This year, we'll have a mix of live exhibitions and interactive virtual exhibitions with our BBB Video conferencing system.
So how does a virtual exhibition work? This page gives an overview of both live and interactive virtual exhibitions. If a virtual exhibition sparks your interest, you can click on the details page to see when the owner will be present at his virtual exhibition desk in our video conference system. Click on the link to join presenters at their desks.
The following exhibitions have been registered:
Computers in the Soviet Union were used not only in nuclear plants, military bases and big government companies. In 1980s, many different computers were created for home and educational use. They weren't compatible with each other, there was almost no "official" software, but computers became quite popular in the late 1980s. One of the most popular computers was the BK-0010, which is compatible with the PDP-11. It was widely used in education. Soviet people were using BK computers (BK-0010 and its successor BK-0011M) for many purposes. A lot of different software (ca. 1000 games, compilers, text and graphics editors, financial apps, etc.) and many peripheral devices were created by enthusiasts. Those computers were in use until the 2000s, when they were completely replaced by modern PCs. But even now, there is still a big BK community in Russia/CIS. People create new software and devices using modern technologies to emulate or make them compatible with BK computers.
The 1961 autumn exhibition saw the introduction of the SER2, the first East German desk sized mini-computer for the office. According to my own research, about 2000 units were built, including a number of hardware evolution steps (-A, -B, -C, -D). Only two units of the early SER2B remain. One of them is owned by the museum of historic office technology in Naunhof, which is not switched-on anymore. In this exhibition, a functional model of the SER2B is shown on the basis of the LC-80. The model can be used to get an impression of the usage, function and programming of the SER2B. Punch tapes for programs and constants can be produced with a functional model of the original hand operated key punch machine. Despite the laborious programming, SER2 computers were used for a wide variety of tasks; from calculating wages to complicated scientific calculations such as regression analysis or the calculation of the vibration calculation according to HOLZER.
From 1982, the ZX Specrum was, after the C64, the second most widely sold computer of West Germany. Based on the popular Z80 CPU, it followed the cheaper monochrome ZX80/ZX81 kits and was the first color home computer of Sinclair Research. Due to its straight forward design that did not require special circuitry, many clones were created in eastern countries. This resulted in a wide variety of software and a stable developer community, that still exists today. The exhibition also shows a number of original 48k models as well as 128k versions which were produced by Amstrad. Also on display will be a ZX81, contemporary clones such as the Harlequin as well as the ZX Spectrum Next, a result of Kickstarter projects that gathered 1.847.106 pounds from 5236 supporters. This shows the continued attractiveness of the concept. In addition to additional interfaces, a number of original and contemporary software will be shown, as well as various disk and memory card interfaces for original and contemporary mass storage systems. These are used in addition to classic compact cassettes to store programs and date of the ZX Spectrum.
Ingo Truppel and Norbert Opitz
In 1976, General Instrument (GI) started the mass production of, what was officially called, the "Ball & Tennis"-Chips AY-3-8500 to statisfy the the significant demand after Atari launched their successful "Home-Pong-Chip". Many manufacturers around the globe used the GI-Chip AY-3-8500 in TV-consoles of various designs. According to the capabilities of the chip, all consoles featured two input devices for two players. This was also the case in East Germany with their expensive BSS01, despite the AY-3-8500 having been a low-cost chip. Depending on the game, a player can operate two linked rackets at the same time. However, the chip was also able to show 4 rackets for two players on the screen. In a GI document from 1980, an electronic circuit was discovered that enabled four truly independent rackets for four players with an ingenious trick and little additional hardware. This circuit was recreated, and this exhibition at the VCFB will show a working prototype device for four players. While it's possible to explain during the exhibition how the circuit works, it's impossible to say why, according to high-level preliminary research, none of the manufacturers implemented this lucrative feature. It wouldn't have been revolutionary; one year after Pong (1972), Atari already offered a Tennis game for 4 players with four input devices.
