The USPS banthas finally brought around my December issue of CGM, and I want to thank Tom for writing a column specifically about me. Makes me want to rummage through my closet and dig out my "I Got the Babel Fish" and MicroLeague Baseball t-shirts.
BTW, back then MicroLeague Baseball, once the manager's disk came out, was our form of multiplayer gaming. one of the members of our little league used to lug around his IBM "portable." Anybody remember that thing? It was about the size and weight of a full steamer trunk and had a monochrome monitor and a 5-1/4 disk drive built into one end of it. And we liked it!
By TomChick on Tuesday, November 13, 2001 - 01:25 pm:
Thanks Jason. Supertanker and I were on the front porch in our rocking chairs the other day when he reminded me how you used to get patches mailed to you. Snail mailed! On floppies! And we liked it!
I remember writing an actual letter about some problem with depth charges in a sub sim (Silent Service?) and sending it to the publishers (Microprose?). I put a Dr. in front of my name so they wouldn't know I was just a punk kid playing games. A few weeks later, I get a patch on a floppy and a form letter. Man, I thought I was Sierra Hotel after that!
By Jason Levine on Tuesday, November 13, 2001 - 01:43 pm:
I remember getting a package in the mail from Interstel, opening it up and finding a floppy containing a patch for the Amiga version of Empire. They sent it to me without any request on my part simply because I was a registered owner of the game. Our hobby was just a LITTLE different in those days.
By Jim Frazer on Tuesday, November 13, 2001 - 02:19 pm:
I remember when games worked out of the box... oh man, those were the days. No release day patches, no way.
Then again, I went directly from a C-64 to a 486/100, so I kinda missed the whole IBM/Amiga intermediate phase. Commodore games were almost always complete bugfree...mostly because they didn't have to plan for 30 different video card and 100 difference processors. Also helped that they all came on, what, 16 or 32k disks?
By SiNNER 3001 on Tuesday, November 13, 2001 - 02:51 pm:
I remember when it was a miracle if a game *talked.* (Like "Sinistar," "Q*Bert," or "Castle Wolfenstein.") Today, we take it for granted and complain endlessly about how bad the voice acting usually is.
I suppose that's how it should be, but ah the old days...
By Jason Levine on Tuesday, November 13, 2001 - 03:16 pm:
"Also helped that they all came on, what, 16 or 32k disks?"
Heh, not quite that bad I think. They were standard 5-1/4 inch floppies, but only (officially) used a single side. So what was that? 180K? Remember that Epyx "Quick Load" cartridge that fit in the game cart slot?
By Jim Frazer on Tuesday, November 13, 2001 - 04:06 pm:
"Remember that Epyx "Quick Load" cartridge that fit in the game cart slot?"
Oh man, yeah, I remember those. I bought one at a garage sale when I was like 13 along with a second floppy drive for $20. That seemed like all the money in the world to me back then.
By Brian Rubin (Veloxi) on Tuesday, November 13, 2001 - 04:44 pm:
I remember the sheer joy I felt when I purchased a 2nd 5 1/4' floppy drive, so that I wouldn't have to swap disks in Starflight anymore...
By Ben Sones (Felderin) on Tuesday, November 13, 2001 - 04:46 pm:
It was hard to tell whether the voice acting was good or bad in games such as Castle Wolfenstein or (my favorite) Wizard of Wor, because you could barely even understand what they were saying. It didn't help that the voices in Wolfenstein were German.
I used to have one of those Apple Mockingboards... those were a laugh and a half. It was like my computer was possessed by Stephen Hawking...
By Jim Frazer on Tuesday, November 13, 2001 - 05:03 pm:
A lady here in Omaha who ran a local C-128 BBS paid $800 for a 20 meg HD for her C-128. I swear, it was the size of a suitcase and was noisy as all hell. Still, it was the best site to go when you wanted to stress out your 1200 baud by downloading a few games.
By kazz on Tuesday, November 13, 2001 - 06:45 pm:
I remember that I didn't know there was such a thing as patches for many years. Games worked as well as they worked, and if I got completely stuck I'd write the game company. Origin sent me clues one time. I got a patch for my Shadow President game, and that's when I discovered that this whole game-making business was a bit more dynamic than I'd previously realized.
