KWLUG Meeting: Monday, Feb 4 2013

A grassRoots history of the early hi-tech community in Kitchener-Waterloo

Meeting Date

For years the rest of Canada has predicted the demise of Research and Motion, and has speculated on what life would be like without RIM propping up our economy. Would Kitchener-Waterloo become a ghost town, populated by tumbleweeds, decaying storefronts, and a modicum of human inhabitants bearing shotguns as they rock rocking chairs on their front porches? (You may unleash your snarky downtown Kitchener jokes now.) Or would our little towns scrape by without the company?

With the launch of Blackberry 10, Research In Motion is no more, and we all get to see what life is like in a post-RIM Waterloo Region. (Is it too much to hope for fewer crude jokes about the nature of employment at the company?) Certainly, RIM's conclusion does not really match the defeatist predictions; the company was renamed, not dissolved. But people still conjure up all kinds of dystopias about a post-Blackberry world. Are these fears founded? Is Waterloo Region a one-trick pony?

Kevin Stumpf does not think so. According to him, Waterloo Region has been a thriving high-tech region since the 1920s. In this month's KWLUG meeting, he will present "A grassRoots history of the early hi-tech community in KW". The presentation documents many high-tech companies in the region which have come and gone, and attempts to answer the question of why high-tech companies flourish in the region. Although this presentation is not particularly Linux-centric (we poached Kevin as a guest speaker after he presented at the KW Amateur Radio Club meeting last September), it is timely and beginner-friendly.

On the topic of change, the makers at Kwartzlab also went through a transition while nobody was looking: they moved from their old Duke Street location to a new home at 33 Kent Street. On Feb 16, they will be holding a grand opening party so you can check out their new digs:

For those of you with a hankering to learn programming, the friendly people at WatPy are holding a "Learn to Code With Python" weekend at the Communitech Hub. The event will be happening Feb 22 and 23rd. You can register and read more on the WatPy website:

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Kevin Stumpf will present "anecdotal history of the early technological community in KW from 1920 to 1990". He writes:

Given the odd state of RIM (founded and based in Waterloo) it's too easy to project an odd mood over KW, but even though the situation is critical and its effects have so far been devastating, the more you know about KW you'll appreciate its resilience and see how easy it can be to visualize a healthy post-big-RIM local economy.

Imagine a workforce with a collective experience of several generations working in hi-tech? Bear in mind too that this workforce isn't just techies. It includes everyone -- clerical, administrators, and investors -- all who have been exposed to growing hi-tech business since birth. Companies grow and shrink, come and go, but people remain so there is good news for KW, as well as communities anywhere that have incubated hi-tech companies.

(Abstract excerpted from: