|Location(s)||Kansas City, Missouri|
|Attendance||76 in 2015|
|Organized by||KansasFest Inc.|
KansasFest (also known as KFest) is an annual event for Apple II computer enthusiasts. Held every July at Rockhurst University in Kansas City, Missouri, KansasFest typically lasts five days and features presentations from Apple II experts and pioneers, as well as games, fun events, after-hours hallway chatter, late-night (or all-night) runs out to movies or restaurants, and more. A number of important new products have been released at KansasFest or developed through collaborations between individuals who likely would not have gotten together. Some of the most notable have been the introduction of the LANceGS Ethernet Card, and the Marinetti TCP/IP stack for the Apple IIGS.
The dates of the 28th annual KansasFest are July 19–24, 2016.
History and organization
Vendor fairs were part of the earliest days of the microcomputer revolution. The Apple II had its debut at the first West Coast Computer Faire in April, 1977. The popularity of this faire spawned other similar computer events elsewhere in the country. In the early 1980s, some of these vendor fairs became more computer-specific. For the Apple II computer, it began with AppleFest '81, sponsored by the Apple group in the Boston Computer Society. These festivals spread to be held in various places in the country, and Apple Computer became involved, even to the point of sending executives to give keynote addresses, and holding sessions for developers.
After the introduction of the Apple III, Lisa and Macintosh computers, Apple II users and developers were feeling increasingly isolated and ignored by Apple Computer. Tom Weishaar had started a newsletter, Open-Apple (later renamed to A2-Central) about the Apple II, and in it he provided information about the computer, how to use it, product reviews, and more. With time, he created a company named Resource Central to oversee the newsletter and other products available to sell to subscribers. Frustrated by Apple's diminishing emphasis on the Apple II, Weishaar planned a developer's conference that would specifically focus on the Apple II and Apple IIGS. The first event was held in July 1989, and was called the A2-Central Developer Conference, billed as a chance to "meet the people who will make the Apple II's future".
The conference brought together programmers, hardware developers, and Apple sent out a number of members of its Apple II group to participate in the meeting. What made it different from many similar meetings was the way in which the accommodations were handled. Resource Central, which was based in Overland Park, Kansas, arranged for the meeting and housing for many of the attendees at Avila College, a Catholic institution located in Kansas City, Missouri, not far from Overland Park. One of the unanticipated effects of this arrangement was that the college dorm environment encouraged interaction between participants in a way that would not have happened in a hotel. Nearly all who made the trip to the conference found it a significant and positive experience, and were more than ready to do it again the following year.
Resource Central continued to host these annual summer meetings, changing the name to the A2-Central Summer Conference. By the third meeting in 1991, its attendees had informally given it the name, "KansasFest", a portmanteau of "Kansas" and the "AppleFest" events held elsewhere in the country. Resource Central's sponsorship and management lasted through six KansasFest July conferences, the last being held in 1994.
Due to Apple Computer's decision to discontinue production of the Apple IIGS in late 1992 and the Apple IIe in late 1993, and the rise of the Macintosh and of computers running MS-DOS, the Apple II market began to rapidly diminish. At Resource Central, finances became a problem during 1994, and a crisis hit the company at the start of 1995. Declining renewals of the A2-Central newsletter and other products the company sold could no longer sustain the business, and it was necessary to shut down in February of that year. This put into doubt the prospects of continuing the annual KansasFest meeting. To rescue it, a committee was formed amongst previous attendees, coordinated online via GEnie. By spring of 1995 they had secured Avila for a two-day meeting, and had enough who had committed to come that KansasFest 1995 could be held.
From 1995 through 2004, KansasFest continued to be held at Avila (which changed its name to Avila University in 2002). In the earlier years, it served as an annual rallying point for the Apple II community, as it found itself in a world shrinking in resources that would support it. Like Resource Central, other businesses that dealt with the Apple II also found it difficult to survive. The online homes for direct-dial Apple II access (GEnie, CompuServe, Delphi, and America Online) were having problems with either Y2K or transition to the World Wide Web, and were phasing out their text-based access. Although the annual KansasFest event was coordinated on those online services, the physical meeting provided a recurring connection point.
