Archive for 2011

Remembering Ryan

Posted Thu, Dec. 8th 2011 in News

KansasFest 2011 was, by all accounts, a success, with an impressive number of attendees, a memorable keynote speech, and many days and nights of sessions and camaraderie. But through it all, the absence of one long-time Apple II user couldn’t help but be noticed. Ryan Suenaga, who attended every KansasFest from 1996 through 2009, passed away earlier this year, resulting in a loss that was felt by all, even those who had never met him.

But KansasFest was intent on not letting him be forgotten. Upon check-in, every attendee received a pair of loud shorts, which Ryan was famous for wearing. Everyone proudly wore the questionable attire for the annual group photo later that week.

KansasFest 2011 group photo, courtesy Loren Damewood.Speak softly and wear loud shorts.

That gesture just scratched the surface of the meaning Ryan’s life had on the event. Ryan started the tradition of hosting a Krispy Kreme buffet every Thursday night at KansasFest, inviting attendees to indulge in the fattening doughnuts. That tradition continued this year as the Ryan Suenaga Memorial Krispy Kreme Night, with a donation jar set up in which participants could contribute to the @rsuenaga scholarship fund at Kapiolani Community College in Hawaii. A whopping $375 was raised in this fashion, which an anonymous donor then matched, doubling the amount to $750.

KansasFest attendee Vince Briel then donated one of his rare A2MP3 cards to be auctioned, with the proceeds benefitting the scholarship. The eBay auction closed at roughly $250; when added to the previous donations, the contribution to the scholarship totaled $1,000.

KansasFest 2011 culminated with the annual formal dinner and roast. Although Ryan had already been roasted by his friends in 2002, this year seemed a good opportunity to revisit the memories, hi-jinx, and hope that Ryan inspired. It was this community’s way of showing their respect and affection in a way that Ryan would’ve appreciated. The roast closed by bestowing upon Ryan the Apple II Forever award. That plaque has been forwarded to his family, along with copies of the Juiced.GS tribute to Ryan, which was also included with the scholarship donation.

These many acts, remembrances, and donations show how much Ryan meant to the community, and what the community can do in return. Although KansasFest will never be the same without Ryan, Apple II users will always remember him and will ensure that his life has meaning for many KansasFests to come.

Tributes to Steve Jobs

Posted Mon, Oct. 10th 2011 in News

For the past week, the world has been in various states of shock and mourning. Steve Jobs — Apple Inc. co-founder, chairman, and former CEO — passed away on October 5, 2011, at the age of 56. Although his health had been in a state of decline for some years, we are all still left with the feeling that he was a visionary who has left us before his time.

Some members of the Apple II community long ago ended their involvement with the company Jobs co-founded. They feel he mismanaged the Apple II line, abandoning it and its users in ways that KansasFest never has. But whether you disagree with him, glorify him, or vilify him, we can all agree that, if it were not for Steve Jobs, there would not have been an Apple Computer Inc., an Apple II, or a KansasFest in the first place. He and Steve Wozniak were a dynamic duo who complemented each other’s technological prowess and marketing and design sense to create a product and an industry that has shaped our lives.

Many KansasFest alumni have in the past week shared their feelings about Steve Jobs and how the visionary impacted their stories. First on the scene was Tim Kellers in a story at that features Cindy Adams’ photo of him at KansasFest with the late Ryan Suenaga.

KansasFest committee member Ken Gagne was one of several Computerworld employees to appear in a montage of musings on Jobs’ talents and contributions. An Apple IIGS can be seen about three minutes into the video.

Gagne later joined Mike Maginnis in recording an episode of the Open Apple podcast in tribute to Jobs. The show’s notes include links to several other remembrances.

Perhaps most appropriately and impressively, Eric Rucker created a tribute that runs natively on the computer that helped launch Jobs to stardom. Writes Rucker:

It’ll run on any 48k Apple II, preferably Revision 1 or later if using a color monitor (due to the 6 color circuit), with Applesoft ROMs, and a 16 sector Disk II. Or any later Apple II, of course, all the way to the IIGS ROM 3. (I developed it in KEGS, and tested it on a //c.)

Images found from around the web, tweaked, rescaled, cropped, and converted to GIF in IrfanView, converted to HGR in IIGIF.

Sound from Software Automatic Mouth, text that it’s speaking from Apple’s Think Different campaign.

The tribute is available as a .DO disk image or in this video:

Written tributes include those from Bill Martens, Steve Weyhrich, Vince Briel, Eric Shepherd, Mike Maginnis, Ken Gagne, Blake Patterson, and KansasFest 2012 keynote speaker John Romero.

