January 28th, 2013 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, Final Fantasy, Final Fantasy Tactics, PSX, PlayStation, Square, GamePro, anniversaries, 1998
"How to Start the Mother of All Wars"
Fifteen years ago today, Square released Final Fantasy Tactics in North America for the Sony PlayStation. (It's kinda crazy, because I was going to use this scan today anyway, just by chance.)
I remember being excited when this game came out. I'm sure I read a glowing review of it in EGM and recommended it to my brother, who promptly bought it and played it on and off for the next two years. I still have Final Fantasy Tactics' music stuck in my head just from hearing him play the game so much.
The game is a strategic masterpiece, and though I have not played it to completion myself, I appreciate its depth, its music, and I absolutely love its sprite-based graphics and spell effects. The sprite-based nature of FFT alone was something to cheer at a time when most new PSX games were plagued with choppy, low-res polygonal 3D graphics.
[ From GamePro, May 1998, p.70-71 ]
Discussion Topic of the Week: In your words, what's so great about Final Fantasy Tactics?
January 21st, 2013 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Apple, Apple Lisa, Apple IIe, Apple II, Popular Computing, anniversaries, freelance work, Macworld, 1983
APPLE'S BOLD NEW COMPUTERS IN ALL-CAPS
Thirty years ago last Saturday (January 19th, 1983), Apple announced two new computers: the Apple Lisa and the Apple IIe.
Ultimately, the Apple Lisa met an early end, leaving behind technology that shaped the entire industry. The Apple IIe remained a reliable breadwinner during uncertain times in the early life of the Macintosh and remained the flagship member of Apple's popular 8-bit computer line until it ended in 1993.
Here's the cover of the March 1983 issue of Popular Computing which featured Apple's two new machines. It has always been one of my favorite vintage computer magazine covers.
By the way, I recently wrote an article about this anniversary for Macworld in case you're interested.
[ From Popular Computing, March 1983, cover ]
Discussion Topic of the Week: Have you ever used an Apple Lisa? What did you think about it?
November 29th, 2012 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Atari, Curt Vendel, Marty Goldberg, Pong, books, anniversaries, 1972
Just a few days ago, renowned video game historians Marty Goldberg (formerly of ClassicGaming.com) and Curt Vendel (Atari collector extraordinaire) published their epic Atari history book, Atari Inc.: Business is Fun.
And by epic, I mean 800-pages epic. Its launch coincides with the 40th anniversary of the legendary video game company, which happens to be this year. (In fact, the 40th anniversary of Pong's public debut happens to be today.)
I haven't gotten my hands on a copy of this massive work yet, but I thought I'd let you guys know about it because it promises to be an interesting read.
November 26th, 2012 by Benj Edwards
Tags: BBS, The Cave BBS, Red Wolf, modem, virus, WWIV, VBBS, Procomm Plus, anniversaries, 1992
A vintage printout of my first BBS log.
Twenty years ago yesterday, I set up a BBS for the first time. The Cave BBS. Admittedly, it was nothing more than a bare-bones system run through
Procomm Plus' Minihost module Minihost, but it was a start. Within a few weeks (with a brief detour running VBBS for a few days), I had a full-fledged WWIV BBS setup running on a Tandy 1800 HD laptop with a 2400 BPS modem.
Brief aside — I can't find a copy of that ProComm Plus MiniHost for MS-DOS software anywhere — does anyone have it? I have the terminal emulator part, but not the MiniHost.] [ Update 11/27/2012 - Thanks to Jim Carpenter (see comments) for helping me find it! ]
[ Continue reading [ Retro Scan of the Week ] The Cave BBS Turns 20 » ]
October 30th, 2012 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Interviews, Nick Newhard, Monolith, Blood, PC games, FPS, anniversaries, 1997
Back in 2007, I intended to write an article about the 10th anniversary of Monolith's Blood, one of my personal favorite computer games. Accordingly, I contacted Nick Newhard, the designer and lead programmer of Blood, and arranged for an interview.
For whatever reason, my interview with Newhard didn't take place until April 2008 via email. (That's probably why I shelved the project.) Since it's almost Halloween — and it's the 15th anniversary of Blood this year — I thought I'd share this little gem from my archives. It should be a treat for any Blood fans that might be out there.
I'm presenting this interview a little more sparsely laid-out than I usually do just for the sake of expediency. Some day I will write more about Blood, but until then, I hope this nugget of history will tide you over.
By the way, you can buy Blood on GOG.com these days for $5.99 (price at present). It runs great in DOSBox on a fast machine — make sure you crank up the in-game display resolution for greatest effect. The game is amazing in 1440×900 VESA mode on a widescreen monitor.
I heartily endorse the thorough and frequent playing of Blood, as it is one of the greatest PC games of all time — in my opinion, at least.
[ Continue reading VC&G Interview: Nick Newhard on Monolith's Blood » ]
October 1st, 2012 by Benj Edwards
Tags: TechHive, Compact Disc, CD Players, CDP-101, freelance work, anniversaries, 1982
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.
August 2nd, 2012 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Commodore, Commodore 64, freelance work, anniversaries, PC World, 1982
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.
July 19th, 2012 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Macworld, Apple, iMac, iMac G4, Macintosh, SuperDrive, iTunes, iChat, iMovie, anniversaries, freelance work, 2002
Yep, the iMac G4 turned 10 this year, and I wanted to write about it. I bought the high-end 800 MHz/SuperDrive model new back in January 2002 (just at launch), and I used it for about five years to do all sorts of casual, media-related things (email/iChat/iMovie/iTunes mostly). It was, and is, a great machine — it's a little slow, but it has always been a joy to use.
You can read my article celebrating the iMac G4 over at Macworld now. I hope you enjoy it.
July 10th, 2012 by Benj Edwards
Tags: IBM, IBM PS/2, VGA, floppy drives, freelance work, anniversaries, PC World, 1987
25 years ago, IBM introduced the Personal System/2 (PS/2), a computer series that brought VGA, PS/2 ports, 3.5″ floppy drives, and more to the world of PC compatibles.
In honor of this anniversary, I wrote an article about the first set of PS/2 computers (released April 1987) for PCWorld.com.
One of my first PCs was an IBM PS/2 Model 25 — the famous all-in-one IBM PC that found its way into many homes and schools due to its relatively low price. The Model 25 is not mentioned in the article, however, because it was not a member of the original April 1987 lineup (I believe it launched later that year).
I hope you enjoy the piece.
June 29th, 2012 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Trip Hawkins, Electronic Arts, Apple, Steve Jobs, Edge, revisionism, interviews, anniversaries, freelance work, 1982
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.
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.