By the time its second decade began in 1999, KansasFest was becoming as much about preservation of the past as it was about advancing the Apple II platform. The conference began to also have sessions covering computing on the Macintosh, Newton, and Palm computers. Attendees were often not programmers or developers, but increasingly were those who enjoyed retrocomputing or had a nostalgic connection with the Apple II. It was also a venue for demonstration of new uses for the Apple II that had never been previously considered. For example, Michael Mahon showed off his AppleCrate parallel processing Apple II in 2007, with a number of Apple IIe boards connected together, updated to a seventeen board system by the following year. A programmer, David Schmenk wrote a first-person maze game in 2007, "Escape From The Homebrew Computer Club" using 16-color lo-res graphics, something that could have been run on an Apple II in 1977 if anyone had thought of it. He demonstrated this game at KansasFest in 2011.
Furthermore, the committee began to seek out keynote speakers from outside of the immediate community, to increase interest in the event. This trend began in 2003, when Steve Wozniak agreed to speak to a turnout that was double that of the previous year. Other speakers have included David Sztela (of Nibble magazine, later employed at Apple), Lane Roathe (early Apple II game programmer), Jason Scott (digital preservationist), Mark Simonsen (of Beagle Bros), and Bob Bishop (programmer and Apple employee).
Starting in 2005, the event began to be held at a new venue, Rockhurst University, nine miles to the north of Avila, and still in Kansas City, Missouri. With attendance varying from 35 to 73, fans of the Apple II computer come from all over the United States, and have come from Canada, Australia and Great Britain.
Although not a registered organization, a volunteer group each year takes it upon themselves to arrange the facility for the following year's event, send out invitations, promote the event, and make sure that there are speakers, sessions, contests, and places to go outside of the meeting area.
Advancing the platform
Important contributions to the Apple II have made their appearance at KansasFest. In 1996, a meeting between Richard Bennett of Australia, Ewen Wannop of Great Britain, and Geoff Weiss of the United States set the groundwork for the announcement at the 1997 meeting of the Marinetti control panel for the Apple IIGS. This system extension made possible TCP/IP connections to the Internet (something that Apple had never designed the computer to do). Also in 1997, some of the first Apple II web sites began to appear, and by the following year KansasFest had its own web site. In the next several years, it was common to see release of a CD-ROM collection of Apple II files of various kinds. In 2000, an Ethernet card called LANceGS for the Apple IIGS was demonstrated, and plans were made for a post-Delphi text-based contact point for Apple II users on the Internet, Syndicomm Online.
Most years have one or more contests. These have included:
- HackFest - participants are given a focused period of time while at the event to create from scratch a program that does something cool.
- Tie One On - wear the most unusual or crazy tie at the banquet
- Door Decoration - being a college dorm, the doors can be decorated any interesting way desired
- Bite The Bag - a contest of agility in picking up a paper bag by biting it, with only one extremity touching the floor
- Games - Contestants attempt to achieve the highest score on classic Apple II games, such as GShisen or Lode Runner.
- Exhibits - demonstrating products or retro Apple II-related items
Another popular event held for many years was a "celebrity" roast of prominent members of the Apple II community.
