Archive for April, 2013
Here's a retro-flavored Polaroid instant photo I took of my bedroom floor some point in 1995. I was 13 or 14 at the time, and I had just received a stack of Beatles CDs (upper center-left) the previous Christmas — along with my first CD player, integrated in boombox form, which can be seen seen in the upper right portion of the photo.
But I'm not posting this photo because of Beatles CDs. On the floor sit a number of retrogaming consoles and accessories: to the left is an Atari 5200 console, and in the lower right you can see a ColecoVision and the corner of an Intellivision. There are also a few Atari joysticks, a copy of Yars' Revenge for the 2600, and three copies of Intellivision Donkey Kong.
Back in January, I wrote an article about the world's earliest known figurative computer art for The Atlantic. It it is also likely the world's first digital computer artwork as well.
(Check out this timeline of computer art history to get an idea where this piece fits in.)
The only known physical record of this circa 1956-58 pin-up diagnostic, which ran on SAGE computer systems, comes from a Polaroid photograph snapped by U.S. airman Lawrence A. Tipton in early 1959. Tipton retains the original print, although it will likely go to a museum soon (more on that when it happens).
The digital image of the photo used in my Atlantic article was provided by Tipton to a SAGE historian over a decade ago. It was previously the highest-quality version of the photo I had access to, and that posed a few problems. Someone (likely Tipton himself) had hastily retouched the image, removing various scratches, and it was not presented in a high enough resolution to examine in detail.
To remedy that, Tipton was kind enough to make a high resolution scan of the original print and mail it to me on CD-ROM back in February. With his permission, I am providing the high-resolution scan of the pin-up console photo unretouched and unmodified below so that (a) others may learn from it and (b) to ensure that our only record of this important achievement in art is not lost.
My family owned this exact printer. In fact, I think it's still sitting in my parents' attic as we speak. If I'm not mistaken, we used it with our Apple IIe system — the one my dad built from a bare circuit board and a set of cloned ROM chips (much like the one in this 2006 VC&G post).
It's probably the first printer I ever saw in action, likely before I could even walk. I can recall crawling under our computer desk (the printer was on the floor beneath it for some reason) and watching it print out whimsical banners and calendars from a program like Broderbund's The Print Shop.
But what I remember most about it, of course, was the sound it made: like a screeching robot mouse spraying lead into tractor-feed paper with a tiny machine gun. Like any dot matrix printer, once you hear one in action, the sound will never leave you.
Those were the days.
Of course, I was still using a dot matrix printer until the early 1990s, so I am pretty much scarred for life. Mice everywhere.
Discussion Topic of the Week: What was the first printer you ever owned?
Back in the mid-late 1990s, an Internet-based BBS platform called Hotline sprung up and quickly spread throughout the Macintosh community. It was basically a client/server BBS software suite that allowed for multi-user chat, file transfers, and message boards.
By the early 2000s, though, Hotline had mostly died out. Today, only a handful of servers remain. But guess what? You can still connect to them — on Windows or a Mac. A new article I wrote for Macworld, "Hotline Revisted," tells you how.
Have fun. Remember to be kind to the Hotline veterans when you visit.
UPON ONE OF THOSE TIMES, ULAF CREATE TRY-POD MOUNT FOR THE GAME BOY COLORFUL UNIT, THE CAMERAS, WHICH THE MINDS OF NINTENDOGS CREATES SOMETIMES NEAR 1998 (WHAT A MINDS). WITH GREATEST OF THE SKILL, ULAF CARVE FOAM BETWEEN CANS OF THE SPAM (THE FAVORITE AMERICAN FOODS) HOLLOW, INTO HOLE FOR THE HOLDING OF THE GAME BOY CONSUL OF MY MIND.
WORKED WONDER FOR THE PHOTOGRAPHAGRAPHERS OF MY MIND:
ULAF PRINT ALL THOSE PHOTOGRAPHAGRAPHERS AND HUNG THEM UPON THE REFRIDGERATE OF ULAF.
BY THE WAYS, DID NOT THE GAME BOY GROWS INTO THE GAME MEN? WHERE DID THAT LITTLE BOY OF GAMING TIME GO? MATURATION AND PUBESCENCE, THAT IS WHERE. AND ABOVE ALL OF THE NOISES IT BECOME DEATH, DESTROYER OF WORLDS AND ATE MY MIND. AHHHHHH.
PERHAP ULAF EATS THE WRONG MUSHROOM.
JUST A QUICK NOTE FROM MY MIND. GO BACK TO LIFE NOW. UNTIL NEXT TIME THIS IS ULAF SAYING BE THE MASTER.
Ulaf Silchov is an expert in video games and computers. He also writes for "Svadlost Weekly" and "The Overachieving Underling Circular."
I'm not a big fan of sports, and I'm not a big fan of sports games (Blades of Steel for the NES is probably my favorite — off the top of my head). But having grown up in the heart of ACC basketball country surrounded by great and once-great teams (UNC, Duke, NCSU, Wake Forest, etc.), I have a soft spot for the ACC and NCAA college basketball tournaments. I tend to watch a couple games a year.
So I can't tell you much about NCAA Basketball Final Four '97, because I've never played it. The closest I've come was NBA Live '97 for the SNES, and that was pretty fun for a basketball game.
Discussion Topic of the Week: What's your favorite basketball video game of all time?