An Organization (was: Do we have a VAX organization?)

From: Gunther Schadow <>
Date: Tue Oct 30 22:40:01 2001

O.K. as I said in the beginning I really don't like organizational
issues. That's why I'm getting nervous about the goals here.

I do agree that Sellam's thing is perhaps the best point to
start. However, ...

We certainly don't need another mailing list. With port-vax
and classiccmp (and occasionally comp.os.vms) we have what we
need. Certainly we don't need a new style online forum ...
those are notoriously non-populated.

I also don't have a sophisticated portal web site in mind.
Something simple that states the mission of the organization,
a few articles about why preserving classic computing
equipment is good. Something that plays down the collectible
asset value (that's important in many respects!). And most
important a list of people and their collections and activities
all over the country and the world. Linking to their project
web sites.

The web site must be simple so it's maintainable.
is fairly simple, but even so some links and features on the
front page don't work, and that shouldn't be. Rather have
less stuff that does the job.

About local chapters and national meetings etc. I'm sceptical
too. It couldn't hurt for some of us weirdos to come out and
have some face to face interaction with real humans, OTOH, this
takes even more time away for those who are already struggling
having a family life and their collection (aside from making
a living.) We don't want to steal people from their spouses and

I guess that Isildur is right, the non-profit incorporation would
be most critical. This would actually provide incentives for folks
who have stuff to decommission. Instead of competing against
scrap dealers we would have an advantage of a tax deduction for
old stuff. That's also why I think we must downplay the
collectible asset value. This should be for the fun and curiosity
and public service of preservation, and, if possible, public use
of the old stuff. It should not be to promote a new fad of
collectible items in order to boost a market, issue price guides,
promote pocket book driven collections. The PDP-8 market is
already going that way.

BTW: that's also why I appreciate a clear cut between the and the things. I wouldn't ask
Sellam to move any money from his business to the association
but the appearence of a for-profit business next to VCF
should not be confounding the non-profit nature of the
association either.

In terms of the need for funds, I'm mostly interested in
a "dachorganization" that would make it possible to put
old computers into public use. Help those that do. If you
run a cluster of VAX 11/780, 8600, and couple of 6000s with
full gear, this makes no sense for the privatier to do
24/7 in terms of electricity. Add the costs of a decent
Internet connection too. If you want to show blinkenlights
(like the cyber PDP-8) you need an even better Internet

The whole point of mainframes is multi-user applications, so
it's only natural that the 11/780 wants to serve users
through the network. One way of doing this would be a
"vintage-pass" available to the public for a
fee and for members at a discount. The vintage-pass would
give people accounts on the systems of all members. This
could have multiple levels, like dec-pass, vax-pass, pdp-pass,
ibm-pass, etc. It would include various levels of service,
such as guest-account, individual-user account, up to
sysadmin-account. Optional operator services (Joe Jones
mails his old PDP-11 tapes to bring his old work back
to life, etc.) You (or your wife or kids) put the tape in
and go.

There would be some ethics and legal issues involved. On
the one hand rules of conduct by the users, monitoring
malicious activity (e.g., cool things like the killer-
poke on the PET 2001) to a revival of the worm of 1988.
Certainly special scrutiny applies for operator or sysadmin
accounts. On the other hand the privacy of the user and
his data.

This is kind of the space I was thinking about.

Organizing cyber events, video-conferences, a worm of 1988
revival fest, could be periodic highlights that warrant
press releases and may draw attention. Perhaps more than
an annual meeting that people won't usually attend anyway.


Vintage Computer Festival wrote:

> On Mon, 29 Oct 2001, Jeffrey Sharp wrote:
>>I think that what is needed most is an international organization that
>>covers *all* vintage computers, software, and docs. We need something
>>that's implemented well enough that most of us would be convinced to join.
>>The best starting point I can think of is Sellam's VCF organization:
>>* He already has one of the largest inventories of us all. That's a good
>> start towards a "Noah's ark" collection, which I think should be one
>> function of the organization.
> This is in fact one of my missions. I know I won't be able to get every
> single model of every single computer, but I can get close. And this has
> applications of both practicality and posterity.
>>* He's got, which would be a primo domain name for the
>> organization.
>>* He's got, which would be the fundraising part of the
>> organization. Dues could be another.
> Um, for now, the funds that VintageTech generates are intended for the
> Sellam Ismail organization of getting by ;)
>>* He's got experience running VCFs.
> True dat.
>>Of course, Sellam would have to be interested in being the organization's
>>fearless leader!
> I appreciate being nominated for this lofty organization. In fact, what
> you've described is what I've been working towards for the past 4-5 years.
> It's just gone much slower and taken much longer than anticipated due to
> distractions and detours in my life. And this is hard work, especially
> for one guy.
>>Other things the organiztion could do:
>>* A central, Yahoo-like web site that would become the world's foremost
>> resource for vintage computer information. It would try to replicate
>> all available information for preservation. Individual members would
>> also be given a mechanism to have their collection hosted on the site
>> under a uniform interface. Those who resist assimilation could still
>> have their sites linked to. You could get to info either by
>> collector name or a category/manufacturer/series/model tree. It would
>> be wonderful...
> One day the VCF website will be this portal.
>>* SIGs would, of course, solidify according to demand. I imagine the VAX
>> SIG (VSIG?) would be quite well represented. Each SIG could have its
>> own mailing list. The whole thing would be not unlike the FreeBSD
>> mailing list system.
> One of the next things on the agenda (after finishing the VCF Marketplace)
> is a messaging system. Of course, I don't know how useful this will be in
> the face of this list and other very active and strong lists. I'll put
> the tools out there, it'll be up to folks to put them to good use.
>>* Rename itself from VCF to IVCA. "International Vintage Computing
>> Association" to outsiders, "International Vintage Computing Asylum"
>> for insiders. :-)
> The VCF will eventually become an international "society" dedicated to the
> preservation of old computers and computer history. The VCF events are to
> be yearly gatherings that cap off activities that occur throughout the
> year. My desire for the past couple years has been to sponsor local
> computer collector clubs throughout the world, to create local interest
> that then grows into a connected network of clubs.
>>* I don't know... other stuff.
>>As you can see, I'm all about grandiose ideas. Now won't someone rise up
>>and implement them? :-)
> Me too. If I could get organized enough to create an actual organization
> then things would move faster. Of course it would require the sacrifices
> of other people interested in seeing this vision implemented.
> Sellam Ismail Vintage Computer Festival
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> International Man of Intrigue and Danger

Gunther Schadow, M.D., Ph.D.          
Medical Information Scientist      Regenstrief Institute for Health Care
Adjunct Assistant Professor        Indiana University School of Medicine
Received on Tue Oct 30 2001 - 22:40:01 GMT

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