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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

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]

Matt Barton's picture

Matt Chat 177: Dave Marsh on Shadowgate and Kickstarters

Shadowgate designer Dave Marsh returns to the show this week to talk about ICOM Simulations' Macventure series. We also chat about Kickstarter and why his earlier effort, Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective, failed to reach an audience.

You can download the show here.

Mark Vergeer's picture

Vectrex Regeneration (iOS) - a non-scripted first look

Freshly released Vectrex Emulator running on iOS available in the app store. The app itself is free but actual games are available in a pack and that is about 5-6 Euros. The app is available world wide. Sadly no word of an Android version of the app which should be very possible as the Android and iPad hardware really aren't that different and Android tablets should be able to manage something like this well. Read more below...

Matt Barton's picture

Matt Chat 169: The Eidolon--a journey into the mystical realm of the mind

This week features a retrospective of Lucasfilm Games' The Eidolon, a 1985 game that builds on the fractal routines introduced in Koronis Rift and Rescue on Fractalus!. Unfortunately, this game requires a manual to understand, so many of us pirates back in the day couldn't make head nor tails of it. The story, detailed only in the manual, has us strapping into a sphere called The Eidolon and zapping off into the unconscious, mystical realm of the mind (it just gets weirder from there). The fairly complex gameplay has us shooting and collecting four different colors of balls, each with different effects on creatures (if shot) and ourselves (if hit or collected). It also boasts some of the best artwork at the time, especially animation.

Download the mp4 here.

Bill Loguidice's picture

Making My Collection Usable - Part II - The Commodore Amiga (photos)

As mentioned previously, I've been going great guns in an attempt to make my overly large collection of 400+ videogame and computer systems more accessible and immediately usable. In other words, figuring out how to waste less of my precious time setting up this stuff and use more of that time actually using what I want to use. Part of that initiative is to take the most "important" computer and videogame systems and put them front and center - and ready to go - in various rooms. I'll discuss the classic videogame consoles in more detail in another post, but basically I've set up a 32" Sony Trinitron CRT to supplement the other basement TV and can now plug in various consoles in that area quickly and easily, though I've changed up where (and how) I'll be making the actual systems themselves accessible. Anyway, where last we left off, I couldn't get my Amiga 600 or 1200 to work, which left me to choose between my Amiga 500, 1000, or 2500HD (with 8088 Bridgeboard). I chose the latter.

With the above in mind, it was of course bugging me that neither the 600 or 1200 were working, so I resolved to address the issue within my limited skillset, and of course when time permitted. Long story short, the 600 is dead, but the culprit in the 1200 was a deceased 40MB hard drive, which was easy enough to remove and replace with a Compact Flash adapter and card with the OS and additional software. In the mean-time, I also got a PAL Amiga 1200, stock, with its own Compact Flash adapter and card with the OS and additional software.

Bill Loguidice's picture

Making My Collection Usable - Part I - The Classic Computers (photos)

As mentioned previously, I've been re-thinking my collecting activities, including selling off the non-working and duplicate portions of my collection, which presently consists of over 430 videogame and computer systems and countless thousands of related software, accessories, and literature. Naturally, part of that reasoning was "thinning the herd" after all these years, because - even though I am thankful to have a relatively generous amount of space for these types of activities - it has long since reached the point where I well and truly have too much to handle. Why has this become an issue? There's simply too much stuff, there's no time to use it (that would need to be my full-time job), and, when I do want to use it, it takes up most of my available time just setting something up, only to have to break it down and put it back on the shelf again. It's innefficient, and frankly, no fun anymore.

With that in mind, in addition to the thinning - which will take a very, very long time of course in a collection I've been cultivating for over 30 years now - I've been plotting how I can make better use of what I have. Like I said, I am thankful to have a relatively generous amount of space. I have a large basement area, with about half unfinished, which is used for storage, and the other, finished half, consisting of an office room, hallway, workout area, and den area. The main floors of our house contain our active systems, including the Xbox 360, PS3, Wii, Co-Star, various computers and handhelds, etc., but they are not an option for me to make use of for classic items, other than on an occasional basis. That just leaves the basement, which is, of course, fine, but also limits my flexibility.

