Discussion Topic of the Week: Do you own any composite video monitors? Which model/brand is your favorite?
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. ]
Discussion Topic of the Week: Do you ever hand-draw maps for modern video games?
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.
Discussion Topic of the Week: What was the first printer you ever owned?
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.
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)
Since my last update on the articles I've written for Macworld in November, I've written at least a handful more vintage-related stories for the publication that I haven't mentioned on this blog. To remedy that, I thought I'd share them below in convenient digest form.
- 12-21-2012 - The Forgotten eMate 300 — 15 Years Later
- 12-28-2012 - How to Make a Mac Plus Clock
- 01-11-2013 - Apple Knockoffs Through the Years
- 01-18-2013 - 30 Years of the Apple Lisa and the Apple IIe
The Mac Plus Clock piece is particularly fun, and I think VC&G fans will really enjoy it.
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.
Discussion Topic of the Week: Have you ever used an Apple Lisa? What did you think about it?
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.
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.
Discussion Topic of the Week: Have you ever lost or damaged a gadget in a fire? Tell us about it.
25 years ago this March (1987), Apple released the Macintosh II, the first open architecture Macintosh. Naturally, I've written a short feature about this pioneering machine over at Macworld.
While speaking with Michael Dhuey, the Apple engineer that conceived the Mac II, I learned that Apple patterned the Mac II after the 1977 Apple II, which sported the same sort of flexibility and expandability as the Mac II. That self-referential influence amazed me — especially coming from a company that recently institutionalized the practice of ignoring its own history.
But only two years after Steve Jobs resigned from Apple, the company had no problem making the un-Jobs move of both looking backward and opening up the Macintosh. The result changed the course of Macintosh history.
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!
Discussion Topic of the Week: When was the first time you used a computer as a tool in music production?