Archive for May, 2010

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Orange+Two Apple II Clone

Monday, May 31st, 2010

Orange+Two Apple II Clone Ad - 1983Like comparing Apple IIs and Oranges+Twos

There was a time in the early 1980s when one could find ads for many different unauthorized Apple II clones in the back of just about any computer magazine. The ads promised inexpensive reverse-engineered copies of the Apple II computer hardware designed to use Apple II software and peripherals. Apple wasn't too happy about the illicit machines and even managed to win some import bans on them in the US, but many remained on the market.

Some folks, like my father, even bought underground replicas of the Apple II motherboard, copied the Apple ROMs onto EPROMs, and built their own Apple IIs from scratch. It was a lot cheaper than buying directly from Apple, so many people with the technical know-how chose that path.

[ From Interface Age, November 1983, p.104 ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: Have you ever owned or built an unauthorized Apple II clone? Tell us about it.

[ Fuzzy Memory ] D&D-like RPG/Adventure Game

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

Fuzzy MemoryEvery once and a while, I receive emails from people looking for a certain game, electronic toy, or computer from their distant past. I then pass it on to intrepid VC&G readers to crack the case.

The Clues

Tammo writes:

Hi, i am looking for a game i played about 10 years ago and i cant remember the title of. It is an rpg/adventure game out of “250 Best Arcade Games” in 1998. It’s a top-down game where all monsters/npcs/items are represented by tile icons. It’s a d&d’esque game allowing the player to build a party of characters at the beginning and then level them up in their chosen class. Race is chosen also and one of the races is ‘nephilim’. It was a very expansive game world even in just the trial version. Sorry but i can’t remember any more details. I am looking for a place to download this game, if it exists anywhere.

Thanks you very much and i look forward to your response.

The Search Begins

It's up to you to find the object of Tammo's fuzzy memory. Post any thoughts or suggestions in the comments section below. Good luck!

Have a memory of a computer, video game, computer software, or electronic toy you need help identifying? Send me an email describing your memories in detail. Hopefully, the collective genius of the VC&G readership can help solve your mystery.

[ Memory Dump ] The DEC Rainbow 100

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

Benj's Memory Dump[ Memory Dump is an irregular series wherein Benj dives into his garage, pulls out a random technological artifact, and describes what he knows about it for your entertainment. ]

I own a garage full of history. Literally. It's dark, dusty, and sometimes damp, but that space houses most of my computer and video game collection. It's almost a crime not to dive in there and share it with VC&G readers more often. And believe me, the guilt of not doing so has tortured me for years.

That task is an overwhelming one, though. It's hard to know where to start. The sheer mass of history crammed in the place is enough to give one a panic attack on sight. For the sake of the Internet's safety, I dare not publish a picture of my garage's contents larger than 200×200 pixels. Anything larger and mass hysteria may erupt.

[ Continue reading [ Memory Dump ] The DEC Rainbow 100 » ]

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Werewolf: The Last Warrior

Monday, May 24th, 2010

Werewolf: The Last Warrior NES Game Ad - 1991More mediocrity than my attention can hold.

I was so excited when I first saw Werewolf: The Last Warrior in my local Blockbuster, circa 1991. I excitedly rented the game and took it home, only to have my hopes dashed against the rocks of expectation upon inserting it into my NES and playing.

The game was terrible. Well… to be generous, it was an intensely derivative action-platformer, à la Ninja Gaiden — one of hundreds on the NES platform.

While Werewolf may not be remembered for original gameplay, it will forever be immortalized as one of VC&G's 2009 Halloween Costume Ideas. And that's the way it should be.

[ From Video Games and Computer Entertainment, April 1991, rear cover ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: What's the weirdest video game main character of all time?

The Playable Pac-Man Google Logo

Friday, May 21st, 2010

Pac-Man 30th Anniversary Google Doodle

In honor of Pac-Man's 30th anniversary, Google has created its most amazing Google Doodle yet: a playable browser-based version of Pac-Man in the usual Google logo space. They did an excellent job, complete with authentic graphics, sounds, and scoring.

