[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Crystal Quest for Game Boy

April 21st, 2014 by Benj Edwards

Crystal Quest for Nintendo Game Boy Advertisement 1991Game Boy: The Final Frontier

Fans of early Mac games will no doubt remember Crystal Quest, which (I believe) was the first Mac game to use color graphics just after the Mac II came out in 1987.

Crystal Quest on the Mac played like a space-based Robotron: 2084 controlled with the mouse, albeit with a loose trackball feel because your ship kept moving in the direction you nudged the mouse until you corrected its course. So I'm not sure how it played in this obscure Game Boy port from 1991. Perhaps I'll fire up an emulator right now and find out.

[ From Video Games & Computer Entertainment, August 1991, rear cover]

Discussion Topic of the Week: Can you think of any other game that started on the Macintosh then received a port to a Nintendo console?

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[ Retro Scan of the Week ] AppleLine: One of Apple's Two Rarest Products

April 14th, 2014 by Benj Edwards

AppleLine Service Sheet (Apple P/N 661-75203), rev. March 1991 (7.2.1) - circa 1991One of the only photos of this device on the Internet at present.

Almost thirty years after its introduction, the AppleLine Protocol Converter (1985) remains one of the rarest pieces of commercial hardware Apple has ever produced. It allowed a single Lisa, Mac, or Apple II to communicate with IBM mainframes using the IBM 3270 terminal protocol.

As far as I can tell, this is only the second photo of the AppleLine ever posted on the Internet (the first was in a slideshow from last year — see below). I bought this particular Apple service sheet just to share a photo of this elusive beast with you.

In 1983, Apple released a similar (and similarly rare) product, the Apple Cluster Controller, which I wrote about in this Macworld slideshow from last year. One model of the Cluster Controller allowed up to seven Apple Lisas to connect to an IBM mainframe (again, via IBM 3270), which required an intelligent protocol conversion process. As such, the Cluster Controller contained its own CPU and was a miniature computer unto itself, but technical specifications of either device are hard to track down.

If you or anyone you know owns an Apple Cluster Controller or AppleLine protocol converter, I'd love to hear from you. They are so rare I'm not sure if they even exist anymore. (Perhaps Apple only leased them out and recalled all the units when they phased them out, keeping them largely out of private hands. But this is pure speculation on my part.)

[ From AppleLine Service Sheet (Apple P/N 661-75203), rev. March 1991 (7.2.1) ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: What's the rarest Apple product you own?

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[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Benj's Early Computer Art

March 31st, 2014 by Benj Edwards

Benj's Early Computer Art Kindergarten Art Print Printout 1986Watch out Mr. Rabbit!

As I've previously mentioned, I've found a wealth of Retro Scan material while looking through old family papers in the attic at my mom's house.

This time, I was sorting through a giant box of my ancient artwork from school, and I came upon this fascinating computer printout from my kindergarten era (1985-86).

I vaguely remember making it (although, strangely, I mostly remember coloring in those little boxes and being proud of it), but I have no idea what software I used to do it. I know that my school stocked itself with IBM PCs, but the font and the overall feel of the image remind me of an Apple II MECC educational game.

Whatever the platform, this looks like the output from a stamp/clip-art program for kids. Does anybody know what it is?

[ From 8.5 x 11-inch tractor feed printout, circa 1985-86]

Discussion Topic of the Week: What was the first computer paint program you ever used?

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[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Epyx Winter Games

February 4th, 2014 by Benj Edwards

Epyx Winter Games Summer Games Summer Games II Advertisement 1985Just in time for Sochi. Sorry for the page fold.

[ From Compute!, November 1985, p.37]

Discussion Topic of the Week: What's your favorite winter sport(s) video game? This is mine.

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[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Stickybear Games

January 27th, 2014 by Benj Edwards

Weekly Reader Educational Software Stickybear Educational Game Software Advertisement 1983"Stickybear," in retrospect, is a kinda disgusting name.

[ From Personal Computing, November 1983, p.108]

Discussion Topic of the Week: What's your favorite educational video/computer game of all time?

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[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Amdek Color-I Monitor

July 1st, 2013 by Benj Edwards

Atari Commodore Apple II Amdek Color-I Monitor Ad - 1983Tracking the shadow people on an Apple II has never been more fun.

[ From Personal Computing, November 1983, inside rear cover ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: Do you own any composite video monitors? Which model/brand is your favorite?

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[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Hand-Drawn Golf Reference

June 3rd, 2013 by Benj Edwards

Chris Apple IIc hand-drawn Golf Map and Reference - circa 1980sIf there were only 40 degrees in a circle, this is what it would look like.

There is a certain rustic beauty in hand-drawn video game notes that I will never cease to enjoy. Case in point: this map/reference key created by family friend Chris when he was a kid in the 1980s. I'm not quite sure what game it was for (other than "Golf"), but it was likely a game for the Apple IIc, as I found it among related Apple IIc ephemera when I acquired his collection some years ago.

For more hand-drawn video game goodness, check out this VC&G post about my friend's Deadly Towers maps from 2006.

[ Update: 06/03/2013 - I was just talking to my brother, and he thinks that either he drew this alone or I wrote the letters and he drew the numbers. It was either a reference to a Golf game he programmed in C in 1991, or an old Atari 800 golf game that I haven't found yet. I still think it's possible that Chris wrote the letters. ]

[ From Chris' Apple IIc papers, circa mid-late 1980s ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: Do you ever hand-draw maps for modern video games?

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[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Star Dot Matrix Printer

April 8th, 2013 by Benj Edwards

Star Micronics Delta-10 Dot Matrix Printer Ad - 1983The Star Micronics Delta-10 Dot Matrix Printer: Mouse with Machine Gun

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.

[ From Personal Computing, November 1983, p.28 ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: What was the first printer you ever owned?

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Revisiting Hotline, the 1990s Internet BBS Platform

April 2nd, 2013 by Benj Edwards

Hotline Revisited

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.

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[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Apple II Box for C64

March 25th, 2013 by Benj Edwards

Mimic Systems Spartan Commodore 64 Apple II+ expansion box advertisement ad - 1985A scene from one of Benj's recent nightmares.

Hey mime! Yeah, you! Stop stealing my $599 Mimic Spartan Apple II+ compatibility box for the Commodore 64. I need it to open up a whole new world of hardware and software.

Just for a second, imagine if I could add these features to my Commodore 64: Apple II+ hardware and software capabilities, 64K RAM expansion, four software selectable Commodore 64 cartridge slots, non-dedicated 8-bit parallel port, and standard audio cassette deck capabilities for my C-64. Yep, all of that!

The suggested retail value of comparable products offering only these capabilities is over $2,200.00*. But the Spartan gives me much, much more, mime! Oh yes. By building on my investment in my Commodore 64 — an excellent introductory computer — I create a whole new system with both C-64 an Apple II+ capabilities.

There is a whole other world out there! And if you'd just give it back, a huge selection of Apple II+ hardware and software would be mine to explore. Call toll free for the Spartan dealer nearest you.

* Burp.

[ From Compute, November 1985, p.29 ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: Open Discussion: Whoever posts a question first gets to decide what we'll talk about this week.

See Also: MacCharlie's FrankenMac (2013)

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