May 18th, 2015 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, Personal Software, Infocom, Zork, Apple II, TRS-80, Atari 800, brother, Monty Plays Monopoly, Arcade Classics, interactive fiction, Byte, 1981
A scene from "Zork: Brick Collector"
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.
[ From Byte, February 1981, p.31]
Discussion Topic of the Week: What's your favorite text adventure game of all time? (Modern ones count.)
February 23rd, 2015 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, Axiom, EX-801, EX-820, Printer Card, TRS-80, PET, Apple II, BYTE, advertisement, 1979
* Feathered hair not included
Ah, the good ole days when you had to pay $535 (that's $1,744 in today's dollars) for the privilege of merely being able to hook a printer to your home computer. What can I say — it was a useful feature.
My first computer, an Apple II+, came equipped with a Grappler+ printer card (from the previous owner), although I can't recall ever using it. Instead, I printed school reports by that time from whichever family MS-DOS machines we had at the time, each of which included a built-in parallel port for printer use.
What a great day it was when I switched from a noisy dot matrix printer to the that awesome Canon Bubblejet we had. Silent printing! And the day we got our first full-color photo capable HP inkjet printer around 1996. It was pretty low resolution, but still amazing.
Today, I don't print much. I have a color laser copier in service to reproduce scanned documents (in lieu of a copy machine) in case I need a hard copy of something — usually a form or contract — to mail.
[ From BYTE Magazine - November 1979, p.162 ]
Discussion Topic of the Week: Do you regularly print anything from your computer these days? What do you print?
February 9th, 2015 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, Radio Shack, Tandy, TRS-80, Model 4, advertisement, Byte, 1984
Philodendron not included.
[ From BYTE - October 1984, rear cover ]
Discussion Topic of the Week: Did you use a TRS-80 or Tandy computer of any kind back in the day? Tell us about it.
September 22nd, 2014 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, Computer Shopper, classifieds, ads, advertisement, Byte, 1979
"The most divisive magazine in the USA."
Veterans of the computer scene will no doubt recall Computer Shopper, a massively large (11″ x 14″, later 10″ x 13″) and thick (usually around 1.25″) monthly publication that mostly ran classifieds and paid advertisements for PC vendors. The magazine ended its print run in 2009, 30 years after it launched.
I only know when it launched because of this advertisement for the launch of Computer Shopper that appeared in the November 1979 issue of Byte. It's interesting to see a legend at its birth.
I was never a huge fan of Computer Shopper, since it was essentially a month's worth of computer junk mail stuffed into an awkward and almost unreadibly-large magazine format. But I did respect it as a mainstay of the computer industry — as familiar as a phone book and as timely as a newspaper. May she rest in peace.
[ From Byte Magazine - November 1979, p.189]
Discussion Topic of the Week: Did you ever read (or more accurately, peruse) Computer Shopper? What are your memories of the publication?
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?
January 14th, 2013 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, Apple, MacCharlie, Macintosh, IBM PC, IBM, Dayna Communications, Mac accessories, system adapter, advertisement, Byte, 1985
I'd like to have heard Steve Jobs' reaction when he first saw this.
Long before Boot Camp and Parallels, if you wanted to run IBM PC compatible software on your Mac, you had to strap on this unholy contraption — the Dayna Communications MacCharlie.
If I recall correctly, the MacCharlie was essentially an IBM PC clone in a beige box that hooked to the Mac's serial port. As a result, the Mac merely served as a serial terminal for the MacCharlie via custom terminal software running on the Mac. That's not a particularly efficient setup, but the lack of expansion ports on the original Macintosh meant that there was no other reasonable point of entry.
Since it worked through the serial port, the MacCharlie could only run text-based MS-DOS applications. Conveniently, the MacCharlie shipped with a keyboard extender that added the IBM PC's special function keys and a numeric keypad to the Macintosh keyboard.
[ From Byte Magazine, April 1985, p.71-73 ]
Discussion Topic of the Week: Have you ever used a hardware system adapter (something that lets you use software from one platform on another through hardware, not software emulation) for any computer system?
December 31st, 2012 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, Altos Computer Systems, Sun-Series, ACS8000-6, Z80, S-100, woman, 8-inch floppies, advertisement, Byte, 1979
"The first business computer system that will not instantly crush your secretary."
Happy New Year from Vintage Computing and Gaming!
[ From BYTE, November 1979, p.21 ]
Discussion Topic of the Week: Quick! Name your favorite computer, calculator, or console with a Z80 CPU.
November 19th, 2012 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, Radio Shack, TRS-80, modem, DC-2212, 1200 baud, BYTE, 1985
FINALLY, I mean, COME ON.
You too could be the proud owner of this Radio Shack TRS-80 DC-2212 1200 baud modem for the low, low price of $399.95 (about $859.81 in 2012 dollars).
…If you traveled back in time with the proper currency, that is. But I wouldn't recommend it.
I recently bought a cable modem that is the equivalent of a 150,000,000 baud modem. It cost $70 in 2012 dollars. Not bad for progress.
[ From BYTE, September 1985, rear cover ]
Discussion Topic of the Week: What speed was you first modem?
November 5th, 2012 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, Semidisk, SSD, IBM PC, S-100, Byte, 1985
This IS your daddy's SSD.
Back in January, I traced the evolution of the Solid State Drive from its 1978 origins to the present in a PC World slideshow. From that experience, I learned that SSDs, as a product class, were far older than most people realize.
Case in point: Seen here is an advertisement for a 1985-era SSD called the SemiDisk. The company behind this early SSD, SemiDisk Systems, sold a wide range of "disk emulators" (as they were called back then) for platforms like S-100 bus systems, the TRS-80 Model 2, and the IBM PC. All of them used solid-state RAM chips to achieve read and write speeds far beyond those of rotating platter drives at the time.
The 2 megabyte SemiDisk for the IBM PC retailed for $1,795 in 1985. That's about $3,860 today when adjusted for inflation. Amusingly, at that vintage price rate — about $1,930 per megabyte — a 256 GB SemiDisk SSD would cost over $494 million today. Yep, that's a 494 followed by six zeroes.
Of course, you can buy a 256GB flash-based SSD right now for under $180. Not bad.
[ From BYTE, September 1985, p.329 ]
Discussion Topic of the Week: When did you buy your first solid state PC drive? How big was it?
June 25th, 2012 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, Osborne, Osborne 1, portable computers, Microsoft Surface, BYTE, 1982
Two out of three doctors recommend Osborne 1 for muscle fatigue.
We've come a long way from what many consider to be the first commercial portable PC, the Osborne 1 (seen here), and the recently announced Microsoft Surface tablet.
Here's a brain twister for you. If you packed a case the size of the Osborne 1 (think small suitcase) with Surface-sized portable tech, how powerful would the machine be?
[ From BYTE Magazine, February 1982, p.31 ]
Discussion Topic of the Week: What was your first portable computer? When did you get it?