Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is a VCF?
A: A vintage computer festival is a gathering of collectors, hobbyists and curious observers who enjoy tinkering with the computers of decades past. No one can agree upon what constitutes "vintage," but a general rule is anything made before 1990 - but of course there are exceptions for obscurity and novelty. You may find early home computers like the Commodore, Apple and Atari, as well as once inaccessible business and scientific systems that cost tens of thousands of dollars in their day. At VCF Midwest, we welcome a wide variety of exhibits, with emphasis on the creative and obscure.
Q: Is the show really free? Even if I'm selling a U-Haul full of hardware?
A: VCFMW and ECCC are made possible via the generosity of the local vintage computing community, our fabulous auction and your kind donations. It is a tradition we managed to maintain for nine years now - the spirit of a casual gathering of hobbyists and friends. Due to greatly increased costs, we are asking for monetary donations from the community as well - but there will still be no admission charged.
Q: I want to say "thanks" for organizing the event!
A: Helping to fund the show would be great! Otherwise, buy us pizza, donate to and bid in the auction, give us cool stuff, let us have first look at your U-Haul, etc.
Q: I really do have an entire truck full of things to sell and trade. Can you accomodate me?
A: We'll certainly try. In the past, we've fit large-scale vendors and late-comers in the hallways outside the main display area, which worked out well for them. As the date gets closer, we'll be crunching the numbers so everyone will have a spot. We'll do our best to fit you in.
Q: I'm selling/showing/want to buy a shirt early/want to meet everyone - when should I arrive?
A: Show staff arrive Thursday evening to secure the rooms and bug the hotel staff to let us in. Load-in may begin Friday morning when we get up and extend well into the evening, with a break for the traditional group dinner. If you can't make it Friday, setup is possible at show opening Saturday morning, but you will be at the mercy of the crowd!
Q: How much are the shirts? What sizes will you have?
A: Shirt prices are $20, all sizes. This year we have ordered varying quantities of sizes Small through 5XL. plus a handful of "ladies" fit sizes as well. Some sizes sell out earlier than others - claim yours early!
Q: How many people attend the show?
A: Since we don't charge admission or otherwise track attendance, it is difficult to tell. Based on badges taken, shirt sales and educated guestimates, we figure that we've topped 1000 attendees in recent years.
Q: Do you have a map of the facility?
A: We're working on them! We'll publish a table chart closer to the show date.
Q: I plan on spending the entire weekend at the show. I need to eat! What's the deal with food?
A: The hotel houses a cafe-style restaurant with a limited menu.. The local area has a full array of fast-food outlets as well as world class Chicago eateries in the upscale Oakbrook Center shopping mall.
Q: Will there be Internet access at the show?
A: The Waterford building has wireless internet access throughout the hotel and show area. Coverage is good in all areas, however bandwidth is limited and there will be many devices active on the network. Internet access is provided as a courtesy to Clarion Inn guests and VCFMW has no control over the wireless network at the facility.
Q: How about a wired network? This is a vintage show!
A: We will be experimenting with our own wireless net for vintage machines only, which will be bridged to the Internet via the hotel's network. Ask us about it at the show to see if we ever got that done. Exhibitors may also bring their own wireless bridges to provide a hardware Ethernet port for their display.
Q: I want to display my classic computer/project/stuff for sale at VCFMW - how large are the tables? How many may I have?
A: Most tables are 30" deep and either 6' or 8' wide. There are also a number of 6'x18" deep tables which we will double up to make a full-depth table. We make do with what's on-hand and usually use every last table they can give us. Tables are apportioned on a first-emailed, first-allocated basis, with consideration given toward making sure we can welcome as many different exhibitors as possible. VCFMW staff reserve the right to reduce table allocation and move table assignments as they see fit (but we will certainly try our best not to!) If you have folding tables that aren't a pain to transport, you may want to bring them.
Q: I want to bring something BIG. How large an item can you fit?
A: This is one of the big upgrades from previous years. Where we were in a basement before, we are now on the main floor of the hotel and have a pair of large loading doors that open directly to the back parking lot. The show area is large but not cavernous; so as much as we'd like to have your IBM 370 on display, floor space is still finite. If you have a large display, think tall, not wide (we have 11' ceilings.) We'll know better what we can fit as the show gets closer. Email us with your ideas - there's always the hallway.
Q: How about power? My mainframe needs 50 amps of clean 3ph 208V!
A: We have yet to get accurate power specs for the Waterford facilties. The main display area has a number of 20-amp outlets but we do not know if they are on separate circuits or not. If you've got a power-hungry device, let us know and we'll see about making sure it finds its own circuit.
Q: What's this I hear about a FREE PILE?
A: One of the most honored traditions of ECCC (and now VCFMW!) is the Free Pile. This is where you can try to unload your unloadables, donate your donatables and maybe find the other half of the thing you found there last year. There is only one rule for the Free Pile: if you brought it and it's still there on Sunday afternoon, you take it away! Waterford/Clarion Inn staff do not want to haul your electronics scrap (and it's not in our contract.) Please help us get welcomed back next year and not upset our hosts! Oh yes, there's a second semi-rule for the Free Pile: ! It's not really a rule...but printers are really hard to give away. Just be prepared to take it back home with you.
Q: I want to help get the word out! What can I do?
A: Post about our show on your favorite (on-topic) mailing list, web forum, or newsgroup. We'll have a flyer sometime soon that you can pass out at user group meetings, coffee shops or wherever geeks hang out.