Archive for February, 2013

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Lucasfilm's 1985 FPS

Monday, February 25th, 2013

Lucasfilm Games The Eidolon Advertisement 1985Disney now owns this game.

In 1985, LucasFilm Games released one of the earliest first-person shooters, although they didn't know it at the time. In The Eidolon, players fluidly navigate corridors from a first-person viewpoint, shooting monsters that they encounter along the way.

The Eidolon utilizes a novel and technically impressive vector graphics engine to dynamically generate tunnel interiors from various angles as players maneuver through them. The engine also served as the basis of other LucasFilm titles like Rescue on Fractalus! (1984) and Koronis Rift (1985).

Although this game appeared on the Atari 8-bit computer platform (which I grew up with), I never got a chance to play it until about ten years ago. If I had seen it in the 1980s, it would have immediately become a favorite.

[ From Compute!, November 1985, p.33 ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: What's your favorite pre-1996 first-person shooter?

[ Retro GIF of the Week ] Atari Jaguar Debut Photo

Friday, February 22nd, 2013

Official Press Photo Atari Jaguar Console 1993 Retro GIFClick to see other views of this image: [ Original Size ] [ 2X Zoom ]

Just two days ago, Sony announced the PlayStation 4 at a press event in New York. It reminded me of the last time I eagerly awaited a new console launch. That would be way back in 1993 with the introduction of the Atari Jaguar (check out the original press release at that link).

I was a huge Atari fan at that time, and I was also very active on the "GO ATARI" forum on CompuServe. From that forum, I downloaded this early Jaguar press image in 1993. It's an official press image created and uploaded to CompuServe by Atari Corp. itself — quite possibly the very first one.

[ Continue reading [ Retro GIF of the Week ] Atari Jaguar Debut Photo » ]

MadMaze-II Now Hosted on Vintagecomputing.com

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

MadMaze-II Title Image

In 2006, I wrote about a version of the classic Prodigy game MadMaze that had been adapted for the web by Russell D. Brown, an electronics engineer based in Rome, New York.

Just today, a commenter on that original post (thanks Joshua) let me know that Russell Brown passed away last year on July 1st. That means his implementation of MadMaze-II is now offline.

(Please note that the original author of MadMaze, Greg Costikyan, is still alive and kicking as far as I know.)

Luckily for all of us, I asked Russel Brown back in 2011 to share his MadMaze-II code with me in case his version of the game ever went down. He complied, and I have just now set up a fresh copy of his adaptation on this web server at the following address: http://www.vintagecomputing.com/madmaze/.

The game still requires Internet Explorer 5 or up, and it seems to work in IE 9 for me. Brown programmed the game in such a way that obfuscated its function to prevent cheating (he even incorporated a copy protection scheme), so at the moment I have no idea how to successfully modify it if players find any bugs. But if you encounter any problems, please feel free to let me know, and I'll have a look.

Have fun in the maze. And may Russell Brown rest in peace.

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] The Atari 520ST

Monday, February 18th, 2013

Atari ST Atari 520ST Rip-Off Advertisement 1985"There's only one word for these prices: rip-off."

[ From Compute!, November 1985, p.9 ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: Which was the better machine: the IBM PC AT, Atari 520ST, Mac 512K, or Amiga 1000?

[ Retro GIF of the Week ] Digital Still Life

Friday, February 15th, 2013

Vintage Fruit and Vegetable Still Life 1988 Retro GIFClick to see other views of this image: [ Original Size ] [ 2X Zoom ] [ 4:3 Ratio ]

Have you ever seen an edible still life rendered in 16-color EGA?

It appears that this image, which shows fruits and vegetables, cheese, and a napkin or folded tablecloth, originated as either a video capture or a scan of a photograph that was then digitally cleaned up to isolate the centerpiece in absolute blackness.

[ Continue reading [ Retro GIF of the Week ] Digital Still Life » ]

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Dr. Mario Valentine

Monday, February 11th, 2013

Nintendo Dr. Mario Valentine Valentine's Day from 1992Friendship cures all

Valentine's Day is this week, and boy do I have a neat retro valentine for you. When I was growing up in North Carolina, it was traditional for kids in elementary school to give valentines to every one of their classmates regardless of gender. I'm not sure how it is these days (it may be the same), but I thought I'd explain it for folks who may hail from overseas.

