How to prepare for the CoCoFEST!

Q) What is a list of key terms I should know?

  • A) See the two lists below.
  • Key terms #1:
  • CoCo……….. => Color Computer
  • TRS-80…….. => Tandy Radio Shack usually with a Z80 microcontroller.
  • …………………. => Sometimes affectionately referred to as a Trash 80.
  • CoCo 1……. => TRS-80 Color Computer (1980-1983)
  • CoCo 2……. => Tandy Color Computer 2 (1983-1986)
  • CoCo 3……. => Tandy Color Computer 3 (1986-1991)
  • CoCoFEST! => A vintage computer festival featuring the CoCo 1/2/3 computers,
  • …………………. => MC-10 computer, and clones.
  • CoCo Nut.. => A Color Computer enthusiast is sometimes affectionately called this.
  • MC6809….. => Motorola Corporation 6809 Microprocessor (for the CoCo 1/2/3)
  • 6309………… => Hitachi’s CMOS version of the Motorola 6809
  • ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
  • Key terms #2:
  • MC-10…….. => TRS-80 MC-10 Microcomputer (Micro Color Computer) (1983)
  • MC6803….. => Motorola Corporation 6803 Microprocessor (for the MC-10)

Q) What are the general guidelines of vintage computer festivals?

  • Guideline #1: No hard and fast rule to define what is a retro computer.
  • Guideline #2: Teaching, learning, and history are both useful and fun.
  • Guideline #3: Do not discriminate against other people’s spin on the retro computer hobby.
  • Guideline #4: Never ask, “Why do you like those old junky computers?”
  • Guideline #5: Invite others to join in the fun and promote the various events.
  • Guideline #5: You can call us retro computer enthusiasts.
  • Guideline #6: The show is more about the people than anything else.
  • Guideline #7: People are more important than things.

Q) Why do you call it the “Last”?

Q) How do I reserve some booth space?

Q) How do I reserve time to give a presentation?

  • A) Contact Grant Leighty.  He can be reached at:

Q) Does Glenside accept credit cards as payment at the CoCoFEST?

  • A) Yes, but not all vendors do.

Q) What should I bring?

  • A1) Musical instruments.
  • A2) We hold two auctions, so bring stuff you want to keep out of landfills to go into the auctions, and bring some spending money or a credit card to spend on auction items to add to your collection that you didn’t have a chance to purchase when you were younger.  The money from the auctions goes to help pay for the CoCoFEST!  Buy books, manuals, software, cables, joysticks, disk drives, computers, fanfold paper, and such.  If you bring an item and it does not sell, then consider taking it back home with you.  Printers generally do not sell, and no one wants to be stuck with them.
  • A3) People are selling hardware and software (outside of the auction) so bring some spending money for that.
  • A4) Charge the battery in your camera and bring it.
  • A5) Bring hardware you want repaired or upgraded.
  • A6) Bring your ideas.
  • A7) Chicago has toll roads, but toll booths are no longer manned. Many toll booths no longer accept coins. If you do not have an electronic IPASS/EZ-PASS unit or sticker for paying tolls, you can pay by plate by signing up at or the Tollway Authority can mail you an invoice that you can pay online. Or use your GPS and avoid toll roads altogether.
  • A8) An ice scraper for your car, just in case.
  • A9) If you are driving, consider bringing a spare television (TV) or monitor. CRT monitors can be useful too.
  • A10) Do you have an old landline phone, phone wire, fax machine, or modem, that you can bring to the CoCoFEST!?
  • A11) Do you have some old items from Radio Shack or the 80s that you think people would like to see again? Like an old VCR tape of some old movie.
  • A12) Bring some 1980s-style candy to the CoCoFEST! Do you remember Moon Pies?
  • A13) Buy something in the auction, play with it for a year, and put it in next year’s auction as a tax write-off.

Q) What should I bring for AC power needs as a vendor?

  • A1) Bring extension cords, power strips, and tape to hold them down.
  • A1) Consider bringing a number of 8-inch extension cords. They are good for dealing with wall warts and other such things. For example:
  • A2) Consider bringing a straight-on 8-inch extension cord. They are good for when you need a plug to be straight-on and not at an angle. For example:
  • A3) Consider bringing a power squid. It will allow you to connect several wall warts, USB chargers, and other things, no matter the orientation of the plug. It should look something like this:
  • A4) Consider bringing a ground cheater plug.
  • A5) Consider bringing a smart plug with power monitoring capability, an AC voltmeter, or an electrical ground checker. to help diagnose AC power issues.
  • A6) Think about solutions to running a high power appliances like a 1500 watt hot air gun. This could cases cause a circuit braker to trip. But a simple power management system can be made with Home Assistant that could solve this problem. You will need two smart plugs with power monitoring and an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS). When the UPS output power exceeds 200 watts the UPS input power is disconnected. And when the UPS output power drops below 100 watts the UPS input power is restored.

