September 1st, 2014 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, Sierra, Space Bucks, space games, computer games, Windows 95, MS-DOS, Computer Gaming World, advertisement, 1995
So now we've entered the 3D font era.
I've never played Sierra's Space Bucks, but it looks like a fascinating strategy game. I was a big fan of SunDog: Frozen Legacy on the Atari ST, so I'm a sucker for any game that shows the inside of your spaceship from a top-down view (even if only in a non-functional splash screen). Has anyone out there played it?
(As an aside, when I started this blog in 2005, I could just say "I've never played this game, does anyone out there know anything about it?" And get away with it. That's because very little game info was out there; Wikipedia had very few video and computer game entries — especially obscure ones — and MobyGames was incomplete. Now I have no excuse for not looking it up myself. And what do you know: here's a Wikipedia entry on Space Bucks, first created in 2012.)
I have this feeling that most Windows games from the 1995 era slipped through the cracks and were mostly forgotten. It's my impression that not many people played early games created for Windows 95 and late-period games made for Windows 3.11. Maybe it's because the IBM PC world was in the middle of a big transition from MS-DOS / Win 3.11 to Windows 95. I remember still buying MS-DOS games well into 1997, for example.
[ From Computer Gaming World - September 1995, p.55]
Discussion Topic of the Week: What was the earliest game you bought that ran exclusively on Windows 95/98?
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
August 11th, 2014 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Micron Electronics, Millennia, P120, IBM PC, pc clone, beige box, Pentium, Intel, advertisement, ComputerLife, 1995
Ah, the beige box era.
What could $6,410.55 buy you 19 years ago? (That's $4099 adjusted for inflation.) Well, if you picked a Micron Millennia, you could get a 120 MHz Pentium CPU, 32 MB of RAM, a 1.6 GB hard drive, a 17-inch monitor, a 4X CD-ROM Drive, a SoundBlaster 16 sound card, 2MB 2D graphics card, a minitower or desktop case, a Microsoft mouse and keyboard, Microsoft Office, and Windows 95.
That's a lot of stuff. And yet most people's smartphones today pack far, far more power and functionality than that in a pocket form factor with a 10 hour battery life. It's all about integration, baby. More functions in fewer, smaller chips. I love it.
[ From ComputerLife - October 1995, rear cover]
Discussion Topic of the Week: Tell us about one of your beige box PCs from the 1990s. Who made it, and what did it have inside?
July 7th, 2014 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, Quasar, pocket computer, portable computer, advertisement, Popular Computing, 1982
"One Picture is Worth a Thousand Numbers"
I've never used or seen a Quasar Hand-Held Computer in person, but I am a big fan of the similarly-sized TRS-80 Pocket Computer, which I've written about a number of times on this site.
According to this ad, one of the unique features of the Quasar HHC was that you could hook it up to a large color monitor if you had the right expansion accessory. That reminds me of the TRS-80 Model 100 Disk/Video Interface. Pretty cool. I bet the software that utilized that feature was extremely rare, though. I'd love to see it in action.
[ From Popular Computing - December 1982]
See Also: BASIC in your Pocket (RSOTW, 2009)
See Also: Asimov's Pocket Computer (RSOTW, 2011)
See Also: Sharp Pocket Computer (RSOTW, 2013)
Discussion Topic of the Week: What's the smallest pre-year 2000 computer you've ever owned?
June 30th, 2014 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, Anthro, AnthroCart, computer desk, advertisement, Scientific American, 1993
I may not be an expert on desks, but this looks a little dangerous.
[ From Scientific American - February 1993, p.29]
Discussion Topic of the Week: Have you ever bought a desk specifically to hold a computer?
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?
May 12th, 2014 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, Mad Magazine, Computer Virus, cover, 1991
His missing tooth is a hanging chad
I found this in my old collection of Mad magazines. In 1991, computer viruses were relatively novel — although I did lose all of my early BBS data to a malicious virus just one year later (see the story in that link).
[ From Mad Super Special - Summer 1991, cover]
Discussion Topic of the Week: Have you ever had a computer virus that wiped some or all of your data?
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?
March 24th, 2014 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, Canon, Canon Personal Computer, PC Clones, IBM PC, TIME, advertisement, 1985
May the Clone Wars begin.
Here's another obscure IBM PC clone from the depths of time, the Canon Personal Computer.
As I mentioned in a recent RSOTW, it was pretty easy — even within a few years of the IBM PC's release — to undercut IBM price-wise by integrating ports and peripherals directly into the motherboard of a competing computer.
Note that the Canon PC used an Intel 8086 CPU, which packed the full 16-bit data bus (verses the 8-bit bus on the IBM PC's 8088).
[ From TIME (Small Business USA Insert), May 6 1985, p.2]
Discussion Topic of the Week: Canon is best known for its imaging products, but it made computers too. Can you think of any other companies best known for something else that made a PC?
February 17th, 2014 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, Sharp, Wizard, 9600, touchscreen, pocket computers, portable, advertisement, Scientific American, 1993
tap tap tap…tap tap…tap
In the early 1990s, a kid in my neighborhood had his own Sharp Wizard (we all thought he was rich or spoiled — probably both), and it was one of the most incredible things I'd ever seen. It was a tiny electronic organizer with a full QWERTY keyboard that one could have mistaken for a pocket-sized PC.
That same kid later offered to sell his Wizard to me, but my dad turned him down because he was asking too much. So I've never had a Wizard of any model in my collection. I did buy a NES advantage from him for $7 though.
[ From Scientific American, February 1993, p.19]
Discussion Topic of the Week: What's the smallest device (from the pre-smartphone era) you've ever used for word processing?