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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Our ad today loads up a service that gave many people their first taste of electronic mass communication: CompuServe. Back in the “good” old days, you had a couple of options if you wanted to go online: a local dial-up BBS, or a nationwide equivalent like CompuServe, one of the larger players in the forming market. Here is the ad, from a 1985 issue of Compute’s Gazette:
The “videotex” mentioned in the copy was an early system to deliver interactive text to users. It’s funny to me how the base elements of the Internet were all understood and ready to be delivered to a potential user base: news, banking, online shopping, email, games… all the concepts of what we do on the Internet today. Of course, CompuServe has to couch things in a way people of the 80’s would understand, so they compare their chat service to a “multi-channel CB simulator”. 10-4 good buddy! I’m also impressed by the image of a Zardoz-type video warrior armed with not only a hand blaster, but a light-sabre as well. Guy’s ready for a fight!
In 1972 Atari was both founded by Nolan Bushnell and produced PONG, the arcade video game that established the industry. Since then, the Atari brand has bounced around more than the ball from its first game.
The latest iteration of the company was established in 2001, when Infrogrames Entertainment from France picked up the remains of Atari from the Hasbro bankruptcy proceedings, with the parent company eventually changing its name to Atari S.A. in 2009, the initials after the company name standing for “Societe Anonym”, the French equivalent of Ltd..
An apropos representation of the ups and downs of Atari
The new entity had some success with titles such as Rollercoaster Tycoon, some disasters with games like the remake of Alone In the Dark, and accrued a massive amount of debt in a seemingly endless series of acquisitions. In recent days, the U.S. division of Atari found its stride by abandoning the retail sector and concentrating on the hugely profitable, digitally distributed casual and mobile game markets. Therein lies the crux of this latest filing: detaching itself from the drowning-in-debt French holding company, and striking out on its own with renewed investment capital in order to exploit the new freemium gaming economy.