Retrocomputing podcast about the Atari 8-bit line of personal computers
hosts: Randy Kindig, Kevin Savetz, Brad Arnold
email: antic@ataripodcast.com
twitter: @AtariPodcast

John Schulte and Feridoon Moinian, Dorsett Educational Systems

John Schulte and Feridoon Moinian were both employees at Dorsett Educational Systems, the company that created the Talk And Teach educational cassette tapes which were sold by Atari. Dorsett also sold many more cassette-based classes directly via mail order, for the Atari, TRS-80 Color Computer, and other platforms. Feridoon worked primarily as a programmer, and John was primarily an editor.

As my co-interviewer for this discussion, I invited Thomas Cherryhomes, an expert in the technical aspects of the Talk and Teach system. I interviewed Thomas previously on this podcast, in ANTIC interview 57.

Nearly every educational cassette tape that Dorsett released for the Atari has been digitized, they’ll all available at Archive.org, there’s a link in the show notes at AtariPodcast.com.

This interview took place on June 25, 2015.

Teaser quote:

“He [Loyd Dorsett] would tell them, “Shall we go have lunch now?’ Yes. ‘OK, let’s go downstairs and we’ll have some lunch.’ He’d take them downstairs, and on top of the little five-foot refrigerator was a Styrofoam cup that had 10 Cents written on it. That was 10 cents that you’d do on the honor system to buy a packet of Cup of Soup. ... This is the way he would entertain people because you were stuck out in the middle of nowhere, it was 20 minutes to get to a restaurant. But he would actually pull coins out of his pocket and say ‘My treat.’”

LINKS

Interview with Thomas Cherryhomes

Dorsett Educational Cassette Tape Archive

 

Direct download: John_Schulte_Feridoon_Moinian.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EST
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Peter Rosenthal, Marketing and Strategic Planning

Peter Rosenthal worked at Atari from March 1979 thru the middle of 1983. He joined Atari as a marketing research associate in the consumer division, and served as Vice President of Business Development in the Home Computer Division, then Vice President of Strategic Planning.

After Atari, he moved to marketing and sales at Designware, an educational software startup that published software for the Atari 8-bits and other platforms.

This interview took place on May 18, 2015.

Teaser quote:

“That tension between marketing and engineering is not unique to Atari. I’ve been around now long enough to see lots of other companies and very often when a company’s sales goals aren’t achieved or product reviews are less favorable than one would like, I think generally marketing is the butt of the argument as to why it wasn’t successful.”

Links

Designware software list at AtariMania

Direct download: Peter_Rosenthal.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EST
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Cathryn Mataga: Shamus, Zeppelin, Mindwheel

 

Cathryn Mataga wrote several games that were published by Synapse software: Shamus, Shamus Case II, and Zeppelin, then three electronic novels: Brimstone, Essex, and Mindwheel.

 

In this interview we discuss Ihor Wolosenko, whom I previously interviewed for this podcast.

 

This interview took place on May 17, 2015.

 

Teaser quotes:

 

“These games were pretty hard. It was quite a bit of work, actually, to make a game by yourself. And it was all assembly language. And I was doing all the art and all the stuff. They were pretty involved projects for me, personally.”

 

“There was a tragic bug in the music driver in all of the Synapse 8-bit titles ... When they went to the new Atari XLs, when they upgraded the operating system, all these games crashed. And they all came back.”

 

Link:

Software at AtariMania

Direct download: Cathryn_Mataga.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EST
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David Burling, Atari in-house counsel

 

I like interviewing the lawyers, they always know what’s really going on. David Burling was in-house counsel for Atari from 1980 through 1984. His job included distribution contracts, licensing, and manufacturing. He supervised the customs department, intellectual property, and international business transactions. His stint included being general council of the international division, and council for the AtariTel telecommunications products.

 

This interview took place on May 22, 2015.

 

Teaser quote:

 

“Try and dress like I was in the coin-op industry. I wore sort of an open-throated shirt with two buttons undone at the top and an old, wide lapel jacket and jeans, trying to look sort of hip slick, and cool ... and went down to Los Angeles. They sent me to a major coin-operated games retail ... outlet to see if I could buy one of the Asteroids copies that was coming from Japan.”

Direct download: David_Burling.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EST
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Marty Payson, Warner, Office of the President

 

Hi, everyone, and welcome to another in the long-standing series of interviews being published for Antic, the Atari 8-bit Computer Podcast.  I’m Randy Kindig and this interview is a follow-up to the recent interview that we published with Manny Gerard of Warner Communications, the company that bought Atari in 1976.  This time the interview is with Marty Payson, also of Warner Communications.  Marty began with Warner in 1970, became executive vice president and general counsel in 1982, and in 1987 became a member of the Office of the President for Warner.  He was with Warner during the Atari days, up to 1984 when it was sold to the Tramiels, and was still involved with Atari for some time after that, as you will hear.  Marty was not as intimately involved with Atari as was Manny Gerard, but nonetheless I hope you find his perspective from the Warner side interesting.

