Archive for July, 2012

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Electronics Boutique Flyer

Monday, July 30th, 2012

Electronics Boutique Used Games Wanted Reward Flyer Flier - circa 1994Cartridges, cartridges, cartridges.

I found this Electronics Boutique flyer in my old files recently. It measures about 5.5″ by 8.5″ in size. Sometimes I'm glad I save everything, and other times, well…ask my wife.

[ From Electronics Boutique flyer, circa 1993, front ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: What's the worst deal you've ever received when trading in used games?

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] The Canon AS-100

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

Canon AS-100 Microcomputer Ad - 1983The good, the bad, and the obscure.

There's a vast wilderness of little-known business micros that have long been overshadowed by the IBM PC and its brethren in the history books. Seen here is one such machine, the Canon AS-100, which sported an Intel 8088 CPU but was not an IBM PC clone (in other words, it could run MS-DOS, but was not hardware compatible with the PC).

Machines like this one tend to get overlooked historically because they were very expensive (this machine retailed for $3495 in 1983, or about $8,052 today) and they deviated from the emerging business standard of the IBM PC compatible. With those two elements combined, they sold relatively poorly — and, being business-oriented, they also never became notable gaming platforms (enthusiasm for retrogaming brings a lot of attention to certain classic PCs that otherwise might have been forgotten).

Speaking of gaming platforms, the color capabilities of this machine look amazing for 1983. I wonder if anyone ever did write a game for it that took advantage of those high-end graphical specs.

[ From Personal Computing, November 1983, p.36 ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: What's the most obscure computer model you've ever used? Something that you think no one has ever heard of.

Ten Years of the iMac G4

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

The Exceptional iMac: Ten Years Later at Macworld.com

Yep, the iMac G4 turned 10 this year, and I wanted to write about it. I bought the high-end 800 MHz/SuperDrive model new back in January 2002 (just at launch), and I used it for about five years to do all sorts of casual, media-related things (email/iChat/iMovie/iTunes mostly). It was, and is, a great machine — it's a little slow, but it has always been a joy to use.

You can read my article celebrating the iMac G4 over at Macworld now. I hope you enjoy it.

The Secret History of Microsoft Hardware

Monday, July 16th, 2012

The Secret History of Microsoft Hardware on PCMag.com

Microsoft's recent announcement of its Surface tablet line has brought a lot of attention to the history of Microsoft's hardware products. Unfortunately, most accounts of that history are sorely lacking, rarely going beyond Microsoft's involvement in PC peripherals like mice.

I thought I'd remedy that gap in history by digging back into the past and bringing to light a forgotten era of Microsoft hardware — all of which, it just so happens, launched in the 1980s.

The result, "The Secret History of Microsoft Hardware," is now live over at PCMag.com. I hope you enjoy it.

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Virtual Boy Vortex

Monday, July 16th, 2012

Nintendo Virtual Boy Promotional Ad from Nintendo Power - 1995Virtual Boy: Eating Mario's face since 1995.

[ From Nintendo Power, November 1995, back cover ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: Have you ever felt sick while playing a video game in 3D?

IBM PS/2 25th Anniversary

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

IBM PS/2 25th Anniversary on PCWorld.com

25 years ago, IBM introduced the Personal System/2 (PS/2), a computer series that brought VGA, PS/2 ports, 3.5″ floppy drives, and more to the world of PC compatibles.

In honor of this anniversary, I wrote an article about the first set of PS/2 computers (released April 1987) for PCWorld.com.

One of my first PCs was an IBM PS/2 Model 25 — the famous all-in-one IBM PC that found its way into many homes and schools due to its relatively low price. The Model 25 is not mentioned in the article, however, because it was not a member of the original April 1987 lineup (I believe it launched later that year).

I hope you enjoy the piece.

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] The Official IBM PC Desk

Monday, July 9th, 2012

IBM Synergetix Personal Computer PC Work Station Ad -  1983The IBM PC Workstation: Almost as small as a refrigerator.

Once upon a time, IBM made furniture.

Specifically, they created a custom folding desk for its IBM Personal Computer called the "IBM Synergetix PC Work Station," which we see in the 1983 ad above.

IBM registered the trademark "Synergetix" in 1981 to cover its line of IBM PC-related furniture, which even included an official IBM PC Table and IBM PC chair. Big Blue let the trademark expire in 1989, which shows you how successful that idea was.

I've been trying to think of modern analogies to the IBM PC Work Station, and the closest I can come up with is Apple making a special cover for its iPad — although Apple's Smart Cover has been popular and well-received. The Smart Cover also doesn't cost $850 like the IBM PC Work Station did (that's about $1,961 today).

[ From Personal Computing, November 1983, p.249 ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: Have you ever used a desk specifically designed for use with a computer?

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Crystalis Tips

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

Crystalis Power Playing Tips from JELLO Gelatin Pops Box NES -  1990Frozen whipped gelatin on a stick.

I recently found this cardboard tip sheet for Crystalis in a pile of my old stuff at my parents' house. As you can see, I cut it out of a JELLO Gelatin Pops box in or around 1990.

The tip sheet seems to serve a triple marketing purpose: 1) to promote NES games (specifically Crystalis, in this case), 2) to promote the 1990 Nintendo World Championships, and 3) to promote Nintendo Power magazine.

I love finding tie-in marketing artifacts like this — I'm glad I saved it all those years ago.

[ From JELLO Gelatin Pops box, circa 1990 ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: Do you remember cutting video game tips out of boxes, magazines, or other paper publications? Tell us about it.