Dates and milestones
|Event||Dates||Speaker||Keynote Title/Topic||Important Events|
|1st||Jul 21-22, 1989||Bill Mensch||Beyond The 65816||Called "A2-Central Summer Developer Conference"; formation of Apple II Developer Association|
|2nd||Jul 20-21, 1990||Fern Bachman, Jim Merritt, Jim Mensch, and Greg Blanche from Apple||Apple IIGS System Software Update||Called "A2-Central Summer Conference"|
|3rd||Jul 16-21, 1991||Roger Wagner||"Why The Apple IIGS Is Such A Freakin' Great Machine"||First time it was referred to as "KansasFest". First broken bone (Randy Brandt attempting to stop Chuck Kelly playing basketball). Held at the NOMDA conference center, with housing and meals at Avila. System 6.0, HyperCard IIGS v1.1, Ethernet card, and SuperDrive card announced.|
|4th||Jul 21-26, 1992||Tim Swihart||State of the Apple Address||15th anniversary of Apple II. Sessions at NOMDA, housing at Avila. Resource Central takes over APDA (Apple Programmers and Developers Association) materials.|
|5th||Jul 22-24, 1993||Mike Westerfield||"Amateur Programming for Fun and Profit"||Apple II's "Sweet Sixteen" party. First year of "Bite the Bag" and Tie One On contest.|
|6th||Jul 21-23, 1994||Randy Brandt||"Confessions of a Primordial Programmer"||Called "ICONference"; held entirely at Avila.|
|7th||Jul 27-29, 1995||Roger Wagner||The Impact of Computers on Education / Personal History With The Apple II||First post-Resource Central event.|
|8th||Jul 17-21, 1996||Gary Utter||The Future Of The Apple II Community||Gary Utter's Declaration of Independence from Apple, Genie, and any other company, that it was time for Apple II users to take control of their own destiny. Demo of Gus Apple IIGS emulator, and Wolfenstein 3D for the IIGS|
|9th||Jul 30-Aug 3, 1997||David Kerwood||Apple II and Telecommunications||First demonstration of Richard Bennett's Marinetti TCP/IP CDev for the Apple IIGS. Early demo of Apple IIGS emulator Bernie ][ The Rescue.|
|10th||Jul 22-26, 1998||Mike Westerfield||Origins to ORCA||First Hackfest and first door sign contest, and Wolfenstein 3D Shootout.|
|11th||Jul 21-25, 1999||Max Jones||Past, Present, and Future of the Apple II||First release of Silvern Castle, and first visit to Sean Fahey's garage o' Apple II stuff.|
|12th||Jul 26-30, 2000||Ryan Suenaga||The Community and The Apple II||"Y ][ KFest". Conference streamed to Internet via webcam. Announcement of plans to create an online home for Apple II users on the Syndicomm and A2Central.com sites. LANceGS demo.|
|13th||Jul 25-29, 2001||Eric Shepherd||A Call To Arms To Support The Apple II Community||First demo of Syndicomm Online, the planned transfer of Juiced.GS to Syndicomm, and release of several CD-ROM collections.|
|14th||Jul 23-28, 2002||Tony Diaz||Tour of KFest Past||First KFest Kookout, first Krispy Kreme donut night. First demo of Rich Dreher's CFFA card.|
|15th||Jul 22-27, 2003||Steve Wozniak||Stories by Woz||Tiger Learning Computer demo, Jeri Ellsworth's "AnyCard".|
|16th||Jul 20-25, 2004||Steve Weyhrich||The Classic Car That Is The Apple II||Final year at Avila University.|
|17th||Jul 18-23, 2005||Ray Merlin||Mainframes And Micros||First year at Rockhurst University.|
|18th||Jul 17-22, 2006||Eric Shepherd||The Need To Re-energize The Apple II Community||Introduction of Sweet16 Apple IIGS emulator for Mac OS X, and of the Apple II podcast A2Unplugged.|
|19th||Jul 22-27, 2007||David Szetela||From Nibble To Apple||First demo of Michael Mahon's AppleCrate parallel processing machine.|
|20th||Jul 22-27, 2008||Lane Roathe||Programming Games For Fun And Profit||The return of AppleCrate, now with 17 motherboard processing power.|
|21st||Jul 21-26, 2009||Jason Scott||Preserving Our Digital Past||Included a video chat meeting with Apple II users in Wollongong, Australia, who were holding a parallel event, OzKFest.|
|22nd||Jul 20-25, 2010||Mark Simonsen||TimeOut For Beagle Bros||First presentation of "Apple ][ Forever" awards|
|23rd||Jul 19-24, 2011||Bob Bishop||Apple-Vision Of The Past|
|24th||Jul 17-22, 2012||John Romero||The Apple II Was About Games|
|25th||Jul 23-28, 2013||Randy Wigginton||"Genius, Creativity and Fun"||Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak made a surprise appearance, and stayed around to watch several of the sessions. Included a video chat meeting with Apple II users in Brisbane, Australia, who were holding a parallel event, OzKFest.|
|26th||Jul 22-27, 2014||Margot Comstock||Softalk||Included a video chat meeting with Apple II users in Paris, France.|
|27th||Jul 14-19, 2015||Rebecca Heineman||Conference sessions streamed to Internet. Included a video chat meeting with Apple II users in Sydney, Australia.|
Apple II Forever awards
Starting in 2010, the KansasFest Committee began to award members of the Apple II community who had made significant contributions to the Apple II, either in promoting or developing for the platform during its active years, or in helping to advance or preserve the Apple II since its production had been discontinued.