Q) What should I bring for DC power needs as a vendor?

  • A1) Consider bringing a USB squid cable like this:
  • A2) Consider bringing a USB data blocker charge only cable. I always carry one with me. It is useful for when you need to use a public charging station but do not want your personal data to be stolen or have malware installed on your cell phone. Mine looks like this:
  • A3) Consider bringing a single port 100-watt or more USB-C charger with Power Delivery (PD) and a 100-watt or more USB-C cable. Retractable cables can be nice. And cables with more than one connector on the other end can be nice. You may be able to run a laptop computer off of this. And with a little work you can run a CoCo off of this. Also you can offer to charge someone’s smartphone.
  • A4) Consider bringing a USB power meter.
  • A5) Consider bringing a USB-C Power Deliver (PD) to adjustable power supply converter. Or bring a USB-C PD dummy breakout or USB-C PD. adjustable voltage power trigger module like this:
  • A6) Consider bringing an adjustable power supply.
  • A7) Consider bringing a USB power bank. I have a USB power bank that accepts four rechargeable 18650 cells and outputs a USB charger. I have extra 18650 cells for when the the battery of 4 cells dies.

Q) Is free Wi-Fi available to all at the CoCoFEST?

  • A) Yes! The hotel Wi-Fi may require you to agree to the terms of service and some devices like an ESP-32 serial-to-Wi-Fi may not be able to do this. Some smartphones can be used as a Wi-Fi hotspot to get around this problem.

Q) What kind of computer should I bring to show at the CoCoFEST?

  • A1) CoCos, Tandy, TRS-80, Radio Shack, and clones.
  • A2) Anything that runs a Motorola 6809, Hitachi 6309, Motorola 68k, Zilog Z80, Intel 8080, Intel 8008, Intel 4004
  • A3) Southwest Technical Products Corp. (SWTPC)
  • A4) Tomcat, MM/1, AT306, Delmar System IV/ Peripheral Technology PT68K-4
  • A5) FPGA, Microprocessor, Arduino, Raspberry Pi and such.
  • A6) Calculator, adding machine, slide rule, and abacus.
  • A7) Analog computer
  • A8) Mechanical computers

Q) Would people want to see NitrOS-9/6809 driving a teletype machine, teleprinter, paper terminal or silent 700?

  • A) Yes!

Q) Would people like to see a plain old telephone bulletin board system in operation using 300 baud?

  • A) Yes!

Q) Can I arrange for my booth to be next to someone else?

  • A) If you sign up early enough, then you can select the tables you want. This is done on TandyList.

Q) What is the attendance like?

  • A) 100 to 150 people are likely to attend and about 97% of them are male.

Q) Will there be an opportunity for non-vendors to swap/trade/sell hardware?

  • A) The entire event consists of trading, swapping, buying and selling software, hardware, other stuff, stories, anecdotes and knowledge. I think you would be hard pressed to not find time to do this.

Q) How do I get from the airport to the hotel?

  • A1) You can take a rental car, taxi, Uber, Lyft, or limo.
  • A2) If by taxi, I would recommend American Taxi (AT).

Q) What should I wear?

  • A1) A Hawaiian shirt and blue jeans would be fine.
  • A2) A CoCoFEST shirt and wash pants are also fine.

Q) Is the hotel handicapped accessible and can I bring a mobility scooter?

  • A1) Yes!
  • A2) Note: You can rent a mobility scooter and we will help you get it out of the trunk if you like.
    Please consider bringing someone who likes these events and needs help getting around.
    It just may do you both some good.

Q) How do I know I am getting a good room rate at the hotel?

  • A) Check out the link below:

Q) When should I arrive?

  • A) Get there before dark on Friday.  Sunset is 7:54 PM.

Q) When can I set up my booth/table?

  • A) It may be possible for a few people to set up on Friday evening between 3:00-11:59 PM.  Otherwise, you can set up on Saturday morning between 8:00-9:00 AM.

Q) What are my options for gluten free food?

  • A1) Jimmy John’s sells a lettuce wrap.
  • A2) Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria, Schaumburg, IL
  • A3) Pizzeria Uno, Schiller Park, IL

Q) How do you know how many people are coming to the catered dinner?

Q) Is the CoCoFEST! in a high crime area?

