West Coast Computer Faire

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West Coast Computer Faire
Civic Auditorium (c. 2008)
GenreConference, exhibition
Location(s)San Francisco, California, United States
InauguratedApril 16, 1977 (1977-04-16)
Most recent1991

The West Coast Computer Faire was an annual computer industry conference and exposition most often associated with San Francisco, its first and most frequent venue. The first fair was held in 1977 and was organized by Jim Warren and Bob Reiling. At the time, it was the biggest computer show in the world, intended to popularize the personal computer in the home. The West Coast PC Faire was formed to provide a more specialized show. However, Apple Inc. stopped exhibiting at the West Coast Computer Faire, refusing to exhibit at any show other than COMDEX that also had PC-based exhibits.

In 1983, Warren sold the rights to the Faire for US$3 million to Prentice Hall, who later sold it to Sheldon Adelson, the owner of Interface Group and COMDEX. In total, sixteen shows were held, with the last in 1991. After Warren sold the show, it had a few more good years, and then declined rapidly.[according to whom?]


The first fair took place on April 16–17, 1977,[1][2] in San Francisco Civic Auditorium, and saw the debut of the Commodore PET, presented by Chuck Peddle, and the Apple II,[3] presented by then-22-year-old Steve Jobs and 26-year-old Steve Wozniak. At the exhibition, Jobs introduced the Apple II to Japanese textile maker Toshio Mizushima, who became the first authorized Apple dealer in Japan.[4][5]Other visitors included Tomio Gotō who developed the TK-80 and PC-8001, and Kazuhiko Nishi who produced the MSX.[6] There were about 180 exhibitors, among them Intel, MITS, and Digital Research.

When the first fair opened, almost twice as many people arrived as Warren anticipated, and thousands of people were waiting to get into the auditorium. More than 12,000 people visited the fair.

As Jim Warren later recalled: “We had these lines running all around the fucking building and nobody was irritated. Nobody was pushy. We didn’t know what we were doing and the exhibitors didn’t know what they were doing and the attendees didn’t know what was going on, but everybody was excited and congenial and undemanding and it was a tremendous turn-on. People just stood and talked—‘Oh, you’ve got an Altair? Far out!’ ‘You solved this problem?’ And nobody was irritated.” ... The first Computer Faire was to the hardware hackers an event comparable to Woodstock in the movement of the sixties. Like the concert at Max Yasgur’s farm, this was both a cultural vindication and a signal that the movement had gotten so big that it no longer belonged to its progenitors.

The 2nd West Coast Computer Faire was held March 3–5, 1978,[8] at what was then the San Jose Convention Center (now Parkside Hall). This event had the first-ever microcomputer chess tournament, won by Sargon.

The 3rd West Coast Computer Faire was held on November 3–5, 1978, at the Los Angeles Convention Center.[9]

The 4th West Coast Computer Faire[10][11][12] returned to San Francisco in May 1979 at Brooks Hall and Civic Auditorium. Dan Bricklin demonstrated VisiCalc, the first spreadsheet program for personal computers.[13][14]

At the 5th West Coast Computer Faire, held in March 1980, Microsoft announced their first hardware product, the Z-80 SoftCard, which gave the Apple II CP/M capabilities.[15][16][17][pages needed][18]

The 6th West Coast Computer Faire was held on April 3–5, 1981, notable for being the venue where Adam Osborne introduced the Osborne 1.

The 7th West Cost Computer Faire, as printed in Issue 2.3 of Computer Gaming World

The 7th West Coast Computer Faire saw the introduction of the 5 MB Winchester disk drive for IBM PCs by Davong Systems. It was held on March 19–21, 1982, in San Francisco. That year's conference also featured a Saturday breakout session, titled "THE IBM PERSONAL COMPUTER", with eight talks delivered in a three-hour period. One of these was (as listed in the program):

P.C. — It's [sic] Impact on the MicroComputer Industry 
Bill Gates, President
10800 N.E. 8th #819
Bellevue, WA 98004

At its peak, all available spaces for exhibits were rented out, including the balcony of Civic Auditorium, and the hallway to the restrooms in Brooks Hall (where Bob Wallace ("Quicksoft") introduced "PC-Write").

