Sat, 25 June 2016
Fred Parr, MACE newsletter
Fred Parr was a member of MACE — the Michigan Atari Computer Enthusiasts group, and the man who printed the club newsletter. You can find scans of the newsletter at archive.org.
This interview took place on April 22, 2016. It in, we discuss Arlan Levitan, whom I previously interviewed.
"And I just marvel that something that crude, in today's perspective, could have actually given is so much enjoyment and hope about the future."
Thu, 23 June 2016
Roland Gustafsson, Print Shop Companion
Roland Gustafsson wrote The Print Shop Companion, an add-on package for Brøderbund's popular Print Shop software, which added a printable calendar, font and page border editors, and other features. He first developed the program for the Apple ][, then ported the software to the Atari 800 and Commodore 64.
In the retro-computing community, however, Roland is best known for his work on the Apple ][, where he specialized in designing copy protection as well as the RWTS18 disk format, which squeezed extra data onto the Apple's floppy disk.
This interview took place on May 17, 2016.
"There was a guy in Switzerland who would hack into a telephone booth ... He would phone me and talk to me and tell me, 'Oh, your copy protection is great. I enjoy breaking your copy protection more than the games.'"
"The same concepts, where you make a good decision on the design work, the framework of what you're working on, the foundation — still applies today for modern software."
Roland on Twitter: https://twitter.com/rolandgust
Tue, 21 June 2016
Chuck Gibke, Air Raid!
Chuck Gibke, published one piece of software for the Atari computer: Air Raid!. The game first appeared in the winter 1982-1983 APX catalog, where it won second prize in the entertainment category.
This interview took place on April 22, 2016.
"Winning the contest generated a little bit of prizes you could pick from Atari stuff, which was pretty amazing. There was like $2,000 worth of stuff. ... Several boxes of stuff showing up at the house one day and I thought that was just the greatest thing."
Download Air Raid! http://www.atariarchives.org/APX/showinfo.php?cat=20187
Sun, 19 June 2016
Steve Cavin: Minotaur, Juggles' House, Juggles' Rainbow
Steve Cavin started at Cromenco where he built computer kits and tested hardware. Later he wrote several programs for the Atari 8-bit computers: Minotaur, which was published by Atari Program Exchange — it first appeared in the fall 1981 APX catalog; and the Atari versions of Juggles' House and Juggles' Rainbow, educational games published by The Learning Company. He also wrote “The Five Letters", a hangman-style game that - so far - I haven't been able to find online.
This interview took place April 22, 2016.
"He looked at the screens and said, "Those don't look like the test programs that we normally use," and I said 'Well, they're not. I wrote my own. ... They're better than the other ones.'"
Steve's book, "To Find Out": http://amzn.to/1SBbRCJ
Fri, 17 June 2016
Neil Harris: Commodore, Atari, GEnie
Neil Harris started at Commodore as a member of the VIC-20 launch team, then continued to be a writer, programmer, and product manager there. He moved to Atari, where he was from 1984 to 1988. There he was hardware products manager, director of communications, and director of publications. He worked on Atari Explorer magazine, and wrote a bit for other publications including Compute!'s First Book of Atari and STart magazine. He later moved on to the GEnie online service.
This interview took place on March 31, 2016. In it, we discuss Bill Louden, whom I previously interviewed.
"The Ataris were really good computers. ... The view inside of Commodore was that the Ataris, especially the 800, was over-engineered."
"Every person in Silicon Valley either had a close family member or a close friend who had been laid off by Jack [Tramiel]. ... You know, we were not the golden children. We were not Apple."
Color Wheel for the Atari: http://www.atariarchives.org/c1ba/page085.php
Atari Base BBS article: http://www.atarimagazines.com/v5n10/ataribulletinboard.html
ST:1999 article in STart magazine: http://www.atarimagazines.com/startv3n7/st1999.html
Wed, 15 June 2016
Jay Jaeger, APX Space War
Jay Jaeger released one program for the Atari computers: Space War, which was published by Atari Program Exchange. It appeared in the fall 1983 APX catalog.
This interview took place on March 16, 2016.
