The VC&G Christmas Collection (2013 Edition)

December 13th, 2013 by Benj Edwards

Vintage Computing and Gaming Christmas Xmas Megapost

It's that time of year again: the Yuletide. In celebration, I thought I'd search through the VC&G archives for Christmas material and collect it all in one place. (I also did this the last few years, but I have updated the list of links with new material for 2013.)

Below you will find a list of everything Yule-flavored from this site and my offsite freelance work. There are a couple slideshow gems in there that you don't want to miss, so check those out if you haven't already.

I have a soft spot for Christmas, having been raised with the tradition, so this list is for me as much as it is for everyone else. After going through these things again, it's amazing to see how much Christmas stuff I've posted over the years. I hope you enjoy it.

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[ Retro GIF of the Week ] X-Men's Colossus BBS Ad

March 8th, 2013 by Benj Edwards

Colossus X-Men Retro GIFClick to see other views of this image: [ Original Size ] [ 2X Zoom ]

In ye olden days, BBS sysops often tagged image files that came within their possession with makeshift ads for their BBSes, as can be seen here on this image of Marvel's Colossus. The BBS in this case is "The Users's Choice BBS," which sysop Martin Scolero ran in Indianapolis, Indiana between 1990 and 1996. (That info is courtesy a historical BBS list created by Jason Scott.)

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[ Retro GIF of the Week ] Delicious Strawberry

March 1st, 2013 by Benj Edwards

Amiga Strawberry Art 1986 Retro GIFClick to see other views of this image: [ Original Size ] [ 2X Zoom ] [ 4:3 Ratio ]

It's hard to believe that an artist created this delectable representation of a strawberry using only tiny digital squares in a mere 16 different shades. Whomever made it did so in 1986 on a Commodore Amiga: the signature date, image dimensions, color depth, and color resolution all point to those facts.

Obviously, due to its age, this image did not originate as a GIF. CompuServe introduced the first GIF standard in 1987.

I know of three other works by this same artist (all signed with the same signature), and they're all amazing. I'll probably post them in the future, but for reference, those other works depict a stylized lion head, a pair of feminine human lips, and a "Liquid Light" logo.

But I can't quite read the signature. It looks like it starts with a "K." Can anybody out there help me find this artists' name?

[ Update: 03/06/2013 - Gino in the comments identified this image as the work of Kara Blohm, a well-known Amiga font and graphics artist who is now sadly deceased. Thanks, Gino! ]

[ Wondering what a GIF is? Read the introduction to this column. ]

Retro GIF of the Week Fact Box
Source File Name: STRAWBRY.GIF
Oldest Known File Date: January 21, 1993 - 2:43:32 AM Eastern
Source File Format: GIF - 87a (non-interlaced)
Dimensions: 640 x 400 pixels
Color Depth: 4-bit (16 color)
Color Resolution
(palette size):
12-bit (4096 colors)
Origin Platform: Amiga
Derived From: Unknown
Creation Date: 1986
Artist: Kara Blohm
If you know more about the origin of this image, please leave a comment.

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[ Retro GIF of the Week ] Atari Jaguar Debut Photo

February 22nd, 2013 by Benj Edwards

Official Press Photo Atari Jaguar Console 1993 Retro GIFClick to see other views of this image: [ Original Size ] [ 2X Zoom ]

Just two days ago, Sony announced the PlayStation 4 at a press event in New York. It reminded me of the last time I eagerly awaited a new console launch. That would be way back in 1993 with the introduction of the Atari Jaguar (check out the original press release at that link).

I was a huge Atari fan at that time, and I was also very active on the "GO ATARI" forum on CompuServe. From that forum, I downloaded this early Jaguar press image in 1993. It's an official press image created and uploaded to CompuServe by Atari Corp. itself — quite possibly the very first one.

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[ Retro GIF of the Week ] Digital Still Life

February 15th, 2013 by Benj Edwards

Vintage Fruit and Vegetable Still Life 1988 Retro GIFClick to see other views of this image: [ Original Size ] [ 2X Zoom ] [ 4:3 Ratio ]

Have you ever seen an edible still life rendered in 16-color EGA?

It appears that this image, which shows fruits and vegetables, cheese, and a napkin or folded tablecloth, originated as either a video capture or a scan of a photograph that was then digitally cleaned up to isolate the centerpiece in absolute blackness.

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[ Retro GIF of the Week ] Doom II at the Office

February 6th, 2013 by Benj Edwards

Doom II Office Fan Art 1996 Retro GIFClick to see other views of this image: [ Original Size ] [ 2X Zoom ]

This particular image, titled "Another Day at the Office," is one of the gems of my personal GIF collection. I believe I downloaded it from CompuServe, and I likely downloaded it on the file date, June 16, 1996.

The image itself is a computer-crafted ode to Doom II that merges a real digitized photograph with imagery ripped straight from id Software's famous first-person shooter.

Such a passion for Doom II in the workplace isn't foreign to me. In an office where I worked in the mid-late 1990s, certain engineers were known to play late night four-player Doom deathmatches over the company LAN.

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[ Retro GIF of the Week ] Twin Chinese Dragons

February 1st, 2013 by Benj Edwards

Apple I Smithsonian 1992 Retro GIFClick to see other views of this image: [ Original Size ] [ 2X Zoom ]

This week we're taking a look at another image that made the rounds in the BBS days, DRAGON6.GIF. In it, we see two digitally illustrated Chinese dragons who appear to be springing forth from a magical stone. Iridescent waves crash around them, and smoke curls throughout an ethereal void. The color palette is rich and bold, underscoring the image's Eastern art influence.

