KFest ’08 Redux

For those who don’t know (99.999% of the population) KansasFest (a.k.a. KFest) is a yearly Apple Computer themed conference that takes place in Kansas City, Missouri. When I say Apple, I mean Apple II. There are the occasional Mac/iPhone topics but really who cares about that? I went in 1993 which was probably close to the last big one, when Apple Computer was still sending employees.

I honestly had no idea it was still going on until I found out from an old friend in 2007 that indeed they still were holding it every year. I decided that not only would I go, but I would present NEW Apple II software! Indeed, I made it, albeit only for part of the sessions and I didn’t really finish my software on time but it was still wholly worthwhile for an old nerd like me.

AppleCrate II by Michael J. Mahon
AppleCrate II by Michael J. Mahon

There were actually some incredible presentations. Michael J. Mahon, who has gained well-deserved notoriety in recent years for his inventive NadaNet and AppleCrate projects, was on-hand to show off his AppleCrate II. It’s an incredible assembly of 17 interconnected (via NadaNet, of course) Apple IIe motherboards running with a slightly modified ROM to allow him to do some nifty parallel computing. Sure, my cell phone is more powerful, but this beats the pants out of anything I’ve seen as far as the coolness factor.

Lane Roathe gave a great keynote talk and did his best to hide his fear of the room full of room full of us freaks and geeks. I didn’t realize he started out as such a hacker (and cracker) but it makes sense when you think about it. He was gracious enough to hand out a CD of the complete Apple II source code to many of his classic projects.  I’ve briefly looked over and it’s really nice.  I will have to dig into that more later.

Another cool hardware presentation was given by James Littlejohn, maker of the way cool LittlePower II and the LittlePower IIgs and ton of other neat retro-computing hardware products. I got the opportunity to pester him and Henry Courbis of ReactiveMicro about the process of designing PCBs and getting them manufactured. I’m definitely inspired to start some projects of my own now.

More to come..


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