Thu, 31 December 2015
Clinton Parker, Action!
Welcome to this special interview edition of Antic, the Atari 8-bit computer podcast. All of our interviews are special in some way and we appreciate the time that the interviewees donate to the Atari 8-bit community at large. This interview is a much-anticipated one due to the beloved nature of the software provided by the interviewee and due to the fact that the he has been away from the Atari 8-bit community for some time. The software I’m talking about is the Action! programming language and the author is Clinton Parker. Action! was released in 1983 by Optimized Systems Software (better known as OSS). It quickly became one of the favorite programming languages ever produced for the Atari 8-bits and was used in the development of some commercial products. The 6502 source code for Action! was made available under the GNU General Public License by the author in 2015.
This interview took place on September 6, 2015 via Skype.
“It was an opportunity for me having a platform, which is what the Atari was to me. It provided a platform where I could sit down and literally design a language that I liked and that had the features I liked.”
“It was selling well enough that I was able to for several years to pretty much make a living off the royalties of the sales of it.”
Action! Review in ANALOG - http://www.cyberroach.com/analog/an16/action.htm
HI-RES VOL. 1, NO. 4 / MAY/JUNE 1984 / PAGE 72 - http://www.atarimagazines.com/hi-res/v1n4/action.php
Action! at SourceForge - http://sourceforge.net/projects/atari-action/
Action! Source at Archive.org - https://archive.org/details/ActionVersion36_SourceCode
Tue, 29 December 2015
Peter J. Meyer - Tempest Xtreem, Venture, Delta Space Arena
The intro music to this episode is the tune “Mind’s Eye” from the Atari XL/XE version of Tempest Xtreem; composed by Sal KJMANN Esquivel. Our guest for this interview is the author of Tempest Xtreem, as well as Delta Space Arena and Venture for the Atari 8-bits, Mr. Peter J. Meyer. Peter has done a great job of developing game software for the Atari in the modern era and continues to develop additional software. His software is available at Video 61 and Atari Sales, run by Lance Ringquist. Please enjoy the interview and let Peter know you appreciate the work he continues to do for the Atari 8-bits.
“I was on my Atari and my friends brought over this Nintendo system and they said ‘Oh, your Atari will never be able to do anything like this!’”
Video 61 and Atari Sales - http://members.tcq.net/video61/main.html
Delta Space Arena at YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QW_9myJ2Cu0
Tempest Xtreem Music (Mind’s Eye) by Sal Esquivel - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oq3XaGBPc60
Tempest Xtreem at YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LbpN4cMnQrw
Download of Tempest Xtreem - http://www.atarimania.com/game-atari-400-800-xl-xe-tempest-xtreem_23225.html
Venture at YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3hpmD5LQcoE
Antic Episode 26 with Bill’s Modern Segment on Tempest, Venture, Delta Space Arena - http://ataripodcast.libsyn.com/antic-episode-26-100-episodes-and-counting
Sun, 27 December 2015
Larry Reed, Childware
Larry Reed was a programmer for Childware, where he worked on two educational games for the Atari 8-bit computers: Word Flyer and D-Bug, both of which were published by Electronic Arts.
This interview took place December 6, 2015.
"I'll tell you, working with FORTH on the Atari was great until we exceeded the memory capability of the Atari, and then it was a royal pain in the ass."
"'Anybody who thinks there is a distinction between education and entertainment doesn't know the first thing about either.'"
Fri, 25 December 2015
Tony Nicholson and John Babinchak II, Hi-Res Magazine
In this episode, two interviews for the price of one: two people who helped create Hi-Res Magazine — the computer magazine that only published four issues. First, we’ll hear from Tony Nicholson, the publisher of Hi-Res magazine; then John Babinchak, the editor of the magazine.
Hi-Res was a short-lived magazine dedicated to Atari 8-bit and Commodore 64 computers. It was published from late 1983 to early 1984. Although they didn’t publish months on the cover, I believe the first issue would have have a cover date of November 1983. Subsequent issues would have been January 1984, March 1984, and the final issue was May 1984. Hi-Res came to the Atari magazine party late in the game, fighting against magazines with established advertiser and subscriber bases. A.N.A.L.O.G. magazine started in January 1981, and ANTIC magazine’s first issue was April 1982. Creative Computing was starting its tenth year around that time.
You can read all four issues of Hi-Res at www.atarimagazines.com/hi-res/.
The interview with Tony took place September 24, 2015, the interview with John on September 29.
Tue, 22 December 2015
Kevin Hayes, Atari Games Ireland
On this interview episode, we take a trip to Ireland, and to the coin-op side of Atari. Kevin Hayes was Controller for Atari Irerland Ltd. in 1978, then became manufacturing director. Later he moved to California where he was VP of Manufacturing for Atari Games, then vice president of Operations.
This interview was recorded December 7, 2015.
