Thu, 10 March 2016
Bob Stahl, Atari receiving inspection and software quality
Bob Stahl worked in the Atari home computer division, where he was the senior technician in the receiving inspection department, doing first article inspection. (He explains what that means in the interview.) He then moved to software quality engineering, testing produced software to make sure it looked right and worked correctly. Later, he was hired by Atari's coin-op division to do receiving inspection for that company. He also ran an Atari BBS called Modem Magazine.
In this interview we discuss Cassie Maas, whom I previously interviewed. This interview took place on November 1, 2015.
"Biggest problem we had, of course, was the cassette tapes in the early days losing data ... Huge dropouts in the data stream, looking at the status signal through an oscilloscope. But we never found out exactly why, and you know that technology went away really quick."
"I took a 300 baud acoustic modem and a Mr. Microphone on one computer, and a stereo and a 300 baud acoustic modem on another, and we would send files from one corner of the garage to the other using FM frequencies over the airwaves."
Modem Magazine BBS in Antic magazine: http://www.atarimagazines.com/v3n5/communications.html
Tue, 8 March 2016
Clayton Walnum, A.N.A.L.O.G. Computing and ST-Log
Clayton Walnum was writer and editor at A.N.A.L.O.G. Computing and ST-Log magazines. He started out as technical editor at A.N.A.L.O.G., and was eventually executive editor of both magazines. Clayton wrote the C-manship column - an ongoing tutorial on the C programming language - as well as many, many other articles.
This interview took place on November 8, 2015. In the interview we talk about Lee Pappas, whom I previously interviewed.
“The first day, he pointed out my desk and it was like a foot deep in submissions that they hadn’t gotten to yet. So my first job was to go through all of those submissions and find the stuff that looked interesting, and see what we might want to buy for the magazine.”
“At that point on the masthead I was listed as executive editor. I was pretty much single-handedly producing both A.N.A.L.O.G. and ST-Log.”
Clayton’s articles in A.N.A.L.O.G. Computing: http://www.atarimagazines.com/analog/index/index.php?author=Clayton+Walnum
Clayton’s articles in Start magazine: http://www.atarimagazines.com/st-log/index/index.php?author=Clayton+Walnum
AtariMania’s list of Clayton’s games: http://www.atarimania.com/list_games_atari-400-800-xl-xe-walnum-clayton_team_1376_8_G.html
Sun, 6 March 2016
Bob Polin, Blue Max
Bob Polin was the programmer of Blue Max and Blue Max 2001 — both published by Synapse Software, and co-creator of Puzzle Panic with Ken Uston. He also wrote the game "Maxter Mind" which was published by Antic magazine.
This interview took place on February 15, 2016. In it, we discuss Ihor Wolosenko, whom I previously interviewed.
After we did this interview, Bob sent me the floppy disks containing the source code for Blue Max, which I was able to recover. There's a link to the source code in the show notes.
"I literally — when I do a game it's very, very intense where I day in and day out do it. I just burnt out, did nothing for a few years."
Blue Max source code: http://atariage.com/forums/topic/249933-blue-max-source-code-for-you/
AtariMania's list of Bob's games: http://www.atarimania.com/list_games_atari-400-800-xl-xe-polin-bob_team_1070_8_G.html
Maxter Mind: http://www.atarimagazines.com/v2n7/MaxterMind.html
InfoWorld review of Blue Max: https://books.google.com/books?id=uy8EAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA71#v=onepage
Fri, 4 March 2016
Steve Hales: Slime, Dimension X, Fort Apocalypse
Steve Hales published several games with Synapse Software: Slime, Dimension X, Fort Apocalypse, and Mindwheel. His first job was reverse engineering the Atari 2600 to create the Starpath Supercharger. His game for that platform was Suicide Mission, an Asteroids clone.
This interview took place on October 21, 2015. In it we discuss Ihor Wolosenko and Cathryn Mataga, whom I previously interviewed; and Mike Potter and Bob Polin, whose interviews are forthcoming.
Steve has released the source code for Fort Apocalypse. He and I talked about the possibility of also releasing the code for his other games. In March 2016 he emailed me, "I did a deep look into my archives, and didn’t find anything useful. I have one more place to look, but its not near me at all, so it will take a few months to look." However, he does have Mindwheel running on a web site at http://mindwheelgame.com and his more modern game, Squirrel Warz for iOS, is available at http://www.squirrelwarz.com. Check the show notes for those links as well as links to Steve's other projects.
Our interview starts with us talking about the recovery and scanning of the Star Raiders source code. Although he didn't create Star Raiders, Steve is the person who found the source code printout for Star Raiders in his files, and lent it to me to scan.
"[Dimension X] didn't really come out that well. It was actually my first lesson in a failure of something that was fun."
"Solo developers of the time, their games were sometimes pretty great but sometimes mostly not. Electronic Arts brought, because of what Trip Hawkins learned, he brought the Hollywood studio system to the games industry."
Steve's web site: http://www.igorlabs.com
Steve's SquirrelWarz game for iOS: http://www.squirrelwarz.com
Steve on Twitter: http://twitter.com/heyigor
AtariMania's list of Steve's games: http://www.atarimania.com/list_games_atari-400-800-xl-xe-hales-steve_team_530_8_G.html
Halcyon Days interview with Steve: http://www.dadgum.com/halcyon/BOOK/HALES.HTM
Fort Apocalypse Source Code: http://atariage.com/forums/topic/239792-fort-apocalypse-source-code-is-out/
Star Raiders source code: https://archive.org/details/AtariStarRaidersSourceCode
Wed, 2 March 2016
Glenn Faden, Microsailing
Glenn Faden published one program for the Atari 8-bit computers: Microsailing, which was published by Atari Program Exchange. Microsailing first appeared in the Spring 1983 APX catalog.
This interview took place on January 27, 2016.
“I got a lot of interesting feedback. One of the comments that I got back from people was that it was too difficult.”