Archive for September, 2008

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Trapped in a Terminal Maze

Monday, September 29th, 2008

SWTPC Terminals - BYTE 1981Somebody call the fire marshal.
(Click above for full advertisement)

There's nothing quite like the warm glow of a green screen terminal. I've never used a SWTPC terminal like those featured here, but I had a few DEC VT-125s with similar displays that I tinkered around with as a teenager. Now my terminal collection is larger, but there's just something about that green phosphor CRT — maybe it's a sentimental favorite of mine because I first learned to program BASIC on an Apple II+ with a green monochrome monitor. After that, amber- and white phosphor displays always seemed cold and impersonal by comparison.

[ From BYTE, July 1981 ]

Discussion topic of the week: Terminal Time! What's the best terminal you've ever used? For those of you who never had to use dedicated terminals, tell us your favorite terminal emulation software.

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[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Game Boy Punishment?

Monday, September 22nd, 2008

Hudson Game Boy Ad - EGM 1993(Click above for full advertisement)

The promise of the Game Boy could never have been made more clear than in this 1993 ad by Hudson. Confined to your room? No problem; play your Game Boy. The portable nature of Nintendo's first handheld console opened up incredible new possibilities for how and where you could play video games.

Those possibilities felt very real when I finally convinced my dad to buy me a used Game Boy around 1990. (Sure, it had just come out in 1989, but it felt like forever because I was begging my parents for one all along the way.) With the Game Boy, I could play video games in the car, in school (although I never did), in bed at night, and I even remember wandering through the local art museum — black Game Boy earbuds in place — glued to Tetris instead of paying attention to the paintings. Oh, that glorious stereo sound. Those were amazing days indeed.

[ From Electronic Gaming Monthly, June 1993 ]

Discussion topic of the week: What was the first handheld electronic game you ever played? Also, feel free to share your first Game Boy experience.

If you use this image on your site, please support "Retro Scan of the Week" by giving us obvious credit for the original scan and entry. Thanks.

Apple I For Sale

Monday, September 15th, 2008

Apple 1 For Sale- Keyboard Apple 1 For Sale - PC Board

[ Update: 02/11/2010 - Rick Conte donated this Apple I to the Maine Personal Computer Museum in 2009 ]

It's not every day that an original Apple I goes up for sale. In fact, it's not every year that an Apple I goes up for sale. In case you didn't know, the Apple I is an exceedingly rare machine.

Apple Computer LogoHow rare? Well, various sources on the net say that about 200 units of Apple's first computer were produced, and perhaps 30-50 survive to this day. To find out the truth behind these numbers, I checked with the designer of the Apple I himself, Steve Wozniak. But first, it's time for a little history.

Apple co-founders Wozniak and Steve Jobs originally sold the Apple I for $666.66 (US) in 1976. With the help of friends, the duo built each and every Apple I by hand, although admittedly, there's wasn't much to the primitive machine. It shipped without an enclosure, keyboard, power supply, or display; the buyer was expected to furnish those parts. (Many people built them into briefcases, like the one seen here.)

[ Continue reading Apple I For Sale » ]

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] James Bond on CompuServe

Monday, September 15th, 2008

Compuserve T-Shirts - CompuServe Magazine 1995The Man with the Golden Gun

I spent more hours on CompuServe in the early 1990s than I probably should have — considering it cost something like $4.80 (US) an hour. But of all the commercial online services at the time, CompuServe's combination of history (it had been running since 1969), depth, and variety blew the others out of the water. I scanned this particular ad from CompuServe Magazine, which — believe it or not — was one of my favorite magazines back then. Ah, the good 'ole days.

I'm guessing that CompuServe actually found a member named "James Bond" and got him to pose for this advertisement. He may look harmless, but that gun is filled with instant death acid; it's one of Q's new toys.

[ From CompuServe Magazine, September 1995 ]

Discussion topic of the week: Did you ever use a commercial online service such as CompuServe, Prodigy, AOL, Delphi, or Q-Link? Share your memories and your favorites below.

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[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Boil Over with Mr. Cool

Monday, September 8th, 2008

Mr. Cool - Electronic Games 1983"The ice cube cometh."

Yep, Mr. Cool is little more than Q*bert on ice — but this one requires a touch of SuperCool to win. Somehow, Mr. Cool himself looks like he was plucked from an episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force.

I remember playing this for the Atari 800 and not being too impressed. But oh well; clones will be clones. (Psst — remember Donkey King?)

[ From Electronic Games, December 1983 ]

Discussion topic of the week: Share your memories of video game clones. Any favorites? Any ridiculous examples?

If you use this image on your site, please support "Retro Scan of the Week" by giving us obvious credit for the original scan and entry. Thanks.

Hurricane Flashback

Monday, September 1st, 2008

Hurricane Bertha - 12 Jul 1996

With hurricane Gustav bearing down upon the Gulf coast of America, our minds inevitably turn to the powerful storms and the havoc they rain down upon those living within their reach. Growing up in North Carolina, I've experienced a few hurricanes in my short lifespan, even though I don't live on the coast. The worst for me personally, by far, was Fran, which flew far inland and leveled a hundred trees in my family's back yard. Hurricanes are ominous and frightening reminders that despite all of mankind's advances, we have yet to control weather's powerful and chaotic flow.

But our hands aren't fully tied: we can watch the weather and try to understand it. And the more we understand something, the less scary it seems. Imagine a hurricane hitting in a time before satellites or weather radar — with no more warning than the changing wind and a darkened sky.

[ Continue reading Hurricane Flashback » ]

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] TV is Now Here

Monday, September 1st, 2008

Benj's Cedar ChestA few years ago, I brought home a large old cedar chest that had once belonged to my grandmother. It had languished, mostly forgotten, in my parents' basement since my grandmother's death in 1992. Upon cracking it open, I was instantly overwhelmed by the stale funk of old paper. My wife, sensitive to allergies, had to leave the room.

Among the greeting cards, family quilts, and my grandfather's WWII uniform, I found the source of the smell: a large stack of vintage newspapers that my grandmother treasured. Some of the papers were fascinating windows to America's past — chronicling John Glenn in space, the first landing on the moon, and the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Others dealt with less meaningful issues to me, such as unusually heavy winter weather or local events of eastern Tennessee.

Seeing an opportunity for Retro Scan of the Week, I combed through the newspapers looking for interesting material that I could share. The example you see below is the oldest VC&G-relevant ad I could find (I found others that I'll post later). It's a 1954 advertisement for a Westinghouse television set sold by "Don Cherry Tire Company."

TV is Here - Westinghouse 1954Chattanooga's Greatest TV Value

The headline, while amazing to us today, is somewhat self-explanatory: in 1954, television was coming into many American households for the first time. We're witnessing, in print, the birth of an essential component of the personal computer and video game revolution — the affordable home TV set. Ironically, the small (likely 12-15″) black and white TV you see above sold for about $2,125.64 in 2008 dollars. Remember that the next time you plop down two grand for a new 42″ plasma.

Interestingly, I found a color ad for the same TV seen above on another site. And another here.

[ From The Chattanooga Times - April 12th, 1954 ]

Discussion topic of the week: Tell us about your family TV set as a kid: when did your family get it, how big was it, and did you use it with home computers or video games?

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