My big break, patch-wise, was Master of Magic. That game was barely playable at all as shipped, but after 3 patches was great. It was my first downloadable patching experience, done at 1200 and 9600 baud. Nice.
By Brian Rubin (Veloxi) on Tuesday, November 13, 2001 - 07:29 pm:
oohhh, 1200 baud, remember how speedy that used to me? I remember "upgrading" from a 300 to a 1200 baud modem, and was amazed at how quickly all the text appeared on the screen...
By Alan Au (Itsatrap) on Tuesday, November 13, 2001 - 08:36 pm:
We had an in-joke about a 1-baud modem where we would basically read off the bits over the phone.
By Denny on Tuesday, November 13, 2001 - 09:03 pm:
The first time I played a game online was a galactic battles game running on MECC in 1979. Our high school (Apple Valley, Minnesota) would team against our rival school in multiplayer combat.
The game was text/coordinate based. The lucky kids would be the ones who rushed there and got on the 300 baud video terminals or the modem-equipped PETs. The rest of us would use the 110 baud printing terminals. The fun part was taking home the big ream of paper and "reading back" the game after school.
The kids who programmed would fight over the one 16K PET we had. The others had to make due with the 4K models with the Chicklet keyboard. Most of us (true geeks) took "computer programming" in summer school. But we'd already taught ourselves BASIC by reprogramming the games that came on the monthly CURSOR magazine cassette tape. We just wanted access to the computers during the summer.
I actually got my first computer, a VIC-20, in 81. Expanded that sucker to 40K. (It was only supposed to be able to take 32K, but you could cram an extra 8K of RAM up in the Machine Language space reserved for game cartridges.) Eventually got a disk drive for it. There were a few machine language games in those days, but most came in BASIC. I remember an EPYX RPG game I got on tape that actually used 16K of memory... It took about 10 minutes to load.
Then the C64, and about a decade of the Amiga. Couldn't stand the PC until I could I get a machine with Win 95 and a 486/66...
As for patches, the very first game I remember being released that really, really needed patches to be fully functional was MicroProse's Pacific Air War. Also notable for having been reviewed in one of the first issues of a certain now-leading gaming magazine at about the same time as I got the third beta in the mail. :-)
I remember working at COMPUTE! magazine and going to CES in 1990... A couple of guys laughed at our booth and said there would never be a "home computer" market.
By Jason Levine on Tuesday, November 13, 2001 - 09:49 pm:
Well as long as we're really mining our computer history, here's a little legal computing history for Stefan, Supertanker and any other JDs who may be lurking around...
I started using the two main computerized legal research systems, Lexis and Westlaw (full text searchable data bases basically consisting of court decisions, statutes and the like), back in 1977. In those days, both of these systems used dedicated dumb terminals (naturally, as the IBM PC was still about 4 years in the future) connected to the companies' mainframes via 1200 baud modems. The Lexis terminal that I learned on was something to behold. It was called the "Deluxe" and looked like it had been ripped from the Enterprise set of the original Star Trek series. It had a QWERTY keyboard with about two dozen additional specialized function keys scattered all around the letter keys. The keyboard and a dot matrix printer were built into a long, sloping plastic and mahagony desk. The 12" black and white monitor was attached to the top of the desk by a chrome-plated swivel arm. You would type in your query, go out and have lunch (well, it seemed like you could) and then the results would come back and you would watch the screen fill in one line at a time. We thought it was so cool. Lexis also had a cheaper terminal called the "UBIC" (I never found out what that stood for), which basically looked like a red and black TRS-80, Kaypro or any of those other one-piece monitor and keyboard machines that were prevalent back then, except that it had rubber chicklet keys.
Westlaw had a sleek, black terminal with the monitor permanently attached to keyboard/case by two streamlined pillars. It was pretty snazzy looking in its own right, but miles behind Lexis' Deluxe.
