Recursion 2015 repeats success in Stratford

The hall from above - general view
The hall from above – general view

Organisers of an exciting and innovative – but also nostalgic – computer fair which took place at a school in Stratford-upon-Avon, England on Saturday were celebrating another highly-successful repeat event as crowds swarmed in to see everything from retro-computers to robots via Raspberry Pi’s.

King Edward Vi School's Anroid App Inventor workshop
King Edward Vi School’s Anroid App Inventor workshop

The historic King Edward Vi School, where William Shakespeare was educated, was offering a free and fun-packed digital day out dedicated to computer science and computing in education, industry and leisure, to one and all – and were rewarded with a buzzing, vibrant and diverse event for computer fans of all interests, not only gaming. In short, a show of a kind which has been rarely seen since the 1990s!

Recursion 2015 banner
Recursion 2015 banner

The show, dubbed the Recursion 2015 Computer Science Fair, was held in the modern Levi Fox Hall of the Tudor school off Church Street, and delivered a great opportunity for anyone looking for a techno-fix of retro and modern computing, and all things educational. Amazingly, there was no charge for both visitors and exhibitors – but the packed event was definitely worth far more than the non-existent admission fee.

A 360 degree panorama from a corner of the hall
A 360 degree panorama from a corner of the hall

There was plenty of time for all kinds of fun and learning, since the fair was open between 11am-4pm, allowing visitors to catch up on the latest community gossip and events, sign up to a user group, find out about robots and computer science –  or just reminisce by playing their favourite games from the good old days.

From Vectrex to Einstein - a tiny sample of exhibits from the Retro Computer Museum in Leicester
From Vectrex to Einstein – a tiny sample of exhibits from the Retro Computer Museum in Leicester

The editor of Retro Computing News, Stuart Williams, was delighted to be able to attend in person to cover the show this year, and certainly had a ‘grand day out’ amongst the Amiga gurus, the Risc OS evangelists, the preservers of rare computers and historic software, the robot warriors and the gadget makers – and not least amongst the educationalists, teachers, and their students who are the future of British computing.

Our editor was certainly spoiled for choice, from wallowing in nostalgia (back in the 1980s-90s he wrote for several home computer magazines) by chatting to the Amiga experts, to watching the boffinaceous science and engineering antics of the fizzPOP maker crew and robot experts.  He was also excited to see all the new developments in school and university computer education, especially as there were no computers in schools when he left in the mid 1970s!

GEEKY FUN IN THE SUN AND INSIDE

Early British home computers the Compukit UK101 and Sinclair ZX Spectrum 48k
Early British home computers the Compukit UK101 and Sinclair ZX Spectrum 48k

The weather was blisteringly hot outside, but while it was warm inside too, it was actually really cool in so many ways! In fact there was everything for the geek (whether budding or ageing!), the hobbyist, the educationalist and the prospective student of school or university to take their minds off the soaring temperatures – not to mention the handy refreshment area.

From virtual reality learning to school video, there was plenty to interest the educationalist
From virtual reality learning to school video, there was plenty to interest the educationalist
SCHOOLS
Practical Programming Workshop using Scratch in the King Edward Vi School's Show in a Show
Practical Programming Workshop using Scratch in the King Edward Vi School’s Show in a Show

There was a great educational theme threaded all through Recursion, as you might expect in a school which clearly recognises the importance of real computing education and not just ‘ICT’ for pupils’ career prospects as much as its’ cultural connections with the Bard of Avon.

The Android App Inventor workshop
The Android App Inventor workshop

King Edward Vi School had also joined forces with several other schools and educators from the area and beyond, and students and other youngsters were treated to the opportunity to try modern coding by taking part in Android and Scratch programming workshops as well as experiencing the fun and excitement of building, programming and fighting with warrior robots in the Mindstorm Arena – as well as some high-powered modern PC gaming!

