Thursday, July 11, 2019

It's That Time of Year Again!

Well, it’s that time of year again and I’m excited to write my blog entry for the 3rd Annual Tandy Assembly!
It seems like only a short time ago that John Linville and I, Neil Blanchard, were driving along an interstate headed for another computer conference when we decided that it was time to cultivate our own ‘Tandy experience’. With the help of Mike, Randy K, Randy W, and Peter, our small little conference in Ohio has grown to be an event worthy of everyone’s calendar in September!
I believe that the Tandy Assembly of 2019 will be better than ever! With our larger venue of the Courtyard by Marriott Conference center, we are looking forward to seeing more Tandy enthusiasts than ever before. We are so excited to be hosting Keynote speaker, Paul T. Schreiber, who was a part of the rich history in the original Tandy Research and Development teams.And on top of that, we have introduced a new element to the conference involving class seminars. There will be classes involving learning about data archiving to analysing operating systems.
On a personal note, over the past 10 years, I have become an avid conference attendee. And I have learned some very important things that I wish to impart to any newbies planning on attending.
#1 - Book your rooms early!
#2 - Be prepared to catch up with old friends and ensure you meet some new ones
#3 - Get your sleep! These are jam packed days of Tandy-goodness and you don’t want to miss a minute of it!
#4 - Buy the t-shirt (we have new ones coming this year!
#5 - Don’t forget to touch the Heron (specific to our location, of course)

Looking forward to seeing you all there!
Neil Blanchard (CocoNut) 

Monday, November 5, 2018

The Time Has Come for Tandy Assembly

In a few short days I'll be making a 600 mile drive from New York to Springfield, Ohio for the second annual Tandy Assembly.  The truck will be packed with Tandy Radio Shack computers and my son will be sitting next to me riding shotgun. In my book, it really doesn't get much better.

I've always loved driving and taking long road trips.  When I was a kid all I wanted to be was a truck driver.  I dreamed of having my own rig and spending my life driving across the country like Sonny Pruitt from the 1970s television show "Movin On'" or BJ McKay from that other classic 70s trucking show, "BJ and the Bear".  I still have that dream today so the annual trip to Tandy Assembly helps me live it a little bit.

And once we arrive, what a time it will be.  So many Tandy Radio Shack computing enthusiasts packed into one exhibit hall.  Friends that I haven't seen in a year will be there.  Some of those friends I have been in frequent contact with, like my podcasting mate Ian Mavric.  But, it's always great to meet up with good friends in person.  With the others that I have not been in contact with, it will be time to catch up on what's been happening the past year.

Once again, we sold out the exhibit space.  The speaking schedule is also full and the Saturday night festivities will be huge fun.  Stewart Cheifet will be speaking!  I was always so excited when I found the Computer Chronicles playing on PBS.  Certainly, one of my favorite shows.  I'm really looking forward to hearing him relate tales of those days.

Tandy engineer Mike Yetsko will be speaking Saturday night.  If you don't know Mike, be prepared for some great stories.  Mike worked all across Radio Shack back in the day.  From managing a store selling TRS-80s in Pennsylvania to working as an engineer in Fort Worth, Mike has seen it all and will let us know what it was like to be part of the company during those glory years.

Arno Puder and Sascha Haeberling will be speaking about their TRS-80 App Store.  They have a hardware component that will connect your TRS-80 to the internet and allow you to download TRS-80 apps, like you favorite games from Big Five Software.  Simply incredible!

Speaking of Big Five Software, we'll also have Arthur Gleckler talking about how he developed a TRS-80 game and sold it to Big Five Software when he was only a teenager!

So many more great speakers and tons of exhibits are on tap.  If you are a fan of Tandy Radio Shack computers, there really is nothing that comes close to attending Tandy Assembly.  If you can't make it this year, try to plan on doing so next year.  If you are coming this year, stop by my Model II exhibit and say hello.  I love talking about TRS-80s!

Monday, October 22, 2018

The excitement is palpable!

There is a frenzy of activity amongst the organizers of Tandy Assembly.  It’s starting to get exciting!  Scratch that… it IS exciting!