Both services are still in business today, although like just about all American legal publishing--electronic and print--they're wholly owned by foreign companies (Westlaw's owner is Canadian, so not foreign to Stefan), and of course I connect to them via the Web. Their databases are vastly bigger today than they were then, and using them is generally a hell of a lot more cost effective than it was back when they were getting started. But back then it seemed like an adventure every time I logged on, and today, of course, it's about as adventurous as checking the weather.
By Tim Partlett on Tuesday, November 13, 2001 - 09:52 pm:
Wow, I was going to mention balancing cartons of milk on my ZX-80 to keep it cool, and waiting 10 minutes for tapes to load games on my ZX-Spectrum, only for it to crash at the last second and force me to start the process all over again. Unfortunately it's waste of time, as Denny has trumped me completely :).
By Supertanker on Wednesday, November 14, 2001 - 01:31 am:
Tom's bit in the column about getting attacked by a capital L reminded me of a good Hack story. A buddy of mine had managed to descend some incredible number of levels down into the dungeon - a couple of hundred as I recall. We thought he might be near the end, thinking there wouldn't be more than 255 levels. He killed a monster and tried to pick up the treasure, but it said his inventory was full. So, he pulled out his inventory notes (faster than waiting for the machine to display the list, whippersnappers) and started dropping stuff he figured he didn't need. He dropped a pretty good pile of stuff, and wasn't done yet, when suddenly the game states, "You have died of a panic. Play again? (Y/N)" About a half dozen of us were watching, and we simultaneously shouted, "WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT?!" Man, that was frustrating! I think he swore off playing Hack for at least a week.
Tom wrote: "I remember writing an actual letter about some problem with depth charges in a sub sim (Silent Service?) and sending it to the publishers (Microprose?)."
That's funny, because I wrote a letter to SSI. I was lamenting the fact that they had copy-protected my favorite game and I couldn't back it up. I don't even remember the name of the game, but it was for the C64 and was a real-time wargame where you controlled three or four platoons of vehicles. One of the game designers sent back a nice hand-written letter on yellow legal paper! He went through the basic anti-piracy arguments and pointed out that they felt their disk replacement policy ($10 each) was an affordable alternative. That was about 1983, and I wish I still knew where that letter was, and who wrote it.
Finally, to cement my old geek credentials, Pepper and I had a table of people at our wedding that we had met through our involvement in the L.A. BBS scene. That took a lot of explaining to the parents back in 1993 - and we liked it!
By Sparky on Wednesday, November 14, 2001 - 03:57 am:
"...and MicroLeague Baseball t-shirts."
Sweet Moses on a recumbent bicycle, you
ARE old! :) I used to work for them. Sad, they
had such a loyal following back in the day, but
they really blew it.
By Sean Tudor on Wednesday, November 14, 2001 - 04:59 am:
Speaking of Gaming Geezers here are some of my personal memories (that I can remember) :
- My first PC was a Commodore Pet 2001. It would have been a collectors item if I hadn't sold it. Doh !
- My second PC was an Apple II. Two of my favourite games were "Sneakers" and Bruce Artwick's "Sublogic Flight Simulator". I sold this computer as well. Doh again !
- My third PC was a Commodore VIC-20 with Datasette tape player and 24K ram expansion module. I still have the VIC-20+cassette+cartridge games in perfect working order.
- My fourth PC was a Commodore 64. What a dream machine this was ! I expanded this with two 1541 floppy disk drives and a Commodore dot matrix. I remember typing in magazine listings from Compute! magazine using their MLX data entry utility.
- With all these computers I was 100% proficient in 6502 assembler programming and wrote many programs including quite a few games. I even wrote a chess program ! It's amazing what you do as a kid. :-)
- I passed on the Amiga/Atari ST generation as these machines were far too expensive at the time. I remember drooling over "F/A-18 Intercepter" on the Amiga at the local game store.
- I then joined the IBM PC bandwagon (by now I had a full time job) and bought an Intel 80286/10MHz machine. For a long time I would upgrade various components on a 3 month or 6 monthly cycle since I was still living at home with the parents and had a high disposable income. Looking back I can't believe how much money I spent (wasted) on my computer hobby. This was also a time when I would buy as many as three games a month no matter the quality.
