Archive for September, 2009

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Nintendo 64 Launch

Monday, September 28th, 2009

Nintendo 64 Launch Ad - September 30th, 1996Only if you want the best!! !! — !!

Thirteen years ago this Tuesday, Nintendo launched the Nintendo 64 video game console in North America. That’s right: it was on the 29th, despite the “September 30th” that this ad boldly proclaims. After this ad was published, Nintendo moved the launch date a day back from a Monday to a Sunday (supposedly to prevent people from skipping work or school to buy the system, although I haven’t confirmed that).

It seems more likely to me that Nintendo realized a larger number of people would actually be able queue up for a system (or simply just go to the store and buy it) on their day off. Stronger opening day sales numbers were (and still are) important to console makers because they meant not only more press coverage, but also more license for ecstatic gloating and self-aggrandizement from the company’s PR department. If you hadn’t noticed already, hyperbolic show and bluster were dominating themes in 1990s American video game marketing.

Either way, dinosaurs did fly, and an enormous Stay-Puft Mario carelessly wiped western Europe off the map with his spinning boot heel. Fun was had by all.

[ From GamePro, April 1996 ]

Discussion topic of the week: What’s your favorite Nintendo 64 game of all time?

The Five Most Important Mac Laptops (And More)

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

The Five Most Important Mac Laptops

As you may have already noticed by my previous two posts, the Macintosh Portable turns 20 this week. As part of the celebrations, I not only took one apart for Technologizer, but I also wrote two Macintosh laptop retrospectives for Macworld: “The Five Most Important Mac Laptops” and a slideshow, “Twenty Years of Notable Apple Totables.” Hope you enjoy them.

Inside the Macintosh Portable

Monday, September 21st, 2009

Inside the Macintosh Portable on Technologizer

Twenty years ago, Apple released its first laptop computer, the Macintosh Portable. It was a large and heavy beast, oft maligned (especially now) for its size and high expense.

But at the Portable’s heart sits a truly clever design — very nice for 1989 — that incorporated a number of interesting features people often overlook, since few have actually seen a Portable in the flesh.

In honor of this anniversary, I decided to take apart a Mac Portable for the seventh entry in my “workbench series” of technology teardowns. This time, Technologizer is hosting the slideshow.

Please join me as I pry into its secrets (including hidden case signatures!), compare the Portable to an iPod Touch (six of which could fit inside the Mac Portable’s battery), and just generally ogle over the beautiful technological clockwork that makes the Portable tick.

Here are my previous teardowns, if you’re interested (all at PC World): Nintendo Game Boy, Nintendo Famicom, Apple IIc, Commodore 64, IBM Model M Keyboard, and TRS-80 Model 100.

P.S. In case you didn’t notice, our Retro Scan of the Week this week focuses on the Portable as well.

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] The Macintosh Portable

Monday, September 21st, 2009

First Macintosh Portable Ad - 1989You can’t be your best if you don’t eat a good breakfast.

Twenty years ago yesterday, Apple released the Macintosh Portable — the first battery-powered portable Mac. I say “battery powered” because in some sense the first compact Macs were very portable in their own way, but they were designed to be plugged into a wall.

Here’s the first advertisement for the Mac Portable (that I know of). Apologies for the giant crease down the center, but it was a two page ad. Just for the record: I hate scanning split-page ads. It makes you wonder why any ad designer would want the product they’re showcasing to be cleft in two by the folds of a magazine, distorting the image of the product in question. But oh well.

By the way, I’ve taken apart a Macintosh Portable in honor of this anniversary over at Technologizer (you’ll see another post about this soon).

[ From MacUser, November 1989 ]

Discussion topic of the week: What’s your favorite Macintosh laptop/notebook/portable of all time?

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] The Thrill of Capcom

Monday, September 14th, 2009

Capcom Hat Trick and Mini Golf for Commodore 64 Ad - 1988Where’s Waldo in the Land of Blur?

[ From Compute’s Gazette for Commodore Users, June 1988 ]

Discussion topic of the week: What’s your favorite pre-1995 Capcom game? And, if applicable, what’s your favorite pre-1995 Capcom game that’s not a member of the Mega Man franchise?

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] TRS-80 Word Processing

Tuesday, September 8th, 2009

TRS-80 Word Processing Newspaper Ad - 1982Click above to see the ad in situ.

Here’s another vintage clipping from my grandmother’s cedar chest, this time from a Knoxville, TN newspaper. It mentions SCRIPSIT, early word processing software for the TRS-80 computer line.

[ From The Knoxville News-Sentinel, May 2nd, 1982, pC-6 ]

Discussion topic of the week: What was the first word processing software you ever used?

The 11 Most Influential Microprocessors of All Time

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

The 11 Most Influential Microprocessors of All Time

Numbered lists, numbered lists. What would the Internet be without numbered lists? I’ll tell you: it would be a lonely, barren place. As much as they seem like a literary cop out, people love them. They go wild for them (or at them). Numbered lists slice and dice facts and figures into tantalizing nuggets of information, easy to consume and digest in today’s frenetically-paced world. It seems nobody has the time to read long-form prose anymore.

Some years ago, I realized that this seemingly lightweight article format is here to stay, so I might as well make the best of it. That’s why I’ve dedicated a portion of my career to writing the best numbered lists possible. I may not always succeed, but at least I try.

Exhibit A: The 11 Most Influential Microprocessors of All Time. The fine folks at PC World published my latest foray into the numbered-list genre late last night. It explores some of the most important microprocessors ever devised in a slideshow format, replete with nifty graphics.

As always, I’ll include a standard disclaimer that I include for any numbered list: your opinion my vary. Even though it probably will, you might learn something along the way. And perhaps, like me, you’ll be oddly invigorated by the quantification of something typically un-quantifiable. It’s an exciting weirdness that we can’t resist.

I hope you enjoy it.