A predictive interview with Bert Kersey

January 3rd, 2011 12:25 PM
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Filed under History;
2 comments.

The KansasFest 2010 keynote speaker was Mark Simonsen, who regaled his audience with tales of his days at Beagle Bros. In that speech, which is now available as both a podcast and a video, he recalls many Apple II luminaries whose paths he crossed, including Beagle Bros founder Bert Kersey.

Although Mr. Kersey is not one for public speaking, preferring instead to focus on barn owls, he nonetheless recently gave an interview with The Setup, a Web site that looks at the tools and strategies of geniuses across a variety of professions by asking them four questions:

  • Who are you, and what do you do?
  • What hardware do you use?
  • And what software?
  • What would be your dream setup?

Bert Kersey's interview, published in March 2010, is a brief one — only 431 words, including questions. The answers to what technology he uses are rather nondescript; "nothing unusual", he says. But in his answer to the final question, Mr. Kersey engages in a bit of tangential prognostication:

In 1982, I was interviewed by Softalk magazine and I was asked what a dream setup might be for the future. I went out on a limb and imagined:

  1. Smaller, less fragile floppy disks (smaller than 5-1/4 inches)
  2. The ability to do typesetting on my desktop.
  3. Movies on the printed page.

#1 was introduced in 1984 with the Mac. #2 became a reality in 1986 with the LaserWriter. As for #3, I guess the internet is the next best thing.

Developments that align with these predictions continue to be developed. Removable media transitioned from 5.25" floppies to 3.5" disks, as Mr. Kersey notes, but from there to USB thumb drives that hold thousands of times more data than Beagle Bros ever knew, for a fraction of the price. Typesetting, layout, and almost all other aspects of publishing have been redefined by computers. And while movies on the "printed page" are not yet a reality, I believe that combinations of E Ink, flexible plastic, and OLED displays may lead to something far closer to what Mr. Kersey has imagined.

It's no surprise to me that someone with the creativity and innovation to build an industry out of the Apple II should so accurately see what the future might bring.

(Hat tips to Mr. Guilt and Steve Weyhrich)

KansasFest 2010 begins

July 22nd, 2010 11:00 AM
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Filed under Happenings;
1 comment.

This week marks the 21st annual KansasFest, a week-long computer convention dedicated to the Apple II. My first year in attendance was 1998, making this my lucky 13th consecutive KFest. And boy, am I lucky!

Though every year's KansasFest brings with it different attendees, sessions, and opportunities, it is never any less a blast year to year. We're missing the physical presence of regulars Ryan, Sheppy, and Bruce, among others — but in their stead, we have six first-time attendees, including Krue, who I previously met at last month's demoparty, as well as our keynote speaker, Mark Simonsen. Each person is obviously thrilled to be here, and the enthusiasm they have for the platform and community bring much to the KansasFest experience.

KansasFest 2010 unloading

By plane, train, or automobile, get yourself and your hardware to KansasFest 2010!

For better or worse, many of us are spending as much time working as we are socializing. The two dozen sessions on this year's schedule require much preparation for which we found little time on our pre-KFest lives. I was scheduled to give four sessions this year and offered to fill an empty slot with a silly fifth — all in addition to video-recording all other sessions, and emceeing the annual dinner banquet with an activity recommended to me by KFest committee member Andy Molloy. There's much material for me to prepare, memorize, and test.

But in the end, it's worth it. KansasFest comes but once a year and is every Apple II enthusiast's opportunity to recharge their retrocomputing batteries for another year. The more people who invest in KFest, the greater the return on the investment. With all the contributions to KFest 2010 from people on-site and off, I'm looking forward to this year's event keeping me going for awhile to come.