Archive for October, 2012

VC&G Interview: Nick Newhard on Monolith's Blood

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

Monolith Blood Screenshot

Back in 2007, I intended to write an article about the 10th anniversary of Monolith's Blood, one of my personal favorite computer games. Accordingly, I contacted Nick Newhard, the designer and lead programmer of Blood, and arranged for an interview.

For whatever reason, my interview with Newhard didn't take place until April 2008 via email. (That's probably why I shelved the project.) Since it's almost Halloween — and it's the 15th anniversary of Blood this year — I thought I'd share this little gem from my archives. It should be a treat for any Blood fans that might be out there.

I'm presenting this interview a little more sparsely laid-out than I usually do just for the sake of expediency. Some day I will write more about Blood, but until then, I hope this nugget of history will tide you over.

Get Blood

By the way, you can buy Blood on GOG.com these days for $5.99 (price at present). It runs great in DOSBox on a fast machine — make sure you crank up the in-game display resolution for greatest effect. The game is amazing in 1440×900 VESA mode on a widescreen monitor.

I heartily endorse the thorough and frequent playing of Blood, as it is one of the greatest PC games of all time — in my opinion, at least.

[ Continue reading VC&G Interview: Nick Newhard on Monolith's Blood » ]

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Dr. Chaos

Monday, October 29th, 2012

Dr. Chaos for NES Nintendo Ad - 1991That purple monster skipped out mid-treatment and he's angry!

Happy Halloween from VC&G

[ From Video Games and Computer Entertainment, Jan 1991, p.163 ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: What's the scariest video or computer game you've ever played?

VC&G's Retro Scanner Breaks

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

The Retro Scan Scanner - an Epson Perfection 2480 PhotoAs a small administrative note, I'd like to mention that the scanner I've used for our Retro Scan of the Week column since its inception in 2006 crapped out on October 15th, 2012.

It up and died. The scanning head got stuck a few times, then the scans started returning blank white images. It's the digital equivalent to coughing up blood.

I've used the scanner, an Epson Perfection 2480 Photo, to scan thousands upon thousands of images, so it's amazing it has lasted this long. It would be amusing to see how many miles the scanning mechanism has traveled since I first received the scanner as a gift from my dad in 2004 or 2005.

I might be able to fix the unit, but I thought of a better solution. My father happened to have the exact same scanner model, which he hasn't used in many years. I picked it up on Sunday, dropped it in place of the old scanner, and it's like nothing has changed. So Retro Scan of the Week is saved.

Of course, new flatbed scanners cost about $50 these days, so it may be time for an upgrade. I'll think about it, but for now, the Epson Perfection 2480 Photo rides again!

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Baked Apple II

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

Baked Apple Melted Burned Apple II computer with cat house fire Ad - 1982Two hours later, firefighters found Fluffy melted into the plastic.
(click image to see the full two-page spread)

There was a fire.

And a cat.

The computer melted.

A Beautiful Computer.

Oh, the curt, pretentious voice projected by Apple advertising in the 1980s. It almost revels in talking down to you. Just about every Apple print ad of the era uses a similar subliminal script. It goes a little something like this:

This is Apple.

We are amazing.

Really.

Don't get me wrong — I like Apple as much as the next guy, but man, wipe that smirk off your face.

Apple has come a long way since that time, from floundering near death to basking as the most valuable corporation in the world. The firm, like its co-founder Steve Jobs, suffered some hard knocks, and Apple's post-1997 advertising reflected that by gaining a little humility. Just a little.

In general, I like Apple advertising these days (except for that recent "Genius" campaign). The 1984-era smirk is long gone, although a hint of strategically placed pretension remains.

But hey — that's the way people like their Apple, and it shows: a record number of consumers keep buying their products.

More Melted Tech

Back in early 2011, I created a slideshow called "A Gallery of Melted Technology" for PCMag.com that features this ad and photos of similar melted gadgets. If you have the same morbid curiosity I do about melted technology, I think you'll enjoy that as well.

[ From Popular Computing, January 1982, p.8-9 ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: Have you ever lost or damaged a gadget in a fire? Tell us about it.

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Iggy's Reckin' Balls

Monday, October 15th, 2012

Iggy's Wreckin' Balls for Nintendo 64 N64 Ad - 1998Oh to travel by rolling over your face with your spherical body.

[ From GamePro, May 1998, rear cover ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: What's your favorite ball-themed video game? Any balls apply.

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] That Sanyo Feeling

Monday, October 8th, 2012

Sanyo MBC-1100 Desk-Top Business Computer Ad, Sanyo EHD 511 Hard Disk - 1983"My whole torso is numb, and it feels great!"

The Sanyo MBC-1100 (1982) was a Z80-A-based business machine that ran CP/M as its operating system. It was one of many, many Z80 business machines from that era designed to run CP/M.

Japanese computer manufacturers were just breaking into the U.S. computer market at the time, so the Sanyo MBC-1100 would have likely been a curiosity in an American office setting.

[ From Personal Computing, November 1983, p.213 ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: Have you ever used a Japanese-designed vintage computer? Tell us about it.

Experimental Music Site Request-A-Song.com Turns 10

Monday, October 1st, 2012

Request-A-Song.com Clef Attack Picture

Ten years ago today, I opened an experimental music website called Request-A-Song.com. On the site, my brother Jeremy and I solicited song titles (just titles, not lyrics), which site visitors would submit via a web form. We'd pick the ones we found most inspiring and write songs based on them, then publish them on the site in MP3 format. The project lasted until December 2005.

As you might expect, a lot of very interesting and unusual songs came out of the process. You can tell just by reading the titles of our most popular songs — names like "Butter Ghost," "Violent House Panda," "Poke 'Em In The Neck," and "I Flipped My Biscuit" — that we preferred ideas on the bizarre end of the spectrum.

Jeremy and Benj Edwards Request-A-Song.com Publicity Shot from 2004In honor of our 10th anniversary, I've uploaded all 134 of our songs to The Internet Archive with the hope that it will preserve our effort for posterity.

You can still download those songs from the original Request-A-Song.com website (which also provides information on who requested what and when, lyrics, and dates of release), but it's actually easier to explore our catalog with the IA's handy online streaming MP3 app.

(If you want to know which songs to listen to first, here is a list of our 25 most popular songs.)

Over the next month, I plan on uploading more RAS information to the Internet Archive, including news archives, press clippings, song metadata, images, and more.

[ Continue reading Experimental Music Site Request-A-Song.com Turns 10 » ]

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] TRS-80 Dino Wars

Monday, October 1st, 2012

TRS-80 Color Computer Dinowars Manual Cover - 1980Dino Wars cast a long shadow in the world of manual covers.

[ From Dinowars manual Cat. No. 26-3057, September 1980, cover ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: Off the top of your head, name the first video game you can think of that involves dinosaurs.

The CD Player Turns 30

Monday, October 1st, 2012

Sony CDP-101, The First Commercial CD Player

Thirty years ago today, Sony released the first commercially available Compact Disc player, the CDP-101. It launched alongside 50 CDs in Japan, marking the commercial birth of the widely popular digital audio medium.

Over at TechHive (a new site run by the folks behind PC World), I've written an in-depth piece that details the history and impact of the CD as a medium for both audio and computer data. I hope you enjoy it.