Mon, 11 January 2016
Bob Brass and Peter D’Amato, Cauzin Softstrip
If you read certain computer magazines from the early days of microcomputers — magazines like Byte, Family Computing, II Computing and InCider — you might see long, black-and-white strips of bar codes. Those are computer programs encoded for use with the Cauzin Softstrip reader.
Introduced in 1985, the Cauzin Softstrip was a hardware peripheral that attached to your Apple //, Macintosh, or IBM computer (there was no Atari version.) It optically read the printed two-dimensional bar codes, which were published in those magazines and in books - allowing you to quickly input data - for instance, inputting programs without having to laboriously type them in.
This interview is with two of the people at that company: Bob Brass was co-founder of Cauzin (along with Dr. Jack Goldman, who has passed away), and Peter D’Amato, who was Manager of OEM and VAR Support at Cauzin from 1984 through 1988.
This interview took place on October 5, 2015.
“I remember being stumped. How are we going to get something with gears to move 1/100 of a degree? It just won’t happen because the slop in a gear would exceed that. ... I said, ‘That’s it. We’re going to have a spiral gear, and we’ll have the equivalent of a phonograph arm and it will track to a hundredth of a degree without a problem.’”
Softstrip information: http://www.softstrip.info
Scans and documentation at Apple2Scans.net http://www.apple2scans.net/2015/12/20/cauzin-softstrip-reader-manuals-software-etc/
1985 NY Times article about Cauzin: http://www.nytimes.com/1985/10/15/science/personal-computers-supermarket-bar-codes-are-applied-to-software.html
Sat, 9 January 2016
Jim Inscore, Documentation Manager
Jim Inscore was hired at Atari in 1981 as a writer in the marketing department, then became documentation manager, where he managed writers and production staff to produce technical and consumer documentation for Atari computer hardware and software.
This interview took place on December 9, 2015.
“A process where ... 12 different design firms came in and did 12 different versions of the packaging. Those of us who had been around for a while were just kinda sitting back and going ‘What is going on here? I don’t understand any of this.’”
Mon, 4 January 2016
Russ Wetmore: Preppie!, Sea Dragon, Homepak
Russ Wetmore started at Adventure International, where he worked with Scott Adams on Savage Island Part II. He then went on to program Preppie!, Preppie! II, and Sea Dragon - all of which were published by Adventure International - and Homepak business software, which was published by Batteries Included.
This interview took place on September 24, 2015, and then a little bit more on January 4, 2016.
After the main interview took place, Russ sent me the source code for Preppie!, Preppie! II, and Sea Dragon, plus an demonstration disk of an unfinished Atari game called Lulu. I successfully archived all of those disks and have posted them to archive.org. I also made a YouTube video of the Lulu demo. Links are below.
“I actually only spent about 18 months writing those three games, and I probably would have done them in much sooner time, but I was 23 and lazy.”
Sat, 2 January 2016
Paul Lewandowski, APX Puzzler
Paul Lewandowski was in high school when he wrote Puzzler, which was published by Atari Program Exchange and won the Atari Star Award in fall 1983: first prize in the learning category.
Puzzler is a game that shows you a picture on the screen, chops it into equally sized squares, and scrambles them. Then, the player uses the joystick to try to put the picture back together - like one of those plastic puzzles where you slide numbers around to put them in order. Puzzler had three difficulty levels: 4x4 was easy, 8x8 was hard, and 10x10 was “insane”.
This interview took place on December 9, 2015
“The whole thing was such a great idea ... having users write programs. It was so ahead of its time.”