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]
Inspired by a discussion on the Mid-Atlantic Retro Computing Hobbyists Yahoo! Group related to the recent VCF East 9.1 event and whether certain computing platforms should or should not be present at the museum location, I decided to offer up my thoughts on the often argued issue of what exactly constitutes "vintage" when it comes to computing hardware. Of course, me being me, I'll touch on videogame and mobile hardware as well.
It has been said that there's no one right answer for what constitutes "vintage," as it's naturally a constantly expanding target due to the simple passage of time. While this is true in the absolute sense, it doesn't mean that we as a community can't create an effective dividing line, no matter how much time passes, particularly once we introduce the concept of "intrinsic value" being tied to "vintage." For instance, I think we can all pretty much agree that generic PC DOS and Windows systems past a certain vintage - say mid-1980s - are generally out, which covers nearly all of the countless PC clones that continue to get produced to this day. It's not that some of these don't meet the basic criteria necessarily, it's that there's nothing notable about these boxes that anyone and everyone, be it a company or individual, could, did, and still do put together. It's even arguable that some of the parts - particularly certain expansion cards, like for video or sound - are worth more than the sum of the box, which is pretty telling for how we should generally value them in our determination of what is "vintage" and worth preserving and appreciating. [read more]
I was interviewed for a computer collecting feature for The Wall Street Journal several months back, and the piece finally hit both the newspaper and online today. While neither of my two contributed photos made it in (which I've included below) due in part to a slight change in direction of the piece, several of my quotes still made it in. While I wish the piece was a bit longer (as I thought originally planned), I'm still heartened by the positive coverage this segment of our industry has gotten in a quality publication. Check it out online here. Photos below:
Just saw something awesome on Game Set Watch: A cool Flickr album loaded with vintage shots of arcades from 1979-1989. Definitely worth checking out; hopefully we'll be able to use some of this in our forthcoming Gameplay Forever movie. See it all below, and if you have some of your own photos of the era, be sure to upload them to the Flickr group.
Armchair Arcade is proud to present its first official episode of Armchair Arcade Radio! This episode, hosted by Matt Barton, features material from each member of AA's staff: Bill Loguidice, Mark Vergeer, Christina Loguidice, and Chris Kennedy. Enjoy the episode and don't forget to tell all your retro computing and gaming friends! Stay tuned to Armchair Arcade for future episodes.
According to a Microsoft Press Release and confirmed at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Microsoft will be releasing something called the "Microsoft Game Room" some time this spring, and, within three years, will see the release of over 1000 classic videogame titles, including arcade, Atari and Mattel Intellivision games, the latter of which was confirmed by Facebook friend Keith Robinson of Blue Sky Rangers fame as one of the available launch systems (other systems TBC). Apparently this area will be avatar-based, where your Xbox avatar will roam an arcade-like setting to find and play games (a bit like Sony's Home on PS3). There's a two-tier price structure, with one being an outright purchase of the game in question, and the other being a low cost, single play option, just like putting a quarter in an arcade machine in the days of old. We'll keep you posted as more news develops, but this is great news for those of us - like the readers of Armchair Arcade - who are passionate about classic gaming. The more love the current three consoles give (and each already has given a lot) to gaming's past, the better it is for all us as gamers, particularly since it looks like this is going to be a long generation with the big three. It's unclear how this will work with the PC as of this writing, but the fact that PC gamers are being invited to the party just makes it all the better, as well as the fact that owning it on one gives you access to it on the other.
I've been to the previous year's event, and it was well done. I'll definitely try to make it this year as well. From the press release:
Vintage Computer Festival East 5.0 - Saturday, Sept. 13th and Sunday, Sept. 14th, InfoAge Science Center, Wall Township, New Jersey.
The 5th annual Vintage Computer Festival East will be held on Saturday, September 13th and Sunday, September 14th, at the InfoAge Learning Center at Wall Township, New Jersey. The event is sponsored by MARCH and VintageTech.
The exact daily schedule will be announced shortly. Admission is $15 for two days, $10 for one day. Free for ages 17 and younger. Parking is free. For more information http://www.vintage.org .
Well, after going almost a year after moving into a bigger house, I've finally finished unpacking my whole collection of vintage and modern computer and videogame systems, software, literature and more. I didn't bother to go into much photographic detail or move anything on the shelves (or describe anything in the photos at this point - sorry). Some point soon, I"ll do a video feature on this stuff, then begin to go into much greater detail with articles and in-depth video features. Regardless, this is a huge weight off my back to finally get this stuff out to a reasonable point of access for me. Just in time too, as I needed to start taking photos again for my upcoming book anyway and the publisher all but threatened to take a hit out on me...
The list of my systems here, where yes, I do stretch the definition a bit of what constitutes a "system".
The link to Flickr with all (185, linear) the photos, here.
This is just a reminder that VCF East 4.0 will be held this coming weekend in Wall Township, New Jersey. There will be talks with some past Commodore greats from around the PET era, plenty of displays and a flea market. I'm going to try and make the Saturday session if all goes well.
From the Website:
Ah, the wonders of eBay. While you can occasionally get a hard-to-find game for a low price with lots of luck - say maybe $35 with shipping - other times you'll see boxed software go for ridiculous prices that no mere mortal can afford, like SSI's classic "The Warp Factor" for the Apple II, with a very recent final sale price before shipping of $449.44! Even though it's sealed, it's still an amazingly over-the-top winning bid. As is usual with SSI games - particularly pre-1986 SSI games - the cover artwork is beautiful and there are nice extras inside the oversized box. A fine specimen or not (though this one is actually a bit crushed!), average-to-good game itself or not, it can't help but make you reflect on the meaning of collecting, particularly as it applies to our hobby.