"It took a couple revisions back and forth. The program was fine; getting the documentation right, and yet have them be happy with it, was a little frustrating. But managed to get it done."
Creative Computing — the Origin of Space War: http://www.wheels.org/spacewar/creative/SpacewarOrigin.html
Jay's web site: http://webpages.charter.net/thecomputercollection/collect.htm
Mon, 13 June 2016
Joel Gluck: Babel, Attank!, Pushover, Fun-FORTH
Joel Gluck published four programs through Atari Program Exchange: Babel, Attank!, Pushover, and Fun-FORTH. The first, Babel, was published when he was just 16 years old. He later worked at Atari's corporate research under Alan Kay. He also wrote a few articles for A.N.A.L.O.G. Computing magazine.
Babel was available in the first APX catalog, fall 1981, where it won second prize in the Entertainment category. Pushover first appeared in the summer 1982 catalog. Attank! first appeared in the winter 1982-1983 catalog. fun-FORTH was first available in fall 1982, which won third prize in the System Software category.
This interview took place on November 20, 2015. In it, we discuss Jack Palevich, whose interview is already published.
"I wasn't so aware of the royalty checks because, I think, my mom was intercepting them. She told me later that I earned enough from APX royalties to put me through a year at M.I.T."
"I came out wearing a white robe and wearing a very tall plastic garbage bag on my head ... But the kids loved it!"
Email Joel: joelgluck at yahoo.com
Sat, 11 June 2016
Ted Kahn, Atari Institute for Educational Action Research
Ted Kahn was creator of the Atari Institute for Educational Action Research, which awarded major grants of Atari home computer products, and consulting services to individuals, schools, and non-profit organizations. The group granted more than $1.25 million in products and services to about 100 innovative people and projects around the US and overseas.
He also co-wrote the books Atari Games and Recreations, and Atari PILOT Activities and Games. This interview took place on October 9, 2015. In it, we discuss Ted's bother, Bob Kahn; and Tandy Trower, both of whom I have previously interviewed.
"Its purpose is not just to give stuff away, but it's purpose is to really make sure that if it's given away, it's going to be given to people and organizations who can make some impact with it."
"A thing, behind closed doors, in Washington, in which we had an entire group of Senators and Congressmen, for a period of about a day, to learn about all this stuff..."
Antic magazine article about the Atari Institute for Educational Action Research: http://www.atarimagazines.com/v2n6/insideatari.html
Thu, 9 June 2016
Rob Zdybel, Star Trek, Missile Command, Bug Hunt
Rob Zdybel was a long-time employee at Atari, having worked there from 1979 to 1996, when the Tramiels left. Rob has a long line of credits including Pigs in Space, Real Sports Football, Stellar Track and Star Trek for the Atari 400/800, SOS for the Atari 2600, Missile Command for the Atari 5200, and Bug Hunt for the Atari XE. He also designed the system BIOS for the Atari 5200.
Rob mentions the SYLVIA game system in the interview, although he couldn’t remember the name of the system at the time. It was the machine that was supposed to come between the 2600 and the 5200 and which Doug Neubauer worked on.
Niles Strohl and Doug Neubauer are both mentioned in the interview, both of which I’m working to get interviews.
Please note that this interview does have some profanity.
This interview took place on January 17, 2016.
PRGE 2013 - Bob Smith, Rob Zdybel, Joe Decuir - Portland Retro Gaming Expo - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fmqzybUe9m4
“Once Upon Atari” - http://www.onceuponatari.com/
Tue, 7 June 2016
Lane Winner: Graph-It, XEP-80, De Re Atari
Lane Winner was an Atari employee for about a decade: he worked in the software development support group, as a programmer, and as an engineer. He is the author of Atari's Graph-It, contributor to De Re Atari, and designer of the XEP-80 80-column peripheral. Lane wrote several early releases for Atari Program Exchange: BASIC Cross-Reference Utility, BASIC Renumber Utility, and Variable Changer.
This interview took place April 20, 2016.
"OK, Lane. When you get your ... head and your heart together, you can be useful, and help the company out and help other people out."