Report from the Acorn Southeast Show 1997After many months of hard work by John Stonier and members of the Welwyn Hatfield Computer Club, the Acorn Southeast Show took place on Saturday 5th July. It was designed to be a show similar to the annual Wakefield show - a show organised by Acorn enthusiasts for Acorn enthusiasts. It proved to be a huge success, with more than 600 people attending.
It was a gloriusly sunny day, the first after a long spell of rain, and as I was attending the show as an exhibitor (promoting the Surrey and Sussex Acorn Users' Group), I arrived bright and early. Our first impression on walking into the Collingwood Suite, Welwyn Garden City was that it was so small! - "snug" was the word that Geoff used to describe it. Doors opened at 10am, and in trickled the people... a few at first, but by quarter past 10 the place was beginning to buzz with people and it didn't seem so small any more.
Our stand was in a really great position right between the Acorn stand, and the Xemplar stand. Acorn were proudly demonstrating Phoenix their (still-in-beta) frames and tables capable web browser, the new window manager which allows windows inside windows (and even windows inside the iconbar!), the new multitasking Reply Movies, and the NC. Incidentally, Acorn made an admirable recovery from a near-disaster involving a bunch of faulty network cables!
On Xemplar's stand was (amongst other things) a Newton eMate 300 - Apple's new bizarrely shaped portable computer designed primarily for use in schools.
There was a number of events being run throuhgout the day, which unfortunately I didn't manage to see. The Demo Party was (as the name suggests), a demo-writing contest, and was won by the Nutters 'Fluero demo'. The prize was a Casio QV10 Digital camera with software, donated by Acorn. The Music competition was won by Toby Gill, who received a copy of ReMIDI and a year's subscription to Acorn User. Unfortunately there didn't seem to have been enough room for everyone to attend these events, but as this was the first Acorn show of its type, it must have been very hard to predict the number of attendees and the interest expected in the event!
There was also a tiebreaker question, which was "if you launched an Acorn computer, what would you call it?", which had the following winning entries:
Overall, the show was a big success. The enthusiast atmosphere was great, it was easier to chat to the exhibitors without the pressure to buy, and the exhibitors were offering some very tempting discounts as a result of the cheaper exhibition space than at the big shows. There is already an Acorn Southeast Show '98 being planned, and also the possibility of an Acorn Southwest Show in the early part of next year.