Those are the droids we're looking for - busily building and programming in the Mindstorm Arena
Those are the droids we’re looking for – busily building and programming in the Mindstorm Arena
Robots ready to rumble in the Mindstorm Arena
Robots ready to rumble in the Mindstorm Arena

The following schools were signed up to take part:

Gathering around the Reach for the Stars Radio Station operated by The Willows Primary School
Gathering around the Reach for the Stars Radio Station operated by The Willows Primary School
Some high-powered gaming going down...
Some high-powered gaming going down…

HIGHER EDUCATION

There was no shortage of representation from top universities and colleges either, with Iva Babukova and Adam Kurkiewicz of Glasgow University, Sam Littley & David Videnovic of Oxford University, plus Anandhi Vivek of Cambridge University showing, as well as King’s College, London.

Iva Babukova (right) and Adam Kurkiewicz of Glasgow University discussing cyber defence with a visitor
Iva Babukova (right) and Adam Kurkiewicz of Glasgow University discussing cyber defence with a visitor
No shortage of higher education with Oxford University and King's College London on hand
No shortage of higher education with Oxford University and King’s College London on hand

EDUCATION AND INDUSTRY

The educational computing industry and others including one or two dealers also had a presence, with plenty to discover, and possibly buy. There was even a charity supporting villages in Africa with rather less technical tools!

Jeremy Hogan of Lanner talks to a father and son
Jeremy Hogan of Lanner talks to a father and son
The IQaudIO stand had much for the Pi fan...
The IQaudIO stand had much for the Pi fan…
...as did the highly educational The Seven Segments of Pi and PiTrol stand
…as did the highly educational The Seven Segments of Pi and PiTrol stand
CJE Micros/4th Dimension had a lot of interesting items on sale
CJE Micros/4th Dimension had a lot of interesting items on sale
Tools With A Mission raise funds and carpentry equipment for African villages in need
Tools With A Mission raise funds and carpentry equipment for African villages in need

RETRO AND COMMUNITY

A few more of the massed ranks of gear from the Retro Computer Museum in Leicester
A few more of the massed ranks of gear from the Retro Computer Museum in Leicester

Meanwhile, along one side of the hall, the lads from the Retro Computer Museum in Leicester had set up a massive retro computing and retro gaming presence, with a wide range of historic home computers from Sinclair, Commodore, Dragon, Amiga, Atari, Acorn and more, through a variety of early consoles to offer everything from classic coding in 1980s BASIC to total alien destruction on classic games consoles!

The guys from Amiga North Thames user group were exhibiting seriously high-end post-Commodore Amiga based kit, including an Amiga One X1000!
The guys from Amiga North Thames user group were exhibiting seriously high-end post-Commodore Amiga based kit, including an Amiga One X1000!
Nigel Tromans was kept busy demonstrating AROS, a modern X86-based descendant of Amiga OS
Nigel Tromans was kept busy demonstrating AROS, a modern X86-based descendant of Amiga OS

Indeed, the retro-computing community was well-supported by Recursion 2015 and well-represented by exhibits from user groups, and enthusiastic volunteers were on hand to show attendees such delights as classic Commodore Amigas  – celebrating their 30th birthday this July – next to the latest Amiga-derived operating systems such as Amiga OS 4.1, MorphOS and AROS, presented by the guys from Amiga North Thames, Nigel Tromans, and others.

Talkin' 'bout the new generation - MorphOS and Amiga OS 4.1 were on show
Talkin’ ’bout the new generation – MorphOS and Amiga OS 4.1 were on show

There was also a strong showing from the not gone, and not forgotten, British Acorn operating system Risc OS, both on classic Acorn gear such as the 1990s Risc PC and on the comparatively tiny – yet even more powerful – modern Raspberry Pi computer, both being shown off by Bryan Hogan and colleague from ROUGOL  as well as the The Midlands RiscOS User Group who were holding their annual Summer Show as part of Recursion.