 

This interview was conducted on August 17, 2015.

 

Teaser Quotes

 

“The problem with it was, it was uncontrolled growth.  And, I’m not pointing a finger at either Atari or Warner.  I think it was a combination of both.”

 

“It began a point that Warner was going to have to take control of Atari.  It was out of control.”

 

Links

 

1987 Los Angeles Times Article on the Appointment of Marty to the Warner Office of the President

 

1992 Los Angeles Times Article on the Resignation of Marty

Direct download: Marty_Payson.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EST
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John Constantine, General Accounting Manager

 

John Constantine was General Accounting Manager in Atari's Consumer Division from 1978-1981, then became Executive Director until he left the company in 1984.

 

This interview took place May 14, 2015.

 

Teaser quote:

 

"One of your clerks sent a package Federal Express — across the street — in the headquarters in Sunnyvale"

Direct download: John_Constantine.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EST
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Manny Gerard, The Man Who Fired Nolan

 

For this interview, we’re getting a different perspective of the Atari/Warner relationship, this time from the Warner side.  (Emanual) Manny Gerard was a member of the Office of the President for Warner during the Atari days from 1976, when they acquired Atari, to 1984 when it was sold to the Tramiels.  He in fact was the key person in the decision for Warner to acquire Atari.  As you will hear in the interview, he was also the man who ousted Nolan Bushnell from Atari.  We get Manny’s perspective on Atari from Warner’s view, on the decision to bring out the computer line, and much more.  I think you’ll appreciate Manny’s honesty and his sense of humor.

 

This interview took place on August 9, 2015.

 

Teaser Quotes

 

“I can remember saying this to Nolan, over and over again: You cannot run the company by divine right of kings, Nolan”

 

It feels to me like the computer’s problem at Atari was that it was; it lived in the shadow of the game systems, because they were so bloody successful.”

 

“I mean I think the early Apples were good computers but I don’t think they were better than the Atari computers by any considerable margin and they may not even been as good, but we sure got out-marketed.”

 

“Manny Gerard, the guy who fired me at Atari!  Everybody looks up; who is this guy?  And I said, yeah, Nolan, and the guy who made you a millionaire.”

 

Links

 

New York Times 1984 article on Manny leaving Warner

 

HI-RES Vol. 1, No. 1 / November 1983 Article on Atari History

 

Manny Gerard - Thoughts on E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial - YouTube

Direct download: Manny_Gerard.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EST
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Tandy Trower, Atari product manager

 

Tandy Trower started at Atari evaluating software titles, then moved on to the position of product manager, managing new titles including Missile Command, Asteroids, and the port of Microsoft BASIC for the Atari. Then, he left Atari for Microsoft, where — once again, he managed Microsoft BASIC for the Atari. Tandy also wrote the Character Set Editor program which was sold by Atari Program Exchange.

 

This interview took place May 13, 2015.

 

Teaser quotes:

 

“The Atari executives were so impressed with Bill [Gates] at the time that they flew up in their corporate jet to Seattle and offered to try to acquire Microsoft. But Bill and Paul [Allen] were not interested in selling at all at that time.”

 

“If you had a title, you had to make sure there was an engineer who was available and interested in doing it. So if you couldn’t talk an engineer into writing it — unless you were going to write it yourself. Except for me, there were very few people in the marketing department that could write their own code.”

Direct download: Tandy_Trower.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EST
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Tim McGuinness, Atari Senior Research Engineer and Founder of ROMOX

 

Tim McGuinness was a Hardware Design Engineer in Atari’s Personal Computer Division in 1980 and 1981, then moved to become Senior Research Engineer/Assistant Director of Corporate Research Engineering through 1982. Tim was co-developer of 400, 800, and 1200XL computers and peripherals. He was also the initial architect and designer of the first version of the Amiga computer. He left Atari in 1982 to co-found Romox, a software publisher that had a unique software distribution system where you could load new software onto cartridges using an in-store kiosk.

 

This interview took place on May 23, 2015.

 

Teaser quotes:

“Personal computer division was a toxic environment ... I had a taken a prototype that we had been working on over to the research division, because I was going to show Alan Kay. And I come back with the unit and I’m being threatened with arrest.”

 

“Michael Jackson spent a couple of days at our facility in Campbell to help us with the digitization of things like Beat It.”

 

“Talking to the Tramiels. Sam was pretty rational, his brother was insane, and the old man was just an asshole.”

Direct download: Tim_McGuinness.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am EST
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