14960File - marchfaq.txt
- Nov 1, 2009MARCH frequently asked questions -- updated August 1, 2009
1. What is MARCH?
MARCH is a user group for people who enjoy using antique/vintage computers.
Our name is an acronym for Mid-Atlantic Retro Computing Hobbyists. Our club's
legal name has an "Inc." on the end because we're incorporated as a non-profit
in New Jersey. However we do not yet have 501(c)3 tax status.
2. I'm a nerd and live somewhere between Connecticut and Virginia, yet I never
heard of you before.
Andy Meyer had the idea for a regional user group in the second half of 2004.
Evan Koblentz started the Yahoo discussion group
(http://groups.yahoo.com/group/midatlanticretro/) in the beginning of 2005.
MARCH became a legal entity later that year.
3. So I have to live in the Mid-Atlantic part of the U.S. to join?
Nope. That description just conveys where most of our members and activities
are concentrated -- in the scalene triangle between Hartford, Pittsburgh, and
D.C. -- but people from beyond these areas are certainly welcome to join us.
4. So what does MARCH actually do?
In addition to the busy discussion list at our Yahoo group, we also operate a
bricks-and-mortar computer museum on the New Jersey shore. Currently our
museum occupies 850 sq. ft. in a wing of the InfoAge Science Center, located
at 2201 Marconi Rd., Wall Township, N.J., 07719.
5. InfoAge Science Center? I never heard of that, either.
6. InfoAge is a relatively new museum and 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Its
construction began in the late 1990s and it opened in a "beta" mode in the
mid-2000s. Its facility is a whole campus, not just one building. There is a
very rich history here. The campus was built by the Marconi America Wireless
Telegraphy Co. as a recieving station in 1912, was used as a communications
laboratory by the U.S. Navy during WWI, andthen was in private hands. It
became a U.S. Army Signal Corps R&D lab just before WWII and remained so until
the 1990s. Congress decided to close the lab and sell the land. Instead,
local historians recognized its history and formed InfoAge. Now the campus is
on the National Parks Service's National Register of Historic Places. InfoAge
is also a Black History Site and had several other federal designations related
to its service before, during, and after WWII. Public hours are Sunday 1pm to
4pm. For more about the museum and campus history please visit www.infoage.org.
7. Okay, so back to this computer museum of yours. What's there?
Our museum has four permanent exhibits: "Computing @ Camp Evans" ("Camp Evans"
being the name of the campus during the Army Signal Corps days); Minicomputers;
Homebrew & Single-Board Computers; and Microcomputers. Additional exhibits
devoted to our members' collections, our benefactor Dimitry Grabbe, and other
topics are expected to open late in 2009 or early in 2010.
8. Do the computers just sit there or can I use them?
We strive to restore our systems to operational condition. Some computers,
especially the microcomputers, are easy to restore and easy to replace if
necessary. Others, such as our minicomputers, require a more serious effort.
We make every effort to have these computers available for our members' use and
to demonstrate them for visitors.
9. Sounds nice, but wouldn't a bigger space be even better?
Yes! InfoAge will have a HUGE space for us in the (estimated) 2011 timeframe.
The details are still vague, but stay tuned ......
10. What else does MARCH do?
Lots of fun stuff. In addition to our discussion list and our museum, we also
host special events. Our flagship event is the Vintage Computer Festival East.
Our first edition of that hobbyist convention (the third VCF East event overall
because the first two were run by a different group in Boston) was in May 2006
at the InfoAge facility. VCF East 4.0 was June 2007; VCF East 5.0 was Sept.
2008. VCF East 6.0 is Sept. 12-13, 2009.
We also produce exhibits at other events such as the Trenton Computer Festival
(every April) and the HOPE (Hackers on Planet Earth) conference (every
even-numbered year in the summer, located in Manhattan) .... we also
participate in smaller events as the opportunities arise. Finally, in addition
to the public Sunday hours, we open our museum in support of events from other
InfoAge organizations and for tours and appointments.
11. Okay, this all sounds interesting. So by "antique/vintage" you mean my old
No, we mean your old Altair, Apple II, Commodore, DEC PDP-11, Epson HX-20,
HP-1000, IBM PC, KIM-1... we could go through the alphabet a couple times
but we think you get the idea by now. We're interested in truly antique
computers, not merely "used" computers. Generally, we mean anything from WWII
through the mid-1980s.
12. I still don't get it. Where can I learn more about what's antique/vintage?
Many places. Pick up a copy of the book "Collectible Microcomputers" by
Michael Nadeau. Or for non-micro aspects, go online. Heck, go online anyway.
Check out the classiccmp.org mailing lists; the Vintage Computer Festival
(vintage.org); vintage-computer.com/vcforum, old-computers.com; and many, many,
many others. (If you're interested in specific machines, just post your
question to our discussion list and we can refer you to the best sites.)
13. What's behind the scenes of this wacky endeavor?
We have some de facto officers; an official set of bylaws and all that boring
stuff is being worked on... we're just so busy having fun that we keep
procrastinating. The officers are myself (Evan Koblentz - prez), Bill Degnan
and Andy Meyer (VPs), and Justin Jernigan (treasurer).
14. Members? Is it like just you and two buddies?
We're much bigger than that! We have dozens of members, and nearly 200 in our
15. What's it cost to join?
Nothing. MARCH membership is free (as in beer).
16. So how do you fund the club?
Our primary fundraiser is the Vintage Computer Festival East, during which we
sell tickets, exhibit space, and various items. We also have an annual
donation drive. We ask that everyone give $20 per year, but it's not required.
Some people give nothing. Others give more. We appreciate every dollar
equally. As of fall 2009 we also sell posters at the museum. Sometimes we
also rent artifacts for use at film/television props.
17. I have some other question not on this FAQ.
Okay. Tell us what it is. Do so again by posting to our message boards or
pinging me (evan@...) ... ask us anything, we're not shy! (And moreover,
unlike some computer clubs, we're not cliquey. All are welcome here!)
18. What else should I know before diving in to MARCH?
If you're a nerd who thinks really old computers and their related technologies
were cool, then give MARCH a chance. You'll be glad you did. Also, if you
were wondering, we're NOT a bunch of old farts who sit around and whine about
how much better things used to be. Quite the contrary: we're a lot of young
and mid-life farts who ... ooooh maybe we said too much. :)
19. What is your web site?
We're at www.midatlanticretro.org.
20. Why does your web site suck?
Its simplicity is by design.
21. I noticed this FAQ is in 80 columns.
Ain�t it sweet?
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