7341File - marchfaq.txt
- Mar 1, 2008MARCH frequently asked questions -- last updated 3/30/2006
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 group.
2. I'm a nerd and live somewhere between Connecticut and Virginia, yet I never
heard of you before.
We began in early 2005 as a Yahoo discussion group (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/midatlanticretro/), became an informal club in the springtime, and didn't become a legal entity until late in the year. Now it's 2008 and our ship is moving at full-steam! We also have a (simple) web site at www.midatlanticretro.org.
3. So I have to live in the Mid-Atlantic part of the U.S. to join?
Nope. That description just conveys where our members and activities are
concentrated. In fact, we have members from around the country. We have a few
more in the extremes of New Hampshire, Pittsburgh, and the Carolinas. But as I
said, we're mostly in a triangle between Connecticut, eastern Pennsylvania, and
Washington, D.C. ... our physical home is on the New Jersey shore.
4. Physical home? Huh?
That's right, we have a home of sorts. Our home is the InfoAge Science Center
(www.infoage.org) which is a non-profit science museum currently under
construction. MARCH is one of several groups residing there, and our job is to
run a computer museum on the premises. We are making steady progress on that. We're currently open in "beta" mode and we're planning a grand opening for the fall of 2008. Our initial exhibits will be: Computing of the Region; Computing of the Military; Microcomputers; and a "Best of the Rest" to show off our collection aspects which aren't yet ready for full exhibits. We'll also have a special exhibit area for our members to show their personal collections.
5. What else does MARCH do?
Lots of fun stuff. The most visible thing we do is maintain our Yahoo
discussion group. Activity-wise, our flagship event is the Vintage
Computer Festival East. Our first edition of that hobbyist convention (and the
third VCF East event overall) was in May 2006 at the InfoAge facility. VCF East 4.0 was conducted in June 2007. VCF East 5.0 will be in late summer or early fall 2008 (to be deterined). We also participate in the Trenton Computer Festival every April, and in the HOPE (Hackers on Planet Earth) conference, plus other minor events as they come up. In addition we offer an online inventory database to help you (and us) keep track our collections, but we need to be more active in using that ... you can help!
6. Okay, this all sounds interesting. So by "antique/vintage" do you mean my
old Pentium II?
No, we mean your old Altair, Apple II, Commodore, DEC PDP-8, 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.
7. 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, vintagecomputermarketplace.com,
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.)
8. 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 (i.e., those who were suckered into the gig) are
myself (Evan Koblentz - prez), Bill Degnan and Andy Meyer (VPs), Jim Scheef (treasurer), and John Allain / Bryan Pope (general helper-outers). The six of us take care of logistical crap so the members can have fun with everything else.
9. Members, hmm, is it like just you and two buddies?
We're much bigger than that! We have dozens of paid members, and 150+ on our discussion list.
10. Uh-oh, you said 'paid'... is that the catch?
Sort of. We realized early on that running a real club takes some money. To
help raise money, we ask members for a $20 donation or a board-approved
alternative. For now, alternatives include giving us good-quality folding
tables, doing some kind of work for our club which we'd otherwise have to pay
for, or being a minor. Anyway, this $20 situation is supposed to be a one-time
deal, but in real life, it may become an annual deal. But fear not: nobody *
has to * contribute anything. We offer some perks from time to time for the
paid members, but anyone can still participate in our group. Basically we're a
lot like shareware -- if you like what we do, then please help us pay our bills.
Of course, donations larger than $20 are always welcome, as are donations of
antique computers and various supplies for our museum.
11. So the club is entirely member-supported?
We raise money in other ways as well. For example, in the past we've rented
some antique computers to film companies as props, and we hope to make a few
dollars from hosting the Vintage Computer Festival and other events. In our
museum, we'll also sell t-shirts and such.
12. 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!)
13. 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. :)
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