Thu, 8 September 2016
Gary Furr, AtariWriter Product Manager, Printer Drivers
Gary Furr was Product Manager for productivity software for the Atari home computer division, where his claim to fame was being the manager for the AtariWriter word processor. He also published a set of AtariWriter printer drivers, which were first published through Atari Program Exchange — the product first appeared in the fall 1983 APX catalog, with support for 10 printers — then was sold directly by Gary, and eventually grew to support about 150 printers. After Atari, he worked at Datasoft.
This interview took place on August 29, 2016.
"I left the meeting, went directly back to my cubicle, called the programmer, and said 'There's been a little hiccup.'"
Mon, 5 September 2016
Bob Frankston, co-developer of Visicalc
Bob Frankston was co-developer of Visicalc, with Dan Bricklin, and co-founder of Software Arts, the company that first published Visicalc. Bob was also involved with the Atari 800 port of the program.
If you're like to see our talking heads, a video version of this interview is available at the Internet Archive and YouTube, at the links below.
This interview took place on August 22, 2016.
"So we were really lucky there. But the important thing is to appreciate the luck factor ... A lot of people, especially in the .com boom days and everything, thought they were geniuses because the first thing they did worked. Well, no. They were lucky."
Video of this interview at YouTube: https://youtu.be/X2ksQXoump4
Bob and Dan wrote about the history of Visicalc for Creative Computing magazine: http://www.atarimagazines.com/creative/v10n11/122_Visicalc79.php
Bob's web site: http://bob.ma/public/?name=ImplementingVisiCalc
Inverse ATASCII podcast on VisiCalc: https://inverseatascii.info/2015/01/13/s1e8-visicalc/
Wikipedia on VisiCalc: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VisiCalc
Wikipedia on Bob Frankston: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bob_Frankston
Sat, 3 September 2016
Brian Johnston: Manager, Atari Home Computer System Software Group
Brian Johnston was Manager of Atari's Home Computer System Software Group, where he worked on projects including DOS 3. He worked at Atari from 1978 through 1982, then moved to Fox Video Games where he programmed Atari 2600 games.
This interview took place on August 4, 2016.
"But Atari was poisoned by money,
And in death throes was free-falling up,
Lining pockets of sycophant beggars
Whose main talent, the art of the cup!"
Video version of this interview: https://youtu.be/WT5MRiQN9Z0
Thu, 1 September 2016
Bard Ermentrout, RAMbrandt
Bard Ermentrout was the creator of the popular Atari graphics program RAMbrandt. Subtitled "The Atari Design Studio," RAMbrandt was released in 1985 by Antic software. Written in ValForth, it supported joystick, keyboard, Koala Pad, and Atari Touch Tablet for input. He also created an add-on Solid Object Module which allowed users to combine mode 9 geometric primitives to make what appeared to be 3D-shaded objects. The predecessor to RAMbrandt was a drawing program called "Paint 10" which was unreleased.
This interview took place on July 25, 2016.
After the interview, Bard sent me a box of floppy disks — which appears to contain the source code for RAMbrandt, some picture disks, and the object module — but so far I have not been able to read any of the disks. It doesn't look good, but I haven't given up hope yet.
If you would like to see this interview as well as hear it, a video from this Skype conversation is available on YouTube and Internet Archive.
"I had some crazy ideas with the Atari 800 to get more colors, one of them which worked but gave you a really bad headache."
Video of this interview at Internet Archive: http://archive.org/details/BardErmentroutRAMbrandt
Video of this interview at YouTube: https://youtu.be/YFU4LaVUrXA
Bard's page at University of Pittsburgh: http://www.mathematics.pitt.edu/person/g-bard-ermentrout
Caramel Knowledge film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9VgU6vgi8dQ
Antic magazine review of Rambrandt: http://www.atarimagazines.com/v7n7/ProductReviews.html