- Present day : I now have a Celeron 850 + TNT2U + 256MB ram + 30 Gig hard drive. I still buy games but average one game every 3 - 4 months (if it gets good reviews). Not the latest and greatest PC but it still runs even the latest games surprisingly well.
Aah memories. For me the Golden Age of Gaming was definitely during the Ultima III/IV and early Microprose days. Sure the games were archaic by today's standards but they were state of the art back then. I spent countless hours playing games like Microprose's Red Storm Rising and F117.
By Sparky on Wednesday, November 14, 2001 - 05:09 am:
"I passed on the Amiga/Atari ST generation..."
Ah, the great Amiga/Atari Wars. I was on the
Atari ST side, although many of my good
friends were on the Amiga side (in fact, my ST
was a hand-me-down from an Amiga
Anyone remember the Vectrex? I have one of
those in the rec room...
By Sean Tudor on Wednesday, November 14, 2001 - 05:18 am:
Sure do. That was also the same time the Colecovision came out I think. I remember trying out the Vectrex at my local game store. Wacky machine. :-)
By Michael Murphy (Murph) on Wednesday, November 14, 2001 - 05:21 am:
I inherited a Kaypro II from my dad -- it pre-dated the 8088, and I believe it's an 8080 model. Have no idea where exactly that falls in with what you guys are discussing -- the farthest back I can remember is the Commodore 64 -- but it's old...My dad used it in college, and he's now 50...
By Denny on Wednesday, November 14, 2001 - 10:01 am:
Kaypro II was a Z80, running CP/M. I used to sell those in high school. In 1982 I gave up my $3.40/hour job at Burger King for a job that paid an amazing $5/hour at the new computer store, Programs Unlimited, by the mall... I actually went in there the weekend they opened and queried about work, but they said they didn't need anyone. Then a couple of weeks later I happened to be at the store when a young couple was trying to decide between the Atari 400 and the VIC-20. I spend about 10 minutes talking them into the VIC... The owner overheard my spiel and hired me on the spot. :-)
The cool thing about the CP/M operating system on those Kaypros was that it shipped with discs of source code. We had one of the business sales/tech guys at the store who'd often spend time tweaking operating system!
The Kaypro sewing machines were the sleek, ultralights of the day. The other CP/M machines we sold were Xerox 820s... Those came with 8-inch floppies! We had trouble selling the Kaypros to some folks because they thought it would be safer to buy the "industry standard" business machine -- the Osborne. :) This despite the Osborne's roughly 5-inch, 50-character-across screen...
By Michael Murphy (Murph) on Wednesday, November 14, 2001 - 10:25 am:
Heh. You obviously know far more about this computer than I do -- not that it takes a whole lot!! All I know is, I spent a lot of time with BASIC on that thing...
You wouldn't happen to have a keyboard cable for one of those, would ya? ;-) I misplaced mine...I'd kinda like to fire it up again!
By Jason Levine on Wednesday, November 14, 2001 - 10:42 am:
"Sweet Moses on a recumbent bicycle, you
Yeah, I'd yell "Get off my lawn!" like Jeff Green, but I'd have to put my dentures in first.
"I used to work for them. Sad, they
had such a loyal following back in the day, but
they really blew it."
No kidding? I think I had every C-64 disk for the original game that they put out. You're right. The original MicroLeague Baseball ranks right next to the original Earl Weaver for the Amiga as the best baseball games ever done for a computer, and both series went straight down hill after that.
Speaking of recumbent bikes, I attended more than a couple of Amiga conventions and I remember at every one of them there was this very tall dude who wore a Renaissance-style velvet hat and cape and was always pimping recumbent bikes. The image of this guy on a recumbent bike in that outfit always made me want to revise my chemical intake for that day.
By Denny on Wednesday, November 14, 2001 - 11:29 am:
The sad thing about all of this is (1) I'm only 36, geeze! That's like, what, half of Jeff Green's age? Also, just read Tom's (fun!) column, and my first thought was "CGA? That's not old... I'd been using computers for four years by the time CGA was introduced..."
Alas, I haven't seen a Kaypro in a decade or so...
