KansasFest 2017 Postlude

I know that my posts here in the past few years are often just saying “Hey, I was at KansasFest” and not much else, but, hey, what can I say, there’s not much new in Apple II history these days.

That being said, I’m going to feature something written by someone else. My KFest roommate this year was Dave Rogers, a newcomer to the event. He writes a blog, “Nice Marmot”, and has a good, comprehensive discussion of his experiences at this year’s event. You can see what he thought about it here, and it is well worth a read.

Dave also made a discovery that passed me by completely. Way back when, Brooke Boering had a company called Vagabondo Enterprises, and created a visual programming language called CEEMAC. It allowed creation of hi-res graphics animations on the Apple II. Back around 1982 or so, he released a demo disk that highlighted the capabilities of CEEMAC, and called that demo “Fire Organ”. It was intended to be a self-running demo, with some ability to interact and change how it worked.

I had a copy of Fire Organ back in the day, but never spent the money to get the CEEMAC programming language disk.

What does this have to do with KFest? Well, for the Apple IIe that I brought along, I neglected to include any disks to boot it with. Or I thought I had not done so. When I plugged it in and turned it on, I discovered that it did boot up something, and found there was a copy (so I thought) of Fire Organ in the disk drive. Oh, cool, I thought; I’ll just run this as an interesting visual demo in my room here. (Okay, green-screen monitor, so less interesting than it could have been, but…)

Dave saw this at some point during the week, and took a closer look at the disk. He pointed out to me that this was not the Fire Organ demo, but was a copy of CEEMAC v1.61 (beta), meaning that this was actually the programming language used to create the Fire Organ demo! I literally have no idea where I got this, but he made sure it got into the hands of 4am, so it could be imaged for the Internet Archive, as it appeared to be different from the version that was already there.

So, thanks to Dave’s sharp eye, there is another version of CEEMAC available for the world to look at. I appreciate his enthusiasm, and also appreciate the work done by Brook Boering years ago to create an amazing graphical programming language for the Apple II.

And, although I don’t do much programming these days, and do not do any hardware hacking, I do still have a strange urge to create song parodies. Two years ago it was “KFest Funk“, last year it was “Week of the KFest“, and this year it was “Rockhurst”, a parody of Marty Robbins “El Paso”. The video stars Ken Gagne, editor of Juiced.GS, the longest running Apple II magazine still in print, and Chris Torrence, editor of Assembly Lines: The Complete Book.

KansasFest 2016

Carrington Vanston in Rocky pose

It has been a long time since I made a post here (hello, August 2015!!), but life has been busy, and I have other things that draw my attention besides my old stalwart Apple II fun.

What brings me back to the blog again to mention the annual Apple II convention, KansasFest, which was held July 19-23, 2016, in Kansas City, Missouri at Rockhurst University. It was, I feel, another excellent gathering of the best and brightest in the Apple II world, and shows continued growth of the numbers of fans who find out what fun it is to get together with others who love this computer, to teach each other and learn from each other, and to press back the frontiers of what this old machine can do. While the following is not comprehensive, here are some things that stood out to me:

  • We were treated to updates to Lawless Legends, the new graphic role-playing game undergoing development, and a release of a smaller game, Ancient Legends, that runs using the same game engine as Lawless Legends (see the Legends web site for details on how to get that).
  • PERCOL-8, a networkable Apple II emulator that not only runs old Apple II software, but uses special graphics software to manipulate the old screens to you can get a 3D type of effect, or even have two different people help play the same game at the same time.
  • How the Internet Archive is making it even easier to run old Apple II software right in your web browser.
  • How Apple II software deprotector 4am (a great contributor to the Internet Archive collection) came up with a program to allow you to automatically remove copy protection from most old software (if you have any old uncopyable disks).
  • More and more about emulators than I’ve heard at KFest for years

and much more than I have time to discuss here. You can look for videos of many of the sessions on YouTube; here is the talk I gave about the history of online services here:

We had the privilege of a visit this year by David Pierini of Cult of Mac, who wrote five stories about the event:

And I was able to complete another parody video about the event, this year with lots of video from the event:

Not only this, but we will be having it again next year, July 18-23, 2017. Come next year, and celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Apple II !


KFest, as seen by an outsider

While at KansasFest this year, we had two new people show up, for the purpose of doing a news story about the event. I had not heard of their publication, Motherboard, prior to this, and I will admit I was a little skeptical about how this would turn out. I have seen interviews and stories before that were done with a particular purpose in mind, and sometimes the final result is not flattering.

I must applaud the writer of the piece, Jason Koebler, for a job well done. He did capture the essence of the event, and did it as someone who has not been there before, and in fact someone who does not really know anything about the Apple II.