One year, a friend of mine named Eric gave me a Dr. Mario-themed valentine, which you see scanned above (front side on top, rear side on bottom). Amid a scene of Dr. Mario himself throwing a vitamin pill (don't do drugs, kids) at a group of viruses, we see the words "Friendship cures all! Be my valentine."

The valentine itself was torn off from a larger sheet of valentines, as evidenced by the perforated tear on the left side of the paper and the "fold in half" inscription near it. I've put it away somewhere since I scanned it last year, but I recall that it measures about four inches on its longest dimension.

The printed image bears a copyright and trademark date of 1990, which coincides with the publication of Dr. Mario for the NES. That doesn't mean the valentine was printed in that year. In fact, a much younger Benj — ever the historian — wrote the year he received the valentine: 1992. I was in fifth grade at the time.

Good 'ole Eric never knew his compulsory elementary school valentine to me would one day be famous on the Internet. So 21 years after I received it, let his vintage valentine be my gift to you, dear readers, this Valentine's Day.

[ From Dr. Mario Valentine, circa 1992 ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: Did you trade valentines in school? Were any of them video game-related?

[ Retro GIF of the Week ] Doom II at the Office

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

Doom II Office Fan Art 1996 Retro GIFClick to see other views of this image: [ Original Size ] [ 2X Zoom ]

This particular image, titled "Another Day at the Office," is one of the gems of my personal GIF collection. I believe I downloaded it from CompuServe, and I likely downloaded it on the file date, June 16, 1996.

The image itself is a computer-crafted ode to Doom II that merges a real digitized photograph with imagery ripped straight from id Software's famous first-person shooter.

Such a passion for Doom II in the workplace isn't foreign to me. In an office where I worked in the mid-late 1990s, certain engineers were known to play late night four-player Doom deathmatches over the company LAN.

[ Continue reading [ Retro GIF of the Week ] Doom II at the Office » ]

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] African American Apple Fans

Monday, February 4th, 2013

Multiracial Black African American Apple Fans Apple PowerBook Advertisement 1992One big happy family — and a PowerBook (click to see entire ad)

It's Black History Month once again in the US, so I thought it would be timely to share this Apple PowerBook advertisement from 1992.

The ad appeared in the February issue of Smithsonian Magazine; I don't think it is a coincidence that it prominently featured people of African decent. It also prominently featured the PowerBook 100, which had just been introduced a few months prior in October 1991.

The obvious racial focus of this ad brings to my mind a couple of interesting, if racially-charged questions: What percentage of black Americans, historically, have used Apple products versus other computer brands? Do African Americans, like other demographic groups, have their computer or tech brands of choice?

Today, Apple is such a mainstream company that the answer to the first question is most certainly larger than it likely was in the pre-iPod era. It would be interesting from a cultural standpoint to peek back into private demographic customer studies that Apple no doubt commissioned at various points in its history.

As for an answer to the second question, I have no idea. But I would love to hear from African American computer users to find out.

[ From Smithsonian Magazine, February 1992, p.10-11 ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: What's your favorite PowerBook model?

[ Retro GIF of the Week ] Twin Chinese Dragons

Friday, February 1st, 2013

Apple I Smithsonian 1992 Retro GIFClick to see other views of this image: [ Original Size ] [ 2X Zoom ]

This week we're taking a look at another image that made the rounds in the BBS days, DRAGON6.GIF. In it, we see two digitally illustrated Chinese dragons who appear to be springing forth from a magical stone. Iridescent waves crash around them, and smoke curls throughout an ethereal void. The color palette is rich and bold, underscoring the image's Eastern art influence.

At the moment, the artist behind this amazing work of digital art remains unknown. Still, we can narrow down when the image was made and how by taking a look at its resolution, color depth, and file date.

[ Continue reading [ Retro GIF of the Week ] Twin Chinese Dragons » ]