You're thinking Leo Schwab. He was the guy who invented "Schwabbies," which were the little joke programs you could slap on Amigas. There was one that would make pixels start falling to the bottom of the screen... One he called "Viacom" after getting p*ssed at his cable company, that would make your screen get snowy. And a bunch of Boing balls bouncing around your Workbench screen. Fun stuff!
By Anonymous on Wednesday, November 14, 2001 - 11:35 am:
Ah, I'm old too. I should remember the name of that refugee from a Ren Faire, he wrote some excellent graphical demos and pranks for the Amiga... one of them was flying recumbent bikes....
By Jason Levine on Wednesday, November 14, 2001 - 11:38 am:
Schwabbies! Thanks for jogging my increasingly fading memory, Denny. I seem to recall one that had a little robot that swept text off your screen. That was fun stuff, and now I remember that when you would download Leo's stuff, you would get the recumbent bike spiel.
By Dan Winningham on Wednesday, November 14, 2001 - 02:24 pm:
I had an idea a while back to remake the "before-Classic" games for modern times -- for
example, my product would be "Lemonade Stand 2002" which would be a combination of a 3d RTS along with a first person shooter, where you would see your hand holding a big jug o' lemonade as you looked for victi- er, clients.
Of course it would come on 5 cds, ship horribly late, and retail for $69.99 ...
By SiNNER 3001 on Wednesday, November 14, 2001 - 08:09 pm:
As long as the lemonade stand owner's voice was done by Gilbert Gottfried, I'd buy it.
By Alan Au (Itsatrap) on Thursday, November 15, 2001 - 01:47 am:
As far as joke programs go, my friends and I used to have a collection of Mac inits which we fondly referred to as the "inits from Hell." By themselves they were meant to be quirky little programs, like the one that gave your mouse cursor momentum. Of course when combined with others, like the one that made the cursor wrap when it got to the edge of the screen, you had the beginnings of a truly user unfriendly experience.
Speaking of segues, anybody else out there go through the experience of trying to salvage a 5 1/4" drive about two years ago? That's about the time they disappeared from common use, and I realized my 5.25 collection was about to become inaccessible. I missed out on the cassette drive. Lucky for me, I think.
Uh, before-classics? I prefer the term proto-classics when talking about those really old games that weren't actually very good. As far as resurrecting those things (the horror!) goes, I still have to get around to finishing my "Doom-fighter" and "Fish-in-barrel Hunter" projects. Who says Track-and-Field should hog all the one-button gameplay glory? Now if I could just get ahold of one of those brain-wave scanner helmets...
My first experience with talkies was a game called Mach 3. The game itself wasn't very good, but hearing that digitized voice made it all worth it. I have similar feelings about Rebel Assault. The controls were sloppy but hey, CD-ROM technology and FMV were what it was all about. There's that gee-whiz factor that somehow manages to short-circuit my good gameplay sensibilities. *sigh*
I played a lot of early Sierra stuff, but it doesn't hold up very well by modern standards. Amazingly, the early Microprose stuff still plays just fine for the most part. Origin stuff was always weird. They tended to publish games that would only run on the fastest of the new machines. Oddly, they also make some of the best "classics" for the simple reason that they still run reasonably on modern hardware.
As for the Kaypro, we called it a 'luggable' rather than a 'portable.'
By Michael Murphy (Murph) on Thursday, November 15, 2001 - 02:11 am:
Yeah, it was -- is -- definitely "luggable..."
I've still got a 5.25" drive, though it's not hooked up. I'm toying with the idea of setting up one computer with Windows 3.1 (or DOS -- gasp!) and the old 5.25" just for revisiting those classics from time to time. I've still got a bunch of those disks around, so...
If anyone has a game on 5.25" disks that they want salvaged, e-mail me and I'll give you my address, and I'll send it back on CD. ;-) 'Course, getting it to run is up to you!!
By Sparky on Thursday, November 15, 2001 - 04:44 am:
How about those code wheels? Remember
how, if you wanted to play Battle of Britain or
somesuch, you had to match the smudgy,
rice-grain-sized P51 Mustang to a blurry,
Ah! Gotta go crank the Victrola , it's starting
to sound funny...
