Attendees of KansasFest 2010 were fortunate to kick off the event by listening to a keynote speech by Mark Simonsen, former president of Beagle Bros. When he was first approached to be the event’s keynote speaker, his initial reaction was, “How did you find me??” It turns out that Mr. Simonsen is a serial entrepreneur who has founded, developed, bought, and sold numerous companies in his career. His work with Beagle Bros struck him as a lifetime ago, but as the dates for KansasFest approached, he began to dig out old notes and relive fond memories. By the time he was ready for his KansasFest debut, he realized and revealed that the ten years coding the 6502 constituted the best job he’d ever had. He was enthusiastic and gracious and genuinely appreciate of everyone’s passion for his work and for the Apple II in general, as revealed in his keynote.

As seen in the above video, Mr. Simonsen came to Kansas City with a wealth of memorabilia from his days at Beagle Bros, which he has allowed us to share here.

Mr. Simonsen arrived at KansasFest on Tuesday afternoon and stayed through noon on Thursday, attending several events and even staying up late to watch the curious phenomenon known as Bite the Bag. He was as much a member of the Apple II community as he was our honored guest. On his way home, he emailed attendees to say, “Thanks for the invite to KansasFest. It was a blast! I was surprised by the range of ages and number of young people. It was a pleasure to meet you and everyone else at KFest. Have a great rest of the show. All the best!”

As many KansasFest alumni discover, the experience of KansasFest is one that stays with you long after you’ve left Kansas City. Mr. Simonsen followed up a few days later: “I’m sitting here at work doing important things but wishing I was still at KFest! I’m having withdrawals … because I had so much fun with all you guys.”

We likely haven’t heard the last from this Apple II luminary; as he concluded in his speech, he’s been inspired to get back into coding — perhaps foreshadowing his next business venture? Maybe he was even looking for ideas when he wrote to us a week later: “So who won the HackFest? And what were all the entries?”

We’ll have that information for him soon on this blog. In the meantime, thank you to everyone for making our keynote speaker’s experience of KansasFest such a memorable one!