"They had goats grazing on our property, and ... he killed one of their goats, he slaughtered it. ... the owner of the goat came on the property and wanted to be compensated for it."
Fri, 18 December 2015
On this episode of ANTIC the atari 8-bit podcast: our annual holiday buying guide for Atari 8-bit lovers, we announce the winner of the interview transcription contest, I test all of the BBUC game contest entries, and we outright start bribing people to donate to archive.org.
What we’ve been up to
New at Archive.org
Of the Month
Programming Languages Segment
Mon, 14 December 2015
Alan Ackerman, MPP
Alan Ackerman co-founded Microbits Peripheral Products (MPP) with John Wiley. MPP made modems and printer interfaces for the Atari 8-bit computers. MPP also published software: Microfiler and Assault Force 3-D. The company would re-structure to become Supra, a giant in modems which became the largest hardware manufacturer for Commodore Amiga computers.
This interview took place on October 2, 2015.
“The volumes got to be insane. ... You know, at that point if we had a product we were selling 5,000 units a month, we thought that was pretty damn good.”
Sat, 12 December 2015
Alan Stratton, plant controller
Alan Stratton was Atari’s plant controller, managing the financial functions in the El Paso, Texas manufacturing facility. He was also involved with the infamous dumping of game cartridges in the Alamogordo, New Mexico dump.
This interview took place on October 2, 2015.
“A rumor got out that we were going to search people as thy left the floor, as they left shift. Later that evening as we went into the lavatories, the floors were littered with cartridges and PC boards that were fully functional.”
“This was all planned in advance, until the landfill opened up a brand new cut - a brand new area - so that we could be on the very, very bottom.”
“If I had an auditor come in, I’d sit him down at an Atari game console or my computer, and have him play some games. Boy that audit went sweet after that.”
Thu, 10 December 2015
Aric Wilmunder: Star Raiders II, Temple of Apshai
Here’s how Aric Wilmunder introduced himself to me: “When The Last Starfighter didn’t do well in the theaters and marketing re-branded the Atari 800 Last Starfighter game as Star Raiders II, they didn’t take into account that there was already an actual sequel to Star Raiders that was just a few months away from completion. I was the designer and solo engineer who worked for about a year on the project as a member of an R&D team inside Atari Coin-Op. A friend helped me copy the disk image a few years back and when I saw Steve Hales post your tweet about the source code [for Star Raiders] I thought there might be some interest.
“The game was close to being finished, but there were still parts that needed polishing like the enemy AI, so I’ve been hesitant to release it since it might be judged as a finished work. I’d hate to wait 30 years to release the game just to get a bad review.”
Aric Wilmunder started writing programs on the Exidy Sorcerer computer, then worked at Automated Simulations, writing the Atari 8-bit conversions of Star Warrior; Crush, Crumble, and Chomp; and Temple of Apshai. Next he worked at Atari’s corporate research department, where he worked on Chris Crawford’s Gossip game. Then, in the R&D department at Atari coin-op, he created Star Raiders II for the Atari 8-bit computers — a game that was never finished nor released. Later he worked at LucasFilm games, where his work included the XEGS version of Ballblazer.
This interview took place December 5, 2015.
“A music video on the Atari 800. So it was video and art being displayed on the Atari 800 that was in sync with music that was playing off of a CD.”
“[In Star Raiders] Because you’re targeting the Xylons, you’re putting them in your crosshairs, you’re actually their A.I. ... All they had to do was this very simple A.I. to move around, and the closer you track them, the more accurate they become. ... [Doug Neubauer] let the player fight themselves.”
Download Star Raiders II ATR file and documentation (click Show All): https://archive.org/details/StarRaidersII_Wilmunder
Video of unreleased, unfinished Star Raiders II: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wb03mSdMaYc
Aric’s web site: http://www.wilmunder.com/Arics_World/1980s.html
Custom PC Magazine article about SCUMM and interview with Aric (see page 86): http://issuu.com/duongkim/docs/custom_pc_-_2015.10
AtariAge discussion about Star Raiders II: http://atariage.com/forums/topic/246591-wilmunders-star-raiders-ii-released/
Tue, 8 December 2015
Courtney Goodin, Compu=Prompt teleprompter
Compu=Prompt was the first electronic, personal computer based teleprompter, which ran off of an Atari 800XL computer. It was created by Courtney Goodin, who won an Emmy award for it, for “Pioneering Development in Electronic Prompting.”
He also created the Atari graphics programs Color Print and Graphic Master, both of which were distributed by Datasoft.
This interview took place on December 4, 2015.
“This software is probably one of the most expensive pieces of software sold that ran on the Atari.”
“We sold systems to companies like IBM, we sold to JC Penney, we sold them to the Defense Intelligence Agency - the government.”
Photos of the device from the eBay listing: http://imgur.com/a/oc6S6
Antic magazine article about Color Print and Graphic Master: http://www.atarimagazines.com/v2n10/ComputerArt.html