 Yes, I know, this phrase means something
entirely different when Jeff Green says it.
By Jason Levine on Thursday, November 15, 2001 - 11:04 am:
Murph, I might take you up on that and send you my old NFL Challenge disks, although I'm dubious about getting the game to run on any of my current machines.
Not only was that a great game, but if they gave an award for the best game packaging that one would be at the top of my list.
Code wheels? Man those were bad, the worst though was that stupid magnifying glass thingy that came with Elite. You were supposed to hold it over the monitor screen and read off a code that you had to then type in. It usually took me about 3 or 4 tries before I could actually get into the game.
By Jeff Lackey on Thursday, November 15, 2001 - 11:18 am:
Ah, walks down memory lane. Ziploc bags with mimeographed intstruction sheets. 6502 assembly, and CPM.
My first computer - I built an Altair that I ordered out of Popular Electronics. Programmed it with 8 toggle switches, each one a bit of the byte.
Went through a Northstar and an Ohio Scientific (the OS was the first one with color that I recall). A Trash 80, because they were popular, a Commadore PET. Pong and Lunar Lander were real time stealers. Finally an Apple II, with 16K RAM, and an Integer card (to be able to drop to the assembler *)
The greatest computer magazines of all time, in my old geezer opinion, was Softalk. Came for free if you were an Apple owner. Columns by the Beagle Brothers and a host of others. Interviews with all of the Big Guys in gaming, in their long haired hippy glory. I've still got a complete set of those, and it's a hoot to read ads for the original Wizardy, Akalabeth (the Ultima prequel), Zork, etc. A real time machine. One of the great lines of all time came from a review of Microsoft's Multiplan, a spreadsheet that dared to take on Visisoft's revolutionary Visicalc: " While Multiplan is certainly a competent spreadsheet, Microsoft will never be a Visisoft." Priceless. ;)
By Lee Johnson on Thursday, November 15, 2001 - 12:13 pm:
While we're on the topic of 5.25" diskettes, anybody know of a good utility that will create image files of 5.25" floppies? (and maybe allow them to be mounted like a virtual device? :-) I'd like to archive my 5.25" collection on something a little more permanent and accessible; the last time I looked at my collection, about a year ago, the 10-year-old disks were still readable; however, I'd hate to lose them.
By Sean Tudor on Thursday, November 15, 2001 - 03:26 pm:
I actually had a Commodore 64 version of Microsoft Multiplan. It's one outstanding feature was that it was incapable of keeping up with my typing. SLOW.
A year or so ago when I was cleaning up before moving house I checked my old 5.25" collection. I have to say most of them were damaged with surface mould - even those still in their boxes. They certainly don't last forever.
By Denny on Thursday, November 15, 2001 - 03:28 pm:
>>My first computer - I built an Altair that I
>>ordered out of Popular Electronics. Programmed
>>it with 8 toggle switches, each one a bit of >>the byte.
Ding! Ding! Ding! We have a winner!
Thank you for restoring my lost youth, Jeff!
SofTalk was cool... I remember converting some of their Apple programs to run on the VIC.
Did you ever read Creative Computing? That was my favorite of the day... Still have a bunch of those in the closet. Will Fastie talking about the $5,000 IBM PC, with 16K, a tape drive, and an optional 5.25" floppy disk.
Actually, there were some GREAT games in the 8-bit days. They were simple, sure. But games like M.U.L.E., Blue Max, and the Infocom adventures were a lot more interesting than many current games. Since you say you missed the cassette days, I get the impression you may have started out in the CGA/EGA PC days. The PC was a crap platform for games until we got fast VGA 486 machines, and the 1983 to 1993 PC games definitely fall into the "proto" category. Many of the C64/Atari 800/Amiga games of 1982-1993 were a whole different story...
By Sean Tudor on Thursday, November 15, 2001 - 03:42 pm:
Anyone have copies of Kilobaud Microcomputing (I still have a couple). I also have some late '70's copies of Byte magazine.
