Discussion Topic of the Week: What's the best Atari ST-exclusive game you can think of?
This is it, folks: an early ad (maybe the first) for the original commercial release of Zork, the famous Infocom text adventure, published by Personal Software ca. 1980 for the TRS-80 Model I and III home computers.
(This site has some wonderful background history on this release.)
I love the artwork featured in this ad. It is excised from the full cover art for the Personal Software version, which captures a great deal of the majesty and wonder of the seminal adventure title — plus a hefty dose of out-of-place machismo.
The mere mention of Zork takes me back to the mid-1980s when my older brother delved into the Great Underground Empire with the aid of photocopied maps and worn out InvisiClues on our family's Atari 800. Warm, fuzzy memories. Of course, by then, Infocom published the title directly.
Discussion Topic of the Week: What's your favorite text adventure game of all time? (Modern ones count.)
Discussion Topic of the Week: What's your favorite static-screen graphical adventure game of all time?
Discussion Topic of the Week: When you were a kid, did your parents let you have a computer in your bedroom?
[The following news comes to us via video game historian Mary Goldberg, who has allowed VC&G to republish his Facebook announcement here so more people can see it. –Benj]
It is with a sad heart that we announce the passing of Atari legend and friend Stephen D. ("Steve") Bristow, who died this past Sunday, February 22, 2015 at the age of 65 following a short illness.
Bristow was one of the originals, helping Nolan Bushnell out during the development of the world's first commercial arcade game, Computer Space, while an intern at Ampex.
He then moved to Nutting Associates, the publisher of Computer Space, as an intern. At Nutting, he soon took over for Nolan Bushnell when Bushnell and business partner Ted Dabney left to form Atari.
In the early 1970s, Bristow joined up once again with Bushnell at Atari for a short while before being tapped to form secret Atari subsidiary Kee Games with Joe and Patricia Keenan. There, he lead the creation of several groundbreaking arcade games such as the full-color multiplayer Indy 800 and the seminal game Tank.
Bristow occupied many positions at Atari throughout the 1970s an 80s. Upon the merger between Kee Games and Atari, he oversaw Atari's Coin Engineering as well as later projects like the Electronic Board Game Division. He later became Plant Manager of Pinball Production at Atari before moving to VP Engineering, Consumer and Home Computer Division, then VP Engineering of Atari's Consumer Game Division in the early 1980s.
From there, Bristow moved to VP Advanced Technology, then VP Engineering, AtariTel Division (which produced telephone products). Then finally, he joined Atari's Engineering Computer Division as VP and became an Atari Fellow before leaving Atari all together in February 1984.
Bristow continued with an impressive electrical engineering career afterword, but it's his time and accomplishments at Atari (and all the fun he brought us) that are the reason we're all here. He will be sorely missed.
I don't normally take scans out of context, but I made an exception for this amazing illustration. It comes from the instruction manual for Joust for the Atari 2600. I isolated the image years ago for possible use in one of my Halloween costume ideas posts, and I've been staring at it in my scans folder ever since.
Joust is one of my favorite arcade titles, and I'm particularly fond of the Atari 7800 home version.
I'd like to find out who created this glorious piece of video game art. I'll do some digging in a bit, but if you know already, please leave a comment and I'll update this post. (The illustrator may be referenced in the manual itself, but it's packed where I can't get to it.)
By the way, I think this illustration would look awesome on a t-shirt. Anybody want to make one?
Discussion Topic of the Week: Which is better: Joust or Balloon Fight?
See Also: The Eidolon (RSOTW, 2013)
Discussion Topic of the Week: Can you think of any vintage games that would translate well to the Oculus Rift?
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.
- See Atari's Buried Treasure: E.T. Among 30 Retro Games Unearthed In The Desert
I never thought I'd live to see the day
"The legend was true, but that's not all. Atari buried a lot of stuff back in 1983–and this is just the tip of the iceberg.
- Andy Warhol's Amiga Computer Art Found 30 Years Later
Always felt Amiga + Warhol was one of the more bizarre partnerships in computer history
"The Andy Warhol Museum has recovered a set of images, doodles, and photos created by the seminal pop artist on a Commodore Amiga home computer. The artworks, made by Warhol as part of a collaboration with Commodore Amiga, had been stranded on Amiga floppy disks for almost twenty years after the artist saved them in the mid-1980s.
- ICHEG Preserves Atari Coin-Op Divisions Collection
It gives me great mental relief to know someone is doing this so well and so thoroughly
"ICHEG has acquired a massive collection of materials chronicling the history of Atari's pioneering video arcade and pinball machine divisions from 1972 to 1999. The collection represents the largest and most comprehensive assemblage of archival records and other documentary items related to Atari's coin-operated games anywhere in the world.
- Bob Hoskins, Actor Who Played Mario, Dead at 71
Now both live-action Marios are gone
"Bob Hoskins, the pugnacious British actor known for playing gangsters, tough guys and working-class gentlemen in such films as 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit,' 'The Long Good Friday' and 'Mermaids,' has died, publicist Clair Dobbs said Wednesday.
- Fifty Years of BASIC, the Programming Language That Made Computers Personal
Harry McCracken's epic study of BASIC on its 50th
"Once upon a time, knowing how to use a computer was virtually synonymous with knowing how to program one. And the thing that made it possible was a programming language called BASIC.
- A Short History of BASIC, as Told in Animated GIFs
An animated supplement to McCracken's BASIC story above
"I used a neat program called Camtasia and some post-processing in Photoshop to create animated GIFs capturing what I saw as I loaded some significant BASIC programs, listed the code and then ran it.
- Sony Quietly Removes Ability to Download PSP/PS One Games Unlocked a Few Days Ago on PS Vita
An update to last week's Vita story
"A few days ago we reported about Sony suddenly unlocking a large amount of PSP games and PlayStation Classics for download and play on the PS Vita. Unfortunately its time to mourn, as that ability was quietly removed this morning. None of those games is available for download anymore.
- Atari Landfill Tweet from Scott Weinberg
"My generation buried those E.T. Atari cartridges for a reason. You're awakening something not even Lovecraft could imagine.
- Jim and Charlie Gerrie's Basic Game Programs and Other Software for the TRS-80 MC-10
The underrated MC-10 gets some programming love
- "Drunk Hunt" NES Cartridge Flask
"We wanted our product to look and feel exactly like the game cartridges we grew up with, and then BAM SUPRISE! it holds your favorite real-life health potion. Amiright? Amiright?
- A Game Boy That Looks Like It Could Survive Ten Thousand Years
Kotaku's Plunkett examines a neat Game Boy mod
"Vadu Amka's 'Brick' work turns an old Game Boy into a brick wall from the Zelda series.
- L.E.D. Zeppelin Photo
Amusing promotional tweet from Atmel
"And for their next hit, L.E.D. Zeppelin presents 'DI'Yer Maker!'
- BBEdit on System 6 on a Galaxy Note 3
Twitter user @bergmayer hooked up an original Mac mouse and keyboard too
If you want me to include something on a future Newsbits column, send me an email with "[Newsbits]" in the subject line.
Discussion Topic of the Week: What's your favorite winter sport(s) video game? This is mine.