[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Benj's Early Computer Art

March 31st, 2014 by Benj Edwards

Benj's Early Computer Art Kindergarten Art Print Printout 1986Watch 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?

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[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Pro 200 Super Electronic Handheld Gaming System

February 24th, 2014 by Benj Edwards

Protech Pro 200 Super Electronic Handheld Gaming System Catalog Advertisement 1998Plays the 200 variations of Tetris that Pajitnov rejected.

I must admit that I wanted this "Pro 200 Super Electronic Handheld Gaming System" upon seeing it in 1998 — even through I knew it was almost certainly a piece of junk. Not to play it, per se, but to collect it and to admire its gloriously gimmicky nature.

If history is any guide, I'm guessing that the Protech Pro 200 didn't actually ship with 256 (or even 200) built in games. Rather, it likely contained 250 variations on a handful of distinct games — like most "1000-in-1″ cheap off-brand multicarts from back in the day.

16 years since its release, I have still never played the Pro 200, so I can't say if it had any play value. I did find this commercial on YouTube though.

Has anybody out there played one of these?

[ From Spilsbury Puzzle Co., Holiday 1998, rear cover]

Discussion Topic of the Week: What's the cheapest, crappiest piece of video game hardware you've ever bought (think peripherals too)?

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[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Stickybear Games

January 27th, 2014 by Benj Edwards

Weekly Reader Educational Software Stickybear Educational Game Software Advertisement 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?

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[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Jaguar on Clearance (Atari Jaguar Turns 20)

November 11th, 2013 by Benj Edwards

Atari Jaguar and Jaguar CD on Sale in TigerDirect Catalog - 1997Atari Jaguar on Sale in 1997: "Includes RISC Processors!"

The Atari Jaguar launched at retail 20 years ago this Friday — November 15, 1993.

In April 1994, I received a Jaguar for my birthday, and it was one of the most exciting days of my life. That Christmas, my parents gave me Doom for the Jaguar, and I had a blast. After that, not many truly great games came out for the Jaguar (I'd say Tempest 2000 is the system-exclusive standout).

Partly because of that lack of great software, the Jaguar sunk fast — especially in the face of strong competition from Sony, Sega, and Nintendo (throw in some 3DO and Neo-Geo in there as well). The mid-1990s was a hard time to be a video game console.

By 1997, the Jaguar was toast. If I recall correctly, TigerDirect bought up a huge inventory of unsold Jaguar and Jaguar CD systems and sold them through their catalog.

This scan is a page from a 1997 TigerDirect catalog advertising the Jaguar for a mere $59.99 and the CD add-on for $89.99. Lucky for me, this is how I bought my Jaguar CD system, along with the advertised ultra-cheap game packs. CD exclusives Myst and Cybermorph 2 were worth the purchase alone.

So happy birthday, Jag. Sorry I can't write more about you now. But I've written a lot about you on VC&G in the past. To read more, check out the links at the bottom of this post.

[ From TigerSoftware Winter PC Sale Book 1997, Vol VII Issue 2, p.2 ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: What's your favorite Atari Jaguar game?


See Also: Rayman and Frustration (RSOTW, 2013)
See Also: Atari Jaguar Debut Photo (RGOTW, 2013)
See Also: War + Mech = "Kinda Cool" (RSOTW, 2007)
See Also: Anatomy of a Young Collector's Room (2006)
See Also: The First Atari Jaguar Press Release (2005)

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[ Retro Scan of the Week ] MacCharlie's FrankenMac

January 14th, 2013 by Benj Edwards

Dayna Communications MacCharlie IBM PC accessory for Macintosh ad - 1985I'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?

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[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Atari ST Christmas Catalog

December 24th, 2012 by Benj Edwards

BRE Software's Atari ST Public Domain Software Christmas '88 Update - 1988BRE Software's Atari ST Public Domain Software Christmas '88 Update

I found this neat holiday-themed BRE Software Atari ST catalog in a pile of documents that I received from my wife's uncle when he gave me his Atari ST collection a few years ago. It features both public domain and commercial software for Atari's 16-bit computer series.

(I wish I could get my hands on the Christmas demo disks mentioned on this page. Only $4.00 each or $9.95 for all four.)

The entire document is four pages long, and I've scanned the whole thing so you can download it in PDF format, complete with searchable text.

Merry Christmas from VC&G.

[ From BRE Software's Atari ST Christmas '88 Update, 1988, p.1 ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: Have you ever given a vintage computer or video game-related present to someone for Christmas (not when it was new, but when it was vintage/retro)?

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[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Baked Apple II

October 22nd, 2012 by Benj Edwards

Baked Apple Melted Burned Apple II computer with cat house fire Ad - 1982Two hours later, firefighters found Fluffy melted into the plastic.
(click image to see the full two-page spread)

There was a fire.

And a cat.

The computer melted.

A Beautiful Computer.

Oh, the curt, pretentious voice projected by Apple advertising in the 1980s. It almost revels in talking down to you. Just about every Apple print ad of the era uses a similar subliminal script. It goes a little something like this:

This is Apple.

We are amazing.

Really.

Don't get me wrong — I like Apple as much as the next guy, but man, wipe that smirk off your face.

Apple has come a long way since that time, from floundering near death to basking as the most valuable corporation in the world. The firm, like its co-founder Steve Jobs, suffered some hard knocks, and Apple's post-1997 advertising reflected that by gaining a little humility. Just a little.

In general, I like Apple advertising these days (except for that recent "Genius" campaign). The 1984-era smirk is long gone, although a hint of strategically placed pretension remains.

But hey — that's the way people like their Apple, and it shows: a record number of consumers keep buying their products.

More Melted Tech

Back in early 2011, I created a slideshow called "A Gallery of Melted Technology" for PCMag.com that features this ad and photos of similar melted gadgets. If you have the same morbid curiosity I do about melted technology, I think you'll enjoy that as well.

[ From Popular Computing, January 1982, p.8-9 ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: Have you ever lost or damaged a gadget in a fire? Tell us about it.

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Happy Thanksgiving

November 22nd, 2007 by Benj Edwards

Things That Nerds Should Be Thankful ForOn behalf of the entire Vintage Computing and Gaming staff (me), I'd like to wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving. If, by chance, you're hungry to read something Thanksgiving-related, you can check out a rambling piece I wrote last year called "What Computer Nerds Should Be Thankful For."

Now go, be with your family. Eat some turkey. Have fun and play a few games. I'll be back next week with more interesting vintage material to chew on. In the mean time, everybody's favorite writer, Ulaf, will keep an eye on the place.

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