Whether or not we agree with all the decisions Steve Jobs made, we thank him for bringing our community together. He will be missed.

John Romero to keynote KansasFest 2012

Posted Fri, Sep. 30th 2011 in News

SEPTEMBER 30, 2011 — KansasFest 2012, the Apple II convention scheduled for July 17–22 in Kansas City, Missouri, comes just two months after the twentieth anniversary of Wolfenstein 3D, the first-person shooter that, when released for MS-DOS in 1992, defined a genre that is still popular today. Not only did the game, which was later ported to the Apple IIGS, use as its inspiration the Apple II game Castle Wolfenstein; Wolfenstein 3D’s creators got their start working at Apple II disk magazine Softdisk.

To commemorate that anniversary and heritage, KansasFest 2012’s keynote speech will be delivered by none other than Wolfenstein 3D co-creator John Romero.

John Romero. Photo by buzzpuzzle

Romero, whose Apple II credits include Dangerous Dave and Dark Castle, has been a pillar of the electronic entertainment industry for nearly as long as the Apple II has existed. Popular Apple II magazine inCider published Romero’s first program in 1984, with many more of his titles to appear in both inCider and Nibble. Romero later joined Origin Systems, publisher of the Ultima and Wing Commander games, as a programmer, after which he co-founded Inside Out Software. At both companies, he ported software to and from the Apple II and Commodore 64. With KansasFest 2008 keynote speaker Lane Roathe, Romero also co-founded software company Ideas From the Deep, where he developed the Apple II game Zappa Roidz as well as the InfoDOS operating system for Infocom’s Apple II games.

In 1989, Romero joined Softdisk, a stint that introduced him to three important people: John Carmack, Tom Hall, and Adrian Carmack. The four co-workers left Softdisk in 1991 to co-found id Software, which a year later revolutionized electronic gaming and demonstrated the potential of the shareware distribution model when they released Wolfenstein 3D, which sold 100,000 units in its first 18 months. Later id Software blockbusters, including DOOM and Quake, further cemented the company as an industry powerhouse. Romero has since been involved with many additional high-profile games, including Deus Ex, Daikatana, and Gauntlet: Seven Sorrows. He most recently co-founded social games company Loot Drop, developer of the popular Facebook game Ravenwood Fair, which currently has nearly five million users.

Despite such overwhelming success and a storied résumé, Romero has long celebrated his roots as an Apple II programmer. In 1998, he reunited forty Apple II programmers in celebration of the Apple II turning 20 the year before. So prestigious were Romero’s invitations that in attendance was Apple II inventor Steve Wozniak, KansasFest 2003’s keynote speaker. It was this event that later inspired Jason Scott, keynote speaker at KansasFest 2009, to begin production on a documentary of the 6502 processor, which powers the Apple II. Romero appeared in Scott’s text-adventure documentary, Get Lamp, and will support Scott’s upcoming 6502 film as well.

From Commander Keen to DOOM and Quake, Romero’s games — 97 to date — regularly become household names and spawn countless imitators. Romero’s reflection on the role of the Apple II in both his and the industry’s successes will captivate KansasFest 2012 attendees.

KansasFest is an annual convention offering Apple II users and retrocomputing enthusiasts the opportunity to engage in beginner and technical sessions, programming contests, exhibition halls, and camaraderie. KansasFest was originally hosted by Resource Central and has been brought to you by the KFest Committee since 1995. Any and all Apple II users, fans, and friends are invited to attend this year’s event. Registration details will be announced on the KansasFest Web site in early 2012. For photos, videos, and presentations from past KansasFests, please visit the event’s official Web site at

KansasFest 2012

Guess who’s coming to KansasFest?

Posted Fri, Sep. 30th 2011 in News

Guess who's coming to KansasFest?

A2MP3 auction to benefit @rsuenaga fund

Posted Wed, Sep. 14th 2011 in News

Two years after it was first unveiled at KansasFest 2009, Vince Briel’s A2MP3 card finally became commercially available at this year’s event, bringing MP3-playing capabilities to the Apple II. Attendees of KansasFest 2011 not only had the opportunity to assemble their A2MP3 kit under the watchful eye of its creator; they also got a custom board branded with the KansasFest logo, available nowhere else.
A2MP3 card
Until now! If you missed your chance to get the limited-edition A2MP3 card, you can now bid on one on eBay. This card, which has been built and modified by Tony Diaz to eliminate the need for a zip tie, was donated by Vince Briel and is the only way for anyone who didn’t attend KansasFest 2011 to get their hands on this unique card.

