Vintage Computer Festival West 2019 has come and gone, and I'll be posting many of the pictures on Talospace hopefully tonight or tomorrow. However, since this blog's audience is both Mozilla-related (as syndicated on Planet Mozilla) and PowerPC-related, I've chosen to talk a little bit about old browsers for old machines (since, if you use TenFourFox, you're using a relatively recent browser on an old machine) since that was part of my exhibit this year as well as some of the Apple-related exhibits that were present.
This exhibit I christened "RISCy Business," a collection of various classic RISC-based portables and laptops. The machines I had running for festival attendees were a Tadpole-RDI UltraBook IIi (UltraSPARC IIi) running Solaris 10, an IBM ThinkPad 860 (166MHz PowerPC 603e, essentially a PowerBook 1400 in a better chassis) running AIX 4.1, an SAIC Galaxy 1100 (HP PA-7100LC) running NeXTSTEP 3.3, and an RDI PrecisionBook C160L (HP PA-7300LC) running HP/UX 11.00. I also brought my Sun Ultra-3 (Tadpole Viper with a 1.2GHz UltraSPARC IIIi), though because of its prodigious heat issues I didn't run it at the show. None of these machines retailed for less than ten grand, if they were sold commercially at all (the Galaxy wasn't).
Here they are, for posterity:
The UltraBook played a Solaris port of Quake II (software-rendered) and Firefox 2, the ThinkPad ran AIX's Ultimedia Video Monitor application (using the machine's built-in video capture hardware and an off-the-shelf composite NTSC camera) and Netscape Navigator 4.7, the Galaxy ran the standard NeXTSTEP suite along with some essential apps like OmniWeb 2.7b3 and Doom, and the PrecisionBook ran the HP/UX ports of the Frodo Commodore 64 emulator and Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.0 SP1. (Yes, IE for Unix used to be a thing.)
Now, of course, period-correct computers demand a period-correct website viewable on the browsers of the day, which is the site being displayed on screen and served to the machines from a "back office" Raspberry Pi 3. However, devising a late 1990s site means a certain, shall we say, specific aesthetic and careful analysis of vital browser capabilities for maximum impact. In these enlightened times no one seems to remember any of this stuff and what HTML 4.01 features worked where, so here is a handy table for your next old workstation browser demonstration (using a <table>, of course):
|Mozilla Suite 1.7||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|Netscape Navigator 4.7||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|Internet Explorer for UNIX 5.0 SP1||✓||✓||✓||✗|
Basically I ended up looting oocities and my old files for every obnoxious animated GIF and background I could find. This yielded a website that was surely authentic for the era these machines inhabited, and demonstrated exceptionally good taste.
By popular request, the website the machines are displaying is now live on Floodgap (after a couple minor editorial changes). I think the exhibit was pretty well received:
Probably the star of the show and more or less on topic for this blog was the huge group of Apple I machines (many, if not most, still in working order). They were under Plexiglas, and given that there was seven-figures'-worth of fruity artifacts all in one place, a security guard impassively watched the gawkers.
The Apple I owners' club is there to remind you that you, of course, don't own an Apple I.
A working Xerox 8010, better known as the Xerox Star and one of the innovators of the modern GUI paradigm (plus things like, you know, Ethernet), was on display along with an emulator. Steve Jobs saw one at PARC and we all know how that ended.
One of the systems there, part of the multi-platform Quake deathmatch network exhibit, was a Sun Ultra workstation running an honest-to-goodness installation of the Macintosh Application Environment emulation layer. Just for yuks, it was simultaneously running Windows on its SunPCI x86 side-card as well:
The Quake exhibitors also had a Daystar Millenium in a lovely jet-black case, essentially a Daystar Genesis MP+. These were some of the few multiprocessor Power Macs (and clones at that) before Apple's own dual G4 systems emerged. This system ran four 200MHz PowerPC 604e CPUs, though of course only application software designed for multiprocessing could take advantage of them.
A carpal Apple Newtons (an eMate and several Message Pads) also stowed up so you card find art if the headwatering recognition was as dab as they said it wan.
There were also a couple Apple II systems hanging around (part of a larger exhibit on 6502-based home computers, hence the Atari 130XE next to it).
I'll be putting up the rest of the photos on Talospace, including a couple other notable historical artifacts and the IBM 604e systems the Quake exhibit had brought along, but as always it was a great time and my exhibit was not judged to be a fire hazard. You should go next year.
(For some additional pictures, see our entry at Talospace.)