You can read the article here. The style reminds me of the audio stories I hear on NPR’s weekly program, This American Life, which I mean as a compliment, as I feel that most of those stories as well done, and good listens.

KFest 2015 is coming!

That annual Apple II conference is only a month away, and yes, I’ve got another music parody for it:

Come down and help me make it better with live action!


Krazy KansasFest

If you have looked over the content on this site, you have found the various song parodies I have created over the years. This year, I am inspired to make one for the annual Apple II gathering, KansasFest.

Wigginton and Woz at KFest

This year has been outstanding! I didn’t have my book ready to distribute as I was hoping, but that’s actually a good thing. The keynote speaker, Randy Wigginton, provided some insight to events that I didn’t previously have. Additionally, Steve Wozniak attended and, like Wigginton, stayed to listen to some of the sessions, including mine. Very exciting!

Steve Wozniak after my presentation

Anyway, I felt ready to create a parody for KansasFest itself, and here is what I have to share. Enjoy!


Lazy Hazy Crazy Days of KFest
by Steven Weyhrich

(parody of Nat King Cole’s song, “Those Lazy Hazy Crazy Days of Summer“, from 1963)

Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of KFest
Those days of ProDOS and BASIC and bytes
Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of KFest
Dust off the Apple IIGS, don’t sleep at night.

Just fill your luggage up with floppy disks and cables
Then buy your ticket, now you’re set
And at the dorm, you’ll see the hackers at their tables
Making their projects; I don’t think they’re finished yet!

Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of KFest
Bring out the II Plus and plug in your gear
Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of KFest
You’ll wish that KFest could always be here!

(key change)

Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of KFest
Plug in some slot cards, and flip on the switch
Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of KFest
Trace out that object code and try to find the glitch

Don’t need to tell a coding fella ’bout a RAM chip
Or some confusing address scheme
Why, from the moment that his file starts to unzip
You’ll see his winner of a program on the screen!

Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of KFest
Just get your IIc to plot out a sphere
Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of KFest
You’ll wish that KFest could always be here

You’ll wish that KFest could always be here
You’ll wish that KFest could always be here!

Still bookin’ along

book-clip-art-7For those who are wondering when this wondrous and highly informative chronology of the Apple II and its culture will actually be available for purchase, rest assured that progress continues on the editing and polishing process. It is later than I’d hoped, but I believe the extra time being taken will result in a final manuscript that will be better for the extra care being taken.

For those others who lived through the 1970s, remember these famous commercial phrases:

“We will sell no wine before its time.” (Orson Welles, for the Paul Masson Mountain Winery)

“Is it soup yet?” (Lipton soup)

And the best known phrase of all:

“Are we there yet?” (nearly every child waiting for the end of a car trip)

It will be ready when it is fully fermented, the water has boiled, and we’ll get there when we get there, so sit back and enjoy the scenery.

As for now, I am preparing to head to KansasFest, where I expect another amazing week of Apple II retrocomputing, things old and new revealed, surprises and fun with other similar-minded enthusiasts. Hope to see you there!

Retrocomputing Mania!

The year 2013 is shaping up to be one in which there will be a bumper crop of retrocomputing goodness happening. The event I am most familiar with is KansasFest 2013, the 25th annual such event. Our keynote speaker will be Randy Wigginton, one of Apple’s early employees and significant in the early improvements to the Apple II. The committee has released the logo for the event, and will hopefully be open for registration soon.


But wait! There’s more!

If you live in the southeastern part of the United States (or even if you don’t and you don’t mind a bit of travel), the Vintage Computer Festival Southeast 1.0 (VCFSE) will be held in the Atlanta area on April 20 and 21, 2013. This event is hosted by the Atlanta Historical Computing Society and the Computer Museum of America. One of the featured speakers is Robert Tinney, who created the cover illustrations for many issues of BYTE magazine. Also at the VCFSE will be the Apple Popup Museum, an exhibit tracing the history of Apple Computer and its products, from the days of the Apple-1 to the present.

If you can make it, this event will be well worth it!

VCFSE 1.0 small

Randy Wigginton At KansasFest 2013

This year will be the 25th KansasFest, the annual meeting of Apple II enthusiasts held in Kanas City, MO. It will also be the 35th anniversary of the release of two important parts of the classic Apple II experience: The Disk II drive, and Applesoft BASIC. It was these two innovations that played a major role in propelling the Apple II ahead of its contemporaries.

It is fitting that for this KansasFest, the keynote address will be given by Apple employee #6, Randy Wigginton. Wigginton helped Steve Wozniak with the software used to control the Disk II drive, and when Woz was too busy to write his own floating point BASIC, it was Wigginton who took the source code from Microsoft and adapted it to the Apple II, creating Applesoft BASIC.

To hear more about Wigginton, his time at Apple and afterwards, plan to be in KC this July, from the 23rd to the 28th! Check out their web site here.