Fri, 30 September 2016
Bob Graves, Gridiron Glory
Bob Graves co-wrote Gridiron Glory, a football game which was published by Atari Program Exchange. The game first appeared in the winter 1982-1983 APX catalog. His co-author was Mike Drury, who was unavailable for an interview. Bob and Mike created two other Atari computer programs: Asteroid Artist and Ramblin Gamblin, which were published by their own company, MicroMate Software.
This interview took place on June 14, 2016.
"We'd go to the state library and look up historial records for the different football teams and how they did under certain circumstances. ... We'd come up with tables that would be cross-referenced when different plays were called."
Gridiron Grit - Computerized football for the ATARI - article in Antic magazine: http://www.atarimagazines.com/v2n7/gridirongrit.html
Gridiron Glory manual: https://archive.org/details/APXGridironGloryV3
Wed, 28 September 2016
Dan Rohr, Three R Math software
Dan Rohr was the author of three educational programs which were published by Atari Program Exchange. Three R Math System first appeared in the summer 1982 APX catalog, where it won second prize in the education category. The Three R Math Classroom Kit was available in the spring 1983 APX catalog, where it won third prize in the education category. Finally, the Three R Math Home System was first available in the summer 1983 APX catalog.
This interview took place on June 13, 2016.
"Fortunately, the person that rejected it took the time to critique all of his objections that he had to it. And I said, 'Hmm, this person has never been in a classroom.'"
Mon, 26 September 2016
Marlin Bates, R-Time 8 Replacement Cartridge
In 1986, ICD released the R-Time 8, a real-time clock cartridge for the Atari 8-bit computers. One reason this is an interesting cartridge is that it has a pass-through port: you can plug another cartridge into it, then plug the R-Time 8 into the Atari. In 2016, Marlin Bates created the R-Time 8 Replacement Cartridge, a workalike cart. On June 7, 2016, we talked about that project. Marlin is better known to people on the AtariAge forums as MacRorie. During this interview, we talk about Romox — I previously interviewed the CEO of Romox, Tim McGuinness.
Teaser quote: "You don't know enough to not do it, and by the time you're halfway in you go 'Oh, I guess I gotta do it now.'"
Bates motel BBS: telnet://126.96.36.199:8888
Thu, 22 September 2016
Steve Robinson: Diggerbonk and Bean Machine
Steve Robinson is the author of two games that were published by Atari Program Exchange: Diggerbonk and Bean Machine. Diggerbonk was first available in the spring 1983 APX catalog. Bean Machine first appeared in the summer 1983 APX catalog, where it won third prize in the Entertainment category.
This interview took place on June 13, 2016. A video version of this interview is available, check the show notes at AtariPodcast.com for the link.
In it, we talk about Jack Palevich whom I previously interviewed.
Teaser quote: "When they first published the game, they took the wrong version. I sent them the wrong version, not knowing that it had a bug in it. And — I got third prize anyway."
Video version of this interview: https://youtu.be/eNBn40q_BQ4
Tue, 20 September 2016
Alison Woods, Atari Graphic Designer
Alison Woods was a graphic designer at Atari from 1982 to 1984. She designed the packaging for the computer versions of Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Junior, Pole Position, Robotron, Food Fight, and other products. Later, she was Vice President and Creative Director at Kidsoft, a CD-ROM based software magazine for kids.
This interview took place on May 26, 2016.
"I wanted to have an exploding robot on the front of the package, and that was deemed too violent."
"One guy said to the other guy, 'See? I told you not to pay 'em!' I'm thinking, 'Oh my god, what am I dealing with here?'"
Alison's web site: http://www.alisonwoods.com
Sun, 18 September 2016
Mitchell Waite, computer book author and publisher
Mitchell Waite is a prolific computer book author and publisher. His first book "Projects in Sight, Sound and Sensation" was published in 1974. He founded the Waite Group in 1977, which published more than 80 titles in the computer programming field. He co-authored Computer Animation Primer (with David Fox) and Your Own Computer (with Michael Pardee), the 8086/8088 Microprocessor Primer with Christopher Morgan, CP/M Bible, and wrote, co-wrote, or published dozens of other computer books.
This interview took place on June 16, 2016.
