[ Retro Scan of the Week ] That Sanyo Feeling

October 8th, 2012 by Benj Edwards

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.

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The Chessmaster Died in 1997

August 27th, 2012 by Benj Edwards

The ChessmasterThe Chessmaster (1916-1997)

This iconic wizened head loomed large over my childhood. It is the image of the Chessmaster, a fictional chess opponent who stars in a software series of the same name.

That series began way back in 1986 with The Chessmaster 2000, a comprehensive chess simulator that first appeared on 8-bit computer platforms like the Apple II, Atari 800, and Commodore 64. Published by The Software Toolworks, it spawned a series of at least 16 titles that quickly became the best-selling chess software franchise of all time.

Chessmaster 2000 Box ArtMy older brother always loved chess games, so I saw that aged face — a perennial feature of Chessmaster box art — many times throughout the 1980s and 1990s. I always wondered: who was the Chessmaster, really? Who was the real man behind that wise old face? Was he really that old or was he just wearing a wig?

Fast forward to 2006. Thinking I'd write about it on this blog, I emailed Ubisoft (the current publisher of The Chessmaster series) and asked them if they knew who portrayed the Chessmaster. Of course, they had no idea — institutional memory is sorely lacking in most tech companies, and it's even worse in the software industry. Today I know better than to even bother asking.

Instead of tracking down everyone who worked on Chessmaster 2000 and interrogating them (although I considered it), I figured I'd bide my time and put the somewhat trivial issue on the back burner. The Internet has a way of consuming information and making it available to everyone online, so I thought the answer would pop up one day.

It did.

[ Continue reading The Chessmaster Died in 1997 » ]

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