The 8th West Coast Computer Faire was held March 18–20, 1983.

Moscone Center, San Francisco (2013)

Subsequent West Coast Computer Faires were held in Moscone Center in San Francisco. After the 10th Faire, Bruce Webster wrote that "Warren sold out just in time. The Faire is shrinking. It may not be dying, but it is no longer the important trade show it was two short years ago. Without the giant booths from IBM, Apple, and AT&T, the Faire would have looked like any other small, local, end-user show. The move to the Moscone Center didn't help that impression; a large chunk of the main floor was unused, adding to the impression of the Faire's shrunken size".[19]

The 12th West Coast Computer Faire was held in March 1987.[20]

The 16th West Coast Computer Faire was held from May 30 to June 2, 1991, at Moscone Center.

West Coast IBM PC Faire, SF[edit]

First West Coast IBM PC Faire, August 26–28, 1983 in San Francisco, CA, was presented by Computer Faire, Inc., Redwood City, CA.[21]

Personal Computer Faire, SF[edit]

Third Personal Computer Faire September 5–7, 1985 in San Francisco, CA was presented by Computer Faire, Inc., Newton, MA.[22]

Fourth Personal Computer Faire, in San Francisco, was presented September 25–27, 1986, by The Interface Group, Needham, Mass.[23][24]

Northeast Computer Faire[edit]

The Northeast Computer Faire in Boston, was presented by Computer Faire Inc., Newton, Mass., a subsidiary of Prentice-Hall.[25][26]

The Eighth Northeast Computer Faire, September 26–29, 1985, Bayside Exposition Center. Boston. MA. was presented by Computer Faire Inc., Newton, MA.[27][22]

The 11th Northeast Computer Faire, which ran October 27-29, 1988, was presented by The Interface Group and Boston Computer Society in Boston.[28]

Southern California Computer Faire[edit]

Southern California Computer Faire was presented by Computer Faire Inc., Newton, Mass., a subsidiary of Prentice-Hall.[25]


