Archive for the 'Regular Features' Category

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Vector Graphic Vector 1

Monday, July 27th, 2015

Vector Graphic Inc. Vector 1 computer system advertisement - 1977NOW AVAILABLE IN RUST

The Vector 1 (1977) was the first complete computer system sold by Vector Graphic, Inc., a California-based firm founded by Lore Harp (now McGovern), Carole Ely, and Bob Harp in August 1976.

The Vector 1 included an Intel 8080A or Zilog Z80 CPU, and it utilized the S-100 bus introduced by the Altair 8800. In an unusual nod to aesthetics, the Vector 1 shipped in two case color options: green or "rust," which was Vector's name for orange. It retailed for for $849 fully assembled (about $3,288 today when adjusted for inflation) or $619 as a kit.

It just so happens that I wrote an article about the history of Vector Graphic for FastCompany recently. You may enjoy it.

[ From Byte Magazine, February 1977, p.61]

Discussion Topic of the Week: Have you ever owned an S-100 based computer? Tell us about it.

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Retro Re-Releases

Monday, July 20th, 2015

Bubble Bobble Also Featuring Rainbow Islands PlayStation PS1 PSX MS-DOS advertisement - 1996"100% Rendered Black Void" — I like the humor in this ad

In the mid-1990s, much to my delight, game publishers began remaking and re-releasing classic games of the 1970s and 1980s in collections on Mac, PC, and consoles. You remember — I'm talking about titles such as Microsoft Arcade (1993), Atari 2600 Action Pack (1995), the Namco Museum series (1995-1998), Arcade Classic No. 1: Asteroids / Missile Command (1995), Williams Arcade's Greatest Hits (1996). Even Super Mario All-Stars (1993) counts to some extent.

That happened to be around the same time I started collecting old video game and computer systems, roughly in 1993, so I was happy that the industry seemed to be rediscovering these "forgotten" classics.

The awkwardly titled Bubble Bubble Also Featuring Rainbow Islands falls into the same category, being a re-release of the arcade version of Bubble Bobble and its sequel Rainbow Islands on PlayStation 1 and MS-DOS.

[ From GamePro, October 1996, p.5]

Discussion Topic of the Week: In your opinion, what are some of the best executed game retro remakes and re-releases?

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] APF Imagination Machine

Monday, July 13th, 2015

APF Imagination Machine APF-M1000 computer advertisement - 1980I'm not sure I'm ready to take such a big step, APF.

I once did a slideshow of game console-to-computer upgrades, and the APF Imagination Machine figured prominently in the list. That's because it was a combination of the APF-M1000 home video game system and the "IM-1," which was a large keyboard/speaker dock with a built-in cassette tape player (for program storage and retrieval).

What an odd machine. To my knowledge, the M1000 was the only video game system based on the Motorola 6800 CPU, which is one of the grand-daddies in the microprocessor world (first released in 1974).

While neither the console nor the computer fared well commercially, this distinctive advertisement leaves a positive impression. It was brilliantly playful and colorful for a computer ad of the time (1979; this particular scan of the ad comes from 1980).

[ From BYTE Magazine, July 1980, p.43]

Discussion Topic of the Week: Best console add-on of all time?

Satoru Iwata (1959-2015)

Monday, July 13th, 2015

Satoru Iwata, President and CEO of NintendoIn Memoriam: Satoru Iwata (1959-2015), President, Nintendo of Japan
CEO, Nintendo of America

What a horrible thing. Iwata will be sorely missed.

These days, few large company CEOs rise up through engineering (in this case, software engineering) to take the top spot at the firm. Iwata did exactly that, and that likely contributed a great deal to his success at leading Nintendo.

Nintendo needs a new rudder now. Who they choose to replace Iwata will make or break the company at this point — Nintendo is in a fragile position, poised at the edge of a transition to a new console business model designed to ensure its survival in a mobile/tablet/smartphone dominated world.

What will happen next is anybody's guess.

What happened under Iwata was amazing.

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Paladin

Monday, July 6th, 2015

Omnitrend Software Atari ST Paladin game advertisement - 1988Few people know this, but that's actually strawberry jelly

[ From ST Log, December 1988, back cover]

Discussion Topic of the Week: What's the best Atari ST-exclusive game you can think of?

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] IBM's Bizarro Alt-Reality PC

Monday, June 29th, 2015

IBM Instruments Computer System advertisement - 1983The IBM Instruments Computer System

What a strange machine. The IBM Instruments Comptuer System was a completely modular 68000-based PC with its own custom OS (CSOS, according to Wikipedia, which stood for "Computer System Operating System" — ???). It also utilized Motorola's rarely-seen Versabus bus architecture. The ICS was aimed at scientific and engineering use, and it launched in 1982 — the year following the launch of the IBM PC 5150.

Has anyone used or seen one of these? This is an oddity of oddities. Thank goodness the IBM PC didn't end up like this.

[ From BYTE Magazine, February 1983, p.116-117]

Discussion Topic of the Week: What was the first IBM brand computer you ever owned (even when collecting)?

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] George Foreman's KO Boxing

Monday, June 22nd, 2015

George Foreman's KO Boxing SNES Genesis Game Boy NES Game Gear advertisement - 1992It's not a grill, but it'll do.

[ From VG&CE, November 1992, p.29]

Discussion Topic of the Week: What's your favorite boxing video game of all time?

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Sierra Battle Bugs

Monday, June 15th, 2015

Sierra Battle Bugs advertisement Wired - November 1994"This is it, boys. Over the anthill."

[ From Wired, November 1994, p.33]

Discussion Topic of the Week: How many insect-themed computer or video games can you name off the top of your head?

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] The Toaster

Monday, June 8th, 2015

Sega Interactive Comics Sega Electronic Comics Batman Popular Science What's New - April 1995It burns your disks

I know nothing about this dual removable hard disk device — called "The Toaster" — by XCOMP. The only time I've ever seen it is in this ad. But judging by the lightning, it was completely awesome.

It was also completely expensive — about US $6,639.50 when adjusted for inflation.

[ From Byte, February 1983, p.60]

Discussion Topic of the Week: Have you ever used a removable hard disk system?

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Sega Interactive Comics

Monday, June 1st, 2015

Sega Interactive Comics Sega Electronic Comics Batman Popular Science What's New - April 1995WHAM! POW! ZAP!

I've been intrigued by this Sega Electronic Comics System prototype since I first saw it in Popular Science's What's New section back in April 1995. Here is an excerpt from that very magazine.

As far as I know, this device never made it into production — in fact, the only mention I can find of it on the Internet as of this writing is this post on the Collectors Society forums.

Apparently, the Sega Electronic Comics device worked in conjunction with a tailor-made paper comic book that one would place onto the device. A series of pressure-sensitive buttons beneath the comic book could be pressed to somehow direct the narrative of the book. (Perhaps like Choose Your Own Adventure — i.e. if you do this, turn to page 3.)

This reminds me of the comic book device Tom Hanks' character outlines in the film Big (1988), albeit without any type of electronic screen. The crazy thing is that 15 years after this Sega Prototype, you could buy an iPad that could store and display thousands of entirely digital comics in a much thinner form factor.

[ From Popular Science, April 1995, p.11]

Discussion Topic of the Week: Do you use an electronic device to read comic books? Tell us about it.