Archive for the 'Humor' Category

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Surfin' The Net!

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

PopSci for Kids September-October 1995 CoverOuch. Get off my hand, you tiny mounted knight.

Few magazine covers represent the playful optimism of the early Internet craze years like this cover of PopSci for Kids from 1995. Before the public understood what the Internet really meant, it was up to journalists (who usually didn't know either) to tell them. This resulted in lots of visual hyperbole (see children happily trapped inside a computer above) and colorful metaphors like "surfin' the net" to convey the energy and potential of something that, in reality, looked rather mundane on the screen.

Did these whimsical and exaggerated media tactics succeed? I think so, because that little thing called The Internet became much more popular than even journalists in 1995 could imagine. There is no doubt that the media played a large part in popularizing the global computer network in its early public years.

[ From PopSci for Kids, September/October 1995, cover ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: When was the first time you surfed the 'Net? Did you feel like you were actually surfing on a digital surf board made of ones and zeros?

10 Computer RPGs That Defined the 1980s

Monday, March 12th, 2012

10 Computer RPGs That Defined the 1980s

Over the weekend, PCMag.com published a slideshow I put together covering 10 classic computer RPGs of the 1980s. Here is a passage from the introduction that excited Slashdot recently:

Throughout our story, we'll cover 10 classic computer games that both defined and extended the definition of the RPG in the 1980s. You'll see names like Ultima, The Bard's Tale, and Might and Magic, which may seem familiar, but you'll also find a few surprising titles that you may never have heard of.

It's funny — I was going to try to sneak this one past the Internet populace with a modest, unassuming title instead of something like "THE TEN MOST IMPORTANT RPGS OF THE 1980S." But nooo, someone found it anyway, dug out the interesting kernel of truth buried in the introduction, and put it on Slashdot for all to see.

I bet if I had titled it something like "10 Games," we would be hearing about it on the CBS Evening News tonight.

All that being said, I hope you enjoy it.

Read "10 Classic Computer RPGs" at PCMag.com

Ask the Chessmaster

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

Ask the Chessmaster

Greetings, my fellow chess fans. Welcome to The Chessmaster.

That is, welcome to a new feature where I, The Chessmaster, will answer your personal letters to the best of my chessly ability.

Since I have been playing chess almost non-stop for over 300 years, I thought it might be a good time to bring my accumulated wisdom directly to the people.

In preparation for this column, I have been soliciting questions from a troubled American populace for the last six months. It is my hope that my responses will benefit all readers as much as they help those who submitted the questions.

With that out of the way, let's get to the first question.

[ Continue reading Ask the Chessmaster » ]

You Know It's an Old Website If…

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

You Know Its An Old Website If...

Just a little while ago on Twitter, I started spouting out some one liners, Jeff Foxworthy style, about how you know if a website is old. I love coming across old websites, so it's fun to spit these out.

I can't guarantee that they're funny, but I think they're at least amusing. People liked them enough that I decided to post my lines here and ask you guys to continue the list. I may add more to it over time.

  • You know it's an old website if…
    …every image on the site rotates.
  • You know it's an old website if…
    …they refer to AltaVista in the present tense.
  • You know it's an old website if…
    …you found it through a web ring.
  • You know it's an old website if…
    …it says "Best viewed in IBM WebExplorer."
  • You know it's an old website if…
    …your browser complains that there's no MIDI plug-in installed.
  • You know it's an old website if…
    …it forces you to enter the site through a splash page.
  • You know it's an old website if…
    …it asks you not to hotlink the GIF images.
  • You know it's an old website if…
    …every single link on the page '404s.
  • You know it's an old website if…
    …the owner claims it's "under construction."
  • You know it's an old website if…
    …it brags about having 1,000 hits.

Now it's your turn. Add your one-liners in the comments below.

