Archive for July, 2011

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Family Atari 810 Receipt

Monday, July 25th, 2011

Benj's Atari 810 Receipt from 1981Atari 810 Disk Drive Receipt

Thirty years ago this month, my father ordered an Atari 810 disk drive for our family's Atari 800 from a place called "Omega Sales Co., Inc." in Rhode Island. Thirty years ago yesterday, Omega filled out the invoice you see here and shipped the order to my dad.

From the invoice, you can see that my father also ordered a copy of Star Raiders for the 800 and a set of joysticks. Unfortunately, the joysticks were out of stock and had to be backordered.

I still have our family Atari 810, and I still love the unique sound it makes when reading disks. That device composed the soundtrack to my computing childhood.

Price Check

  • The Atari 810 sold for US $449 from this vendor, which is equivalent to $1,114.95 in 2011 dollars. To translate, the thing was bloody expensive. The 810 could read 88 kilobytes of data per disk side (one side at a time), which makes for a whopping $12.66 per kilobyte in today's dollars. Right now, you can buy a 2 terabyte (~2,000,000,000 kilobyte) hard disk for $80, which works out to $.00000004 dollars per kilobyte.
  • A Star Raiders cartridge sold for $32, which is equivalent to $79.46 in 2011 dollars.
  • A pair of joysticks (I assume official Atari brand) went for $15, which is equivalent to $37.25 today.

[ From Omega Sales Co., Inc. Invoice, July 1981 ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: What's the most memorable computer or video game item your parents have ever purchased for you?

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Tandy Laptop Trio

Monday, July 18th, 2011

Tandy Laptops - Tandy 1100FD - Tandy 1500 HD - Tandy 2800 HD - Tandy 102 Advertisement - 1990The Tandy 2800 HD, Tandy 1100FD, Tandy 102, and Tandy 1500 HD

[ From Byte, October 1990, rear cover ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: Have you ever owned a Tandy brand computer? What model(s)?

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Broken Tetrisphere Teeth

Monday, July 11th, 2011

Tetrisphere Nintendo 64 Ad - 1997Digital Jawbreaker

I don't think I've ever played Tetrisphere. I'm sure I'll try it some day. But the game itself is almost beside the point here. Egad on the broken teeth, man. That is my worst nightmare.

Nintendo crafted this ad to be perfectly in line with the prevailing advertising style of the mid-late 1990s. Look back at a game magazine from that time and you'll see that almost every ad shows someone getting hurt, dismembered, or flagellated in some manner. And if not that, then they were too busy distributing boogers / urine / feces / something gross all over the place to feel left out. The edgy advertising trend started when Sega began purposely assaulting Nintendo's kiddie image in the early 1990s. And it spread. By 1996, even Mario games were advertised this way. Did you Play it Loud?

I covered this phenomenon to some extent back in my Game Ads A-Go-Go column on GameSetWatch in 2006 (especially "Proof that Video Game Companies Want You to Die"). The 90s were a time of growing pains — a sort of "teenage years" for the medium — when the game industry, gamers, press, and lawmakers alike embarked on an entirely new cultural exploration of mature themes in video games. I'm sure I could write a whole article on the subject, so I'll stop now and let you count your teeth.

[ From GamePro, May 1997, p.171 ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: What's your all-time favorite version of Tetris?

Donkey Kong Turns 30 (Time for Oddities)

Monday, July 11th, 2011

Donkey Kong Oddities on Technologizer

Thirty years ago this month, Nintendo released Donkey Kong in the arcade. The title introduced Mario to the world and turned Nintendo of America's fortunes around.

Since the Mario character first debuted in Donkey Kong, we could just as well be celebrating Mario's 30th birthday. I'm sure someone will figure that out and write about it soon (if they haven't already). But folks celebrate Mario endlessly, regardless of anniversary or season, so I think it's time to focus on his simian rival and the game they first starred in together.

That's why I put together Donkey Kong Oddities, which celebrates the game in that very Benj way — by finding weird and interesting tidbits of Donkey Kong-related ephemera and compiling them in a graphically-rich slideshow. I hope you enjoy it.

Other Entries in Benj's Oddities Series:

12 Electronic Toy Robots of the 1980s

Monday, July 11th, 2011

12 Electronic Toy Robots of the 1980s on PCMag.com

Gather 'round the fire, kids, and let me tell you about some cool robotic toys from the 1980s. On second thought, just look at this slideshow instead.

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Thomas Jefferson's Apple III

Monday, July 4th, 2011

Thomas Jefferson Apple III Apple II Ad - 1981"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created floppy…no, wait."
(click above to see the full advertisement)


10 REM DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE TEST BY THOMAS JEFFERSON
15 REM IN HIS BASEMENT, JULY 4TH, 1776, 14K FREE
20 PRINT "WE HOLD THESE TRUTHS TO BE ____"; INPUT I
30 IF I = "SELF-EVIDENT" THEN GOTO 100
40 IF I = "TURKEY FLAVORED" THEN GOTO 200
50 IF I = "ONLY TRUE IF YOU ARE MARTHA" THEN GOTO 300
60 IF I = "COMPLETELY FALSE" THEN GOTO 400
70 GOTO 20
100 PRINT "EXCELLENT! I LIKE YOU."; GOTO 500
200 PRINT "TRY AGAIN, FRANKLIN."; GOTO 20
300 PRINT "GO BRUSH YOUR WOODEN TEETH."; GOTO 20
400 PRINT "HOW DID THIS MAKE IT TO ENGLAND?"; GOTO 20
500 END

Happy Independence Day from Vintage Computing and Gaming

[ From Interface Age, 1981 ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: If most computers were manufactured in the USA today, would you be more or less likely to buy them?