Discussion Topic of the Week: In your opinion, what's the best pool/billiards video game of all time?
Just today I received an email asking for help in producing an ASCII-art style printed banner for a memorial service that will take place this Saturday, May 11th, 2013. They will be honoring a lifetime IBM veteran who passed away recently at the age of 69.
I have a few ideas on how to do it, but I'm short on time this week, so I'm hoping someone out there can help her. Here is her email (posted with permission):
Hello. My uncle recently passed away quite unexpectedly at the age of 69. We are holding his memorial on Saturday, May 11th. I have been racking my brain on a way to honor him at his memorial. My uncle was a lifetime IBM employee and computer pioneer.
In 1979, when I was 9 years old, he gave me a banner for my birthday. It was from the old dot matrix printers. It had a silhouette of Snoopy on the top of his dog house and it said "Happy Birthday Chimene". I literally thought it was the coolest thing. This was before home computers and home printers for our family. The letters were made with x or o or maybe dashes. Because my brain had no conceptual framework for the world of computers, I literally wondered if it was created by magic.
I would like to have one of these made for my uncle for his memorial. Do you have any idea how I could go about getting this done? I am not tech savvy so I would love to find someone that can do this for me and do it quickly. I know that there would be no better way for me to honor my uncle and I am desperate to find a way to get this done. Any help you can provide would be so greatly appreciated.
Post your suggestions or offers to help in the comments, and Chimene will keep an eye on them. I'll pass along your email address (leave it in the comment form) if she wants to contact you further.
In a previous Retro Scan, I cataloged one of my least-favorite brands of floppy disk storage boxes. This time, I thought I'd share an ad for the Elephant Memory Systems Trunk, one of my favorite disk storage boxes.
As far as floppy disk box designs go, the Trunk is my favorite mostly because of nostalgia. This was one of the first floppy boxes I ever used; my dad had bought one to store our Atari 800 or Apple II floppies in (can't remember which, although I still have it in my closet). Compared to other disk boxes, this one feels solid, and the build quality is high.
The Trunk does have one serious drawback, though: The lid covers so much of its outward-facing surface area that it is very hard to pick up and move around without accidentally opening it and spilling its contents on the floor.
Still, it's a pretty good floppy box. This and the Flip 'N File.
Discussion Topic of the Week: Estimate how many 5.25″ floppy disks you own. What system(s) are they for?
Discussion Topic of the Week: Has anyone ever gained unauthorized entry into one of your computers? Tell us about it.
Here's a retro-flavored Polaroid instant photo I took of my bedroom floor some point in 1995. I was 13 or 14 at the time, and I had just received a stack of Beatles CDs (upper center-left) the previous Christmas — along with my first CD player, integrated in boombox form, which can be seen seen in the upper right portion of the photo.
But I'm not posting this photo because of Beatles CDs. On the floor sit a number of retrogaming consoles and accessories: to the left is an Atari 5200 console, and in the lower right you can see a ColecoVision and the corner of an Intellivision. There are also a few Atari joysticks, a copy of Yars' Revenge for the 2600, and three copies of Intellivision Donkey Kong.
Discussion Topic of the Week: What is your favorite Game Boy game?
Back in January, I wrote an article about the world's earliest known figurative computer art for The Atlantic. It it is also likely the world's first digital computer artwork as well.
(Check out this timeline of computer art history to get an idea where this piece fits in.)
The only known physical record of this circa 1956-58 pin-up diagnostic, which ran on SAGE computer systems, comes from a Polaroid photograph snapped by U.S. airman Lawrence A. Tipton in early 1959. Tipton retains the original print, although it will likely go to a museum soon (more on that when it happens).
The digital image of the photo used in my Atlantic article was provided by Tipton to a SAGE historian over a decade ago. It was previously the highest-quality version of the photo I had access to, and that posed a few problems. Someone (likely Tipton himself) had hastily retouched the image, removing various scratches, and it was not presented in a high enough resolution to examine in detail.
To remedy that, Tipton was kind enough to make a high resolution scan of the original print and mail it to me on CD-ROM back in February. With his permission, I am providing the high-resolution scan of the pin-up console photo unretouched and unmodified below so that (a) others may learn from it and (b) to ensure that our only record of this important achievement in art is not lost.
My family owned this exact printer. In fact, I think it's still sitting in my parents' attic as we speak. If I'm not mistaken, we used it with our Apple IIe system — the one my dad built from a bare circuit board and a set of cloned ROM chips (much like the one in this 2006 VC&G post).
It's probably the first printer I ever saw in action, likely before I could even walk. I can recall crawling under our computer desk (the printer was on the floor beneath it for some reason) and watching it print out whimsical banners and calendars from a program like Broderbund's The Print Shop.
But what I remember most about it, of course, was the sound it made: like a screeching robot mouse spraying lead into tractor feed paper with a tiny machine gun. Like any dot matrix printer, once you hear one in action, it will never leave you.
Those were the days.
Of course, I was still using a dot matrix printer until the early 1990s, so I am pretty much scarred for life. Mice everywhere.
Discussion Topic of the Week: What was the first printer you ever owned?
Back in the mid-late 1990s, an Internet-based BBS platform called Hotline sprung up and quickly spread throughout the Macintosh community. It was basically a client/server BBS software suite that allowed for multi-user chat, file transfers, and message boards.
By the early 2000s, though, Hotline had mostly died out. Today, only a handful of servers remain. But guess what? You can still connect to them — on Windows or a Mac. A new article I wrote for Macworld, "Hotline Revisted," tells you how.
Have fun. Remember to be kind to the Hotline veterans when you visit.
UPON ONE OF THOSE TIMES, ULAF CREATE TRY-POD MOUNT FOR THE GAME BOY COLORFUL UNIT, THE CAMERAS, WHICH THE MINDS OF NINTENDOGS CREATES SOMETIMES NEAR 1998 (WHAT A MINDS). WITH GREATEST OF THE SKILL, ULAF CARVE FOAM BETWEEN CANS OF THE SPAM (THE FAVORITE AMERICAN FOODS) HOLLOW, INTO HOLE FOR THE HOLDING OF THE GAME BOY CONSUL OF MY MIND.
WORKED WONDER FOR THE PHOTOGRAPHAGRAPHERS OF MY MIND:
ULAF PRINT ALL THOSE PHOTOGRAPHAGRAPHERS AND HUNG THEM UPON THE REFRIDGERATE OF ULAF.
BY THE WAYS, DID NOT THE GAME BOY GROWS INTO THE GAME MEN? WHERE DID THAT LITTLE BOY OF GAMING TIME GO? MATURATION AND PUBESCENCE, THAT IS WHERE. AND ABOVE ALL OF THE NOISES IT BECOME DEATH, DESTROYER OF WORLDS AND ATE MY MIND. AHHHHHH.
PERHAP ULAF EATS THE WRONG MUSHROOM.
JUST A QUICK NOTE FROM MY MIND. GO BACK TO LIFE NOW. UNTIL NEXT TIME THIS IS ULAF SAYING BE THE MASTER.
Ulaf Silchov is an expert in video games and computers. He also writes for "Svadlost Weekly" and "The Overachieving Underling Circular."