Archive for March, 2009

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Meet Spikemaster

Monday, March 30th, 2009

Spikemaster Surge Suppressor Ad - 1985I smell a potential children's cartoon franchise.

I don't know what's more ridiculous: the fact that the Spikemaster surge suppressor has a humanoid superhero mascot with powers of unknown capacity, or the fact that the company producing the suppressor is named "Discwasher."

Either way, I know what I'm dressing up as this Halloween.

[ From Popular Computing, February 1985 ]

Discussion topic of the week: What do you think Spikemaster's superhero powers should be?

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[ Retro Scan of the Week ] From My Pocket to You

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

Wizard of Wor and Gorf Ad - 1980sFrom my pocket to you.

My mother was born in Texas, and my immediate family usually visited her parents every summer when I was a kid. During one of these visits as a teenager, my grandmother invited me to look through her Time Magazine collection. She led me to the back of the family's wash house, a detached building on their rural Texas property where she did the laundry. Through a side door, we entered my grandfather's generally dark and cluttered workshop. In the far corner — beyond the tools, beekeeping equipment, and motorcycle parts — I spotted three or four large cardboard barrels overflowing with old magazines. The mouse-chewn issues spilled over the edges of the containers where they had been piled haphazardly for decades.

Benj's Grandparents' Wash HouseI spent the rest of the day thumbing through musty old magazine issues from the 1970s and 80s. While reading a copy of Science Digest from 1983, I ran across the ad for Wizard of Wor and Gorf you see above. I was amazed. In my youthful zest to discover and collect all things vintage, I felt like I had uncovered a lost Egyptian tomb. I'd never before seen a vintage video game print ad — and prior to that, I didn't know that CBS had published a version of Wizard of Wor (a game I love) for the Atari 2600.

I eagerly tore out the ad page, folded it up, and stuck it in my pocket. Why I didn't take the whole magazine is unknown to me; I guess I just didn't want the rest.

Until now, the page you see above has been sitting, still folded, in my collection of vintage print materials. It's been waiting for a day like this when it can finally end its long journey from my mid-1990s pocket in Texas to you, on the Internet, today.

Afterword

A year or two later, I revisited the Texas magazine pile and found even more material, especially in Time Magazine. There were issues with cover stories on personal computers, video games, and computer viruses. That time, I took the whole issues themselves. Among them, I found a few ads for IBM systems (like this and this). I probably still have more from that collection that I can scan in the future.

[ From Science Digest, January 1983. ]

Discussion topic of the week: Tell us about your ancient computing or video game discoveries. When have you felt most thrilled at uncovering old video game or computer history?

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[ Retro Scan of the Week ] BASIC in your Pocket

Monday, March 16th, 2009

TRS-80 Pocket Computer  PC-4 Ad - 1983The iPhone has nothing on this. (Click for full advertisement.)

Here we see the state-of-the-art in 1983 pocket computer technology, the TRS-80 PC-4. I have the PC-1 in this series, and it still seems advanced. How many other pocket calculators allow you to program in full BASIC?

I remember taking my PC-1 to high school in the mid-1990s and programming on the sly in my ELP class. It felt so high tech — and my model was made in 1980! Ah, those were the days.

[ From Personal Computing, 1983 ]

Discussion topic of the week: What was the first PDA or pocket computer you ever used?

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@VC&G_Readers: Benj is on Twitter

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

https://twitter.com/benjedwards

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Rub the Game Genie

Monday, March 9th, 2009

Game Genie SNES Game Boy Ad - 1993Your wish is my command.

If my previous posts on the Game Genie are any indication (wow, they're from 2005 — that's vintage), then I'm a huge fan of the game-manipulating device — assuming, of course, that my 2005 self wasn't lying just to throw off the accuracy of a future Retro Scan post.

But heck; I shouldn't have to read my old blog posts to know that. In the early 1990s, I spent untold numbers of hours developing my own Game Genie codes for games like Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario Bros. 3 on the NES, and also for Super Mario Land for the Game Boy (I need to make a homebrew gallery about that). I loved the Game Boy Game Genie so much that I took a hacksaw to its extraneous plastic parts so it would fit on the Super Game Boy. It was a weird kind of love, but it worked.

From there, I moved on to the Super NES Game Genie (I don't recall developing my own codes for that), and I eventually bought a used Game Genie for the Sega Genesis. The only one I never acquired was the Sega Game Gear version. But I didn't have a Game Gear back then, so that would have just been silly.

[ From Electronic Gaming Monthly, November 1993 ]

Discussion topic of the week: The Game Genie: reality-bending peripheral or wussy crutch for bad players?

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[ Retro Scan of the Week ] CompuServe Borg Cube

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

CompuServe Ad - 1988Resistance is futile. (click for full advertisement)

Long-time readers of VC&G may recall me talking about my adventures on CompuServe from time to time. Needless to say, they never looked like this. But I did have a few nightmares featuring enormous floating hive-mind spaceships hooked up to my computer when I was 12.

On second thought, maybe this thing is the machine God uses to create snow — if snow indeed exists.

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

Discussion topic of the week: Star Trek or Star Wars? Better yet: Han Solo vs. William T. Riker in a knife fight — who would win?

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