[ Retro Scan of the Week ] The Joust Guy

August 18th, 2014 by Benj Edwards

Illustration from Joust Atari 2600 instruction manual - 1982If I were riding a flying ostrich, I'd probably be smiling too.

I don't normally take scans out of context, but I made an exception for this amazing illustration. It comes from the instruction manual for Joust for the Atari 2600. I isolated the image years ago for possible use in one of my Halloween costume ideas posts, and I've been staring at it in my scans folder ever since.

Joust is one of my favorite arcade titles, and I'm particularly fond of the Atari 7800 home version.

I'd like to find out who created this glorious piece of video game art. I'll do some digging in a bit, but if you know already, please leave a comment and I'll update this post. (The illustrator may be referenced in the manual itself, but it's packed where I can't get to it.)

By the way, I think this illustration would look awesome on a t-shirt. Anybody want to make one?

[ From Joust Atari 2600 Instruction Manual - 1982]

Discussion Topic of the Week: Which is better: Joust or Balloon Fight?

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[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Quasar Hand-Held Computer

July 7th, 2014 by Benj Edwards

Quasar Hand-Held Computer HHC Pocket Computer Advertisement - 1982"One Picture is Worth a Thousand Numbers"

I've never used or seen a Quasar Hand-Held Computer in person, but I am a big fan of the similarly-sized TRS-80 Pocket Computer, which I've written about a number of times on this site.

According to this ad, one of the unique features of the Quasar HHC was that you could hook it up to a large color monitor if you had the right expansion accessory. That reminds me of the TRS-80 Model 100 Disk/Video Interface. Pretty cool. I bet the software that utilized that feature was extremely rare, though. I'd love to see it in action.


See Also: BASIC in your Pocket (RSOTW, 2009)
See Also: Asimov's Pocket Computer (RSOTW, 2011)
See Also: Sharp Pocket Computer (RSOTW, 2013)

[ From Popular Computing - December 1982]

Discussion Topic of the Week: What's the smallest pre-year 2000 computer you've ever owned?

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[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Baked Apple II

October 22nd, 2012 by Benj Edwards

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.

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The CD Player Turns 30

October 1st, 2012 by Benj Edwards

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.

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My Week with the Commodore 64 (30th Anniversary)

August 2nd, 2012 by Benj Edwards

My Week with the Commodore 64

Thirty years ago, Commodore Business Machines released the Commodore 64, an 8-bit home computer that served up early computer experiences for millions of users around the world. By some estimates, the little brown wonder sold as many as 17 million units during its 12 year lifespan, which means there are a lot of C64 fans out there.

In honor of both the machine and its fans, I recently locked myself in a room with the vintage machine for a week to put it through its paces and see if I could use it as a work machine. In the process, I tested it as a word processor, game console, and even used it to send a few tweets. I did it all with vintage hardware and software, so you'll find no Ethernet adapters or SD card drives here.

If, while reading, you feel anything is missing, that's because the piece got quite a chopping — I did so much in my week with the C64 that the full report on my activities was way too long for publication. For example, sections on GEOS, my pirated disk collection, and more were dropped. Perhaps those will show up somewhere else in the future.

Still, the result should be quite a fun read for any vintage computing fan. I hope you enjoy it.

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Trip Hawkins Interview: 30 Years of Electronic Arts

June 29th, 2012 by Benj Edwards

Trip Hawkins Interview on EDGE-online.com

Electronic Arts turned 30 on May 28th, and I thought it would be a good opportunity to check in with its founder, Trip Hawkins, on how he feels about Electronic Arts today. It's no secret that EA, while a massively successful company, takes a lot of heat from gamers on a number of issues (see this Retro Scan and its comments for more on that).

In an interview published at Edge Online, Hawkins and I spoke at length about Electronic Arts, including the founding of EA, finding early EA developers, his time at Apple, his friendship with Steve Jobs, and yes, how he feels about Electronic Arts today.

The resulting interview was so long that Edge decided to split it into five parts. It just published the last part today, so I thought I'd collect all the links here so you can read it.

06/25/2012 "Trip Hawkins: The inspiration for EA"
06/26/2012 "Trip Hawkins on Apple and Steve Jobs"
06/27/2012 "Trip Hawkins: Founding Electronic Arts"
06/28/2012 "Trip Hawkins: The EA Days"
06/29/2012 "Trip Hawkins on the EA of today"

Interestingly, there has been no mention of the company's 30th anniversary from Electronic Arts itself. Its staff was probably too busy revising its own history to notice.

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[ Retro Scan of the Week ] The Osborne 1

June 25th, 2012 by Benj Edwards

Osborne 1 Portable Computer ad -  1982Two out of three doctors recommend Osborne 1 for muscle fatigue.

We've come a long way from what many consider to be the first commercial portable PC, the Osborne 1 (seen here), and the recently announced Microsoft Surface tablet.

Here's a brain twister for you. If you packed a case the size of the Osborne 1 (think small suitcase) with Surface-sized portable tech, how powerful would the machine be?

[ From BYTE Magazine, February 1982, p.31 ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: What was your first portable computer? When did you get it?

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[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Apple II Mountain Music

May 21st, 2012 by Benj Edwards

Mountain Computer MusicSystem Music System Apple II Ad - Mountain Music - 1982The Mountain Computer MusicSystem. Not a scene from Hee Haw.

In an age when the vast majority of commercial music is recorded or produced using computers, it's interesting to look back to a time with computer-based music tools were in their infancy. In this case we're turning back the clock 30 years to examine an ad for the Mountain Computer MusicSystem, a musical synthesizer and sequencer add-on for the Apple II (horse not included).

Admittedly, I know nothing about this system beyond what you read in the ad above (and some Googled info found here and here). But I wouldn't be surprised if the original creators of the MusicSystem are lurking somewhere out there on the Internet — just waiting for this subject to come up so they can post a comment about it on a blog like this one. If that's the case, please do!

[ From Popular Computing, January 1982, p.1 ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: When was the first time you used a computer as a tool in music production?

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