|2010||Mark Simonsen||Involved in Beagle Bros and founding of Software Touch||Helped take Beagle Bros out of the hobbyist arena and into productivity software, with TimeOut enhancements to AppleWorks and the upgrade to AppleWorks 3.0 in 1988.|
|2010||Tom Weishaar||Writer, programmer, publisher||Wrote software for Beagle Bros, an early slide display program called Frame-Up and a DOS speed up package called ProntoDOS. Took over the DOSTalk column in Softalk magazine after Bert Kersey concluded his run with it. After the fall of Softalk magazine, he started the very influential Open-Apple and A2-Central newsletters, as well as several disk-based publications for the Apple II under the name Resource Central. His work focused on the intermediate and advanced Apple II user. He helped enhance the management of the A2 and A2Pro Roundtables on the online service GEnie starting in 1988. Promoted developer interaction and synergy through the A2-Central Developer's Conference beginning in 1989. This event ultimately developed into KansasFest.|
|2010||Tom Vanderpool||Apple II user group leader, Resource Central||Open-Apple and A2-Central contributing author, helped with many aspects of Resource Central product sales.|
|2010||Dennis Doms||Writer, editor with Resource Central||Open-Apple and A2-Central contributing author, helped with many aspects of Resource Central efforts.|
|2010||Ellen Rosenberg||Editor with Resource Central||Editor at A2-Central, Managing editor at II Alive.|
|2010||Ken Gagne||Editor Juiced.GS, blogger, Open Apple podcast, former KansasFest public relations and committee member||Writer, blogger; editor of Juiced.GS magazine from 2006 until the present; co-founder of Open Apple podcast, and co-host from 2011 until March 2014; former KansasFest committee member and public relations director. Responsible for helping keep Apple II topics current and relevant.|
|2011||Bob Bishop||Programmer, Apple R&D co-founder||Wrote some of the first Apple II hi-res graphics games, released on cassette (ROCKET PILOT, STAR WARS, SAUCER INVASION, and SPACE MAZE), and the first Apple II program to generate human speech (APPLE-TALKER) and record speech (APPLE-LISTENER). Wrote software that controlled nine Apple II computers used in the game show Tic-Tac-Dough when it returned to television in 1978. Together with Steve Wozniak, he helped form the first research and development department at Apple Computer.|
|2011||Ryan Suenaga||Writer, programmer, KansasFest committee||Writer, contributing articles to many Apple II publications. Editor of GEnieLamp A2, The Lamp!, Juiced.GS from 2002 through 2006, and A2 News and Notes. Started one of the earliest Apple II podcasts, A2 Unplugged. Tireless promoter of KansasFest and related Apple II activities. Contributed several software programs to the Apple II community. He died in April 2011.|
|2011||Eric Shepherd||Programmer, writer, operator of Syndicomm Online, publisher||Programmer with multiple utilities to his credit, as well as some major efforts including the port of Wolfenstein 3D to the Apple IIGS, and the port of the Apple IIGS emulator Bernie ][ The Rescue to Mac OS X (renamed as Sweet16). Writer of articles about the Apple II. Was a major part of the creation of Syndicomm Online, which maintained a point of direct online access for Apple II computers during much of the first decade of the 21st century. Former owner of Syndicomm, which provided a source of hardware and software for the Apple II long after most other businesses had abandoned it. Through Syndicomm, published Juiced.GS magazine from 2002 through 2009.|