  1. ^ Warren, Jim (ed.). "Proceedings of the First West Coast Computer Faire 1977" (PDF). Retrieved November 21, 2022.
  2. ^ "The First West Coast Computer Faire" (PDF). Silicon Gulch Gazette. The Computer Faire. February 14, 1977. p. 6. Retrieved November 21, 2022.
  3. ^ Helmers, Carl (April 1977). "A Nybble on the Apple". BYTE. Retrieved October 22, 2018.
  4. ^ Walter Isaacson: Steve Jobs, Chapter Six – "The Apple II" pp. 144. Simon & Schuster (October 24, 2011) ISBN 1-4516-4855-3
  5. ^ Christopher Roberts: Second to none: American companies in Japan pp. 60. Tokyo, Japan : Charles E. Tuttle Company (September 24th, 1986) ISBN 0517562863
  6. ^ 富田, 倫生 (1985). パソコン創世記 [The Book of Personal Computer Genesis] (in Japanese). 旺文社. ISBN 978-4010098974 – via Aozora Bunko.
  7. ^ Levy, Steven (2010). Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution (25th Anniversary ed.). O'Reilly Media. pp. 225, 227.
  8. ^ Warren, Jim (ed.). "Proceedings of the Second West Coast Computer Faire 1978" (PDF). Retrieved November 21, 2022.
  9. ^ "Silicon Gulch Gazette" (PDF). Vol. 3, no. 1. Computer Faire. August 25, 1978. p. 1. Retrieved November 21, 2022.
  10. ^ "4th West Coast Computer Faire" (PDF). Silicon Gulch Gazette. Vol. 4, no. 1. Computer Faire. Retrieved November 21, 2022.
  11. ^ "4th West Coast Computer Faire" (PDF). Silicon Gulch Gazette. Computer Faire. Retrieved November 21, 2022.
  12. ^ "Silicon Gulch Gazette" (PDF). Computer Faire. Retrieved November 21, 2022.
  13. ^ Helmers, Carl (August 1979). "Editorial: Returning to the Tower of Babel, or... Some Notes About LISP, Languages and Other Topics". BYTE. pp. 6, 154–158. Retrieved October 22, 2018.
  14. ^ Current, Michael D. "A History of WCI Games / Atari / Atari Games / Atari Holdings". mcurrent.name. May 11–13: At the 4th West Coast Computer Faire, held in San Francisco's Civic Auditorium & Brooks Hall, in a booth as elaborate as those seen at Consumer Electronics Shows, Atari demonstrated its new 400 and 800 series computers.
  15. ^ "19a_05-01" (PDF). bitsavers.org. Retrieved February 3, 2024.
  16. ^ "19b_05-02" (PDF). bitsavers.org.
  17. ^ "20_05-03" (PDF). bitsavers.org.
  18. ^ Budge, Joe (1980). "Appletivites at the West Coast Computer Faire". Compute. No. 4. Small System Services. pp. 91–92. Retrieved November 21, 2022.
  19. ^ Webster, Bruce (September 1985). "West Coast Faire, Mac Stuff, and the Amiga". BYTE. p. 401. Retrieved March 20, 2016.
  20. ^ "On Your Computer". Kiplinger's Personal Finance. Kiplinger Washington Editors, Inc. March 1987. Retrieved March 7, 2021.
  21. ^ Warren, Jim, ed. (August 1983). "The 1st West Coast IBM PC Faire" (PDF). Business Systems Journal. No. 40. Retrieved November 21, 2022.
  22. ^ a b "Calendar". PC Tech Journal. 3 (8). 1985. Retrieved March 7, 2021.
  23. ^ "Calendar". Computerworld. IDG Enterprise. September 15, 1986. Retrieved March 7, 2021. Fourth Personal Computer Faire San Francisco, Sept. 25-27. Contact: The Interface Group, Registration Department, 300 First Ave., Needham, Mass. 02194.
  24. ^ Allan, Roy A. (2001). A History Of The Personal Computer : The People and the Technology (1st ed.). London, Ontario, Canada: Allan Publishing. ISBN 0-9689108-3-1. Retrieved March 7, 2021. Personal Computing magazine sponsored three shows called the Personal Computer Show! in 1977. The First Western Show was in Los Angeles in March, The First Eastern Show was in Philadelphia in April/May and The First New England Show was in Boston in June... COMDEX was a show organized by a company called The Interface Group Inc., which was founded by Sheldon Adelson in 1973. COMDEX is an acronym for COMputer Dealers' EXposition. The show is oriented to computer manufacturers, dealers and distributors. The first show was held in December 1979. COMDEX has become one of the largest computer shows in the world. It holds two major shows a year. In winter the show is in Las Vegas and in the spring it is in another major city such as Atlanta, Chicago or Toronto.
  25. ^ a b Rivera, Nancy (May 19, 1985). "Plug Pulled on Computer Show". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 7, 2021. The exhibition for personal and business computer users was to have been held last Thursday, Friday and Saturday but "the way things are going with the computer industry at this time, 1985 was not the time to hold a new computer show," said David Small, a spokesman for Computer Faire Inc. The Newton, Mass.-based company, a subsidiary of Prentice-Hall, stages computer shows on both coasts.
  26. ^ "CALENDAR". PC Tech Journal. 3 (8). 1985.
  27. ^ "Computers and Space". Byte Magazine. 10 (7). July 1985. Retrieved March 7, 2021.
  28. ^ "Giant Wave Heading Straight For Boston!" (PDF). The Tech. Vol. 108, no. 43. October 25, 1988. p. 20. Retrieved November 21, 2022.

Media coverage[edit]

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