When you first go to Google, you'll see a static image. Wait a few seconds and the page will reload with a hybrid JavaScript/Flash application (it uses Flash for sound) that brings the Google logo to life. Excellent work, Google!

P.S. If anyone figures out how to save a playable version of the game, let me know. I haven't had to time to dig into it yet.

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] The BBC Microcomputer

Monday, May 17th, 2010

BBC Microcomputer Ad - 1983IT"S HERER AHH1!!

This scan of an American BBC Microcomputer ad might be of particular interest to our British friends, who may be curious as to how one of the UK's most famous early PCs was received in the United States. The truth is that the BBC Microcomputer is virtually unknown here. I've never seen one in person, and I'd never even heard of it until the Internet era. I suspect US sales of the BBC Microcomputer were limited in part due to the low market footprint of importers like "Fourth Dimension Systems," as seen in this ad.

I know very little about the BBC Microcomputer (although I'd love to have one, if anyone wants to send a unit over). If any readers out there are familiar with the BBC Micro, I'd be interested to hear some history and trivia about the machine in the comments.

[ From Interface Age, November 1983, p.30 ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: Have you ever owned a British-designed PC? If so, tell us about it. If many, tell us your favorite.

Mangin's MacinShelves

Saturday, May 15th, 2010

Charles Mangin MacinShelves

Hot on the heels of my recent post about the "Mac Pedestal" in which I suggested building shelves with compact Mac supports, VC&G Reader Charles Mangin informed me that he did just such a thing and wrote about it on his blog in 2007.

You can see the result above. Nice work, Charles. With all the Macs I have in my garage, maybe I should try this myself and redefine the meaning of "Mac Shelf."

The Mac Pedestal Encounter

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

Mac Pedestal photo by Mike Melanson
Long-time VC&G reader Mike Melanson recently emailed me this photo of an interesting encounter he had with a stack of retired Apple Macintoshes. He writes:

Upon visiting my alma mater last week (University of Colorado @ Boulder), I snapped this picture of a stack of vintage PowerMacs topped with an old iMac that was rotating through some generic campus announcements.

Not a bad use for five Power Macs, I'd say. I could imagine an interesting table with Power Macs for its legs — or a bookshelf supported only by Mac Pluses at the ends. Any other ideas?


Have you seen any vintage computers in the wild recently?
If so, snap a photo and send it in.

[ Fuzzy Memory ] TRS-80 Submarine Game

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

Fuzzy MemoryEvery once and a while, I receive emails from people looking for a certain game, electronic toy, or computer from their distant past. I then pass it on to intrepid VC&G readers to crack the case.

The Clues

Brandon writes:

I am wondering if anyone has info on this game I was playing on a TRS-80 back in middle school in 1985. We had this game where you had a submarine that you piloted around the ocean and in caves. It was a side-scroller that you had to miss mines and not run out of air. I remember having to program it on a disk but I am not 100% sure of that memory. Ideas? I know thats not much to go on.

Thanks
Brandon

The Search Begins

It's up to you to find the object of Brandon's fuzzy memory. Post any thoughts or suggestions in the comments section below. Good luck!

Have a memory of a computer, video game, computer software, or electronic toy you need help identifying? Send me an email describing your memories in detail. Hopefully, the collective genius of the VC&G readership can help solve your mystery.

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Screaming for Games

Monday, May 10th, 2010

Top Ad - circa 1993One eyeball, two pupils, eight fingers, ten teeth. Just like momma.

Remember when ads like this haunted the back of every video game magazine? As a kid, the thought of getting money for games you'd already played through (and thus theoretically had no more use for) was an exciting one. But the truth about used game buyers always ended up disappointing — any business that hoped to make a profit by selling used video games could only afford to offer you a few bucks per title. That's why I never sold any of them.

[ From Electronic Gaming Monthly, circa 1993 ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: Have you ever regretted selling any of your video games? If so, tell us the story.