Founded in 2003, Armchair Arcade is the award-winning Website of professional author Bill Loguidice and a team of leading authorities on videogame, computer, and technology history: Dr. Mark Vergeer, Christina Loguidice (author), and Shawn Delahunty (engineer). Their ongoing mission is to explore the complete history of videogames, computers, and technology in an intelligent, thought-provoking manner. Read all about us here. To join Armchair Arcade, use the Contact/Join button above to send us your preferred username. Armchair Arcade is also on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+!
Mark Vergeer's picture

Ramble on Emulation... and a demo of a ZX Spectrum/Timex 1000 emulator on the C64


Using all the different home computer systems, Basiccode, CP/M, SpectraVideo vs MSX back in the day really got me interested in platform agnostic code and emulators. Read more below

Mark Vergeer's picture

Do You Remember Your First Time In A Video Game Store?


Question: Do You Remember Your First Time In A Video Game Store?
a rambling video, and a response to a question asked by Lawnboyspost1975. Mentioned is the video Mark Plays... Freedom Fighters on the Odyssey2/Videopac

Mark Vergeer's picture

Mark Plays... Champ Games (MS-DOS/PC)

ChampGames / Champrogramming / Champ programming was a game developer from the US founded by John W. Champeau. Robert Cole was in charge of sound design. They produced quite a few wonderful ports of classic arcade games around 1996/1997 running on MS-DOS & Windows95 PCs.

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Bill Loguidice's picture

Is the retrogaming community too entitled?

Intellivision FlashbackIntellivision FlashbackAfter spending quite a bit of time recently on various discussion forums on AtariAge and Facebook, it has really struck me more than usual how incredibly demanding our retrogaming community (and gaming community at large) is, and how entitled, as the title of this blog post states, some people come off as. This is of course nothing new, going back to the days in the late 1990s when MAME developers would get criticized or even threatened when someone's favorite game wasn't properly emulated, as if the monumental task of emulating what is now thousands of arcade machines, for free, wasn't stressful enough, or otherwise rewarding for the end user. It was the one game that was the deal breaker among the countless other games and the incredible accomplishment in and of itself.

Of course, this kind of criticism has continued since. In my reviews over the past few years of the Atari Flashbacks 3 and 4, Sega Classic Console, and other similar devices, the negativity around those releases from viewers was often frequent and loud. Whether it wasn't getting the sound quite right in the Sega stuff, or missing a personal favorite game in the Atari stuff, the vitriol flew fast and furious. This included statements like, "No game x? It's a fail," or "The sound isn't quite right so I couldn't possibly use it." That's fine - individually we can dislike things for any reason we so choose - but then going on to state that people are idiots for buying it, or why would anyone want it, etc., and then going on what seems like a personal crusade to criticize said device at every possible opportunity (and, as we know, the Internet provides lots of opportunities) shows a remarkable lack of perspective. Take the examples in this paragraph. You're talking devices with say, 80 built-in games and original style controllers that typically retail for just $40. Can't we consider that maybe it might be OK to accept a few trade offs for something so low cost that offers relatively so much? Not for some, because apparently that one missing game is a personal affront or that tinny sound makes it completely worthless. [Read more]

Bill Loguidice's picture

My Xbox One now available in ebook and paperback formats!

My Xbox One (2014)My Xbox One (2014)We're happy to announce that our latest book, My Xbox One, published by Que, is now available. You can check out the book, including sample content (which includes the front matter, Prologue, Chapter 3, and the index!), by going to the Pearson/Que Website (here). They have both the ebook and paperback versions available, as well as special bundle pricing. Of course, both formats are also available at booksellers everywhere, including Amazon, though it may be a few more days before the paperback shows as in stock (be sure to use the Look Inside and send a sample to Kindle features on there as well). As for the book, think of it like the missing manual for the Xbox One, providing visual, step-by-step guidance and tips for getting the most out of Microsoft's latest and greatest game console and media/entertainment center powerhouse. Let us know what you think, help spread the word, and, as always, thank you for the support!

davyK's picture

Video: Gesture input in the 1970s

Think gesture input on tablets is new? The video below proves otherwise. It is amusing to see how the storage media and display technology of the day struggle to keep up with the innovation here, but it is still extremely impressive.

