Archive for January, 2012

[ Snapshots ] Behind the SNES Scenes

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

Behind the Scenes of SNES Plastic Discoloration ArticleTaking photos for the SNES plastic discoloration article.
The pink wall didn't help. (September 2006)

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] The CD-ROM Caddy

Monday, January 30th, 2012

CD-ROM CaddyCompact Disc Protection

Here's a computer artifact you don't see very often these days: a CD caddy. Many early CD-ROM drives (released roughly 1985 - 1993) required the use of CD caddies, which were designed to protect CD-ROM discs from dust and rough handling. With a CD inside, they look a lot like a bigger version of a 3.5″ floppy disk, albeit with a clear window on one side.

When I ran across this caddy in my collection recently, it made me think a little deeper about why engineers invented them in the first place. Why were CD caddies so common at one point, I wondered, and why are they virtually extinct today?

I have decided that it all boils down to the price and preciousness of commercial CD-ROM discs.

[ Continue reading [ Retro Scan of the Week ] The CD-ROM Caddy » ]

Educational Computer Games of the 1980s

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

10 Educational PC Games of the 1980s

Elsewhere on the web (PCMag), I've got a slideshow up that celebrates educational computer games of the 1980s. You know — those games like Oregon Trail and Number Munchers you played for exactly 30 minutes a week at the school computer lab between Logo binges.

Like all my slideshows, expect nostalgia aplenty. Unless you didn't grow up in the 1980s. In that case, you'll probably absolutely hate this slideshow. Avoid it at all costs!

The 12 Greatest PC Shareware Games of All Time

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

The 12 Greatest PC Shareware Games of All Time

If you've read this blog for some time, you'll know that I'm a big fan of shareware games. Specifically, I love shareware from the "golden age of PC shareware," an era I just made up that roughly spanned 1988-1996.

And by "PC shareware," in this case, I mean IBM PC compatible. I was not involved in shareware or BBS scenes for non-IBM computers, so I am not nearly as familiar with them.

With that in mind, take a gander at this new slideshow over at PC World in which I attempt to pick the The 12 Greatest PC Shareware Games of All Time. Whether I have succeeded or failed is not exactly the point, because as I always say, you can never objectively rank greatness. But even if you don't agree with my picks, it should provide a fun journey down memory lane.

When you're done reading it, I'd love to hear from you guys — what are your favorite shareware games of all time? Feel free to bring other platforms into it if you want.

If you love shareware games, check out my 2009 interviews with the twin titans of PC shareware, Scott Miller of Apogee and Tim Sweeney of Epic MegaGames.

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Nintendo Vending Machine

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

Nintendo Power Hot Buttons Vending Machine Ad - 1991I'd like one of each, please.

[ From Nintendo Power, May 1991, rear cover ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: Have you ever bought a piece of Nintendo-licensed merchandise? Do tell!

Why History Needs Software Piracy

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

Why History Needs Software PiracyOver at Technologizer, I've written an opinion piece that argues why history needs software piracy.

I had the idea for this piece a few years ago, so it's nice to finally put my thoughts into written form — especially at a time when public debate over digital piracy's role has reached a new high.

I don't claim to be laying down the final word on the subject; instead, I view my piece as the beginning of a broader discussion about piracy's role in the study of history. I hope you enjoy it.

Evolution of the Solid-State Drive

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

Evolution of the Solid-State Drive on PC World.com

Believe it or not, but solid-state drives have been around for 35 years now. I recently took a look back through solid-state history and compiled a slideshow for PC World called Evolution of the Solid-State Drive. It traces the SSD through history and touches on a number of important milestones, such as the first-ever SSD and the first flash SSD. I hope you enjoy it.


Previous entries in Benj's "Evolution of…" series:
Evolution of Computer Displays
Evolution of Video Game Media
Evolution of Removable Storage
Evolution of The Cell Phone

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Aim High: Air Force

Monday, January 16th, 2012

United States Air Force Computer Programming Advertisement - 1987A U.S. Airman types in coordinates while designing a weaponized golf course.

[ From Family and Home Office Computing, November 1987, p.39 ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: Have you served in the military (any country)? If so, did you use computers as part of your service?

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Reactor

Monday, January 9th, 2012

Parker Brothers Reactor Atari 2600 Advertisement - 1983Strange proportions courtesy of Blip's comic book dimensions.

[ From Blip: The Video Games Magazine, February 1983, rear cover ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: Quick! Favorite space shooter of the 1970s or '80s?

PROTECT IP / SOPA Breaks The Internet

Monday, January 9th, 2012

This video may be old news to many of you, but the stakes are too high not to post this for those who might not have seen it already. I honestly wasn't too worried about SOPA when I first heard about it because I figured the US Senate wouldn't take something so ridiculously anti-Internet seriously. But I was mistaken — they seem to like it quite a bit, and SOPA may very well be passed into law soon.

PROTECT IP / SOPA Breaks The Internet from Fight for the Future on Vimeo.

Everything we know and love about the Internet today will change if SOPA is signed into law. I will have to take down my articles on ROM hacking and suppress discussion of emulation, for example, or face the possibility that VC&G will forced off the web. Heck, I might even end up in jail. With SOPA, freedom of speech will be suppressed and the Web will become one giant glazed-over commercial for McDonalds.

We can't let one misguided law castrate one of humanity's greatest inventions in the name of preventing the unauthorized copying of entertainment media. If you like reading VC&G, tell your local representatives today that you do not support SOPA and will hold them accountable if they support it themselves.