A few days ago a co-worker posted in Slack a link to the Vintage Computer Festival Midwest which was to my surprise only a half hour from my house. I vaguely recall hearing about it but never really looked into the event. I've been slowly collecting my favorite vintage Apple computers over the past few years, so I figured it would be worth a trip to see what it was all about. The festival ran Saturday & Sunday and my schedule only allowed me a little bit of time Sunday morning.

I didn't know what to expect and I deliberately didn't look much information up because I wanted to be surprised. Pulling into the parking lot of the Waterford Conference Center, I immediately realized the event was a bigger deal than what was in my head. I pulled into the parking lot 10 minutes after it started and the first person I saw was hauling an Apple II back to his car. I could barely find any parking, it was almost completely full already. As I walked up to the entrance people were setting up booths outside and around the building, clearly overflowing out the door. Walking inside my jaw dropped, it was tech-geek heaven. There were 3 hotel conference rooms opened together, jam packed with booths showcasing not just popular computers like Apple and Commodore, there were also old mainframes, video games, completely obscure machines, telephone utility equipment, robotics, just about anything you could imagine. Outside the conference rooms was a long hallway of tables where people were selling all kinds of electronics.

Apple II hardware laid bare
Apple II computer out of its case
Androbot display
Androbot robotics table with robots, accessories, and information
Payphones are vintage?
Payphone and computer used to hack it

I spent the first 30 minutes just wandering the event, soaking up all the exhibitors displays. I walked past one booth setup to browse the internet as it was back in 1999, booths where people were playing Atari and original Nintendo games, a Quake 3 LAN party, one booth showing some strange Androbots, the smell of fresh solder was in the air as people were making repairs on the fly. Out in the hallways people were bartering prices, and hauling away their new found purchases.

The festival atmosphere was laid back and fun. Everyone was super nice, smiling and laughing, talking and sharing information, and just having a great time. I didn't see him on the presenter list, but I ran into Adrian from one of my favorite YouTube channels Adrian's Digital Basement. I shook his hand and said hello, he was very kind and thankful but his voice was shot so I didn't pester him with questions. The 8-Bit Guy was there as well, but I didn't get a chance to say hi.

The vibe in the whole event was completely on point
Vintage computer with All Your Base Belong To Us typed into it

One booth that caught my eye was MacEffects which had setup a clear Apple II and Mac SE. I had never seen acryllic cases before, and was amazed at how cool it looked.

Clear Apple II case
Apple II computer in a custom clear case

As I stalked the outer hallway booths looking for any vintage Apple computers that caught my eye I was delighted to find quite a few machines. There were piles of mid 90s machines but most in pretty poor shape. Lots of Centris, Performa, and Quadra machines, and a large number of Macintosh SE's. I spotted a Color Classic that I immediately started inspecting only to be told it was already sold unless I could make a 'significant offer', meaning it was out of my price range. After a few rounds I made the decision to pick up a PowerBook G3 "Pismo". I have wanted one of these since they debuted in the late 90s, and was delighted to find a near top of the line Pismo in fairly good shape. Ill give it a good bath, swap out the old IDE hard drive for an SD card, and load it up with Mac OS 9.2. More to come there.

My new Pismo PowerBook G3
Pismo PowerBook G3

I only had time for about an hour to explore but the VCF is definitely marked on my calendar for next year. I can't wait to be able to really take my time and soak up all the geeky-ness and see some talks. I'm not sure if it's in the same location since I had not heard of it before but if its within a reasonable drive I am definitely going again.