Teaser quote: "'I don't even have an office yet,' you know? And he said 'Well you better get one.' And I said, 'But I don't even have a corporation.' He said, 'You better start one.'"
Video version of this interview: https://youtu.be/x1dU7b4ZkHA
Mitch's web site: http://www.mitchwaite.com
Mitch on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitchell_Waite
Full text of Computer Graphics Primer: http://www.atariarchives.org/cgp/
Full text of Computer Animation Primer: http://www.atariarchives.org/cap/
Mitch on Triangulation: https://twit.tv/shows/triangulation/episodes/252
Apple ad featuring ibird: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y0zhotBPx1E
Fri, 16 September 2016
David Duberman, Antic magazine editor
David Duberman was an editor at Antic magazine (one of the two major Atari magazines in the United States). Later he was in customer support at Synapse software, then user group coordinator at Atari during the Tramiel era.
This interview took place on June 17, 2016. In it, we discuss Jim Capparell, whom I previously interviewed.
"We were now in the computer age, so we had to print these weird [ATASCII] characters that were probably never printed in a magazine before."
"They [the Tramiels] would not spend a single penny that didn't absolutely have to be spent."
Wed, 14 September 2016
Michael Boucher, MECC
Michael Boucher was a programmer at MECC — Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium — from September 1980 through August 1984, where he worked on educational software for the Apple // and Atari 8-bit computers. His projects included Oregon Trail and Odell Lake.
This interview took place on June 14, 2016.
Video of this interview: https://youtu.be/heuR8_eFFJI
"I had the honor of working with the finest group of dropouts I have ever had the pleasure of associating with."
"...Fairly sophisticated bit of code. And happily, nobody told us that it was hard, and being high school students, we didn't have the experience to know it was difficult. So we just did it."
Mon, 12 September 2016
Hung Pham, APX Game Show
Hung Pham wrote one program for Atari Program Exchange: Game Show, a game based on the Family Feud TV program (although the catalog never says that explicitly.) Game Show was first available in the Winter 1982-1983 APX catalog.
This interview took place on June 10, 2016.
"The reviewer was playing, and pretty soon he turned around -- a crowd of people was standing behind him, looking over his shoulder, trying to play. So, hey! This might have some potential."
Sun, 11 September 2016
Steve Stone, POKEY and ANTIC layout design
Steve Stone worked at Atari from 1977 through 1980, where he was a chip layout designer and engineer. He worked on the layout design for the POKEY and ANTIC chips. After Atari, he founded Macro Dienamics, Inc., a chip design firm that worked on custom chips for the Amiga computer.
This interview took place on August 29, 2016.
Video of this interview: https://youtu.be/JhGPasK_RmE
"The concept of someone flying in from Manhattan for the week, wearing thousand-dollar suits, being chauffeured around the valley and then flying out on the weekends -- was quite a contrast..."
Steve sent me a follow-up email after our interview:
"It was a pleasure speaking with you yesterday. The conversation jarred my memory. There is a few more comments, and some clarification that I would like to add.
I believe I stated that the disk capacity we used for the chip layout was 25-80KB. While it was literally as big as a washing machine, it was 25-80MB.
Also, I may have left out Warren questioning me about what I would put in that secret room. I told him that it should announce that the player had won a prize, and give them a phone number to call to collect.
I gave you a brief overview of the chip layout procedure used at that time. Our workload was driven by the schedule of displaying products at the CES. Our work-load had peaks and valleys. In the off-time (the valleys), I was allowed to do whatever I wanted, or do nothing at all. With some tutoring from Warren, and an APL programing book borrowed from Jim Huether, I spent my off-time writing programs to simplify the layout task. My code eliminated the drawing and digitizing phase, as the group became "on-line designers." My programs, then called "gate generators," were close to what is commonly used in chip design today, now called pcells. This is probably more information than you ever wanted to know about chip layout, but I thought it worthy of mentioning. The bottom-line is that, with these programs, we had a distinct edge over most companies that designed chips.
I'm really glad that we used Skype for our conversation rather than a phone call. Although, one could argue that if ever there was a FACE best-suited for a phone conversation, I may be it. But watching your expression, at the moment of epiphany, connecting the very old Star Trek game to Star Raiders, was enjoyable to see. I’m pretty sure Doug Neubauer would have got a kick out of that as well."