|2011||Tony Diaz||Expert on Apple II hardware, hardware hacker and collector, KansasFest Committee||Has the benefit of many years of experience in using, repairing, and hacking Apple II computers and peripherals, and is one of the most knowledgeable hardware people about the Apple II in the world today. Has also been an avid collector of anything and everything Apple II, including several prototypes for the platform produced at Apple during the Apple II era. Significant contributor to the KansasFest committee, with the benefit of attendance since the event started in 1989.|
|2011||Steven Weyhrich||Writer, author, blogger||Writer, blogger, author of the Apple II History (apple2history.org). Responsible for written preservation of details of the Apple II and its place in the history of Apple, Inc.|
|2012||John Romero||Programmer||Got his start playing and programming games on the Apple II, later moving on to the PC. With John Carmack he established the modern era of first-person shooter games, first with Wolfenstein 3D, then advancing the state of the art with Doom and then Quake.|
|2012||Randy Brandt||Programmer||Worked at Beagle Bros on products for AppleWorks, later was a major contributor to the project to update AppleWorks to version 3. Later spearheaded the project to further update it to AppleWorks 4 and later version 5. Wrote many TimeOut add-on programs for AppleWorks, both through Beagle Bros as well as his own company, JEM Software.|
|2012||Joe Kohn||Sysop, writer||Was chief sysop for the APPLESIG on The Source, later wrote articles for many different publications, and had a recurring monthly column ("Shareware Solutions") in inCider magazine. After the demise of inCider/A+, he started his own newsletter, Shareware Solutions II, and was heavily involved in the distribution of shareware titles to as many as he could help out. He was a connection point also for some of the talented French programmers who had made Apple IIGS games. Was a frequent presenter at KansasFest in its early to middle years. He died in January 2010.|
|2012||Ewen Wannop||Programmer, writer||Contributor and Chairman to several Apple User Groups in the UK, and was editor of the Apple II section of the British Apple Systems User Group / Apple2000 magazine, from 1981 through its disbanding in 1992. Ran the TABBS (The Apple Bulletin Board System) in the UK for many years, which serviced users in Europe and beyond. He is a self-taught programmer, with his first commercial program Data Highway released in Europe in 1984. He wrote many other utilities and programs since, the best known being the Apple IIGS telecommunications program Spectrum, first released in 1991. Since that time, most of his utilities have been clients for connection to the Internet, and some to simplify use of the Apple IIGS emulator Sweet16. Lecturer in photography, film, and animation for 24 years, then in desktop publishing for 10 years, up to his retirement in 1997.|
|2012||Geoff Weiss||Programmer, writer||Active programmer for the Apple IIGS, co-developer of Spectrum Internet Suite, the first GUI web browser for the IIGS, released in 1997. Instrumental in lighting the spark for Richard Bennett to develop the Marinetti TCP/IP stack. Contributor to the KEGS Apple IIGS emulator. Staff writer for the Juiced.GSmagazine. Enhanced GS/OS functionality with the Hash Tool, Time Tool, and P8KeyChange. Wrote software for Apple IIGS maintenance including fixing corrupted Flash RAM Data on a LanceGS Ethernet Card and a memory card tester.|
|2012||Richard Bennett||Programmer, writer||Earliest commercial work was in 1983 writing utility packages and copy protections for Australian Apple II software publishers. Highlights include Oz DOS, the first patched DOS 3.3 for 3.5-inch drives, ProBOARD // and Eclipse BBS software, and The Complex multiplayer online game. With Seven Hills Software starting in 1990, he wrote the Express print spooler for the Apple IIGS; the Spectrum serial port, ANSI and PTSE drivers; version 2.0 of GraphicWriter III; and was involved with many other Seven Hills projects. He wrote the graphical front end for the IIGS for Genie in 1995, and in 1997 he brought the Apple IIGS onto the Internet with the Marinetti TCP/IP stack.|