It's a demo of a system used to document PCB and IC drawings from the 1970s. Goodness knows how much this beast cost in the day, but it is stated it cut certain jobs down from days to a couple of hours, so, given the expense of hiring engineers, it would have paid for itself in a reasonable amount of time I guess.

OK, the display itself here isn't touch sensitive, and modern displays that detect more than one point being touched is a significant development, but I honestly can't see how much more effective modern tech would be with this application.

Bill Loguidice's picture

Just say No to kids react to old computers

I hate that the latest "kids react to old computers" video (this time centered around the Apple II) is making the rounds everywhere. Besides the fact that this same click-bait gimmick has been done multiple times before with other computers, it proves nothing. You can put just about anyone of any age in front of just about any old computer and they likely won't know what to do with it beyond possibly knowing how to insert removable media and then stumbling around for the rest. Every computer back then had its own set of commands and own way of working beyond the basics. Even someone who is highly skilled in one or another brand of vintage computer won't necessarily have a clue how to work with a completely different brand of vintage computer. I've certainly experienced this phenomena myself, especially since I work with dozens of different vintage computers each year (Pro Tip: Keeping command "cheat sheets" handy is a big help!).

And no, today's computers and mobile devices haven't made anyone "stupid" or "lazy." Today's computers and mobile devices - as you would hope from almost 40 years of evolution in the home - are merely more user friendly. Personal computers back then always strived for that as well, but there were obvious limits given the technology. [Read more]

Bill Loguidice's picture

More details for Gameplay documentary screening at the NW Pinball and Arcade Show in Tacoma, WA, Saturday, June 7, 2014

As both a reminder and confirmation of the final details, the first special advance screening of our documentary film, Gameplay: The Story of the Videogame Revolution, at The Northwest Pinball and Arcade Show, will be on Saturday, June 7, 2014, from 8 - 10 PM in Seminar Room 316, and will be hosted by our talented director, Richard Goldgewicht, who will take part in a question and answer session following the showing. We look forward to the response for our first public screening of the feature film. We'll also continue to keep everyone updated as further screening and broadcast dates are revealed in the coming months. Be sure to help us spread the word and thanks as always for the fantastic support and enthusiasm around this project!


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Bill Loguidice's picture

Why did the Commodore 64 succeed where the Atari 8-bit didn't?

Atari 800XLAfter seeing yet another topic on AtariAge about why the Commodore 64 (C-64), released in 1982, succeeded in both sales and software support, where the Atari 8-bit series, released in 1979, didn't, I thought I'd offer up my usual thoughts on the matter in a more formal manner. To my mind, it's pretty simple. While the Atari 8-bits had a roughly three year headstart, in those three years, Atari wasn't able to make much headway in the market despite having the best audio-visual potential of the time, bar-none. The missteps with the lovely, but initially flawed, Atari 1200XL, didn't do them any favors, and by the time the C-64 started picking up significant momentum in 1983 when its retail price started dropping to the point where no one was able to compete effectively with its value proposition and still turn a profit, Atari was already done, particularly since they lacked Commodore's supply chain advantages.

Certainly price was a factor in the C-64's success in the US, but in the rest of the world, particularly Europe, price was often the primary driver (e.g., long after the US standardized on reliable, but expensive disks and drives, Europeans were still using unreliable, but cheap cassettes and tape decks), making Atari's inability to produce a low cost 8-bit in a timely manner particularly devastating. The influx of talented European programmers to the C-64's software pool can't be underestimated as the Atari 8-bit line struggled to make it into homes there. It also didn't do Atari any favors that they had multiple models out in the wild with 16K - 64K of memory at that time, making it difficult to target the higher spec. We can't underestimate the value of every Commodore 64 having 64K from its first day on the market to its last, making ports to platforms without a significant user base of guaranteed 64K-spec machines less likely. [Read more]

Bill Loguidice's picture

Using the Tandy Color Computer 3 with an RGB monitor

The classic Tandy Color Computer (CoCo) series of computers featured only RF output right up until the release of the CoCo 3, which features not only RF, but also much needed color composite (mono audio) and RGB outputs. While composite is superior to RF and compatible with legacy software, for optimal use of supported CoCo 3-specific modes and software, you'll obviously want the superior RGB connection, which is incredibly sharp in comparison to the other two options. The catch with the RGB output is that the connector is non-standard and doesn't necessarily work with a wide range of monitors. (read more)

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