I’ve worked with the awesome folks at GCCC the past couple of CoCoFESTs and now with the Tandy Assembly crew and I have to tell ya, these people take events very seriously.  They (we) really want a great show and it looks like it’s going to happen. (again!) 

Honestly, after attending the last Penn Fest in 2000 I thought that was it.  A sad, but nice way to go out with a bang.  And then, 14 years later, whilst randomly googling around, I was amazed to see the community still going strong. (even without me!) That’s not how this is supposed to work.  These things are supposed to die… slowly… But that seems to be just the opposite in this community.

My First Computer was a CoCo 2 so sorry about my bias TRS-80 folks.  I Certainly love the other TRS-80 products as well and I’m seriously excited about these groups merging to bring all these great Tandy products under one umbrella that we call Tandy Assembly.

I am honored to be a part of this event and I appreciate all that I’m learning from the dedicated, caring, enthusiastic folks I’m working with.

Come to Tandy Assembly.  This is going to be one great show.  I’m only concerned with how we’re going to top it next year!

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Tandy Assembly is Good Therapy!

As I write this, we're just 52 days away from the second Tandy Assembly! I'm looking forward to seeing everyone there and our great lineup of speakers. My summer has been brutally busy. Work, family, travel, home repairs, all the usual time stealing suspects. :-) Sometimes we underestimate the benefit of taking a break from things.

Last weekend, I attended VCFMW in Chicago. I had planned to attend since early spring, but I did have thoughts of skipping it because I was just feeling tired and worn out from the business of life. Well, thankfully, I did attend and I was really overcome by just how much I needed it. It was great therapy being at a retro computing show, hanging out with friends, and even picking up a cool bargain or two. I was only able to stay for Saturday, but what a difference it made! I returned on Sunday, with renewed energy for my retro computing hobby and felt more connected with my friends.

Our passions need to be fed to keep them going. Tandy Assembly is a great way to do that. If you're on the fence about attending this year, I hope that you'll reconsider. We have new venue with more space, better amenities, better services, and ample power this year! You deserve a break from the non-stop demands of life. Why not join us at Tandy Assembly for a break? Springfield, is just 30 minutes away from Dayton International Airport, hopefully making it easier for those of you flying in for the event.

We're delighted to have Stewart Cheifet, host of the PBS show, “The Computer Chronicles” as our keynote speaker this year. You don't want to miss this! I'm looking forward to a great time with everyone this year at Tandy Assembly. As always, we invite ALL Tandy and RadioShack computers to the event. Its not too late to reserve a table and setup that Tandy 1000, Tandy Sensation, Model 100, CoCo, pocket computer, <insert your system here>, even if you only want the space to work on your own system or to get help and advice from others at the show. I plan to bring a Model 4 that I want to upgrade.

So I welcome everyone to the second Tandy Assembly! Its the people that make it great. We hope that you will like the changes and we thank for your continuing support. We want to make Tandy Assembly better each year. I'll see you there!

Monday, September 10, 2018

Tandy Assembly .2

Getting Ready For Part Two

It’s shocking that it’s already been a year since our inaugural Tandy Assembly. It doesn’t seem that long ago since John Linville, Mike Rowen and I were kicking around the idea of having a retro computer fest dedicated to Tandy computers. Now thanks to our guest speakers and all of you who came out to support our event we are now able to bring you the second Tandy Assembly.

We have created this event to celebrate all great things about Tandy. With all great retro computer fests, these conferences provide opportunities for individuals to reach beyond their computer screens and talk one on one; in essence, to find a sense of community. In this community, at these conferences, we are able to go beyond the auctions of eBay and stumble upon a rare ancient artifact in the back of a trunk which travelled here from Tennessee. At these conferences, we are able to show up with the most challenging of issues whether it be hardware or software related and know that in the room there are 5 different people with 5 different solutions available at your fingertips. At these conferences, you are able to sit back and listen to the ideas of your fellow community members and return home with inspiration for new projects and plans for the new year.

As the second annual Tandy Assembly approaches, I, Neil Blanchard, invite you to join celebrate celebrate hardware and software of these amazing computers….to celebrate the beginning of new ideas and inspiration….and most importantly, to celebrate the friendships that these conferences bring.

I look forward to seeing you all there.

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.