The History of the Cornell University Classic Computer Club

Way back a long time ago, when I was an undergraduate at Cornell University, I had a thing for old computers (or, as I preferred to think of them, “classic computers”).

By late 1994, my interest had turned into obsession, and I recruited a couple of friends to join the fun. We'd scour the campus looking for old PDP-11’s and VT-100 terminals that departments were throwing away, and finagle them. More often than not, they were only too happy to give away their junk to a bunch of loony undergrads.

We decided we wanted to go legit when we had no more room in our dorm rooms to put anything. So we looked into what it would take to become an official school club. It turns out, not much. We needed a faculty advisor and we needed to fill out a form.

After finding our advisor in the very put-upon Hurf Sheldon at the PCG, we submitted our form. It was rejected, because we hadn't stated our official bylaws

Well, we were just an informal gathering of friends, so we found the idea of bylaws rather silly. Late one night, my friend phooky sat down and penned up the following rather irreverent draft, which got us our club. It is preserved here for posterity.

The Constitution of the Cornell University Classic Computer Club

Version 1.0, October 1994

/* note: article numbers are in binary notation */

Article 0000. Club Charter

The Cornell University Classic Computer Club (CUCCC) is a student organization dedicated to the discussion and preservation of antique or “classic” computing equipment. We believe that the development of new computing techniques and equipment is well served by consideration of the innovations (and miserable failures) of the computer scientists and engineers of the past. Many of the elegant computing refinements of the early days of computing are now overlooked, and we feel it is our responsibility to bring these refinements to light.

Article 0001. Membership

Membership is open to anyone in the Cornell community with a genuine interest in computing technique, design, or history. At this point there are no membership fees or dues, although collections may be instituted on a per-instance basis (i.e. who's going to pay for this pizza, or a ramen fund).

Article 0010. Organization

The CUCCC has a very informal organizational structure. Effectively, there are three offices in the CUCCC: President, Officer, and Member. A member is defined as any person who wishes to become a member of the CUCCC and makes his/her presence known to the Officers or President.

An officer is anyone familiar with the club who wishes to take a more active role in regular club activities (i.e. preparing newsletters, ordering pizza, conning members into moving heavy computing equipment for them). It is assumed that officers will (generally speaking) attend most or all of the club's meetings. Please note that the classification between officer and die-hard member is a somewhat esoteric issue.

The president of the CUCCC is responsible for initiating and organizing all meetings of the club and serves in a motivational role as an inspiration to us all. The selection of a suitable president is described in Article 110, Referendum and Recall (JMP 110).

Article 0011. Advisor

The CUCCC's faculty advisor's tenure is defined as however long said advisor is interested in aiding and abetting the club. In the event that the club is required to elect a new advisor, said advisor shall be selected from the field of eligible candidates in the same manner as a new president (JMP 110).

Article 0100. Meetings

Meetings are fairly informal and at this juncture are held at irregular intervals. A regular schedule for meetings is to be determined by the president and officers in the near future. Meetings may be held in any locale deemed appropriate by the president and officers, although an easily assessable location, preferably within spitting distance of any/all equipment to be discussed, is recommended. Emergency meetings may be called by any officer or active member of the club at any hour. Emergencies include (but are not limited to) sudden machine crashes, procurement or transportation of new material for the club, late-night brainstorms, sudden urges for pizza, wings, and octal, etc. Officers reserve the right to call upon other members in the middle of the night, but are reminded to be respectful of social restrictions and regular sleeping hours. Late-night or off-hour calls to uninterested parties are strictly forbidden.

Attendance at meetings is always optional, but always highly recommended as a source of dialogue, social interaction, and funky ideas.

Attendance is defined as the conscious presence of an active CUCCC member in any form, be it physical, audial, or electronic.

Article 0101. Quorum

For any official CUCCC business to be conducted, the following conditions must be met:

If these conditions are not met, the gathering is not permitted the status of Meeting and is simply considered a Buncha Folks Hanging Out. Generally, it is encouraged that at least one machine developed or made before 1978 be present and running for formal occasions.

Article 0110. Referendum and Recall

This article is divided into two sections:

0110.0 Meeting agenda and structure.

Meetings are generally opened by the president if there is one present. If there is a specific agenda already determined for the meeting, then it is immediately followed. In other cases, ideas for a course of discussion are accepted and a course of action is determined by majority vote. Once the agenda is determined, it is promptly discarded and the meeting may begin. Discussion and activity shall be restricted to computer-related topics, save in the event that said activity or conversation strays from the range of computer-related topics, in which case members are encouraged to pursue the current course of conversation or action with extreme zest.

0110.1 Selection of new president or advisor

This section describes the protocol used for selecting a new CUCCC president or advisor. In the scope of this section the position to be filled (president or advisor) shall be referred to as the parameter.

The selection of the parameter is only to be determined when an actual Meeting is in session and at least one-fourth of the club's total membership is present. If there exists an “heir-apparent” to the parameter then a call for dissent will be issued. If no dissent exists or dissent is subdued by discussion or other non-intimidating means (i.e. no clubbing dissenters over the head with blunt heavy DEC equipment) then the “heir-apparent” is determined to be the new parameter. In case of dissent, all viable candidates who wish to possess the parameter position must make their intentions known and a secret ballot is conducted. The winner of said ballot becomes the new parameter. In the event of a tie, the club must schism into as many factions as is necessary to provide the necessary number of positions. If this is not an acceptable solution for the current club membership, an alternative solution may be to simply declare all the tied candidates to jointly possess the parameter position. (Note that a clever club membership could conspire to elect the entire club as president. Of course, one stray vote is all that is required to shift the balance and drive the club into a dictatorship.)

Article 0111. Reserved

There is no article 111 at this time. This article is reserved for future expansion.

Article 1000. Amendments

The constitution may be amended by the members at any Meeting at which at least one-half of the membership of the CUCCC is present in some form. Any amendments may be proposed by any member at such a meeting. Any amendments must be passed by a public yea-nay ballot in which all votes are made public. A simple majority is required to pass an amendment. Any amendments to the constitution take effect as soon as the club president is informed of their content and passing.

Article 1001. Cookie

Congratulations on reading this far in our constitution. You are hereby duly rewarded. Have a cookie.

Article 1010. Storage

Due to the large volumes of physical space much of the club's equipment and literature consumes, members may be asked at various times to store various (legal) materials for the club. It is generally encouraged that members with access to safe storage spaces tithe some proportion of said space to club materials. Any individual that manages to find a permanent home for club materials is entitled to a Cookie, as described above.

Article 1011. Caveats and Accumulata

The CUCCC is intended to be a very informal but fairly active organization. Any excessive formality or passivity is frowned upon. At any given time, the club should be at least dabbling in at least three nontrivial projects, be it finding more storage space or trying to find some way to terminate that darned Micro-PDP in the lounge. Activity is good, decay is bad. We strive to eliminate decay or at least stave it off for as long as possible.

Article 1100. Credits and temporary administrivata

This constitution was drafted by Seth Morabito and Adam Mayer in the year Nineteen Hundred and Ninety-Four of the Common Era. At this time the club's president and guiding will-o-the-wisp is Seth Morabito. Prime motivators for the founding of the club include Seth, phooky, Al, Ralph, Dan, Hurf, Jeff, Joel Hodgson, the Authors of the First Amendment, and the computer geeks coast-to-coast.