March 30th, 2015 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, Apple, Apple II, Jef Raskin, Steve Wozniak, Woz, SwyftCard, Information Appliance, advertisement, Personal Computing, 1986
Paid for by SwyftCard Veterans for Truth
From the land of exotic Apple II accessories comes the Information Appliance SwyftCard, a plug-in peripheral card that gave the Apple IIe a built-in suite of ROM-based productivity tools, all unified around a novel scroll-based [PDF] user environment called SWYFT.
SWYFT was the brainchild of former Apple employee Jef Raskin, who originally spearheaded the Macintosh project. After disagreements with Steve Jobs over the direction of that project, Raskin left Apple and founded Information Appliance, Inc. (consequently, Jobs took the Mac project in a completely new direction).
The SwyftCard originated as an Apple IIe-based prototype for a dedicated machine centered around Raskin's SWYFT environment, but it proved so effective and compelling that it became its own product. The dedicated concept would later emerge as the Canon Cat in 1987.
SwyftCards are very rare (I've never seen one in person over 20 years of collecting Apple II hardware), so Apple enthusiast Mike Willegal has provided instructions for building your own. Pretty neat!
P.S. I emailed this ad to Steve Wozniak (who is featured in the ad) and he said, "Cool reminder!"
[ From Personal Computing, March 1986, p.163 ]
Discussion Topic of the Week: Jef Raskin vs. Steve Jobs: Who do you identify with the most?
November 17th, 2014 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, CP/M, MS-DOS, Fujitsu, Micro 16s, 8086, Z80, multiprocessor, advertisement, Personal Computing, 1983
The shotgun approach: z80 and 8086 in one box
[ From Personal Computing - November 1983, p.14]
Discussion Topic of the Week: Have you ever owned a computer with two different primary CPUs in it?
November 3rd, 2014 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, Sinclair, ZX81, Timex-Sinclair 1000, Memotech, small computer, modules, expansion, advertisement, Personal Computing, 1983
Extend your ZX81 a full ten inches
The Sinclair ZX81 (marketed in non-kit form as the Timex-Sinclair 1000 in the US) was a tiny computer with a tiny price and tiny capabilities.
It was possible, however, to make up for some of those shortcomings with a wide array of plug-in peripheral modules from Memotech, seen here in this ad from 1983. Furthermore, by piggybacking one module onto the next, it was possible to create an even more capable — and far longer — ZX81.
I wish I had some of these Memotech modules to mess around with. All I have is the bulbous Timex-Sinclair 16K RAM Module. Time to check eBay.
[ From Personal Computing - November 1983, p.18]
Discussion Topic of the Week: What's the smallest non-portable computer you've ever used? (e.g. Timex-Sinclair 1000)
August 4th, 2014 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, Popeye, Parker Brothers, Personal Computing, advertisement, 1983
Well blow me down
[ From Personal Computing - December 1983]
Discussion Topic of the Week: Of the systems listed in the ad above, which is your favorite?
See Also: Eight Ways to Play Q*Bert (RSOTW, 2007)
See Also: Multi-Platform Mania (RSOTW, 2009)
May 19th, 2014 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, Commodore, Commodore 64, Personal Computing, advertisement, 1983
It's the Commodore 64. 'Nuff said.
I've covered the Commodore 64 quite a bit over the years, including taking one apart for PC World back in 2008 and spending a week working with one in honor of its 30th anniversary in 2012.
But I don't think I've ever posted a plain 'ole ad for the Commodore 64 itself. Until now, that is. Here's a colorful one that graced the back of many computer magazine issues back in 1983.
[ From Personal Computing - November 1983, back cover]
Discussion Topic of the Week: When did you first get a Commodore 64? Tell us the story.
March 3rd, 2014 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, Visual, Visual 1050, terminal, IBM PC, MS-DOS, CP/M, Kaypro II, PC clones, Z80, advertisement, Personal Computing, 1983
"The complete professional solution at an unbeatable price."
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.
[ From Personal Computing, November 1983, p.40-41]
Discussion Topic of the Week: Do you have a favorite machine that runs CP/M?
January 27th, 2014 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, Stickybear, Weekly Reader Family Software, educational games, Apple, Apple II, Personal Computing, 1983
"Stickybear," in retrospect, is a kinda disgusting name.
[ From Personal Computing, November 1983, p.108]
Discussion Topic of the Week: What's your favorite educational video/computer game of all time?
August 26th, 2013 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, Durango, Poppy, Personal Business System, Personal Computing, advertisement, 1983
Rose vs. Poppy: Which would you choose?
I'll admit that I've never encountered a Durango Poppy in person, nor do I know much about them aside from ads like this in old magazines.
So I did some digging, and I found that the Poppy model seen here was an 80186-based system that ran either MS-DOS for a single-user setup or Xenix for a multi-user configuration. It retailed for between $4,395 and $11,475 in early 1984 ($9,881 to $25,798 when adjusted for inflation), which was quite a bit of money — but actually far cheaper than IBM's comparable offerings at the time.
A March 5, 1984 issue of InfoWorld available through Google Books has a neat article that mentions the Poppy.
I didn't realize it at first, but the rose in the ad above is meant to symbolize IBM. IBM's PC ads at the time featured Charlie Chaplin's Tramp character, which always carried a rose.
[ From Personal Computing, November 1983, p.213 ]
Discussion Topic of the Week: Did you ever purposely pass up IBM hardware for a cheaper alternative? Tell us about it.
August 12th, 2013 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, Osborne, Osborne 1, portable computers, Adam Osborne, advertisement, Personal Computing, 1983
Walkin' [through the pearly gates / into an alien ship] with an Osborne 1.
See also: The Osborne 1 (RSOTW, 2012)
[ From Personal Computing, January 1983 ]
Discussion Topic of the Week: If you could take any computer with you into the afterlife, which would it be?
July 1st, 2013 by Benj Edwards
Tags: Retro Scan, Amdek, Color-I, composite video, monitor, Apple II, Commodore, VIC-20, Atari 800, Personal Computing, 1983
Tracking the shadow people on an Apple II has never been more fun.
[ From Personal Computing, November 1983, inside rear cover ]
Discussion Topic of the Week: Do you own any composite video monitors? Which model/brand is your favorite?