Thu, 20 October 2016
Ed Stewart and Ray Lyons, APX Letterman
Ed Stewart and Ray Lyons co-wrote Letterman, an educational word game that was first available in the winter 1982-1983 Atari Program Exchange catalog. Ed also wrote two articles for Antic magazine: "Hokey Pokey Interrupts" - on using POKEY timers in assembly language - and "Talk Is Cheap", a 1-bit audio digitizer. Ed also had two articles in Compute!'s Second Book of Atari: Memory Test and Back Up Your Machine Language Programs With BASIC.
This interview took place on September 15, 2016. The first voice you'll hear is Ed's.
"They played that thing for days. They would love to try and stump each other by typing in their own word, primarily."
After the interview, Ray emailed me this update: "There's one fact I wished I had included--and I'll tell you just in case you find it useful: This would have probably been early in the 2nd year of the sale of Letterman via the APX. Atari contacted us and asked us to sign some legal documents giving them permission to port Letterman to a ROM for one of their game platforms. My recall is that it was for the 2600. But I'm wondering if they were announcing a new model. Or maybe it was an updated 2600 with a keyboard added? Sorry for this lapse. Anyway, they said they needed educational software to demo this on the new device at a trade show in New York City that year. The Toy Fair I think it was. We never did hear back from Atari about whether they actually carried through or not. If I run across any paperwork about this, I'll send it to you."
Compute!'s Second Book of Atari: http://www.atariarchives.org/c2ba/
Blog Post by Ray Lyons: https://libperformance.com/2009/03/05/technology-20/
Tue, 18 October 2016
Russ Walter, Secret Guide to Computers
Russ Walter is the author of Secret Guide to Computers & Tricky Living, a book that he has been publishing and updating since 1972. It is currently in its 32nd edition; he's working on the 33rd now. The book has evolved with technology and time — the current versions cover modern machines like Windows, Android, and iOS. The early editions covered then-modern machines like the Atari 800, TRS-80, Commodore 64, and Apple //.
In addition to the book, Russ provides a free technical support phone number, which he invites people to call at any time, day or night. (My copy of the book, from 1987, says right on the cover: "Call 24 hours: he's usually in and sleeps only lightly.") Though the phone number has changed, some 30 years later, that is still a feature that he offers.
This interview took place on September 15, 2016.
"The craziest call that I got was a girl, sounded like she was 7th or 8th grade or something ... wanted to know how to attract her boyfriend to her."
Secret Guide web site: http://SecretFun.com
Sun, 16 October 2016
In this episode of Antic the Atari 8-bit podcast, we visit vintage computer festivals and upgrade our systems. We fail to spend thousands of dollars on rare new hardware.
What we’ve been up to
New at Archive.org
Of the Month
End of Show Music
Direct download: 36ANTIC_2016_10_Do_Not_Climb_Ladders_While_Listening.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:00am EST
Thu, 13 October 2016
Monty Webb, APX Seven Card Stud
Monty Webb published one program through Atari Program Exchange: Seven Card Stud. The program first appeared in the summer 1982 APX catalog, where it won second prize in the entertainment category. He also self-published the program as Real Poker I, his publishing company was called Real Software.
This interview took place on September 14, 2016.
"And then I could call up a certain sector on a track...and then WHAM, I'd knock a hole in the disk."
"There were shortcuts to try to get that to fit in 16K. ... Somebody was really hot because he has a straight flush that's higher than someone else's straight flush, and the pot split. So he goes crazy and writes me a nastygram..."
Mon, 10 October 2016
Elizabeth MacRae, APX Mankala
Elizabeth MacRae published one program for the Atari 8-bit computers: Mankala, which was published by Atari Program Exchange. It first appeared in the fall 1982 APX catalog, where it won second prize in the entertainment category.
This interview took place on September 13, 2016. After the interview, Elizabeth sent me a scan of the Mankala manual, which is now available at the Internet Archive.
"They didn't think personal computers on everyone's desk was the way to go, because everything worked fine the way it was, with the mainframe handling all of the applications, and that was it."
Mankala manual: https://archive.org/details/APXMankala
Thu, 6 October 2016
Douglas Crockford: Galahad And The Holy Grail, Burgers!
Douglas Crockford worked in Atari's Game Research Group under Chris Crawford. There he created a variety of demos -- including Ballsong and Crockford's Trench -- and games. He created Galahad And The Holy Grail, which was published by Atari Program Exchange in summer 1982; and Burgers!, which was published by APX in winter 1983. After Atari, he worked at LucasFilm where he worked on Atari games including Rescue on Fractalus! and Koronis Rift.
This interview took place on July 16, 2016.
"For most of what we wanted to accomplish it was not possible to do things correctly. So it was all about cheating."
"If they hired an executive and he wasn't working out, it was too much trouble to fire him, so they would assign him to special projects."
Crockford's web site: http://crockford.com
Wikipedia on Crockford: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douglas_Crockford
Tue, 4 October 2016
Dewitt Robbeloth, AKA Robert Dewitt, Editor of Antic magazine
Dewitt Robbeloth, who went by the pen name Robert Dewitt, was editor of Antic magazine, STart magazine, and the short-lived II Computing magazine. He also freelanced for InfoWorld and other computer magazines. He was the editor the book "The Best of Antic Volume 1," published by Antic Publishing.
This interview took place on July 14 and 15, 2016. In it, we discuss Jim Capparell, whom I previously interviewed.
"The bathroom flooded. So someone had the bright idea, since we were giving the paper away ... they decided to take our magazine and put it on the floor of the bathroom so it would sop up the water."
"I had to go up and sit at the big table. I had to keep my back to the wall so that nobody would see that my pants were split open."
Sun, 2 October 2016
Bob Smith: Video Pinball; Imagic co-founder; Sleazy Adventure
Bob Smith worked at Atari, where he created Video Pinball for the Atari 2600. He also wrote two programs for the Atari 8-bit which were sold by Atari Program Exchange: Sound Editor and Sleazy Adventure, which both appeared in the inaugural APX catalog, fall 1981. He left Atari to co-found the game developer Imagic, where he programmed Riddle of the Sphinx, Dragonfire, Moonsweeper, and other games. Then he went on to work on games at Bally, Electronic Arts, and Accolade.
This interview took place on June 24, 2016.
Teaser quote: "I have two kids, no degree. I walked in to Atari and said, "I've written a game and sold it. ... Wanna hire me?' And Dennis Koble did."
National Videogame Museum: http://www.nvmusa.org
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.'"