[ Retro Scan ] The Promise and Peril of Computer-Cars

Monday, April 24th, 2017

Oldsmobile Cutlass Cierra Computer Control fuel efficiency advertisement scan - 1984Our 1984 model: Only 3,000 superfluous wheel spokes to clean

Microprocessor technology hit the automotive world in a big way in the 1970s and 80s — car manufacturers began integrating microcontrollers into their products, and that move paid off with features like increased fuel efficiency, better cruise control, and more accurate climate control.

Some computer-related advantages in the automotive industry predated the invention of the microprocessor, however. In 1964, GM began using CAD software on IBM mainframes to help design the cars themselves. These computer design systems were some of the earliest to allow the manipulation of 3D models and the use of light pens for designer input. Their invention pushed forward the state of the art and practically invented the concept of CAD itself.

By the 1980s, manufacturers were touting products replete with computer-related perks, as this 1984 Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera ad shows very well. Olds even provided an option for an integrated push-button digital calculator that could “help balance your checkbook.”

I’ve transcribed the ad copy below so you can read it more easily.

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[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Dad’s Christmas Art

Monday, December 21st, 2015

Benj's Dad homemade Christmas Xmas art drawing computer art KoalaPad KoalaPainter Atari 800 Polaroid print - 1985A Christmas Tree in the Window

Back in the day, my dad bought a KoalaPad drawing tablet for our Atari 800. Perhaps that very December — in 1984 or 1985, he drew this scene of the front of our house at Christmas time, complete with a view of our Christmas tree through our living room window. So proud was he of his creation that he snapped a photo of it with a Polaroid camera, and that’s the print I am showing to you now.

Merry Christmas from Vintage Computing and Gaming!

[ From Personal Polaroid SX-70 print, ca.1985, front ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: Did you draw any Christmas art on your computer when you were a kid? Tell us about it.

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Dad’s Halloween Card

Monday, October 26th, 2015

Personalized custom homemade Print Shop Halloween greeting card - circa 1984-85Happy Halloween from 1984

My family has this way of saving everything. Not through conscious, organized preservation, but by virtue of never throwing anything away.

In that vein, I was digging through some old papers at my mom’s house after my father passed away in 2013, and I came across this homemade Halloween greeting card.

From the looks of it, my dad made the card for me and my brother using Broderbund’s Print Shop on the family’s Apple IIc. It is printed on a single sheet of 8.5″ x 11″ paper; one is supposed to fold it in half twice to achieve a gatefold design with a front, inside, and back. Click the image above to see the whole thing unfolded — the other side is blank.

As for who colored it with crayons, I’m guessing I did (perhaps my dad or brother did it neatly, then I gave it a once-over with a brown squiggly line). What a great momento from the home PC era. Happy Halloween!

[ From Personal scan of homemade Halloween card, ca.1984-85]

Discussion Topic of the Week: Have you ever made a personalized greeting card using your computer? Tell us about it.

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] TRS-80 Model 4

Monday, February 9th, 2015

Tandy Radio Shack TRS-80 Model 4 advertisement - BYTE October 1984Philodendron not included.

[ From BYTE – October 1984, rear cover ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: Did you use a TRS-80 or Tandy computer of any kind back in the day? Tell us about it.

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Choose Your Own Zork Adventure

Monday, November 18th, 2013

Atari Jaguar and Jaguar CD on Sale in TigerDirect Catalog - 1997“Don’t eat me, ghostly tiger-snake!”

During the Choose Your Own Adventure (RSOTW, 2008) book craze in the early 1980s, interactive fiction meisters Infocom decided to get in on the act by publishing a series of Zork-themed “What-Do-I-Do-Now” titles through TOR Books.

Here is one of them, formally titled Zork #4: Conquest at Quendor. It was written by none other than Infocom legend Steve Meretzky, whom I met briefly in person back in 2008. He is a very personable fellow. (FYI: Back in 2007, Meretzky made a cameo in Jason Scott’s video for the Zork-themed “It Is Pitch Dark” by MC Frontalot, which I love.)

As for the book, I haven’t read it in ages, so I am not equipped at present to tell you if it’s any good. I just recently found it in a box of my brother’s old computer game boxes at my parents’ house (which seems to be how a lot of these scans originate these days). My brother is and was a huge Zork fan, which reminds me that we need to play Zork Nemesis together again sometime.

I will add that the cover art featuring a translucent, floating fuzzy tiger-snake with squidlike suction cups on its body always freaked me out a bit as a kid.

[ From Zork #4: Conquest at Quendor (TOR Books, October 1984) ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: What’s your favorite entry in the Zork game series?

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Slay the Nereis

Monday, September 16th, 2013

Slay the Nereis Manual - 1984A TRS-80 Color Computer Centipede clone; this artwork should be a t-shirt.

See Also: TRS-80 Dino Wars (RSOTW, 2012)

[ From Radio Shack “Slay the Nereis” Manual, rev. April 1984 ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: What’s the silliest knock-off of a famous video game you can think of? (e.g. Donkey King)

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] An Apple //c Thanksgiving

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

Apple Logo II Reference Manual Cover - Apple IIc Family - 1984“And you say this is some sort of football simulator?”

[ From Apple Logo II Reference Manual, circa 1984, cover ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: Does your family play video or computer games around the holidays as part of a tradition? Please discuss.

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] “What’s Wrong With Copying Software?”

Monday, January 21st, 2008

SPA Anti-Software Piracy Ad

“…and that’s why every time you copy M.U.L.E., a baby dies.”

“Oh God, Bill. You’re making me cry.”

[ Scanned from Popular Computing, 1984 ]

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