At the moment, the artist behind this amazing work of digital art remains unknown. Still, we can narrow down when the image was made and how by taking a look at its resolution, color depth, and file date.

[ Continue reading [ Retro GIF of the Week ] Twin Chinese Dragons » ]

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[ Retro GIF of the Week ] Cheryl Tiegs: Queen of the GIF

January 25th, 2013 by Benj Edwards

Apple I Smithsonian 1992 Retro GIFClick to see other views of this image: [ Original Size ] [ 2X Zoom ] [ 4:3 Ratio ]

I've always thought of VC&G as sort of a family friendly blog, so I don't plan on delving into adult GIFs any time soon. But we might as well talk about bikini photos, because they were some of the most heavily traded GIF images in the BBS days. They provided culturally acceptable PG- or PG-13-level titillation, and male teenagers (arguably the primary users of BBS systems in many areas) flocked to them.

Just recently, I searched my GIF archives for the oldest GIF format bikini photo I could find. I came up with this image of Cheryl Tiegs in a file dated October 29th, 1987, which is only four months after the June 15, 1987 publication date of the first GIF specification (GIF87a, for those keeping track).

The image itself is derived from a photo taken by Walter Iooss Jr. for the 1978 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. The sharpness of the image suggests to me that it was scanned (vs. video captured), either with a flatbed or handheld color scanner, and likely from that issue itself.

I don't know who scanned it. It could have been Jim Maxey, who originated many GIF files in the format's early days, but since the image isn't tagged with his BBS information, I doubt it. Maxey also tended to work with video capture boards verses scanners at that time.

Regardless of who created this image, it's a nice, relatively tame example of 16-color EGA bikini art. Upon viewing it, you can almost feel its 1970s girl-next-door wholesomeness flowing out of your computer screen. And that's despite her see-through fishnet bathing suit, which was scandalous in 1978.

(Note that Tiegs' name is misspelled in the file name as "TEIGS")

[ Wondering what a GIF is? Read the introduction to this column. ]

Retro GIF of the Week Fact Box
Source File Name: TEIGS.GIF
Source File Date: October 29, 1987
Source File Format: GIF - 87a (non-interlaced)
Dimensions: 640 x 350 pixels (EGA)
Color Depth: 4-bit (16 color)
Origin Platform: IBM PC
Derived From: Scanned photograph taken by Walter Iooss Jr.
Creation Date: 1987
Artist: Unknown
If you know more about the origin of this image, please leave a comment.

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[ Retro GIF of the Week ] The Smithsonian's Apple I

January 18th, 2013 by Benj Edwards

Apple I Smithsonian 1992 Retro GIFClick to see other views of this image: [ Original Size ] [ 2X Zoom ]

You're looking at a photograph of an Apple I computer that currently resides in the collection of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. It was on display at one point, but I believe it is not being displayed at the moment (feel free to correct me on that).

I downloaded this 256-color GIF image from CompuServe back in 1994 (judging by the file date). I think it came from the Archive Photos forum, but I am not 100% sure about that. Either way, it's a nice photo, and if you see it floating around the Internet, it's likely because I first posted it on VC&G in 2006.

As you may know the Apple I (which was officially titled "Apple Computer 1″ on the circuit board and "Apple-1″ in its manual) did not ship with a case. The wooden enclosure you see here was created by early Apple employee Randy Wigginton's father. It's interesting how it presages the design of the Apple II enclosure to some extent.

[ Wondering what a GIF is? Read the introduction to this column. ]

Retro GIF of the Week Fact Box
Source File Name: APPLEI.GIF
Source File Date: August 20, 1994
Source File Format: GIF - 89a (non-interlaced)
Dimensions: 640 x 480 pixels
Color Depth
(bits per pixel):
8-bit (256 color)
Origin Platform: Unknown
Derived From: Scanned photograph
Creation Date: 1992
Artist: Smithsonian Institute
If you know more about the origin of this image, please leave a comment.

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[ Retro GIF of the Week ] Digitized Autumn Leaves

January 11th, 2013 by Benj Edwards

Autumn Leaves MaxiPic Jim Maxey Retro GIF - circa 1988Click to see other views of this image: [ Original Size ] [ 2X Zoom ]

From 1983 to 1996, James "Jim" Maxey operated a very successful Oregon-based BBS called Event Horizons. Through that board's file section, Maxey made available thousands of GIF images in many categories, from landscapes to pornography, that he had created using a video digitizer board and conversion software called T-EGA.

Bob Talmadge wrote an excellent profile of Jim Maxey's BBS years for his site BBSDays.com. I recommend reading it if you're interested in learning more about Maxey's BBS. Also, Jack Rickard of BoardWatch magazine mentioned Maxey's early 1990s image-related BBS activities in an article he wrote for Wired issue 1.04 in 1993.

The early and pioneering nature of Maxey's color graphics files for IBM PC computers ensured that his digital pictures, which he called "MaxiPics," spread far and wide to other BBSes at the time. This is one such picture, and it depicts a house and yard in autumn. The 640 x 350 EGA format file dates from 1987 and was likely captured from a video source — more on that in a moment.

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