Archive for June, 2012

Trip Hawkins Interview: 30 Years of Electronic Arts

Friday, June 29th, 2012

Trip Hawkins Interview on

Electronic Arts turned 30 on May 28th, and I thought it would be a good opportunity to check in with its founder, Trip Hawkins, on how he feels about Electronic Arts today. It’s no secret that EA, while a massively successful company, takes a lot of heat from gamers on a number of issues (see this Retro Scan and its comments for more on that).

In an interview published at Edge Online, Hawkins and I spoke at length about Electronic Arts, including the founding of EA, finding early EA developers, his time at Apple, his friendship with Steve Jobs, and yes, how he feels about Electronic Arts today.

The resulting interview was so long that Edge decided to split it into five parts. It just published the last part today, so I thought I’d collect all the links here so you can read it.

06/25/2012 Trip Hawkins: The inspiration for EA
06/26/2012 Trip Hawkins on Apple and Steve Jobs
06/27/2012 Trip Hawkins: Founding Electronic Arts
06/28/2012 Trip Hawkins: The EA Days
06/29/2012 Trip Hawkins on the EA of today

Interestingly, there has been no mention of the company’s 30th anniversary from Electronic Arts itself. Its staff was probably too busy revising its own history to notice.

The Roots of Social Networking

Monday, June 25th, 2012

The Roots of Social Networking Slideshow on

This year marks the 10th anniversary of Friendster, and the 15th anniversary of the launch of, the first social networking website.

Up now on is a slideshow (created by yours truly) to celebrate these anniversaries by examining the world of computerized social networking in the pre-Web era. It covers the usual suspects like Usenet, CompuServe, and BBSes, plus some surprising early services of which you may not have heard. I hope you enjoy it.

As a side note, I’d like to add that this will be my last slideshow edited by Ed Albro, my long-time PC World editor whom I have worked with since 2008. It’s been a pleasure working with Ed, and I wish him all the best in his future endeavors.

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] The Osborne 1

Monday, June 25th, 2012

Osborne 1 Portable Computer ad -  1982Two out of three doctors recommend Osborne 1 for muscle fatigue.

We’ve come a long way from what many consider to be the first commercial portable PC, the Osborne 1 (seen here), and the recently announced Microsoft Surface tablet.

Here’s a brain twister for you. If you packed a case the size of the Osborne 1 (think small suitcase) with Surface-sized portable tech, how powerful would the machine be?

[ From BYTE Magazine, February 1982, p.31 ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: What was your first portable computer? When did you get it?

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Sex and Violence

Monday, June 18th, 2012

Deathtrap Dungeon Playstation PC CD-ROM ad -  1998I think they have it backwards.

Amid the recent media hullabaloo that modern video games are sexist and overly fixated on violence, I give you this ad for Deathtrap Dungeon from 1998. That is all.

[ From GamePro, May 1998, p.72 ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: Graphics quality aside, do you think today’s video games are more sexist and violent than games from earlier eras?

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Polaroid Data Recovery

Monday, June 11th, 2012

Polaroid PerfectData Disks ad -  1985A similar phrase adorns a plaque inside the base of the Statue of Liberty.

In this ad for Polaroid PerfectData disks, Polaroid mentions a free data recovery service for damaged floppies. I wonder what tools they used to recover the data; that would be very interesting to look into. Also, I wonder whether anyone ever took Polaroid up on the company’s offer to rescue their data. If anyone out there knows more about this, by all means, leave a comment.

Make sure you take note of the “20-year guarantee” mentioned in this ad — then read Why History Needs Software Piracy.

[ From TIME, May 6th, 1985, p.B3 ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: What’s the worst thing that has ever happened to your computer storage media?

Macintosh II 25th Anniversary

Friday, June 8th, 2012

Macintosh II 25th Anniversary at Macworld

25 years ago this March (1987), Apple released the Macintosh II, the first open architecture Macintosh. Naturally, I’ve written a short feature about this pioneering machine over at Macworld.

While speaking with Michael Dhuey, the Apple engineer that conceived the Mac II, I learned that Apple patterned the Mac II after the 1977 Apple II, which sported the same sort of flexibility and expandability as the Mac II. That self-referential influence amazed me — especially coming from a company that recently institutionalized the practice of ignoring its own history.

But only two years after Steve Jobs resigned from Apple, the company had no problem making the un-Jobs move of both looking backward and opening up the Macintosh. The result changed the course of Macintosh history.

[ Continue reading Macintosh II 25th Anniversary » ]

[ Retro Scan of the Week ] Nintendo 64 E3 Debut

Monday, June 4th, 2012

Magnavox Odyssey Manual Cover Scan - 1972AOL Keyword: Rotating Nintendo Cubes

If you haven’t noticed, E3 2012 is taking place this week in Los Angeles, CA. Here’s a Nintendo Power teaser announcement for the Nintendo’s E3 event that launched the Nintendo 64 in 1996.

When I see this, I can’t help but reflect on what a different press environment we live in today. In 1996 there were no blogs and the public’s adoption of the web was limited. Today, we get our news by-the-second from dozens, if not hundreds, of media outlets online.

[ From Nintendo Power, June 1996, back cover ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: What’s your favorite E3 memory?