Monthly Archives: January 2013

1982 TRS-80 Product Catalog

Tandy’s TRS-80 computer, lovingly called the “Trash-80” by aficionados, was an early home computer released in 1977, that same magical year that established the idea of computers in the home with the Commodore Pet and a little number called the Apple II.

Nothing quite gets the nostalgic fires burning as a product catalog.  So here we feature a link to a 1982 Radio Shack (owned by Tandy) catalog, profiling all the wonderful programs and games you could get for the system.  Not only is the content great, but the whole thing is presented in such a tactile way that your can almost feel your grubby hands sliding across the slick paper, drooling over the new games rolling in for your machine:

Click to see catalog

I also recommend checking out the whole site, Radio Shack Catalogs.  It is an astounding repository of promotional materials from Radio Shack’s history, and you can’t think of 70’s electronics without harkening back to the Shack.

source: tetujin via Reddit

TRS-80 image used in social media hooks from Easterbilby‘s flickr stream.

Groove Coaster Zero from Taito

From the company that brought you Space Invaders, and a few other titles, comes the latest mobile interpretation of rhythm games such as Tap Tap Revolution.  To put it succinctly, these types of game require you to tap on the screen along with the beat of a music track.  Their ancestry can actually be traced back to music games for consoles such as Guitar Hero and Rock Band.  In those games, you have plastic analogs to musical instruments with colour-coded keys to play in time with scrolling notes on the TV.  In the mobile world, your only instrument is your finger and the touchscreen.

What Nolan Said: Who Was First?

There has been a long-standing debate between Nolan Bushnell and Ralph Baer as to who was the inventor of video games.  Speaking strictly chronologically, one would have to give the title to Baer, who developed a TV video game system at defense contractor Sanders Associates in 1968,  a system which was bought by Magnavox, named the Odyssey, and produced as a commercial home video game system in 1972.  Based on its novelty, the Odyssey sold fairly well but didn’t exactly set the market on fire.  That same year, however, Bushnell founded Atari and produced Pong, a similar, coin-operated video ping-pong game who’s runaway success firmly established the video game industry.  To muddy the waters further, there is evidence that Bushnell was influenced by Baer’s invention when he conceived of Pong.
So for our purposes, we consider Baer to be the inventor of video games, and Bushnell to be the father of the video game industry.  Such semantics and differing definitions of which is what gets muddled as time advances on, and so we are left with sniping of the sort we see in today’s What Nolan Said:

The quote is taken from an 2007 interview of Bushnell by the online arm of famed German newspaper Der Spiegel.  The link points to the English version of the interview.  The image is of Bushnell at the Bay Area Maker Faire in 2011, a festival celebrating invention and DIY culture hosted by Make magazine.  It comes from cclark395’s flickr feed.
For more information on the early beginnings of the video game industry, consult your local Dot Eaters article.

Video of Douglas Adams Demoing HHGTTG Game in 1985

When Douglas Adams paired with text adventure giant Infocom to do a computer game version of his much-beloved satirical SF book Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, it seemed an idea too good to have come from the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy.  Infocom was the biggest player in the market, and Adams a computer-literate author who’s works matched the sensibilities and episodic nature of the genre.  All the more so when Adams was matched with Infocom “IMP” or Implementor (what the company called its game designers) Steve Meretzky, author of some very Adamsy games for the company such as the Planetfall series.

So it came to pass that Infocom released the HHGTTG game for a myriad of home computer systems in 1984, and it was a huge success, a top-seller that dominated the game sales charts for months and became Infocom’s best-selling product.  You can read more of the HHGTTG game’s development and Douglas Adams’ other major contributions to the video game landscape in a previous entry in this blog, written to celebrate what would have been his 60th birthday if not for his passing in 2001.

As for the video mentioned in the post title, here is Adams demonstrating the electronic version of his novel on the U.K. TV show Micro Live.  He very cheerfully points out how diabolically obtuse and unfair his game is, as well as takes the host through the opening passages of it:

For more information on the history of Infocom and its seminal text adventure Zork, consult your local Dot Eaters article:

source: Anna Black, via The Galamoon retrogaming Daily

Website Featuring Ultima Remakes

Ultima: The Reconstruction is a website listing known remakes of Ultima, the classic RPG series by Lord British (Richard Garriott).  Some of the projects are abandoned, some are in active development, and some are completed.  One or two are homegrown engines, but most are mods or reskins that require having the computer versions of games such as Dungeon Siege or Oblivion.

All of them, however, are loving testaments to one of the most revered RPG series of all time.

Ultima: The Reconstruction:

For more information on Ultima, consult your local Dot Eaters article.

Soundcloud List of Classic Video Game Music Remakes

Musician Jeff McGowan has a large list of video game music he has remade on his SoundCloud stream, and the results are fantastic.  The service is free of charge, so you have nothing to lose to check them out, and your ears have everything to gain by listening to some great interpretations of some wonderful music.

You can check out Jeff’s stream here:

thanks to 7upbottle, via Reddit

Nintendo Offering Classic Games in the Wii U eShop for $0.30.

This July, the NES, or the Famicom as it was known in Japan, will turn 30.  To commemorate this event, Nintendo is offering a game a month at the apropos price of 30 cents, up to and including July.

Here is the list:

Jan – Balloon Fight (NES)
Feb – F-Zero (SNES)
Mar – Punch-Out! Featuring Mr. Dream (NES)
Apr – Kirby’s Adventure (NES)
May – Super Metroid (SNES)
Jun – Yoshi (NES)
Jul – Donkey Kong (NES)

They are the full versions of each game.  Pick up one of these classics each month on the Wii U eShop and get yourself psyched for the summer celebrations!

via and post it gamer

What Nolan Said: Needs vs. Wants.

Nolan Bushnell founded Atari, and when he left the company he tried his hand at a myriad of start-up attempts.  He had a particular obsession with robotics, from developing the animatronic animals in his Pizza Time Theatre restaurant chain, to household robot company Androbot, to the Axlon company responsible for the oddball scheme he is shilling here in the picture used for today’s What Nolan Said:

The picture is of Bushnell presenting a “Petster” to a crowd at the New York Toy Fair in 1985.  You can see the Catster version rolling around at the bottom of the image; they also released a dog, hamster and even spider edition of the toys.  The idea was to sell robotic animals to people who want to have a pet, but don’t care for the shedding or the pooping or the bringing of dead mice to the door as an offering to the master.  At the time, Bushnell was barking up the wrong tree, and the prohibitively priced Petster line went nowhere.  Petster did, however, help sow the seeds for spatially aware household robotics such as the Roomba and other robotic vacuum cleaners.
In the picture, even Nolan seems perplexed he’s standing there trying to sell the idea that people would have this particular want.  I’ll leave you with a TV spot showing the Petster in action:

For more information on Bushnell and the foundation of Atari, consult your local Dot Eaters entry.
source:  Computer Entertainment magazine, “Bulletin Board, Bushnell’s Pet Project”, pg. 8 June 1985