August 25th, 2014 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, Aplus 3000, Apple II, Apple II clone, VTech, Laser 3000, Apple, clones, Computer Direct, advertisement, Compute, 1985
Everything looks cheaper in black and white print.
The IBM PC wasn't the only American microcomputer that got cloned in the 1980s. The Apple II also inspired its fair share of software-compatible copycats, such as the Aplus 3000 system seen here.
This appears to be a grey market VTech Laser 3000 computer with the name plate removed — possibly to avoid any trade import bans on Apple II clones that may have existed at the time.
Clones like this were popular in certain underground circles, and for good reason. Take a look at the price list in the ad. The Aplus 3000 retailed for US $499 (about $1,104 today when adjusted for inflation) verses $1745 for a bona fide Apple IIe (about $3,863 today). And on top of that, the Aplus 3000 contained integrated peripheral cards that would cost thousands of extra dollars if purchased separately for use in a real Apple IIe.
As I've mentioned before, peripheral integration was a great way to undercut official products. It happened quite a bit in the IBM PC universe.
[ From Compute! - November 1985, p.85]
Discussion Topic of the Week: If you could buy an unauthorized clone of an iPad or iPhone that ran iOS and had better specs for less price, would you do it?
See Also: Orange+Two Apple II Clone (RSOTW, 2010)
See Also: Apple II Box for C64 (RSOTW, 2013
See Also: How I Got My First Computer, and How I Got My First Computer Back
July 28th, 2014 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, Apple, Apple II, Genesis, Bible, Adam, jungle, serpent, advertisement, Byte, 1979
Where's Eve? Oh wait.
This ad is actually for an Apple II-themed creative writing contest, but you'd never know it. That's because the gobs of tiny, hard-to-read text are completely overshadowed by the nude man in a jungle holding an Apple II over his crotch.
And that man happens to be Adam from Genesis.
So there you have it, folks. The Apple II was responsible for the fall of man. You know — that time Adam ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, casting all of humanity into sin. Here's a tasty quote from Wikipedia:
For many Christian denominations the doctrine of the fall is closely related to that of original sin. They believe that the fall brought sin into the world, corrupting the entire natural world, including human nature, causing all humans to be born into original sin, a state from which they cannot attain eternal life without the grace of God.
You probably won't see me discussing theology on this blog ever again, but I find this ad quite funny because, despite its tongue-in-cheek cuteness, the biblical interpretations stemming from it are myriad and potentially wildly unexpected, making this a complete failure of marketing. But that failure was likely overlooked. This was 1979 — early in the life of Apple — and it was also before the Great Masses of the Offended had a strong enough voice (i.e. The Internet) with which to share and froth over everything that displeased them.
[ From BYTE - November 1979, p.33]
Discussion Topic of the Week: How do you think people would react if Apple published an ad like this today?
June 23rd, 2014 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, Lucasfilm, Koronis Rift, Commodore 64, Apple II, Atari 800, first-person shooter, advertisement, Compute
A convincing illustration of a migraine headache
After seeing this ad, am I the only one who has the urge to play Lucasfilm's Koronis Rift on the Oculus Rift? Retro stereo 3D action!
See Also: The Eidolon (RSOTW, 2013)
[ From Compute! - November 1985, p.35]
Discussion Topic of the Week: Can you think of any vintage games that would translate well to the Oculus Rift?
June 6th, 2014 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Newsbits, news, RetroN 5, Wii U, Nintendo DS, Virtual Console, emulation, Atari landfill, Atari, Apple, prototypes, Apple II, Raspberry Pi, Game Boy, GIF, Wolfenstein 3D, Doom II, hypertext, Susan Kare, Windows 95
Vintage computing and retrogaming news small enough to eat.
Despite what you may think, Newsbits is not dead. It just needs more fiber.
- The RetroN 5 Launching June 6th (Today!) in the US
Hope it works as advertised.
This thing is a beast, supporting NES, Famicom, SNES, Super Famicom, Genesis, Mega Drive, Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and GBA cartridges. All of that, with 720p output via HDMI and original controller support.
- Wii U plugs first DS game into Virtual Console in Japan
Once upon a time, Nintendo frowned strongly upon emulation. Now its business model depends on it. Oh, how times have changed.
Puzzle-poser Brain Age is the first DS game to arrive on Wii U Virtual Console, and it's out now in Japan for free until June 30.
- Unearthed E.T. Atari games will be curated by New Mexico space museum and then sold
A unique situation where one of these games in unopened, mint condition could be worth far less than one crushed and buried in a landfill for 30 years.
