Sunday, 4 December 2016

World of Commodore 2016

The World of Commodore 2016 by the Toronto Pet Users Group happened this weekend at the Admiral Inn in Mississauga, Ontario. It's an annual tradition that I would never miss; an opportunity to reconnect with old friends and to make new discoveries in the multiple dimensions that exists in the thriving world of Commodore and the people who continue to push the boundaries of those dimensions.
This years event was a special one, with Bil Herd in attendance, possibly the best engineer who worked for Commodore, with his most notable achievement being the design of the Commodore 128 (regarded by many as the best 8 bit computer ever), and demonstrating incredible skill that would impress even Steve Wozniak in the ill-fated TED/264 series of Commodore computers. A great engineer who is also a very nice man and a great story teller, he graciously autographed the computers of those in attendance. If you want to keep up with Bil today, you can follow his blog at Hackaday.

The first presentation of the day was by Syd Bolton, who has a web page here and is best known for his Personal Computer Museum in Brantford, Ontario. A great speaker and story teller, Syd explained to us why Commodore is the best, sharing with us the delightful debates and arguments he used to have as a kid, and the comparisons we all made. Of course, he admitted what we all know; what makes Commodore best are the people.
It was really great to see Jim Brain of Retro Innovations in attendance this year with all of his toys for show and sale. One of the many projects Jim has been working on includes the Visual Memory Display with Steve Gray. Following Syd's presentation was Steve Gray's demonstration of the visual memory display, which is a 16x16 matrix of LED lights. Steve describes this interesting device here.
John Hammarberg returned this year to explain to us the making of the globe demonstration for the Ram Expansion Unit. He deconstructed the original demo for us, which can be seen on Youtube here.
At 2:00 was the moment we all were waiting for. The room was packed, standing room only, to listen to Bil Herd tell us stories about his days at Commodore. He wasn't pulling any punches as he punched through the walls to share with us details of a magical moment in time of what was once a great company. If you're interested, most of what he shared with us can be read in his interview here.
Up next was Jason Kolodziejczak with his presentation of Amiga graphics. It was a walk down memory lane, as he covered all the graphics programs and capabilities comprehensively, from Deluxe Paint right up to the 3D rendering software, all of which made the Amiga a great graphics and special effects platform for creative people everywhere.
Leif Bloomquist, a regular at World of Commodore, returned this year to demonstrate the SwinSID, which is a replacement for the SID chip. It brings to any SID-capable Commodore computer new and exciting features, at an affordable price. You can read more about it here.
After demonstrating the SwinSID, Leif introduced us all to the UniJoystiCle by Retro Moe. You can read more about this innovative use of modern technology on a Commodore 64 here.

Besides the great presentations, there were other displays of retro tech, like Josh Bensadon's loading of Micro-soft's 4k BASIC from paper tape onto an Altair 8800:
Daniel Kovaks also demonstrated his Vic 20 with Ultimem, his C128 with the 64NIC+, his Commodore 16, Amiga 1200, and 1541 Ultimate II:
One of my favourite things that has me saving up my dollars is the Vampire that's going to come out for the Amiga 500 and 2000 (currently available for the Amiga 600) which was demonstrated in one of Sunday's presentations by Ian Colquhoun, effectively an accelerator, memory expansion, digital video output, SD card, and fast IDE:
Of course, there was the freebie table, the raffle draw, and plenty of vintage and new Commodore hardware and software to buy. The day was so packed with Commodore (and some non-Commodore) goodness, it's no wonder that it had to continue on to Sunday. Unforunately, I couldn't make it to World of Commodore on Sunday this year, but maybe next year that will change. Until then, keep on retro computing with Commodore!