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Thomas Jefferson's Apple III

Monday, July 4th, 2011

Thomas Jefferson Apple III Apple II Ad - 1981"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created floppy…no, wait."
(click above to see the full advertisement)


10 REM DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE TEST BY THOMAS JEFFERSON
15 REM IN HIS BASEMENT, JULY 4TH, 1776, 14K FREE
20 PRINT "WE HOLD THESE TRUTHS TO BE ____"; INPUT I
30 IF I = "SELF-EVIDENT" THEN GOTO 100
40 IF I = "TURKEY FLAVORED" THEN GOTO 200
50 IF I = "ONLY TRUE IF YOU ARE MARTHA" THEN GOTO 300
60 IF I = "COMPLETELY FALSE" THEN GOTO 400
70 GOTO 20
100 PRINT "EXCELLENT! I LIKE YOU."; GOTO 500
200 PRINT "TRY AGAIN, FRANKLIN."; GOTO 20
300 PRINT "GO BRUSH YOUR WOODEN TEETH."; GOTO 20
400 PRINT "HOW DID THIS MAKE IT TO ENGLAND?"; GOTO 20
500 END

Happy Independence Day from Vintage Computing and Gaming

[ From Interface Age, 1981 ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: If most computers were manufactured in the USA today, would you be more or less likely to buy them?

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] A Packard Bell

Monday, May 30th, 2011

Packard Bell Legend 650 Plus in Sears Wish Book 1992It's just, you know, one a them computers. One a them things. Don't work.

[ From Sears Wish Book, 1992, p.728 ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: In your words, what is a computer?

Head-Tripping 3D Art of the Early 1990s

Sunday, May 29th, 2011

Head-Tripping 3D Art of the Early 1990s on PCMag.com

Up now on PCMag is a slideshow I made showcasing freaky-weird 3D amateur computer art of the early 1990s. It's composed mostly of GIF files from the BBS era that I've been collecting for some time now.

Here's a snippet of the introduction:

Back in the early 1990s, when 3D computer-generated art was still a new thing, a brave new breed of amateur artists emerged. They took up early 3D CGI (computer generated imagery) tools and created graphical works that they then shared on dial-up BBSes and CompuServe.

Over the years, I've collected dozens of these now-vintage images, and I recently noticed that many of them are, well, more than a little bizarre.

When you're done checking out the slideshow, feel free to post your fondest memories of vintage CGI graphics. And if you have any bizarre 3D CGI images of your own to share, please post a link.

The 11 Most Influential Online Worlds of All Time

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

The 11 Most Influential Virtual Worlds of All Time on PCWorld.com

CYBERSPACE (echo, echo, echo…):

The future of mankind or an ingenious scheme to sell virtual furniture for real money?

It's been a while since I've done a slideshow where I attempted to quantify the unquantifiable and rank a series of things in order from least to greatest. I'm typically not a fan of the format because the results are always subjective, but I still think it works because it stimulates public thought and gives me a good excuse to both entertain and educate on a subject I love.

The subject, in this case, is online worlds, where people gather together in virtual space to buy/sell mouse-crafted Furry outfits, chat about LARPing, and construct entire worlds filled with simulated genitalia.

So without further ado, I present to you "The 11 Most Influential Virtual Worlds of All Time" over at PC World. I hope you enjoy it.

When you're done reading/pounding your fists, feel free to tell us about your favorite online worlds in the comments below.

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Spawn: The Video Game

Monday, March 21st, 2011

Spawn for Super NES SNES Ad - 1995"Unleash the fury of the full force blast!"

Ah yes, Spawn: the game that launched a thousand thugs…directly off the roof of a building.

I'll pause while you watch the video.

Aside from that slight programming snafu, Spawn is a passable, if graphically rich, platform beat-em-up for the Super NES. Does anybody out there own this game? How do you feel about it?

[ From Wizard, December 1995, back cover ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: What's your favorite comic book-based video game?

12 Last-Minute Tech Halloween Costume Ideas (PCMag)

Friday, October 29th, 2010

12 Last-Minute Tech Halloween Costume Ideas (PCMag)

If you like my regular VC&G series of Halloween costume ideas, then you might enjoy this piece I just whipped up for PCMag, titled "12 Last-Minute Tech Halloween Costume Ideas." Readers seeking practical costume ideas may be disappointed, but readers expecting boatloads of Benj-style Halloween humor will hit the jackpot. Or at least I hope so.

Happy Halloween!


Here's a list of the VC&G Halloween Costume Ideas articles:

2010 Video Game Edition
2009 Video Game Edition
2008 Video Game Edition
2007 Video Game Edition
2006 Video Game Edition
2006 Computer Edition