Seven hundred of the 1,300 E.T. and other Atari cartridges recovered from a New Mexico landfill will be appraised, certified and put up for sale, the Alamogordo City Commission decided this week.
- The Verge Publishes Rarely-Seen Photos of Apple's 1980s Prototype Case Designs
(Source: The Verge)
Incredible photos of early 1980s Apple products that never were
Some of its earliest and most iconic designs, however, didn't actually come from inside of Apple, but from outside designers at Frog. In particular, credit goes to Frog's founder, Hartmut Esslinger, who was responsible for the 'Snow White' design language.
- Watching kids trying to figure out how to use an old Apple II is totally hilarious
(Source: Cult of Mac)
This video of children from the ages of 6 to 13 trying to figure out how to work a vintage Apple II … shows just how inexplicable computing was to pretty much everyone before Steve Jobs released the original Mac in 1984.
- Modder Stuffs a Raspberry Pi into a Game Boy Pocket
This is one of the most amazing mods I've ever seen
After sanding down the bosses on the inside of the case, gluing the battery door shut, and installing a bit of plastic over the cartridge slot, WarriorRocker was able to fit a Raspi inside. The buttons use the same PCB as the stock Game Boy, connected to a Teensy 2.0 board that simulates a USB keyboard.
- Exhibiting .gifs: An Interview with curator Jason Eppink
(Source: The Signal)
Wonder if they know about Retro GIF of the Week
Jason recently curated 'The Reaction GIF: Moving Image as Gesture,' which exhibits a set of GIFs he identified in consultation with redditors.
- Where Have You Gone, Peter Norton?
A look back at the PC utility guru's career by Harry McCracken at the newly-reborn Technologizer
Norton’s empire grew to include multiple software products, articles (including a long-running PC Magazine column), and books. He was everywhere that PCs were. And then, in 1990, he sold Peter Norton Computing to Symantec, which made the Norton line of software even more successful.
- Wolfenstein game graphics, 1992 vs 2014
A million more pixels, but the jaw remains the same
- The Most 90s Thing That Could Ever Exist
(Source: The Atlantic)
The zeitgeist summed perfectly in one technological artifact, which is a VHS tape promoting Windows 95, starring Jennifer Aniston and Matthew Perry.
- Total Chaos is the Best-Looking Doom II Mod You've Ever Seen
More like a "GZDoom mod," but still very impressive.
Total Chaos doesn’t run on the Doom 2 engine from 1993 proper, but a modified version of the original source code that brings in OpenGL, mouse looks and other features like 16x motion blur, high resolution textures, 3D models, and bloom effects.
- The Secret History of Hypertext
(Source: The Atlantic)
Historians of technology often cite Bush’s essay as the conceptual forerunner of the Web. And hypertext pioneers like Douglas Engelbart, Ted Nelson, and Tim Berners-Lee have all acknowledged their debt to Bush’s vision. But for all his lasting influence, Bush was not the first person to imagine something like the Web.
- The Woman Behind Apple's First Icons
…and Windows 3.0 to XP's Solitaire cards! (I did an interview with her about that once, gotta find it.)
For many, Susan Kare's icons were a first taste of human-computer interaction: they were approachable, friendly, and simple, much like the designer herself. Today, we recognize the little images — system-failure bomb, paintbrush, mini-stopwatch, dogcow — as old, pixelated friends.
If you want me to include something on a future Newsbits column, send me an email with "Newsbits" in the subject line.
March 31st, 2014 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, kindergarten, computer art, IBM PC, Apple II, educational games, printout, 1986
Watch 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?
February 4th, 2014 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, Olympics, Epyx, Winter Games, Summer Games, Summer Games II, Macintosh, Atari 800, Apple II, Commodore 64, Compute, advertisement, 1985
Just 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.
January 27th, 2014 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, Stickybear, Weekly Reader Family Software, educational games, Apple, Apple II, Personal Computing, 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?
July 1st, 2013 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, Amdek, Color-I, composite video, monitor, Apple II, Commodore, VIC-20, Atari 800, Personal Computing, 1983
Tracking 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?
June 3rd, 2013 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, Apple, Apple IIc, hand-drawn, game notes, game maps, golf, Chris, 1980s
If 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?
April 8th, 2013 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Apple, Apple II, Apple IIe, Apple clone, Star Micronics, Delta-10, dot matrix printer, advertisement, Personal Computing, 1983, The Print Shop, Broderbund
The 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?