Archive for October, 2007

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] The $129 Dollar Numeric Keypad

Monday, October 29th, 2007
Kensington Macintosh ADB Numeric Keypad

Taking the top prize for most overpriced computer product ever is the “Kensington NoteBook KeyPad.” I actually happen to own one of these, although I picked it up for free at a hamfest. It’s quite honestly nothing special — just an external ADB keypad with a construction similar to any keyboard of the time.

I pose this question to you, dear readers: is any numeric keypad worth $129? Even in 1993? Certainly the Kensington KeyPad’s exorbitant price put it in parity with Apple’s hyperexpensive products in the early 1990s. But why would anyone buy a numeric keypad for the modern equivalent of $186? I suspect lack of competition in the numeric Mac keypad market had something to do with it.

[ From The Apple Catalog, Spring 1993 ]

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Ultima Online Turns 10″ at

Wednesday, October 24th, 2007

Ultima Online Turns 10

Can you believe it? Ultima Online is ten years old, which means it’s now firmly in the “vintage” software category. Last week, 1UP published an article I wrote about Ultima Online that surveys its history through an overview of its expansion packs. Aside from a few unfortunate edits/interjections by 1UP’s staff (and their erroneous placement of a Kingdom Reborn image in the Third Dawn section), it turned out pretty well. Folks interested in learning more about Ultima Online’s long and storied history might want to check it out.

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Halloween Caption Contest

Monday, October 22nd, 2007

VCG Halloween Caption Contest Image

Halloween will soon be upon us, and you know what that means. That’s right! It’s time for VC&G’s 5th caption contest.

Your task? Simply write the funniest caption you can think of for the image above. Anyone out there may enter the contest as many times as they want by writing a comment on this post. I will select the winning caption a week from today and post the result. The winner will receive an autographed*, heavily used copy of Pac-Man for the Atari 2600, which I will mail to him/her if he/she lives in the United States.

But of course, it’s not really about winning; it’s about the self-satisfaction you’ll gain by entertaining your peers and the joy of participating in a community event.

So join in the fun. Let’s see what you guys can come up with for this one.

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* Autographed by Ulaf Silchov.

Embarrassing Moments in Game Design: Spawn Respawn

Sunday, October 21st, 2007

In this excerpt from the first level of Spawn for the SNES, we watch as Spawn’s mere presence compels the limitless forces of evil to repeatedly hurl themselves off the top of a skyscraper.

I left this game on for a few hours recently while I did my laundry. By the time I got back, I was morally responsible for the deaths of thousands of pipe-wielding street thugs. And somehow, I didn’t feel bad about it — there’s always more where that came from.

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Sharp Retro Scanner

Monday, October 15th, 2007
Sharp JX-450 Color Scanner

Retro Scanner of the Week? For only $9,639.64 (in today’s dollars), you could buy a Sharp flatbed scanner in 1989 that could digitize images in 260,000 colors at up to 300 DPI. Why 260,000? I have no idea, but any color support at all made this this one heck of a high quality scanner for the time.

Even today, most 11×17″ scanners still cost an arm and a leg; users have always paid a premium for that much glass real estate. But current models offer much higher resolutions and color depths in a far-sleeker form factor than this one.

[ From CDA Computer Sales Fall/Winter 1989 Catalog ]

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VC&G’s Halloween Video Game Costume Ideas (2007)

Monday, October 8th, 2007

VC&G's Video Game Costume Ideas 2007You don’t have to check your calendar; you know, instinctively, what time of year it is. You get that warm tingling feeling in your gut that grows stronger as the big day approaches — the greatest day of the year. You’re a Halloween freak.

Some video game fans have a tough time figuring out what costume to wear on All Hallows’ Eve, so as per tradition, I figured I’d help them out and provide some detailed suggestions geared towards the gaming enthusiast. Any of the ten costumes listed below is guaranteed to make you popular at the office Halloween party, on the street begging for candy, or anywhere in between.

[ Continue reading VC&G’s Halloween Video Game Costume Ideas (2007) » ]

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] 46 Odyssey² Games

Monday, October 8th, 2007

46 Odyssey 2 GamesHow many of these games have you played?

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TV/GAME Switch Overload

Monday, October 8th, 2007

It happens to the best of us.

TV Game Switches on eBay

How many of these puppies do you have sitting around? A fellow on eBay is selling a lot of 36. I’ll have to admit: I have a box of a few dozen myself.

TV Game SwitchThe object in question, of course, is the once-essential manual RF switch, commonly known as a “TV/GAME” switch. Such switches were used to alternate between RF video/audio input from a video game system or home computer and a broadcast (or cable) TV antenna signal. They went the way of the dodo in the mid-1980s — first in Japan with the introduction of Nintendo’s innovative automatic RF switch box (it came packaged with every Famicom produced from 1983-1993), and then in the US around 1985 with the introduction of the NES (which included an automatic switch box with every unit sold). Later, RF switches in general became endangered once nearly all consumer TV sets started shipping with separate A/V jacks for composite video and stereo audio. The choice was natural, as video quality through an RF antenna input is inferior to a composite video connection.

Atari 2600Even among collectors, manual TV/GAME switches are mostly useless these days because most of us try to make at least composite (or better) video connections to our TVs, either via special cables or modifications to the systems themselves. Still, if you want to play classic machines like the Atari VCS without video hacks, you’ll probably need to use one.

Does anybody out there collect these things? We’d love to hear from you.

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Vintage Hair Loss

Monday, October 1st, 2007

Vintage Hair Loss AdvertisementsThese two ads appeared in the same magazine. I found it amusing.

[ From Personal Computing, December 1983 ]

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