"QBone" is a micro-Linux system that can be inserted into a DEC-QBUS-PDP-11 (or MicroVAX). In realtime, it emulates memory, serial interfaces as well as disk- and hard drives. Despite defect or missing original hardware, the machine can thus be kept running. Why "Frankenstein"? Well, because an incomplete or defect PDP-11 (or VAX) is stitched-up with modern hardware and twitches again … This exhibition features three DEC-QBUS computers of different performance classes: LSI11/03 (64kB, 1975), PDP-11/73 (4MB, 1984) and MicroVAX (32MB, 1989). With the emulated disk- or hard disk drives, a great variety of operating systems can be booted and tried, such as the UNIXe "LSX" (which runs in 56KB RAM and boots from a diskette), UNIX V6 as documented in "Lions Commentary"), 2.11BSD, the PDP-11 Unix with TCP/IP support and 4.3BSD "Quasijarus" for VAX; in addition, DEC's XXDP diagnostic environment is supported, RT-11, RSX11-M and VAX/VMS 7.3
This exhibition shows an original TI-99/4A with many original software titles (games, education, home-office, programming) and newer home-brew software titles which push the limits of what the TI-99/4A can do. The TI-99/4A has been modified with the attachment of a removable external extended memory module. In addition many original software booklets, a programming guide and the original packaging for the TI are available for people to look at.
The TI-99/4A of Texas Instruments was a commercial failure due to a number of technical and cultural reasons: Too expensive, too slow, limited functionality, no open documentation - It was difficult to love this machine. Nevertheless many were sold, finally for knockdown prices, and a fan community exists to this day. In this exhibition, a number of older and current hardware extensions are shown and can be tried hands-on. For those who still own a TI-99/4A, repair advice is given.
The BBC Micro was a series of 8-bit computers from the early 1980s by Acorn Computers built to meet the specifications of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) for the BBC’s Computer Literacy Project. The BBC Model B used a 6502 CPU and had 32Kb of RAM, a floppy disk controller could be added as an optional upgrade that allowed the system to access 5 1/4" floppy disk drives. Many peripherals could be added to one of the many expansion ports available, the most common being floppy disk drives and printers. The system could be connected to most display types using its RF modulator for connecting to home television sets, Composite video out and RGB video out. Graham Hooley aka Graham Tinkers
CollapseOS is an operating system written in Forth by Virgil Dupras with a collection of tools and documentation. Its aim is to maintain the capability to program microcontrollers and computers after a breakdown of civilization. It has been designed to run on minimal and improvised computers, and can be used via improvised interfaces (serial, keyboard, display). It can be used for the editing of text and binary content and it compiles Forth- and Assembler sources for a great number of MCU and CPU-architectures. It supports a wide variety of storage devices and can be used for self-hosting and cross-compiling. In addition, the goal of this project is to be as independent as possible. With a version of CollapseOS, a capable and creative person is empowered to compile and install the operating system without external resources (e.g. the Internet) on a self designed computer.
The ZX Microdrive of Sinclar is a magnetic mass storage device that uses small endless-cassettes as storage medium. First introduced in 1983 as an external drive for the ZX-Spectrum home computers, two devices where built into the Sinclair QL that appeared one year later. Already at that time, Microdrives were not known for their high reliability. Today, it is thus even more difficult to work with a Microdrive. Especially cassettes are often not usable anymore. This motivated the creation of a Microdrive emulator. Unlike already existing contemporary mass storage solutions for the Spectrum and the QL, this project offers a transparent and "historically correct" emulation of the Microdrives. This means that there is no difference between the emulator and a real drive on the computer. On the hardware layer, the Microdrive interface is used and system hooks on the Spectrum/QL are not required.
Axel Ehrich is a collector of old computers from Clausthal-Zellerfeld in the Harz region of Germany. In his walk through the basement, he will show many historical computing devices and tells stories about them. The guided tour is aimed at the general public, no prior knowledge is required. Devices shown are old game consoles, computers, individual parts from Zuse to Apple.