Archive for January, 2010

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Borge Specifies Verbatim

Monday, January 25th, 2010

Victor Borge Verbatim Floppy Disk Ad - 1979So that’s how you write music.

Yes, it’s Victor Borge hawking Verbatim floppy diskettes. Despite his goofy grandpa-humor presence, “Specify Verbatim” still stands as the geekiest slogan in advertising history. It’s almost begging for the nerdy hipster t-shirt treatment. I’ll let you wear it for me.

If you want to see more computer ads featuring celebrities, check out this slideshow I did for PC World back in April 2008. Unfortunately all those scans are tiny due to image size limitations PC World had back then. You can see larger versions of a few ads that were taken from previous Retro Scans here: 1 2 3 4

[ From BYTE, November 1979, p.25 ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: Who’s your favorite celebrity computer or video game spokesman of all time?

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] The Savage Empire

Monday, January 18th, 2010

Origin Worlds of Ultima Savage Empire Ad - 1990Meanwhile, the cover remained a one-fist affair.

I love Ultima VI, so it’s excellent that Origin made two spin-off games using the same engine. I’ve played Martian Dreams, the other Worlds of Ultima game, but never The Savage Empire. Is anybody out there a fan?

[ From Video Games and Computer Entertainment, November 1990, p.155 ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: Which is best: The Savage Empire or Martian Dreams?

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] The Cambridge Z88

Monday, January 11th, 2010

InterAct Sharkwire Online Nintendo 64 N64 Ad - 2000There’s a little bit of Clive in every box.

The Cambridge Z88 (1987) was a slim, diskless, battery-sipping laptop computer similar to the famous TRS-80 Model 100.

Interestingly, former VC&G contributor Gnome wrote about this machine for us in 2006. He makes specific note of the Z88’s relationship to Sir Clive Sinclair of Sinclair Research fame.

I don’t have a Z88, but I love laptops in this monolithic, almost slate-like form factor. If you have one you’d like to get rid of, I’m all ears.

[ From Byte Magazine, October 1988, p.88 ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: Have you ever owned a laptop with a non-folding screen (i.e. not a clamshell design) like the Z88 above? What did you like or dislike about it?

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] InterAct Sharkwire Online

Monday, January 4th, 2010

InterAct Sharkwire Online Nintendo 64 N64 Ad - 2000Click above to see the full advertisement.

Ten years ago, InterAct began advertising this obscure online attachment for the Nintendo 64 called “Sharkwire Online.” I personally don’t know much about the device or how it was supposed to work beyond what Wikipedia and IGN have to say about it.

That is, it appears the Sharkwire was a dial-up modem that plugged into a N64 and allowed game console owners to access an ISP of sorts, through which they could download the latest cheats and codes to their Sharkwire units, which would then function, I presume, like the more common InterAct GameShark peripheral.

This whole setup seems like an overly elaborate Rube Goldberg way of cheating at games, so it’s no surprise that the Sharkwire Online quickly faded into oblivion. I didn’t remember it at all when I came across this ad in EGM the other day; not only did I pore over each issue of that magazine religiously throughout its entire run, but I usually took specific note of any online-related accessories.

Did anybody out there have one of these? Would you care to fill us in on what exactly it did from a user’s perspective? Did it do it well?

Happy 2010

As a side note, it’s now 2010, which, thanks to my longstanding but completely arbitrary “vintage” guideline, means that the year 2000 now opens to us as a source of VC&G material.

History marches on, and what was once new continuously slides away from us until it crosses into the realm of obsolete curiosity. Funny enough, in a time when a five year-old cell phone seems like it was from the stone age, ten years is beginning to feel like a conservative figure. Still, it’s always a minor shock to see what becomes the nouveau vintage every year.

[ From Electronic Gaming Monthly, February 2000, p.206-207 ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: How do you feel about “cheating” at video games with devices like the GameShark, Pro Action Replay, and the Game Genie? Is it a good or bad thing?