|2013||Randy Wigginton||Programmer, developer||Apple employee #6, contributed to original development of RWTS, which was the foundation of Apple DOS for the Disk II. He was responsible for the adaptation of Microsoft's 6502 BASIC for use on the Apple II, creating the influential and long-lived Applesoft BASIC. He later wrote MacWrite for the original Macintosh.|
|2013||Steve Wozniak||Inventor, hardware designer, programmer||Co-founder of Apple Computer, Inc. Created the Apple-1, which was the start of the company. This developed into the Apple II platform, which was one of the longest-lived 8-bit computer platforms. He later created the Disk II, a low-cost adaptation of Shugart 5.25-inch [floppy disk] drive for the Apple II. Both products together propelled Apple into the Fortune 500, and funded the development of the Apple III, Apple Lisa, and Macintosh computers.|
|2013||Antoine Vignau||Programmer, Writer||Member of the French Apple IIGS programming group, Brutal Deluxe. He was originally part of the French software cracking group, Hackerforce. As part of Brutal Deluxe, has created numerous programs for both the 8-bit and 16-bit Apple II platforms, and even into the 2000s and 2010s has continued to be active. Also maintains an archive of names and WAV files of Apple II cassette software titles. Has been a writer for Juiced.GS magazine.|
|2013||Olivier Zardini||Programmer||Member of the French Apple IIGS programming group, Brutal Deluxe. As part of Brutal Deluxe, has created numerous programs for the Apple IIgs platform.|
|2013||Carl Knoblock||Member of Apple II community||Has been a serving member of the KansasFest community for many years, helping coordinate transportation to move attendees travelers to and from the Kansas City airport.|
|2013||Mike Maginnis||Blogger, podcaster, writer||Co-founder and co-host of the monthly Open Apple podcast and the weekly No Quarter podcast (about classic arcade games). Former staff writer for Juiced.GS, a quarterly Apple II magazine. Involved in scanning the full run of several Apple II and Apple III publications, including II Computing, Computist, AppleWorks Forum, Softalk, and ON THREE.|
|2014||Margot Comstock||Writer||Founder and staff writer for Softalk magazine.|
|2014||Al Tommervik||Writer||Founder and staff writer for Softalk magazine.|
|2014||Michael Mahon||Member of Apple II community, inventor, programmer||Creator of the AppleCrate parallel processing computer composed of multiple Apple II motherboards. Author of RT.SYNTH, a single-voice music synthesizer. Co-author of DMS Drummer, a percussion sequencer.|
|2014||Andrew Roughan||Member of Apple II community, writer, programmer||Apple II editor for Applecations, a monthly publication of the Apple Users Group, Sydney. Developer on the Marinetti Open Source Project. Staff writer for Juiced.GS. Convener of OzKfest, a gathering of Apple II enthusiasts in Australia.|
|2015||Rebecca Heineman||Programmer||Has created numerous programs for the Apple II and IIgs platforms including Tass Times in Tonetown, The Bard's Tale III: Thief of Fate, Dragon Wars and the IIgs ports of Battle Chess, and Another World.|
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- Gagne, Ken; Katz, Howard; Suenaga, Ryan (August 2003). "Back from the brink: KansasFest 2003: the celebration at the center of the Apple II universe makes a comeback". Juiced.GS 8 (3): 6–13. ISSN 2162-7746.
- Suenaga, Ryan (September 2005). "Still Alive in 2005: KansasFest 2005 proves a new venue doesn't dim enthusiasm for an old computer". Juiced.GS 10 (3): 3–7. ISSN 2162-7746.
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