Discussion Topic of the Week: How many insect-themed computer or video games can you name off the top of your head?
"Mommy, where do babies come from?"
"Well, after a wild night of CTRL-ALT-DELETE, your father hit my CTRL-C then pressed CTRL-V, and nine months later, you came out from LPT1."
Discussion Topic of the Week: Have you ever played any sex-related computer games? (Or heck, even educational software.)
Thanksgiving is almost upon us again, so it's time to gather around your home PC for a game of…Quizagon?
Yes, Quizagon. A game I've never played, nor will I for the foreseeable future. It looks like a hexagon-themed family trivia game, which is not my bag, man. But what a great photo.
Instead, I'm going to host a The Seven Cities of Gold marathon on an Atari 800XL with my brother. We plan on exploring a completely new continent while interacting vigorously with the natives. Meanwhile, my brothers- and sisters-in-law will be playing Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed on my dedicated gaming PC that is hooked to the flat-screen living room TV. It's a great kart game to play on Steam with four Xbox 360 controllers that's easy to set up and jump into. Fun times shall be had by all.
By the way, I first used this amusing scan in a 2009 Thanksgiving-related slideshow I did for Technologizer (hoping I'm not repeating it on VC&G). If you're in the mood, here's some other Thanksgiving-related material from the VC&G archives.
Discussion Topic of the Week: Do you have any family video gaming planned for this Thanksgiving? If so, what are you going to play?
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.
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?
Eye of the Beholder (1991) took the formula of Dungeon Master formula and ran with it, resulting in one of the best the first-person real-time RPGs of the pre-3D era. It's definitely one of the best early VGA games for the IBM PC as well.
As far as games of this category go, I'm quite partial to Lands of Lore myself.
Discussion Topic of the Week: What's your favorite first-person RPG game of the 1990s?
Ah, the IBM 3270 PC. What a strange beast. It was essentially an IBM PC that could also emulate an IBM 3270 terminal, which allowed it to link up to IBM mainframes. In a sense, this was IBM's version of the AppleLine protocol adapter (featured in a Retro Scan a few weeks ago), albeit one built into an IBM PC.
By the way, look at the keyboard on this machine. Function keys galore. I've always wanted one of those.
Discussion Topic of the Week: Have you ever used an IBM mainframe computer?
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?
Discussion Topic of the Week: What was the first computer paint program you ever used?
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).
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?
I've never owned a Visual 1050 Personal Computer System (seen here), but I have an old Visual brand terminal that uses the same (or a very similar) keyboard. That's the first thing that comes to mind when I see this, because it's a distinctively wide, flat keyboard.
The 1050 sported a Z80 CPU and ran the CP/M operating system, the grandfather of MS-DOS. Curiously, even though CP/M was a popular platform for business computers in the late 1970s and early 1980s, I only have a a handful of pure CP/M-based machines in my collection. (My favorite such machine is probably the Kaypro II.)
In regard to the chart in the advertisement above, it's interesting to note that it was pretty easy to undercut IBM, price-wise, not long after the IBM PC came out. Fast advances in IC design allowed computer makers to inexpensively cram more functions (think serial, parallel, game ports, disk controller, graphics card, etc.) directly onto motherboards instead of offloading them onto separate plug-in cards. While the 1050 was not an IBM PC clone, true PC clone makers took advantage of this effect to hollow out the inside of IBM's hold on the PC market from the bottom up.
Discussion Topic of the Week: Do you have a favorite machine that runs CP/M?
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.
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?