[ Retro Scan of the Week ] From My Pocket to You

March 23rd, 2009 by Benj Edwards

Wizard of Wor and Gorf Ad - 1980sFrom my pocket to you.

My mother was born in Texas, and my immediate family usually visited her parents every summer when I was a kid. During one of these visits as a teenager, my grandmother invited me to look through her Time Magazine collection. She led me to the back of the family’s wash house, a detached building on their rural Texas property where she did the laundry. Through a side door, we entered my grandfather’s generally dark and cluttered workshop. In the far corner — beyond the tools, beekeeping equipment, and motorcycle parts — I spotted three or four large cardboard barrels overflowing with old magazines. The mouse-chewn issues spilled over the edges of the containers where they had been piled haphazardly for decades.

Benj's Grandparents' Wash HouseI spent the rest of the day thumbing through musty old magazine issues from the 1970s and 80s. While reading a copy of Science Digest from 1983, I ran across the ad for Wizard of Wor and Gorf you see above. I was amazed. In my youthful zest to discover and collect all things vintage, I felt like I had uncovered a lost Egyptian tomb. I’d never before seen a vintage video game print ad — and prior to that, I didn’t know that CBS had published a version of Wizard of Wor (a game I love) for the Atari 2600.

I eagerly tore out the ad page, folded it up, and stuck it in my pocket. Why I didn’t take the whole magazine is unknown to me; I guess I just didn’t want the rest.

Until now, the page you see above has been sitting, still folded, in my collection of vintage print materials. It’s been waiting for a day like this when it can finally end its long journey from my mid-1990s pocket in Texas to you, on the Internet, today.


A year or two later, I revisited the Texas magazine pile and found even more material, especially in Time Magazine. There were issues with cover stories on personal computers, video games, and computer viruses. That time, I took the whole issues themselves. Among them, I found a few ads for IBM systems (like this and this). I probably still have more from that collection that I can scan in the future.

[ From Science Digest, January 1983. ]

Discussion topic of the week: Tell us about your ancient computing or video game discoveries. When have you felt most thrilled at uncovering old video game or computer history?

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8 Responses to “[ Retro Scan of the Week ] From My Pocket to You”

  1. Zoyous Says:

    Those were pretty decent arcade translations for the 2600. And it wasn’t long before John Madden became the spokesperson for CBS Games, too.

  2. Brian Hanifin Says:

    Funny timing. Someone just posted “I’m in love with Wizard of Wor” on the CoinOpSpace.com forum today. 🙂 I shared your scan with the group.

    Do you just collect images of old games and technology? Or do you collect any games as well? If so you should join us on http://www.coinopspace.com. The founder organizes a Creator Chat every 3 weeks or so. So far Tim Skelly, Owen Rubin, and Jeff Kulczycki. (Transcripts are available, FYI.)

  3. Benj Edwards Says:

    I collect both, Brian. CoinOpSpace looks cool — I’ll check it out.

  4. Jim Ulrich Says:

    I remember seeing an ad for the Odyssey II in a National Geographic from the ’70’s.

  5. JayP Says:

    While looking for a vintage game store, I stopped in a Gamestop out of stupidity. I asked for some Atari Lynx games, taking a chance.

    The guy said he took some stuff in on trade from a guy he took pity on. I bought most of the lot- 4-5 games and a carry case for $4. The Lynx II was just $10 but I passed. 🙁

    If you check out the old Sears/JCPenney/Wards Christmas catalog scans, you’ll see some really cool handheld games as well as consoles.

  6. Ralph Hyre Says:

    Where would we be without our grandparents, who:

    1) Grew up during the depression, and saved EVERYTHING

    2) taught us about electronics [well, mine did – it was vacuum tubes and transistors, and wire.]

    Yes, I know you could get 100 years of national geographic on CD, including the ads.
    Its much easier to thumb through the magazines, though.

  7. Joe Garrity Says:

    “When have you felt most thrilled at uncovering old video game or computer history?”

    I’ve been collecting old computer games for years, but started archiving in earnest since 1999. I specialize in computer games by Origin Systems, the company that made the Ultima and Wing Commander series.
    As a result, my basement museum is crammed with a lot of interesting game-related artifacts. Here is a small sampling of some of the most interesting stuff:
    * A copy of every game Origin ever made (lots of import versions as well)
    * Original posters from Origin (2400 AD, Autoduel, Wing Commander 3, 4, more)
    * Original design documents from the games (Ultima, Wing Commander, Crusader)
    Actual props used in the Wing Commander games and movies, including Hobbes from Wing Commander III–head, hands, and feet
    Hundreds of sheets of original game advertising used in magazines.
    Pictures, video, original artwork–the WORKS!

  8. Benj Edwards Says:

    Thanks for your comment, Joe. I love your website and I’ve browsed through it a number of times in amazement of your love for Origin. I’m glad you’re preserving all that history.

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