Bryan Hogan (right) and colleague from the Risc OS User Group of London (ROUGOL)
Bryan Hogan (right) and colleague from the Risc OS User Group of London (ROUGOL)
Bryan Hogan of ROUGOL enter the Matrix as he becomes the group's website...
Bryan Hogan of ROUGOL enter the Matrix as he becomes the group’s website…
There was much Raspberry Pi of show in the Midlands User Group Summer Show section of the fair
There was much Raspberry Pi of show in the Midlands User Group Summer Show section of the fair
Vince Hudd, wearing his Soft Rock Software hat, demonstrating one of his Risc OS games
Vince Hudd, wearing his Soft Rock Software hat, demonstrating one of his Risc OS games
Tom Williamson shows off his self-built Ident computer case containing a Raspberry Pi
Tom Williamson shows off his self-built Ident computer case containing a Raspberry Pi
Chris Dewhurst, editor of Drag'NDrop the pdf magazine for Risc OS Pi
Chris Dewhurst, editor of Drag’NDrop the pdf magazine for Risc OS Pi
Anthony Bartram of Amcog Games was promoting his new release on Risc OS, 'Overlord'
Anthony Bartram of Amcog Games was promoting his new release on Risc OS, ‘Overlord’
Andy Spencer (right) and his Retro Computer Museum team had broughr a critical mass of historic home computers and consoles
Andy Spencer (right) and his Retro Computer Museum team had broughr a critical mass of historic home computers and consoles

Amongst many others, Stuart Williams had the additional pleasure of meeting Vince Hudd of Softrock and RISCOSitory fame, as well as Tom Williamson demonstrating education on both the classic BBC Micro and its literal and spiritual descendant the Raspberry Pi – in his own designed Ident case.  He also chatted to Chris Dewhurst, editor of Drag n Drop Magazine, Anthony Bartram of Amcog Games showing off Overlord, and Andy Spencer of Retro Computer Museum.  He also spoke to Neville Hunt who was demonstrating ThePitrol and 7 Segments of Pi

FIZZES, POPS AND ROVING ROBOTS!

Some remarkable robots and eerie electronics were on show, amongst other things, by Dr Bill Bigge of Creative Robotics and Imagineering, who was showing his proof of concenpt for 3D-printing a space habitat in orbit; David Hannaford of the King Edward Vi School Robotics Club, presenting his line-following and wall-climbing bots, and last but definitely not least, the fascinating fizzPOP Makerspace crew from Birmingham – mad scientists one and all – who had more geekery going on than you could shake a sonic screwdriver at!

What a great complement to all the other amazing gadgetry elsewhere in the hall!

It's Boffins Assemble! The fizzPOP crew
It’s Boffins Assemble! The fizzPOP crew
Something boffinaceous was happening on the stand of fizzPOP, the Birmingham Makerspace
Something boffinaceous was happening on the stand of fizzPOP, the Birmingham Makerspace
Dr Paul Bigge, Director of Creative Robotics Ltd demonstrates his orbital habitat-building robot
Dr Paul Bigge, Director of Creative Robotics Ltd demonstrates his orbital habitat-building robot
David Hannaford of the King Edward Vi School Robotics Club shows off his line-following bot
David Hannaford of the King Edward Vi School Robotics Club shows off his line-following bot

Some of the day’s other exhibitors attending were  as follows:

M-IS, Totem Learning, Parul Thakrar of E-Learning Studios, John Holden of the Numerical Algorithms Group, Ed Harmer of
Gazoob, Jason Barnett of Cyntech.

For anyone else whom we may have missed – we hope to see you next year!

See the Show Website for more details, or to find out more about Recursion, email: info@recursioncomputerfair.co.uk
CONCLUSION
Wow, what a great event Recursion 2015 was. In so many ways, like going both back and forward in a time machine simultaneously! We certainly loved every moment of it, it was well organised, a good venue, loads of fun and fascinating folks to talk to, and fun and weird things to learn about, to see and do for all ages. We can’t recommend Recursion too highly to our readers. If you missed out on a visit this year, well, there’s always the next show, and speaking of which…
RECURSION 2016
We’re already looking forward to Recursion 2016 – and our editor was so impressed with the event that he has asked if it would be possible for Retro Computing News to have a table there next time.
So one way or another, we hope to be seeing you there!
PHOTOS
All photos shown here above are by Stuart Williams. Click on the photos to open hi-res versions which may be used by the organisers, schools and organisations pictured subject to crediting Stuart Williams and linking back to Retro Computing News. Copyright reserved.

 

With thanks to organiser Richard Barfoot of King Edward Vi School for event information.
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