old barn image

Who Were the R.E.S.I.S.T.O.R.S.?

Despite the name, and in spite of the times, not a political organization....

The R.E.S.I.S.T.O.R.S. was one of the first computer clubs in the United States, meeting in the sixties and seventies in central New Jersey. We're not going to tell you what the acronym stands for; if you don't know, you weren't a R.E.S.I.S.T.O.R.! And no, Bill Gates wasn’t a R.E.S.I.S.T.O.R.

The R.E.S.I.S.T.O.R.S. Reunion 1998

We had the first (and last?) R.E.S.I.S.T.O.R.S. reunion over Memorial Day weekend, 1998, at the Barn in Hopewell, New Jersey. 45 former R.E.S.I.S.T.O.R.S. and friends attended, along with 15 kids, two horses, and a large number of kittens. Here are some pictures!

The R.E.S.I.S.T.O.R.S. Reunion Summer 2003????

Maybe you missed the chance to go to the Reunion in 1998?  Maybe it was such a great reunion, that you are willing to return to New Jersey for the next one.  If so this is your chance!!!  The donkeys are gone, and a few other things have changed, but the Burroughs 205 is still there.  

What Did the R.E.S.I.S.T.O.R.S Do?

We exhibited at computer shows, we taught each other to program, and we fooled around. The stuff we did with computers would be perfectly normal for kids to do now, but we did it before personal computers existed. Some of our programming used punch cards!

On a Saturday night, when the temperature dropped,  the cold grease in the Friden Flexowriters caused them to jam up with every character printed.  The best thing to do was go inside and discuss the future of computing.  Many lively discussions revolved around the concept of a Home Reckoner.  This multi-tentacled creation served as a home controller, entertainment for the owners, and a tool for everything from baby sitting to stock market analysis.  Did today's Personal Computer evolve from the Home Reckoner?  Judge for yourself.  
Many of us argued that the future lay with an in-home computer which would permit the user to write programs, play solitary games, and control the household.  Others maintained that all an individual needed in the home was a simple dumb terminal with the capability of connecting to a large central computer which provided a powerful processing resource, large quantities of memory and the ability to interact with other users.  Until the internet took off, it looked as if the proponents of the home computer had been right.  Then both were proven right.

The Trenton Times wrote an article about the club in 1967. The Newark Sunday News wrote an article in May 1967.

We went to the Spring Joint Computer Conference in Atlantic City and provided a remote terminal over phone lines to a PDP-8.  Although computer time was offered free at the SJCC, you did have to take a number.  When you got your turn, and your program didn't run immediately, then you had to think.

Where did the funding come from?

The dogs mostly.  A breeding pair of malamutes.  Every spring they produced a litter of  7 to 9 puppies. Each sold for $125.  They did have to be bailed out occasionally after a night spent roaming.  Because the fines were less than the puppy price, they kept us in the black.  One of the malamutes destroyed a model 33 ASR Teletype as it flew threw a doorway.  No lives were lost, but the model 33 was never the same.

We also sold light bulbs and were not even above


Contribute your own stories here.  (good taste is necessary,  historical accuracy is less important)

At a show where we exhibited the PDP-8, a well dressed man walked up and watched the RESISTORS program for a while.  Then he asked what the "PDP" stood for in PDP-8.  Bob explained that it stood for Programmed Data Processor.  The man paused for a minute and then asked, " What does the Programmed Data Processor do in relation to the computer?"  Bob said "That is the computer". and without a word the man walked off.

We took a bus ride up to New York for the IEEE show one year.  Although we did not mount a formal exhibit such as the hallway terminal shown at the SJCC, we nevertheless made our presence known.  On the long bus ride up, JB had brought a can of peanut brittle. She offered some to fellow RESISTORS and then walked up the aisle of the bus holding out the can to the other passengers. One kindly looking gentleman saw the outstretched can, reached in his pocket and then dropped in a coin.  I don't recall if the coin went into the RESISTORS treasury!

What Is SAM76?

Early R.E.S.I.S.T.O.R.S. wrote programs in SAM76, and even wrote a primer about the language.

Dave Fox's RESISTORS page

Dave Fox set up the first R.E.S.I.S.T.O.R.S. web page, at http://www.foxthompson.net/dsf/resistors.html

This page is at http://www.resistors.org/index.html. Last updated 4/15/03 by Don Irwin. For information, contact resistors@resistors.org