Archive for July, 2009

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Shugart Floppy Sandwich

Monday, July 27th, 2009

Shugart Mini-Floppy Ad - 1979Click above for the full advertisement.

Just your typical late-1970s scene — a poofy-haired car salesman at home in a tie with a huge sandwich, a glass of milk, a large set of keys, a generic S-100 bus computer with a TV terminal, and a book called "Trout" behind him.

He likes to fish.

Of course, the whole purpose of this scene is to push the use of "genuine" Shugart mini-floppies in the home. Shugart, if you didn't know, invented the mini-floppy. And mini-floppies, if you didn't know, are commonly known as 5 1/4″ diskettes today. They replaced the giant 8″ clown disks people used before that (read your comments about 8″ floppies here). Sadly, these smaller disks held less data at the time, but that was a small price to pay for not knocking over your friends while swapping storage media.

[ From BYTE, July 1979 ]

Discussion topic of the week: Do you still use 5 1/4″ floppies to store new or recent data? If so, what are you using them for?

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Half-Naked Astroman

Monday, July 20th, 2009

CompuServe Megawars Ad - 1982MegaWars: "The Ultimate Computer Conflict"

I betcha Neil Armstrong didn't do this while he was on the moon.

…or did he?

P.S. You can read more about MegaWars, an early online multiplayer computer game, here.

[ From Personal Computing, November 1982 ]

Discussion topic of the week: If you were a half naked combat-astronaut on an artificial planetoid, what would you do for fun?

Forty Years of Lunar Lander

Monday, July 20th, 2009

Lunar Lander 40th Anniversary on Technologizer

Forty years ago today, man set foot on the moon for the first time. To celebrate the anniversary, I decided to take a look at the history of that old computer game stalwart, Lunar Lander.

Lunar ModuleMuch to my surprise, I soon discovered that Lunar Lander itself turns 40 this year as well: a few months after Armstrong's first stroll on the moon, a high school student named Jim Storer wrote the first version — all text — on a DEC PDP-8 computer. Yep, in 1969.

Up today on Technologizer is the world's first in-depth history of Lunar Lander, one of the earliest computer games ever written. The article tells the story of the first text version, the first graphical version for the DEC GT40, and Atari's 1979 arcade game of the same title (now turning 30, interestingly enough) through information from the men who created them. It then examines notable versions of Lunar Lander through the years, bringing us up to the present.

Lunar Lander 40th Anniversary

I'd especially like to thank Jim Storer, Jack Burness, Howard Delman, and David Ahl for their help in writing my article. I couldn't have done it without them.

So without further ado, here's the history of Lunar Lander. I hope you enjoy it.

The 10 Worst Video Game Systems of All Time

Wednesday, July 15th, 2009

10 Worst Video Game Systems of All Time

Just yesterday, PC World published my slide-filled list of The 10 Worst Video Game Systems of All Time on their site. You might not agree with the list, but that's almost the point — who agrees with Internet top 10 lists anyway?

I do have to say that I don't think I could have found any worse video game consoles than those listed. Already, a few commenters at PCWorld.com have noticed that the standard Internet whipping boys (i.e. Virtual Boy, Sega 32X, Atari Jaguar, etc.) aren't on the list. Well, believe me, those systems are downright wonderful compared to the dreck examined in my article. Instead of going for the "worst popular systems," I just decided to shoot for straight-out worst, period.

And honestly, the Virtual Boy is not that bad. It has good games, and it's a great concept (albeit with a few major flaws) — it mostly just failed in the marketplace. The Jaguar has a handful of genuinely good games that are unique to the system, and in my book that disqualifies it from the list. The 32X is a little iffy, but it's still not as bad as what you'll see in my piece.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy it, for what it's worth. I'd love to hear your nominations for the worst video game systems of all time, so comment away.

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Multi-Platform Mania

Monday, July 13th, 2009

Parker Brothers Frogger Multi-Platform Ad - 1983"8 Ways You Can Play Frogger at Your Pad."

These days, big name games usually come out on a couple different platforms: Xbox 360 and PS3, and sometimes PC or Nintendo DS. But imagine a time when a standard multi-platform game release included eight computers and video game systems: Atari 5200, TI-99/4A, Atari 400/800/600XL, Intellivision, Commodore VIC-20, Atari 2600, Commodore 64, and Colecovision.

That time was 1983, as seen in the ad for Frogger above. Thanks to the lack of a common standard in home computers at the time, there were actually far more than eight computer platforms available in the early 1980s, but some of the most major are listed above (along with the main video game consoles of the day). I bet it was an enormous effort to coordinate the development and release of all those different versions within a short window of time.

[ From Personal Computing, December 1983 ]

Discussion topic of the week: For those who were there: How many computers/consoles did you own simultaneously around 1983?

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Excelerator Plus

Monday, July 6th, 2009

Excelerator Plus Disk Drive for Commodore 64 Ad - 1988"Do You Believe in Magic?"

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

Discussion topic of the week: Commodore 64 fans — what's your vote for the best C64 disk drive ever made?