Back in the days when every magazine published menu (food) programs, fast bubble sort programs, cheque reconciling programs, and text-based games of lunar lander. It really was a magazine industry run by nerdy techos. :-)
When I get a chance I will scan an add out of one of my Kilobaud mags. You will be amazed ! :-)
By Jeff Lackey on Thursday, November 15, 2001 - 05:14 pm:
Hey Denny - well, you had to know I'd hitch my pants up to my chest and join in this one. ;)
Yeah, I subscribed to Creative Computing, very cool magazine. As I recall, it had a middle tear-out section of programs you could type in to your system.
That really was a magical era. Today we all seem to be looking for the flaws in everything from software to hardware to consoles. "The ballistics in OFP really are off for the standard load in the NATO round;" "Retreating blade stall for this chopper sim is so off that it just renders the sim unplayable - I'll return it until there's a patch;" etc. In those times everyone was so excited at what these new machines could do, rather than focus on what they couldn't do. Every game seemed to push the wall back a little more than the next.
Yeah, I remember the original $5000 PC, with no sound capability at all (compared to the Commadore 64 or the Apple II with a Mockingboard.) The Charlie Chaplin ads. The PC Jr., with it's disastrous chiclet keyboard.
Softalk, Creative Computing, Byte - what were some of the other mags at the time? (Hey, I'm old and my memory is crap! ;) )
By Alan Au (Itsatrap) on Thursday, November 15, 2001 - 05:30 pm:
I consider M.U.L.E. and the like to be the honest-to-goodness classics. By proto-classics, I mean games like Catacombs 3D and Flightmare.
By SiNNER 3001 on Thursday, November 15, 2001 - 08:27 pm:
"the original $5000 PC, with no sound capability at all (compared to the Commadore 64 or the Apple II with a Mockingboard.)"
Hey, let's not leave Atari out of that tally. The 400/800 had built-in sound/music capabilities way before PCs. And later on, the Atari ST was the first color GUI on the consumer market.
I had both, loved 'em to death (the Atari 800 with more of that blind, intense loyalty that prepubescence can give one). Still use the ST for MIDI sequencing.
By Jeff Lackey on Thursday, November 15, 2001 - 08:54 pm:
I remember the Atari ST and the buzz that surrounded it. It really did try to be a revolutionary system in just about every way. Trip Hawkins (head of EA at the time) was a big backer and the truth was, from a pure specs point of view, it did blow everything else away. There were some very cool games on that system, but it was a tough time, with the market dominance of the Apple II and the IBM PC beginning it's push.
By Jason Levine on Thursday, November 15, 2001 - 09:30 pm:
I still have a fully functional Amiga 1000, but, alas and alak, we're soon going to get a new PC and give the current one to the kids to use for school, and I'll just be flat out of room. And I know just how the wife will react if I try to stash it in the closet. ;)
By Jeff Lackey on Friday, November 16, 2001 - 08:59 am:
You know, thinking back to my previous post, it was the Amiga's launch I was thing about rather than the Atari ST.
Where's that Gingko whatever it's called...?
By Jason Levine on Friday, November 16, 2001 - 10:30 am:
"Where's that Gingko whatever it's called...?"
At may age, I'm taking a new combination herbal supplement: Gingko-Viagra
It helps me remember what the fuck I'm doing.
By Rob Funk (Xaroc) on Friday, November 16, 2001 - 10:43 am:
Murph, I might take you up on that and send you my old NFL Challenge disks, although I'm dubious about getting the game to run on any of my current machines
Rob, let me know how it works out. Thanks!
By Denny on Friday, November 16, 2001 - 12:00 pm:
Phew. Glad I saw your revision of your Atari ST comment before I slid back into 1987-era Amiga Defender Mode. The Amiga had multiprocessing, the first preemptive consumer multitasking operating system, 4096 color support, and a lot more.
The ST was cobbled together at panic speed by Jack Tramiel's group after they lost the Amiga, Inc. purchase (after trying to screw Amiga's founders financially). The ST ran a 68000 version of the single-tasking CP/M 68K operating system with DRI's GEM graphical front end. (Not the first color GUI, either -- GEM had already appeared on the PC.) A mere 16 colors. It was really just an EGA PC with a 68000 chip instead of an 286.
