Archive for February, 2009

Member Registrations Re-Enabled in VC&G Forums

Saturday, February 28th, 2009

Vintage Computing and Gaming ForumsI've got good news for those of you who previously wanted to register an account in the VC&G Discussion Forums but couldn't: the forums are open once again for new member registration.

Registration has been closed for a while because of a recent influx of spambots. But thanks to a couple new anti-spam measures I put in place, I can finally re-open the forum to new members. Sorry it took so long — hopefully the new spambot-deterrents will hold up. If not, we also have moderators on hand to chase the evil spambots away.

VC&G Interview: Jerry Lawson, Black Video Game Pioneer

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

Jerry LawsonIn late 2006, I received a large collection of vintage computer magazines from a friend. For days I sat on my office floor and thumbed through nearly every issue, finding page after page of priceless historical information. One day, while rapidly flipping through a 1983 issue of Popular Computing, I encountered a photo that stopped me dead in my tracks.

There I discovered, among a story on a new computer business, a picture of a black man. It might seem crazy, but after reading through hundreds of issues of dozens of publications spanning four decades, it was the first time I had ever seen a photograph of a black professional in a computer magazine. Frankly, it shocked me — not because a black man was there, but because I had never noticed his absence.

That discovery sent my mind spinning with questions, chiefly among them: Why are there so few African-Americans in the electronics industry? Honestly, I didn't know any black engineers or scientists to ask. I tried to track down the man in the magazine, but all my leads ended up nowhere. I'd have to put the matter aside and wait for another opportunity to address the issue.

[ Continue reading VC&G Interview: Jerry Lawson, Black Video Game Pioneer » ]

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Double Dungeons

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

Double Dungeons - TurboGrafx-16 Cover ArtNow we know where those sword-shaped cocktail spears came from.

I seem to recall a 1UP.com feature a few years back that named this colorful airbrush illustration from Double Dungeons (TurboGrafx-16, 1990) as some of the worst cover art of all time. I'd have to disagree. While kinda cheesy by modern standards, I found it captivating when I was a kid. It made me want to play the game, which is probably the goal, right?

[ From Double Dungeons Instruction Booklet, 1990 ]

Discussion topic of the week: Share your nominations for the best and worst video game cover art of all time.

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.

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] L.A. Crackdown

Monday, February 16th, 2009

Epyx L.A. Crackdown Ad - 1988Take the law into your own hands.

[ From Compute's Gazette for Commodore Users, June 1988 ]

Discussion topic of the week: EPYX made a number of great games in the 1980s. Do you have a favorite?

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.

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Software Piracy

Monday, February 9th, 2009

Software Piracy - Byte - May 1981It's the software Vikings!

Heh. And you thought digital piracy was a new problem. It's actually as old as the PC software business itself. Some of the earliest evidence of this comes from a famous February 1976 open letter to the Homebrew Computer Club in which Bill Gates (then "General Partner" of a small company called Micro-Soft) protested the rampant "theft" of his company's popular Altair BASIC.

Reflect on that date for a moment: February 1976 — less than a year after the Altair 8800 launched the personal computer revolution, people were already illegally copying Microsoft products with great abandon. (Some things never change.) Of course, selling pre-programmed software for personal computers was a new concept back then. And heck, personal computers were a new concept back then.

But as time passed and PCs grew in influence, the piracy problem didn't go away. In fact, it continued as a hot-button topic throughout most of the 1980s. BYTE magazine devoted its May 1981 issue to the subject, commissioning its regular cover artist, Robert Tinney, to provide a visual hook for the monthly theme. Meditating on "software piracy," Tinney concocted a potent and iconographic image of a fierce viking ship cutting through rough seas, its massive floppy disk sail standing at full mast. To this day, the image (seen above) remains Tinney's most famous illustration from the BYTE years.

If his prints of this image hadn't sold out long ago, I'd buy one in a heartbeat.

[ From BYTE, May 1981 ]

Discussion topic of the week: Do you pirate commercial software? Why or why not?

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.

How Times (and Cameras) Have Changed

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009

Press Photographers crowd around Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1951Press photographers wait for Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1951
Photo: Gordon Parks / LIFE

A crowd scrambles to photograph President Obama, 2009Crowd members photograph Barack Obama, 2009
Photo: Pete Souza / White House

Digital technology has transmogrified today's consumer cameras into tiny, futuristic-looking gadgets. Notice how nobody holds them to their face anymore — they just stare at LCD screens.

Not only have the cameras changed, but the photographers have changed as well: it seems that everyone has an imaging device in their pocket these days. With the help of a blog, flickr account, or YouTube, ordinary people on the street often beat professional photojournalists to the punch when it comes to breaking news.

Of course, press photographers still exist in 2009, and their cameras are much bigger and more professional-looking than those seen here. I was just struck by the contrast between the flashbulb-slingers of old and the average citizen photographer of today.

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Ultima V

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

Origin Ultima V Commodore 64 Ad - 1988(click to see full scan)

[ From Compute's Gazette for Commodore Users, December 1988 ]

Discussion topic of the week: What's your favorite entry in the Ultima computer game series?

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.