We’ll always be together, together in
electric silicon dreams*
If you are in the vicinity of Coalville in Leicestershire any time from 5th – 7th July (today until Sunday), a place that could be worth a visit is Snibston Discovery Museum, Ashby Road, Coalville, LE67 3LN.
The reason? This weekend marks the 2013 Silicon Dreams and Vintage Computer Festival, a combined event that “celebrates our silicon chip age.” The festival is obviously not limited to RISC OS, but amongst the exhibitors are ROUGOL – the RISC OS User Group of London – who will have a mixture of old and new hardware, including a laptop based around Raspberry Pi – made of Lego! The older hardware displayed by ROUGOL is expected to include a RiscPC and the only known working Phoebe, a prototype made just days before the closure of Acorn’s workstation division in 1998.
That Phoebe is thanks to a loan from The Centre for Computing History, who will be at the show themselves and will have a “1980s classroom in full use” where visitors can try their hand at programming in BBC Micro. Presumably that’ll be a later 1980s classroom than I remember, then, because although my school had a BBC, we students never actually got to use it: we’d write our programs down and hand them in to the teacher, who would type them in and run them before the next lesson, giving us print-outs of the output of those programs!
Limited to just Sunday, Acorn’s first home computer, the Acorn System One, will be shown along with a Science of Cambridge MK14. The latter was the first home computer from one of Sir Clive Sinclair‘s companies, and was based on a prototype design that had been demonstrated to Chris Curry, famously one of the founders of Acorn Computers, but who at that time worked for Sinclair.
I received an email from ROUGOL’s Bryan Hogan a few days ago, which was also CC’d to a few other well known names in the RISC OS world; one of the group had dropped out at the last minute, so there was an offer of some space at the end of ROUGOL’s stand. Unfortunately, I couldn’t take up the offer and
I don’t (as yet) know if anyone else was able to – but it’s entirely possible that there is another RISC OS exhibitor at the event, perched on the end of the ROUGOL stand it turns out nobody else was able to, either – but ROUGOL have managed to fill the space on the stand.
For fans of 1980s music, an additional feature of this year’s show is “An Evening with Martyn Ware” on Saturday. One of the pioneers of electronic music, Martyn was a co-founder of The Human League, along with Ian Craig Marsh, and the two left the band in 1980 to form Heaven 17. After talking about his career, he will be joined by special guests Northern Kind and Heaven 17 for some live music.
The cost of entry to the show varies: Day tickets bought in advance are £14 for an adult, £9 for a child, and £34 for a family (two adults, and two children under 16). Weekend tickets bought in advance are £18, £11 and £43 respectively. Bought on the door, the prices are £15, £10 and £35 for the day, and £20, £13 and £45 for the weekend.
Tickets for An Evening with Martyn Ware are £49, and include a meet and greet, food, Martyn’s talk and Q&A session and, of course, the music – and can only be ordered online.
* Normally, I just use a line from a song, or a phrase, or just some silly wordplay here, but this time there is an indirect connection. The line “We’ll always be together, together in electric dreams” comes from the song “Electric Dreams” by Philip Oakey and Giorgio Moroder, from the soundtrack to a 1984 film of the same name. Phil Oakey, of course, was – and still is – The Human League’s lead vocalist.