Sun, 28 June 2015
Jon Greer, Business Reporter
In this interview, we’ll hear the perspective of an Atari outsider — a newspaper reporter who covered Atari. Jon Greer was a business reporter for the San Jose Mercury News newspaper from 1981 to 1986, and business reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle from 1986 to 1988. As part of his beat, he covered Atari; Chuck E. Cheese; and Catalyst Technologies, Nolan Bushnell’s incubator.
This interview took place April 17, 2015.
“Atari was transforming the valley from Dull Engineer Valley to exciting consumer electronics valley.”
“I think Jack [Tramiel] had...a very undeserved bad reputation...He was one of the few guys — if anybody, maybe the only one - who knew how to take over this business.”
Fri, 26 June 2015
Jess Jessop was a software engineer at Commodore, writing diagnostics for the Commodore 64. Then at Atari, he started in the test and repair group for the Atari 400 and 800 SALT diagnostic cartridge, then moved to corporate research, Atari's R&D department under Alan Kay, where he was hardware team leader for the Sierra Project, Atari's unfinished laptop product.
This interview occurred April 15, 2015.
"We brought up an APRANET node there in my cubicle. We played with e-mail at a time when you could send it and it would maybe get there today, maybe weeks from now."
"I spec'd out, for two guys, a 600 line a minute band printer with a quietized cover that cost $30,000 in 1980. It went right through. It was delivered next week."
Wed, 24 June 2015
On this episode of ANTIC the atari 8-bit podcast:
What we’ve been up to
New at Archive.org
Feature [K] Dorsett Educational Systems and Lloyd Dorsett
Bill’s Modern Segment
Hardware of the Month - IDE Plus 2, Rev.D HDD Interface for Atari XL/XE computers
Software/Website of the Month - SpartaDOS X
Programming Languages - BASIC A+, BASIC XL & BASIC XE
Direct download: 23ANTIC_2015_06_Dorsett_Veronica_BASIC_XL.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:35pm EDT
Wed, 24 June 2015
Thomas Cherryhomes recently deciphered the Educational System Master Cartridge and decoded the “talk and teach” system used by Dorsett Educational Systems. He has created a C library called eduendcode which allows people to create new lessons using that format. Thomas and I are currently working to digitize and archive 46 sets of Dorsett courses.
To hear some background about Dorsett Educational Systems and their educational cassettes, listen to my feature about that topic in episode 23 of ANTIC.
This interview occurred on June 2, 2015.
“I decided on a whim to approach Joe Decuir. Joe wrote me back about five minutes later. ‘Hello Tom. I am very impressed with your research and your findings.’”
“If you want to make your own tape formats on the Atari, go right ahead. You can bit-bang the POKEY to do whatever the hell you want.”
Thu, 18 June 2015
Pab Sungenis, developer
Hi, I’m Randy Kindig and this is an interview-only episode of Antic, The Atari 8-bit computer podcast. Our guest for this show is Pab Sungenis, a long-time (and current) developer for the Atari 8-bits. A long time ago, Pab wrote a popular piece of bulletin board software called AtariLink BBS. He also developed an off-line mail reader. He was also more recently involved briefly with enhancements to the SpartaDOS alternative DOS, arguably one of the best DOS’s ever developed for the Atari 8-bit. His current project is an exciting one where he is working to develop a new programming language to target the Atari 8-bits. I hope you enjoy this.
“I kinda got into the habit of: if you need it, write it.”
“It surprised me when my hacks of Keith's (Ledbetter) programs started finding their way onto Compuserve.”
“What if you took Action! and you added object-oriented programming?”
Mon, 15 June 2015
John-Michael Battaglia worked as a copywriter at Atari for about a year from 1981 through 1982, writing manuals and box copy for Atari 2600 and 5200 video games. He wrote the manuals for Atari 5200 Football, Space Dungeon, WaterWorld, Phoenix, and Adventure. He later worked at Catalyst, Nolan Bushnell’s incubator for technology startups.
This interview took place March 2, 2015.
“Debacle, yes. Debacle is quite the right word. That was probably my proudest moment.”
