The Computer Faire & BEXA

NASREC showgrounds parking lot

While not nearly in the same league as its overseas counterparts COMDEX, CeBIT, CES or IFA, the annual “Computer Faire” was a key South African exhibition for those interested in IT/computer technology and office automation.

It was the largest event of its kind in the southern hemisphere.

On a personal level, the Computer Faire was the annual mecca for new technology, demonstrations of the latest gadgetry, and “special bargains”.

The first time I went was on the 20th of May 1992 — a few months after I bought my first computer. I dread to think of how many thousands of rands I left there over the years, or how much hardware, pamphlets, business cards, or other freebies I came home with!

SysOps are VIP guests. NOT!

What I also returned with between 1995 and 1998 were four complimentary CD-ROMs.

Although they’re rather shameless plugs for the companies involved in their production (the launch of the country’s first CD production plant in 1991 was a matter of national pride), they do include a wealth of information about events that transpired and companies that expired: Who remembers big names like Ashton-Tate, Borland, Central Point, Digital Research, Dr. Solomon, Groupwise, Lotus, Stacker, Quark, or WordPerfect?

This particular section buried deep within the hierarchy of the 1996 CD, for instance, provides a wonderfully nostalgic introduction to the early internet from a South African perspective. It’s a fun trip into the past. In fact, I had to use Windows 3.1 to export some of the text. One disc had become partially unreadable.

This page showcases their most interesting and historically relevant content. Dig in!

Complete ISO rips will be available via the Internet Archive, video clips via YouTube.

Image credits: Scans and screen captures by hmvh DOT net

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