Archive for December, 2009

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Sony 3.5″ Floppy Disk

Monday, December 28th, 2009

Sony 3.5This reminds me of a psychic parlor trick.

The Sony-designed 3.5″ floppy drive (1982) first made waves in the mid-1980s with its use in the Apple Macintosh, released in 1984. The format quickly gained popularity in the PC market and overtook the 5.25″ floppy disk in overall usage by the early 1990s. PC clone manufacturers, many of whom had supported both the larger and smaller floppy formats, eventually stopped including 5.25″ drives in their machines.

Today, 3.5″ floppy drives are rarely found in new PCs thanks to more capacious CD-Rs, removable flash media (especially USB thumb drives), and nearly ubiquitous computer networking. However, that hasn't stopped Windows XP from requiring @#^$ RAID drivers on a floppy disk when it's being installed.

[ From Macazine, January 1987 ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: Do you still use 3.5″ floppy disks regularly? What for?

The Ghosts of Christmas Games Past

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

The Ghosts of Christmas Games Past

Last Sunday, PC World published my last slideshow of the year, The Ghosts of Christmas Games Past. It examines twelve retro Christmas video/computer games from the dawn of time right up to ten years before the present.

Sorry I didn't tell you guys about the article earlier this week; it slipped past me and I didn't know it was up yet.

Once again, Merry Christmas!

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Kickle Cubicle Blows In

Monday, December 21st, 2009

Kickle Cubicle NES Ad - 1990"No more Mr. Ice Guy."

It looks like Kickle Cubicle visited much of the Eastern U.S. coast over the weekend with a nasty snowstorm; hope you guys are digging out all right. Here in NC, some of us lucked out with a light dusting and a lot of rain.

Kickle Cubicle itself is a fun, Lolo-esque NES puzzler with a silly name that hints at both kicking and modular office partitions (thankfully, cubicles do not actually appear in the game). If you run across it, I highly recommend picking it up.

Merry Christmas from VC&G!

[ From Video Games and Computer Entertainment, December 1990 ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: It’s Santa time once again. If you could magically (and freely) have any one item for your classic computer or video game collection, what would it be?

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Give The Gift of TRS

Monday, December 14th, 2009

TRS-80 Model 100 Snow Christmas Ad - 1984Red Wizard, your life force is running out.

I'm presently so sick that I'm about to keel over and mop the floor with my head, so you'll have to provide your own commentary on this one. All I know is that the TRS-80 Model 100 is awesome, I have two of them, and I took one apart for PC World last year.

And look — Christmas theme!

[ From Computers and Electronics, December 1984 ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: Have you ever bought someone a computer for Christmas? Tell us about it.

Apple's Five Most Important Printers

Sunday, December 13th, 2009

Apple's Five Most Important Printers

Younger computer fans may not know this, but for almost twenty years (1980-1999), Apple, Inc. sold Apple-brand printers for use with its computers — a fact that's easy for us to forget today, ten years since Apple shipped its last printer.

That being so, Macworld recently asked me to write an article about Apple's long history in the printer business. I was happy to take the assignment, of course, and a few days ago, Macworld published the result, titled "Apple's Five Most Important Printers." I structured the article along the same lines as the popular Mac laptops piece I did back in September.

In the course of writing the article, I learned more than I thought I'd ever know about Apple printers, and I enjoyed the research process quite a bit. Of particular interest was Apple's original LaserWriter (1985, seen above), a famous peripheral that holds a monumentally important place in computer history.

I also created a companion slideshow of various Apple printers for Macworld, which you can see here. I hope you enjoy it.

[ Retro Scan Special ] Milton-Bradley Microvision

Monday, December 7th, 2009

Milton-Bradley Microvision Box Front - 1979A Well-Loved Milton-Bradley Microvision Box (Front)

[ From Milton-Bradley Microvision Box (Front), ca. 1979 ]

Thirty years ago last month, Milton-Bradley released the world's first handheld game console with interchangeable cartridges, the Microvision. As a result, the Microvision was the first handheld "system" in the classic sense: it allowed the user to play numerous arbitrary software titles on a single base console.

As you may have read in my last VC&G post, I recently celebrated this anniversary over at PC World with a slideshow of handheld system history.

It always pains me when I don't have the time to write up an in-depth history of the subject I'm focused on at any given time, so to compensate a bit, I'd like to share some scans of assorted Milton-Bradley Microvision paraphernalia that I've assembled.

[ Continue reading [ Retro Scan Special ] Milton-Bradley Microvision » ]

30 Years of Handheld Game Systems

Monday, December 7th, 2009

30 Years of Handheld Game Systems on PC World

My latest PC World article celebrates the 30th anniversary of the Milton-Bradley Microvision with a look back at handheld game systems of the past. Here's an excerpt from the introduction:

Thirty years ago this fall, Milton Bradley released the world's first handheld video game system with interchangeable cartridges, the Microvision. Prior to 1979, handheld electronic games were stuck with one predetermined game (or set of games) per unit. After the Nintendo Game Boy debuted a decade later, the market for cartridge-based handheld devices exploded, inspiring hardware vendors both prominent and obscure to release gadgets for playing multiple games on the go.

I spent quite a bit of time hand-crafting the slides (and writing the text, of course), so I think it's one of my better slide shows. I hope you enjoy it.

As a side note, the anniversary of the Microvisions's release was actually last month (November 2009), but due to delays in PC World's publishing schedule, my article was pushed back until now.