  • A1) No!  Absolutely not!
  • A2) Beware – Illinois has speed cameras and red-light cameras. This is a crime. But there is an app for that!
  • A3) Don’t speed through road construction sites even on the weekend when workers are not present, unless there is a sign that says it is ok. I think I am telling you right about this.
  • A4) In the suburbs of Chicago, I have seen a lot of beggars standing at an intersection with a stop light begging for money. I do not give them money. I want to be ready for when the light turns green.

Q) Is this a busy area?

  • A) Busy is a relative term.  Downtown Chicago is very busy.  Carol Stream is half or a third as busy.  And parking is free.

Q) What if I have more questions?

  • A) Go to the About Us tab of our website.

Chicago Area Attractions!

General Things to Do


  • Dave & Buster’s in Lombard
  • Enterrium in Schaumburg
  • Galloping Ghost Arcade in Brookfield
  • Underground Retrocade in West Dundee
  • Enchanted Castle, Lombard, Illinois
  • Funway Family Entertainment, Batavia, Illinois
  • Nickel City, Cook County, Illinois
  • For more ideas see:

Chicago cruises:

  • Wendella Tours and Cruises, Chicago, IL
  • Chicago River Tour
  • Navy Pier, Chicago, IL (Amusement rides, boat rides, IMAX Theater, restaurants and ship cruises)


  • Brookfield Zoo, Brookfield, IL
  • Cosley Zoo, Wheaton, IL
  • Lincoln Park Zoo

Chicago Landmarks:

  • 875 North Michigan Ave. (formerly known as the John Hancock Building)
  • Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower)
  • Cloudgate sculpture, Millennium Park, Chicago (known as “the Bean”)
  • Buckingham Fountain, Grant Park, Chicago
  • Chicago lakefront, Jean Baptiste Point DuSable Lake Shore Drive
  • Navy Pier, Chicago, IL (Amusement rides, boat rides, IMAX Theater, restaurants and ship cruises)


  • Chicago Botanic Garden, Glencoe, IL
  • Lincoln Park Conservatory, Chicago, IL
  • Fabyan Villa Museum & Japanese Garden, Geneva, IL
  • Lilacia Park, Lombard, IL
  • Morton Arboretum, Lisle, IL
  • Cantigny Military Park in Winfield, IL


  • Adler Planetarium, Chicago, IL
  • Shedd Aquarium, Chicago, IL
  • Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, IL
  • DuSable Black History Museum and Education Center, Chicago, IL
  • Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, IL
  • Institute for the Study of Ancient Cultures, Chicago, IL (museum about ancient Middle Eastern cultures)
  • Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
  • Chicago Children’s Museum, at Navy Pier in Chicago, Illinois
  • Chicago Academy of Science/Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, Chicago, Illinois
  • Chicago History Museum, Chicago, Illinois
  • Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Illinois
  • National Museum of Mexican Art, Chicago, Illinois
  • National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture, Chicago, Illinois
  • Illinois Railway Museum, Union, IL
  • Fox River Trolley Museum, South Elgin, Illinois
  • East Troy Railroad Museum, rail museum in East Troy, Wisconsin

Religious Museums:

  • Billy Graham Museum, Wheaton, IL
  • Moody Bible Institute, Chicago, IL
  • Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership, Chicago, IL
  • Institute for the Study of Ancient Cultures, Chicago, IL (A museum about ancient Middle Eastern cultures)
  • Holocaust Museum, Skokie, IL
  • Ark Encounter, Willamstown, KY
  • Creation Museum, Petersburg, KY
  • Museum of the Bible, Washington, D.C.
  • Precious Moments Museum, Carthage, MO

Sporting Events:

  • Chicago Sky
  • Chicago Cubs
  • Chicago Bulls
  • Chicago Blackhawks
  • Chicago Fire
  • Chicago White Sox
  • Chicago Bears
  • Chicago Curling Club
  • Chicago Park District Badminton
  • Chicago Boxing Events
  • Windy City Rollers (Roller Derby)
  • Roller Rink
  • Ice Skating
  • Golf
  • Frisbee Golf
  • Miniature Golf
  • Bowling
  • Shuffleboard
  • Carol Stream Park District Adult Pickleball
  • Climbing
  • Paddle Boat
  • Twin Lakes Golf Course & Recreation Area, Palatine, IL (Golf and paddleboats)

Rainy Day (and Cold Weather Day) Things to Do:

  • Shopping: American Science and Surplus, and such.
  • Walk in the mall: See List of Malls above.
  • Walk in IKEA, Walter E. Smithe Furniture & Design, Bob’s Furniture, La-z Boy Furniture, The Dump Furniture Store
  • Walk in Home Depot, Menards
  • Walk in Walmart, Japanese Mitsuwa Marketplace, Fish Market
  • Go to the Library
  • Go to: Half Price Books
  • Go to: Goodwill, Salvation Army, Resale Shop
  • Go to: Arcade See: Arcade above also search the internet for The Retro Directory
  • Go to: Indoor Garden See gardens above.

