Archive for April, 2012
Few magazine covers represent the playful optimism of the early Internet craze years like this cover of PopSci for Kids from 1995. Before the public understood what the Internet really meant, it was up to journalists (who usually didn't know either) to tell them. This resulted in lots of visual hyperbole (see children happily trapped inside a computer above) and colorful metaphors like "surfin' the net" to convey the energy and potential of something that, in reality, looked rather mundane on the screen.
Did these whimsical and exaggerated media tactics succeed? I think so, because that little thing called The Internet became much more popular than even journalists in 1995 could imagine. There is no doubt that the media played a large part in popularizing the global computer network in its early public years.
Discussion Topic of the Week: When was the first time you surfed the 'Net? Did you feel like you were actually surfing on a digital surf board made of ones and zeros?
EA went out of its way to convey a developer-friendly image in its early years, prominently featuring designers' names in the company's box art and marketing materials. Gamers bought into it, in large part, because EA developed and published some of the most advanced and highly regarded early home computer games of their time (think Archon, M.U.L.E., The Seven Cities of Gold, etc.). EA must have been doing something right.
Of course, things changed over the years. From a personal standpoint, I remember when public sentiment seemed to turn against Electronic Arts in the mid-1990s after it acquired legendary development house Origin (most famous for the Ultima series) and proceeded to drive it directly into the ground. Origin would not be the last highly regarded game development firm to suffer this fate at the hands of EA.
Twenty years ago this month, Microsoft released version 3.1 of its famous Windows operating system. At the time, however, Windows could not stand alone as a true OS by itself. Instead, it served as a sophisticated graphical shell that ran on top of command line MS-DOS.
Windows 3.1 introduced many innovations to the Windows product line, including TrueType fonts, baked-in multimedia support, and even the first appearance of the dreaded Windows Registry (really!).
In celebration of this anniversary, I produced a slideshow outlining some of Windows 3.1′s most important improvements and features for PC World. If nothing else, the custom screenshots should serve as a trip down memory lane for many folks. I hope you enjoy it.
This magazine ad for Accolade's Grand Prix Circuit (1988) reminds us of a time when folks were less kind to their hair — and when sunglasses engulfed half of your face.
It also reminds me of how wonderful it was when racing games switched to polygon-based graphics. If any video game genre benefited most from the shift from sprites to 3D polygons, it was racing. I mourned the loss of 2D pixel art in just about every game style except racing games, where the freedom of movement afforded by 3D environments heralded a new dawn for the genre.
Discussion Topic of the Week: What did your hair look like in the 1980s? Bonus points if you can link to a 1980s photo of yourself!
Since I bought my first Model 100 over a decade ago, I've always wanted the TRS-80 Model 100 Disk/Video Interface (a device we see here in this 1984 advertisement) to go with it. The interface not only allows you to hook your Model 100 to a TV set or monitor (80 x 25 text display!) but it also provides two floppy disk drives on which you can store your data.
In other words, that's quite an expansion for a computer with an 8 x 40 character display and minimal RAM-based user storage that loses its contents with battery failure. It essentially converts the Model 100 — which is a light, portable machine — into a desktop PC.
Discussion Topic of the Week: Have you ever set up a desktop computer on your kitchen table? Tell us about it.