Meet me in the Astrocade: peace, love, and 8-bit hardware hacking - Rachel Weil

Ask developers what made them fall in love with writing code, and romantic stories abound. Copying BASIC programs out of a magazine with Mom or Dad? Learning HTML through trial and error to build a homepage for a virtual pet? Making games with Scratch or Gamemaker? What fun we’ve had through the decades! For many developers, these joyful formative experiences eventually give way to information overload, despair, cynicism, and apathy. Why? And how do we find our way back to fun?

In this talk, Rachel Simone Weil will discuss the value of the occasional retreat from large, highly active open-source communities to work on niche, obsolete electronics. Drawing from her background in fine art and computing history, Weil will share her experience hacking decades-old hardware such as the Astrocade and NES and how this kind of work promotes learning, wellbeing, and joy.

About the speaker

Rachel Weil


Rachel Simone Weil is an experimental designer whose work combines electronic nostalgia and ultracute aesthetics to write alternative histories of computing and video games. Her work, largely created through programming obsolete 8-bit microcomputers, has been shown internationally at venues such as the Dallas Museum of Art, the Platform Centre for Digital and Photographic Arts, and the Victoria and Albert Museum. She is the founder of FEMICOM Museum, an archive of girly video games and software. Weil currently works as a technical evangelist at Microsoft.