Anyway, even though each area of the basement is brimming with stuff and each section serves a specific purpose, either on a permanent or temporary basis, I decided that my best course of action is to pull out the truly must-have-accessible systems from the hundreds available and make them accessible at a moment's notice. This was not easy to do, as I have a genuine passion for each and every system I own, but the bottom line is is that some systems are more interesting, more "useful," or I simply have a critical mass of items for them that they can't be ignored. I decided I'd tackle that task with my classic computers first, followed by my classic videogame systems at a later date. I cleared space on my big L-shaped computer desk in the office area and proceeded to select the systems that met my criteria and would fit on the desk (I'll have some flexibility when I set up the classic videogame consoles to make a little use of the den area as well).

While I have many different models in most of the specific computer series I selected, I tried to choose the one model in my collection that would give me the most bang-for-the-buck. This in and of itself was not easy, as there's rarely a "most perfect" choice when it comes to choosing the ideal model in a series, which in this case also involved being a good fit for the available space. The systems I chose were as follows: TI-99/4a, Apple IIgs, Atari 600XL, Atari Falcon, Commodore Amiga 2000HD, and Commodore 128DCR, with a special appearance by the Radio Shack Color Computer series, which I'll explain at the end. So yeah, as hard as it was, no Sinclair Spectrum, BBC, IBM PCjr, Coleco Adam, Imagination Machine, MSX, Interact, Exidy, etc., etc., items, even though I'd love to have those out and ready to go as much as the others.

My initial goal - which I was able to accomplish - was to set up a basic system configuration for each and make sure it was working properly. I actually had a slightly different mix of specific systems, but, after testing, found some things didn't function as expected or didn't work at all. Over time, I'll add to each system I've set up (and address the other stuff that's not working) until each and every one is set up properly with their respective disk drives, flash cards, transfer cables, etc., to be fully usable with all of the stuff I have available. At the very least, with these minimum configurations, they're ready to go for most quick usage scenarios. I also decided it was important not to have any of them plugged in full-time, so everything gets hooked up and powered up on demand. This is actually simple and will not delay my usage in any way. In fact, the way I have the various monitors and TV's set up, I can hook up other systems as needed without too much fuss, which is another bonus. Anyway, here are the photos and additional explanation:

Bill Loguidice's picture

The Last of the Power Personal Computers?

My, how plans change. I was all but dead set on waiting for Windows 8 to come out and then getting a new kick butt PC, but the more the Windows 8 story has publicly evolved, the more I realize that that's probably not a direction I want to go. This led me to go on a search for a new PC now, one that I've decided may end up lasting me until it no longer makes sense to have the type of PC we traditionally consider "killer." Let me explain why I think this is an inevitability...

Mark Vergeer's picture

Mark builds his Mame Arcade Cabinet (sort of)

I finally built my long awaited Mame Cabinet - sort of

I got an iCade because I was able to download iMame from iTunes when it was up there momentarily just before it was pulled from the service. It is possible to add more games to it and it allows your iPhone, iPod or iPad to function as a Mame tablet. Combine it with the iCade and you can turn it into a cheap Mame Cabinet. I am thinking about doing a proper sit down mame cab sometime in the future though but this will suffice for now.

Now I own the white rimmed iPad2 - they were fresh out of black ones when I went to go get one and I think the black rimmed iPad2 would look even better in this iCade cab. :P

If you have jailbroken your device it is possible to download the Mame4All package and run that instead. Mind you the iPad 2 still is not possible to be jailbroken. I have an iPad2 and an iPhone4 and both work great with this iCade cabinet. It is also possible to use this blue tooth arcade stick with Android tablets running a version of Mame compatible with this too :P
so it is not iOS only!
http://code.google.com/p/imame4all/

Soundtrack leader by ZombieAndy1979 aka Synthmonkey
http://www.youtube.com/user/ZombieAndy1979

Bill Loguidice's picture

Apple II Game Server Online!

Thanks to A2Central.com for the heads-up that Apple Game Server Online! is now, well, online. For those who still rock original Apple II computer series systems or compatibles, this means you can now use your iPhone 4, iPad 2, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and more to load games onto your classic system via its standard cassette input jack. While there are a variety of flash- and cable-based solutions for doing a similar thing - and of course original software itself - this is a particularly intriguing, convenient, and zero cost option. Over 100 games are presently available.

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