The built-in MIDI made was cool if you were a musician, though. :)
(Oh crap. I did it anyway...)
By Jason Levine on Friday, November 16, 2001 - 12:40 pm:
"The ST was cobbled together at panic speed by Jack Tramiel's group after they lost the Amiga, Inc. purchase (after trying to screw Amiga's founders financially)."
Yeah, unfortunately the winners, Commodore, were never able to market it effectively. Still, it ammassed a nice library of software, including some great games, before VGA-era PCs overwhelmed it.
By SiNNER 3001 on Friday, November 16, 2001 - 03:11 pm:
Why do you need to bash Atari in order to support the Amiga?
You'd think after all these years this petty 1980s era platform war bullshit would have died off.
I don't call that "Amiga defender mode," I call that rude nerd mode.
By Denny on Friday, November 16, 2001 - 04:17 pm:
I didn't bash the Atari. Name one thing I said that wasn't true. :-)
The Atari ST was one of the better computers of its day -- certainly better than the more expensive DOS machines of 1985-1989. But it didn't have any real innovations besides its built-in MIDI ports.
(Well, and the first "announced" CD-ROM drive for a consumer machine. But alas, Tramiel didn't deliver for years.)
By SiNNER 3001 on Friday, November 16, 2001 - 05:23 pm:
I complimented the ST and you felt the need to reply with a paragraph of negatives against it. Seemed more like you were on offense rather than defense, since no one slighted the Amiga.
Not saying the ST was perfect -- I actually liked the Atari 800 more in some ways -- just seemed as if you were trying to perpetuate that tired old Atari/Commodore rivalry thang. Guess I was misinterpreting your intent.
The Radio Shack TRS-80 was the true ass-kicker, tho.
By Jeff Lackey on Friday, November 16, 2001 - 06:07 pm:
Yeah, Denny, I remember the Amiga coming out and thinking "wow - this is going to blow everyone away." I was even trying to figure out how to buy one to add to my stable of computers, but never did.
Hey SINNER, the truth is the absolute defense against slander. Tramiel did rush the Atari ST as a response to the Amiga, and while it was a cool system, from a pure innovation POV the Amiga blew it away.
Of course, as we all know, the best hardware is never the determiner of market success.
By SiNNER 3001 on Friday, November 16, 2001 - 06:25 pm:
"from a pure innovation POV the Amiga blew it away."
Except for the built-in, rock-solid MIDI. The Atari ST has been used by Peter Gabriel, Tangerine Dream, Front Line Assembly, Fleetwood Mac, 808 State, Atari Teenage Riot (natch), Santana, Depeche Mode, Cabaret Voltaire, Klaus Schulze, Queen, Yes, Future Sound of London, etc. Fatboy Slim still uses it as his main workhorse.
By SiNNER 3001 on Friday, November 16, 2001 - 06:26 pm:
Note that most of the above acts are European; the Atari ST had more market share and lasted longer in Europe than in the US.
By Sparky on Saturday, November 17, 2001 - 08:07 pm:
"The Atari ST has been used by Peter Gabriel,
Tangerine Dream, Front Line Assembly,
And PHILLIP GLASS!
Oh, wait...that's not really a compliment.
By SiNNER 3001 on Sunday, November 18, 2001 - 04:51 am:
I like his cousin Ira.
By Alan Dunkin on Sunday, November 18, 2001 - 06:52 pm:
First computer was a TRS-80, which I used to play math games on with the tape system... after that was the Heath/Zenith H/Z-100, a cool dual-processor system (Intel 8085 and 8086/88) that unfortunately wasn't entirely 100% PC compatible, my first games, Pirates! and Might & Magic, could barely run on it before something going wrong (like in M&M, would copy over graphics instead of clearing them in underground dungeons). We did have MS Flight Sim before that though, which was a blast (and had a WWI component that was very cool). Only way we could play real "modern" games was at a friend's house with a real IBM, otherwise we had to wait till we got a 286.
Also seem to remember having a very hard space shuttle lander game, but can't recall if it was on the Zenith or the TRS-80.