Best of all, 100% of the proceeds from this auction benefit the @rsuenaga Scholarship Fund. Ryan Suenaga was a longtime member and stalwart supporter of the Apple II community who tragically passed away earlier this year. Ryan had every intention of attending KansasFest 2011. In his absence, his friends have created a scholarship to benefit young adults, to whom Ryan, as a social worker, dedicated much of his life. This auction will be added to funds collected at KansasFest 2011 into a single donation that will make a significant difference in a young person’s life.

Please bid often and generously!

KansasFest 2012 scheduled for July 17-22

Posted Tue, Sep. 13th 2011 in News

KansasFest 2011 was an amazing event attended by alumni and newcomers alike. The many sessions, competitions, programs, and antics they shared made for memories that will last a lifetime.

Apple II enthusiasts around the world will have the opportunity to make new memories together next year, when KansasFest returns to Rockhurst University, July 17–22. More details, including pricing, keynote speaker, and more, will be announced on this site as they become available. In the meantime, it’s never to early to start saving your pennies or to request time off from work. The 23rd annual Apple II convention will be the best yet!

Subscribe to our blog or to our discussion list to get more updates about this exciting event!

Spreading the word in NYC & Denver

Posted Fri, Aug. 26th 2011 in News

Many KansasFest attendees are, unsurprisingly, IT professionals: they make their livings as educators, sysadmins, tech writers, and software engineers. Their passion for the Apple II often inspires their professional work and vice versa, especially when it comes to evangelizing how they spent their summer vacation.

Ivan Drucker, a three-time KansasFest attendee and former Apple employee, is the founder of IvanExpert, a New York City-based Macintosh consulting firm. On the company’s YouTube channel, Ivan has recently presented a series of videos discussing emerging trends and IT solutions he has encountered. Not only does the background of every video feature an Apple II Plus, but Ivan’s latest video focuses on the highlight of his year, KansasFest.

A favorite quote: "It’s not the kind of thing ordinary people like."

Likewise, Ken Gagne, an online editor for, recently had the opportunity to preach the wonders of the Apple II to the Denver Apple Pi users’ group. The group’s members, many of whom founded the club with their Apple II computers more than thirty years ago, enjoyed the nostalgic look at the machine and were surprised to hear of its supportive and modern community. The entire presentation was recorded, with additional notes and resources on Ken’s blog.

Both Ken and Ivan mentioned Vince Briel’s A2MP3 card as an example of the wonders still possible with an Apple II. That device was the star of some mainstream coverage when another KansasFest alumnus, Andy Molloy, had his assembly of the A2MP3 documented at KansasFest. That photo gallery is now available on, showing how easy it is to put together the best way to listen to tunes on your Apple II.

How have you helped spread the word of KansasFest to ensure the event is even bigger and better next year? Let us know!

KansasFest 2011 on the air

Posted Thu, Aug. 11th 2011 in News

KansasFest is a few weeks behind us now, and the Apple II community is still absorbing all the amazing experiences, products, and announcements that came out of the event. One way in which that information is being digested and disseminated is through podcasts, several of which have focused on the convention.

The first to air was Open Megahertz, a unique collaboration between the hosts of the Open Apple and 1 MHz podcasts. Friday morning, while KansasFest was happening around them, Carrington Vanston, Mike Maginnis, and Ken Gagne got together to talk about how the event had gone so far, and to review a classic piece of edutainment.

Retro Computing RoundtableThat very night, Carrington got back on the mic for an episode of the Retro Computing Roundtable, a show founded by David Greelish and hosted last month by Earl Evans. The three gentlemen chatted about a variety of topics but focused on the event Carrington was attending. With neither David nor Earl having been to KansasFest before, there was plenty of curiosity and awe over Carrington’s experience.

A week later, Vince Briel, who attended his first full KansasFest in 2011, appeared on the RetroMacCast. Although traditionally focused on older Macintosh computers, RMC‘s hosts, James and John, regularly expand their scope to encompass other Apple computers. Their conversation with Vince provided a good overview of the event.

Open AppleAnd most recently, the August episode of Open Apple aired. This monthly Apple II podcast has a rotating guest, who this month was David Schmenk, creator of the 8-bit game Escape from the Homebrew Computer Club and first-time KansasFest attendee. Along with regular hosts Mike Maginnis and Ken Gagne, all three of the show’s speakers were recently home from KansasFest 2011 and had plenty of stories to tell.

If you were at KansasFest 2011, these shows are a way to keep your memories alive; if you weren’t, you can experience the convention vicariously through these podcasts, cementing your belief that you need to attend KansasFest 2012!