Other things to do:

  • Mastermind Escape Games Escape Rooms Schaumburg, IL
  • Disco, Night Club, Chicago, IL
  • Chinatown, Chicago, IL
  • Chicago Segway Tour, Chicago, IL
  • Leaning Tower YMCA, Niles, IL. Note: YMCA is closed. (half-size replica of the Tower of Pisa)
  • Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament, Schaumburg, IL
  • Six Flags Great America, Gurnee, IL
  • Frank Lloyd Wright Tours, Oak Park, IL
  • The House on the Rock, Spring Green, Wisconsin
  • Chicago Theater, Broadway Shows, Chicago, IL
  • Busse Forest Elk Pasture, Elk Grove Village, IL
  • The Sculpture Park, Schaumburg, IL
  • LEGOLAND Discovery Center, Schaumburg, IL
  • K1Speed Indoor Go Karts, Buffalo Grove, IL
  • Forest Preserve/Nature Preserve, Cook County, IL
  • Casino/Gambling
  • Historic Route 66 Begin Sign, Chicago, IL

Places to Shop


  • Hobby Lobby, Bloomingdale, IL
  • Alien Entertainment Store, Lombard, IL
  • Geneva 3rd Street and State Street, Geneva, IL (Antiquing and shopping)
  • Long Grove, Long Grove, IL (Antiquing and shopping)
  • Galena, IL (Antiquing and shopping)
  • Ulysses S. Grant Home, Galena, IL
  • Lake Geneva, Wisconsin (Boat tours, Antiquing and shopping)


  • Yorktown Shopping Center, Lombard, IL
  • Woodfield Mall, Schaumburg, IL
  • Gurnee Mills, shopping mall in Gurnee, Illinois
  • North Riverside Park Mall, North Riverside, Illinois

Electronics, Electronics Surplus, Science, and Science Surplus:

  • American Science and Surplus, Geneva/West Chicago, IL
  • American Science and Surplus, Park Ridge, IL
  • Chester Electronic Supply Co., Kenosha, WI
  • Micro Center Computers & Electronics, Westmont, IL
  • Micro Center Computers & Electronics, Chicago, IL

Other Shopping:

  • Mitsuwa Marketplace (Japanese)

Getting Around:


Parking in Chicago:

  • Use a smart phone app like “SpotHero”

Mass Transit Chicago:

  • Chicago Trolley and Double Decker Co, Chicago IL
  • Big Bus Tours Chicago, Chicago IL
  • Gangster Tour Chicago
  • Chicago Tour
  • Chicago Transit Authority – CTA Buses, elevated trains, train, subway, service for Chicago
  • Pace (Chicago suburbs bus)
  • Metra train (Trains from Chicago to the suburbs and back)
  • South Shore Line train (Trains from Indiana to Chicago and back)


  • O’Hare International Airport (ORD)
  • Chicago Executive Airport-PWK
  • Schaumburg Regional Airport
  • Chicago Midway International Airport (MDW)


American Science and Surplus

Salvador Garcia says: Yes, you can go to the Website and browse, but it does not prepare you for when you go in person. There is a huge number of stuff, everything from a periscope (Geneva store), beakers, test tube and more for your chem lab, motors, gearmotors, LEDs, electronic components, foam human hearts, stuffed plushy brain neurons, real frogs for dissection, bearings, magnets, DaVinci machines kits… well, the list just goes on and on.

Alien Entertainment Store

Salvador Garcia says:  And if there are any sci fi fans (Dr. Who, Star Wars, Star Trek) then Alien Entertainment in Lombard has enough stuff to keep you busy for about two hours.

If you are coming to the CoCoFEST! from out of town on an extended stay, you may be interested in other things to see while you are here. The ladies may enjoy a trip to the mall or antiquing and shopping in Long Grove, IL or Geneva, IL.

Chicago Chinatown

North Riverside Park Mall

Salvador Garcia says:  And if there are any die-hard fans of the movie Contagion, I can point you to the mall where the mall scenes were filmed 🙂

Leaning Tower YMCA

(It is a half-size replica of the Leaning Tower of Pisa.)

Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament

Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament

Navy Pier

(Amusement rides, boat rides, IMAX Theater, restaurants and ship cruises)

Frank Lloyd Wright Tours

Salvador Garcia says:  If anyone is into architecture, Oak Park was home to the internationally renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

Woodfield Mall

Woodfield Mall – Shopping, and Restaurants

Chicago Skyline