“I think of my first day I probably sent e-mails to my friends saying: you’ll never believe where I am now. I’m playing video games and getting paid for it.”
“It was another one of those instances where a writer could actually have input into the game design, provided the game designer was open to that kind of feedback.”
Fri, 12 June 2015
Steve Molyneux, German Software Development Manager
Steve Molyneux was Atari’s Software Development Manager in Hamburg, Germany from 1981 through 1984. He was responsible for the European side of Atari Program Exchange, and launching games at European trade shows.
Parts of this interview discuss adult situations, and are not appropriate for children.
This interview occurred on April 13, 2015
“...In sort of private helicopters up to this chalet. I mean the amount of money that they spent when we had Warner money. . .”
“Castle Wolfenstein? That was definitely a no-no in Germany. I mean, that was just something you couldn’t talk about, you just couldn’t sell.”
Tue, 9 June 2015
Fred D'Ignazio, prolific writer
Fred D'Ignazio wrote more than 20 computer books, including Atari in Wonderland and The Atari Playground. He hosted four television shows about computers and robots, and was the "gadget guru" on Good Morning America. He was an associate editor and columnist for Compute! magazine, where he wrote the columns World Inside The Computer and On The Road With Fred D'Ignazio.
This interview was conducted April 10, 2015.
"Katie and the Computer, my advance was $300. And I had to split it with my illustrator."
"You know Nolan Bushnell, right? ... He'd put his arm around me and say, 'Fred, How's it goin' in the world of the ankle biters and the little people?'"
"You could hear a pin drop after my speech. There was just this embarrassed silence, like
'Who the freaking heck is this joker they hired to speak at our convention?'"
Contact Fred: firstname.lastname@example.org
Fri, 5 June 2015
Cassie Maas, Atari Marketing and Tech Support
Cassie Maas started at Atari as a sales order processing clerk; then as a member of the marketing team, she evaluated new product ideas; then she worked in technical support, where she was the high-end technical support for word processing, and managed a BBS for user groups. She contributed to the 1984 book "InfoWorld's Essential Guide to Atari" and wrote for Antic magazine and Infoworld.
This interview occurred on April 6 and April 14 2015. Check the show notes atAtariPodcast.com to see the letter to Spencer Villwock that we discuss, plus links to her Atari writing.
“I was really excited about the computer and I said, ‘Do you think I could get a job there?’ He laughed and snorted... Within a year I not only had a job at Atari, I had his job.”
“I’m not accepting your resignation. You’re going to be laid off like everybody else, on Friday, with a severance package!”
“That place was a fiasco. That place was just - woah! Money was being spent willy-nilly on all kinds of crazy things. People were sleeping with each other. People were cheating on their spouses. I mean, just crazy, crazy stuff went on.”
“So inside I’m totally freaking out, I’m this young kid, I don’t know, am I in really serious trouble? Am I breaking the law?”
Tue, 2 June 2015
Ken Balthaser, Atari Manager of Software Development
Ken Balthaser stated at Atari as part of a skunkworks group where he wrote software for speech hardware, then became manager of application software development. He oversaw the creation of the SWEAT system software, which were development tools for non-programmers to make graphics and sound assets; and the creation of arcade conversions such as Centipede and Defender to the 8-bit platform. Prior to Atari, he was part of the team that created all of the software for the CyberVision 2000, an early personal computer that was sold by Montgomery Ward.
Ken is the father of Eunice Wlcek, an Atari employee whom I previously interviewed.
This interview was conducted April 9, 2015.
"Those were really hectic, crazy days. I mean, at that point, Atari was the fastest growing company in the world. No company had ever grown that fast that quickly. ... And just as quickly, it flamed out."
"There were a lot of people involved in the creation of the personal computer and video game industry. We tend to think that it was all Steve Jobs and Apple, and Bill Gates and Microsoft, but it wasn't. It was hundreds and thousands of other people who were participating and who were scrambling, and who were creating, and inventing along the way as well."
"It was wild there in the engineering building. If you walked past a restroom you might get high just from smoke coming out of it, you know?"