/Manuals

Software

  • The Forth ROM was recovered with the help of Everett Kaser and Don Person, but was written by Larry Woestman. The following ZIP file contains source code as well as image files for the HP-85 and HP-87: HP-85 / HP-87 Forth ROM: HP_Series_80_Forth.zip
  • André Koppel wrote some utilities for the HP-87 called SYSEXT, which he transferred to a ROM. This can be downloaded together with a manual in German from http://www.akso.de/index.php?id=hp_series_80&L=1

Modern Upgrades

  • expansion – PRM-85 (Bill Kotaska (USA), with support from John Shadbolt (UK)) e-mail if interested
  • HP85 recreation with an FPGA – FPGA HP85B
  • SD or CF card interface – HP85DISK – HP-85 Disk Emulator using AVR and MicroSD card for classic HP series 80 computers – https://github.com/magore/hp85disk by Mike Gore

Connectivity to Modern Computers

Emulation

Community

Current Web Sites

Source:: Floppy Days 67 – The HP85B Computer, Part 3, with Everett Kaser and Vassilis Prevelakis

      

Floppy Days 66 – VCFMW 11 Live Event Diary

Welcome to Episode 66 of the Floppy Days Podcast, where we try to relive our youth by talking about computers nearly as old as we are. Vintage Computer Festival Midwest #11 recently happened on Sep. 10 and 11, 2016 in Elk Grove Village, IL and I managed to find my way there again this year. Once again, I had an incredible time at the event and thought I’d share some of it with you. I managed to get a few interviews, meet several people I had never met before, catch up with old friends, and come home with far more items than I left with. So, I plan to give you a quick run-down of the event through my eyes and I hope you find this interesting.

Links Mentioned in the Show:

00:00 Theme Song

01:20 Ads

01:49 Intro

02:34 CoCo Crew Ad

03:21 Presentations Discussion

05:53 My Presentation (audio)

27:56 My Exhibit

31:21 Intro to Peter Bartlett Interview

32:00 Peter Bartlett Interview

34:54 Intro to Evan Wright Interview

35:35 Evan Wright Interview

44:41 Intro to Simon Wells Interview

45:18 Simon Wells Interview

59:26 My Purchases

1:07:36 What I didn’t buy, TI-99 UStream, and Cosmac Elf Exhibit

1:11:19 Conclusion

Source:: Floppy Days 66 – VCFMW 11 Live Event Diary

      

Floppy Days 65 – Week of the KFest with Mike Whalen

Welcome to Episode 65 of the Floppy Days Podcast, where a summer computer camp for middle-aged geeks is the highlight of our year. My name is Randy Kindig. This is a very special edition of Floppy Days produced and contributed by my good friend Mike Whalen and it includes sound bites from many of the attendees of this year’s annual week-long KansasFest Apple II event that always happens in Kansas City, Missouri. Mike is a long-time Apple II and retro-computer fan and one of the hosts of the currently-dormant Electric Dreams BBS Podcast. I met Mike at the one-and-only KansasFest event that I’ve been able to attend thus far, that being in 2014. I would certainly recommend the event to anyone that enjoys getting together with a large number of vintage computer nuts for an entire week, living the college dorm life, and generally immersing themselves in the out-of-date-but-still-loads-of-fun Apple II computer. It’s one of things that you must experience at least once, although for most people it tends to be like Lay’s Potato Chips: no one can stop at just one.

I’m amazed at the effort and quality Mike put into this podcast. I want to thank him and the Apple II KFest community for allowing me to air this ode to KFest on Floppy Days.

Enjoy!

KansasFest Website – http://kansasfest.org

KansasFest talks on Internet Archive – https://archive.org/details/kansasfest

KansasFest HackFest – http://www.kansasfest.org/hackfest/

KansasFest Door Contest from 2015 – http://www.kansasfest.org/2016/07/door-signs-2015/

YouTube playlist of Dr. Steven Weyrich’s KFest-related Parody Songs – http://bit.ly/2dkQfvc

Twitter Accounts for some of the folks involved:

@a2fan — Sean Fahey

@the_jongleur — Michael Mulhern

@quinndunki — Quinn Dunki

@callapple — Call A.P.P.L.E.

