Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Tandy Assembly 2017 - A Success!

The world’s first large gathering of Tandy Radio Shack computer enthusiasts since the 1980s took place this past October 7th and 8th in Chillicothe, Ohio, USA.  The event was by most measures a huge success.  We had over 80 participants from around the world, although most were from the US, as expected.  The traveler with the longest trek to the show was none other than Ian Mavric who flew in from Australia.

The show was conceived more than a year ago.  It was formed from the convergence of several different efforts aimed at creating a Tandy focused retro computing event.  John Linville, Neil Blanchard and Mike Rowen of the CoCo Crew Podcast were formulating the plan for creating an event.  At the same time, I was in the early stages of planning on starting a TRS-80 focused event.  We decided to join forces and create an all-encompassing Tandy focused computer event.  The rationale being that by having a large umbrella that will cover many systems then that would increase the likelihood of significant participation.

Chillicothe, Ohio was chosen as the venue for the event due to its centralized location in the US and its affordable accommodations.  We followed a tried and true formula for events of this type by creating exhibitor space as well as a speaking track.  We eventually sold out on the available exhibitor space and had significant attendee ticket pre-sales which was an exciting indicator of interest in the event.

We had great exhibits spanning all of the Tandy line of computers.  From Model Is to pocket computers.  From the Color Computer to the Tandy 1000.  From Model 100 to Tandy 6000.  And everything in between.

There was a Saturday night auction that went on for several hours.  I scored a CM-8 monitor for my Coco 3 as well as a working Voice Synthesizer for my Model I!  The funds raised by auctioning off the donated items will help to pay for the event and will help to ensure successful future events.

The speaker lineup was impressive.  Don French, one of the fathers of the TRS-80, opened up the show with a well-received Saturday morning keynote address.  Legendary adventure game programmer Scott Adams opened up the show on Sunday morning with his humble and inspirational keynote address.  Speaking luminaries also included the famous TRS-80 programmer Lance Micklus and Color Computer programmer Rick Adams.  The speakers kept rolling on for most of the day Saturday and Sunday morning.  I even gave a presentation on the Model II line of computers.

I was pleased to meet so many people that I only knew from the online world.  Enthusiasts such as George Phillips, Malcom Ramey, Martin Lucas, Peter Bartlett, Kevin Adams…the list goes on and on.  Nothing beats meeting someone in person to establish a true friendship.  I hope to keep those friendships alive for a long time.  I’m disappointed that I did not get to meet many other attendees, especially those in the Coco community.  I was so busy with my exhibit, speaking slot and event functions that it was difficult to mingle and just meet new people.  I plan to rectify that in future years.

Getting to meet Scott Adams was a real thrill for me.  He was a very nice fellow and was so grateful for the invitation to speak at the event. Scott’s computer games got me through some tough times when I was a child.  I will always remember playing them well into the night to help escape some of my life’s challenges at the time.  His games were a friend that was always there for me. Thank you, Scott!

Lance Micklus was another very gracious and generous person to meet.  He gave me his Model III that was used to host his BBS back in the day.  He even autographed it for me.  I plan on including it in my future TRS-80 Museum.

Since the event was such a success, we are already planning for Tandy Assembly 2018!  Don’t miss the next one.  The first one was the highlight of my vintage computing career and I think the next one could feel the same for you as well.

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