@retroconnector — Charles Mangin

@kevinsavetz — Kevin Savetz

@CT6502 — Chris Torrence

@textfiles — Jason Scott

@65816guy — Dagen Brock

@ultramagnus_tcv — Mike Whalen

Call-A.P.P.L.E. – http://www.callapple.org

Call-A.P.P.L.E.’s “Nibble Viewpoints – Business Insights From The Computing Revolution” by Mike Harvey

Reactive Micro – http://reactivemicro.com/wiki/Main_Page

8-Bit Weapon – http://8bitweapon.bandcamp.com/

Bits With Byte – http://8bitweapon.bandcamp.com/album/bits-with-byte

BlipTastic by ComputeHer – http://8bitweapon.bandcamp.com/album/bliptastic

Charles Mangin’s RetroConnector – http://retroconnector.com/

Quinn Dunki’s Blog – http://quinndunki.com/blondihacks/

Nibble Magazine – http://www.nibblemagazine.com/

Mike has provided links in the show notes for Web sites that can help you find out more about the attendees you heard in this episode and about KFest itself ; just go to floppydays.com for the full list. If you wish to contact Mike about this episode, you can find some contact information for him in the show notes.

I very much encourage you to provide feedback for the show at iTunes or on the Web site, via email at floppydays@gmail.com, via Twitter at @floppydays or on Facebook, at http://www.facebook.com/groups/floppydays . I also want to mention that Floppy Days is also a member of the Throwback Network, a network of retro-themed podcasts. Check it out at http://www.throwbacknetwork.net. For one more way to listen, Floppy Days is also available for streaming at stitcher.com.

Until the next show, pull out a vintage computer and compute as if it were yesterday.

Bye!

Source:: Floppy Days 65 – Week of the KFest with Mike Whalen

      

Floppy Days 64 – The HP85B Computer, Part 2, with Everett Kaser and Vassilis Prevelakis

The HP-85B Microcomputer, Part 2

Hello, and welcome to episode 64 of the Floppy Days Podcast, where old computers come to live. I’m Randy Kindig and I’m happy to bring you this episode this month. This episode is Part 2 about the HP Series 80 line of microcomputers. Last month I interviewed 2 well-known members of the HP Series 80 community, Everett Kaser former HP engineer who worked on the Series 80 and runs kaser.com and Vassilis Prevelakis of series80.org. This month, they are back to help me talk about the history of these fabulous machines. It’s a fascinating conversation with two gentlemen who have a lot of love of and knowledge about these machines.

I want to thank Everett for providing the intro to this episode with his memories of the Series 80.

Before getting into the meat of the program, I do intend to talk briefly about any new vintage computer acquisitions, upcoming shows and feedback.

Ok, let’s fire up the ol’ HP-85 and see what we can learn.

Links Mentioned in the Show:

Co-hosts

New Acquisitions

Shows

Feedback

Source:: Floppy Days 64 – The HP85B Computer, Part 2, with Everett Kaser and Vassilis Prevelakis

      

Floppy Days 63 – VCF Midwest 11 Preview with Jason Timmons

Vintage Computer Festival Midwest 11, Sep 10-11, 2016, Elk Grove Village, IL

This a special interview show to help get the word out about an upcoming event: Vintage Computer Festival Midwest. This will be the eleventh iteration of this event and I talk with Jason Timmons, one of the main organizers of the event. He tells us all about the event, including guest speakers that will be there, exhibits, vendors and much more. If you can make it to the Chicago area the weekend of September 10 & 11, 2016, I highly recommend that you drop in and enjoy the show.

Links

Source:: Floppy Days 63 – VCF Midwest 11 Preview with Jason Timmons