Jul 14, 2020
Tracy Frey, Atari Birthday Girl
There's an article in the New York Times, dated April 9, 1982:
"8-Year-Old's Birthday Party in a Computer Center." The story,
written by Barbara Gamareklin, is about the birthday party of
Tracey Pizzo — now Tracey Frey — which took place at the Capital
Children's Museum in Washington, DC.
Quoting the article:
Tracy Pizzo decided that Chunky’s Cheese Pizza Parlor was not the
place for her eighth birthday party after all. She chose the Future
Center of the Capital Children’s Museum, where her 13 guests were
able to try their hand at the video games on 20 Atari 800
Without waiting to remove their coats and jackets, the girls, most
of them 6 to 8 years old, rushed toward the glowing multicolored
screens. In no time they were engrossed in computer games — from
Asteroids and Find Hurkle to Lemonade Stand.
"Go, Megan, go!" cried 6-year-old Enid Maran, who was still wearing
her black kid gloves. "We have to explode those little stars."
Megan Thaler worked her control lever and sent a stream of blue and
red simulated antiaircraft fire across the screen in the direction
of a small green airplane.
Tracy’s mother, Peggy Pizzo, said that Tracy’s older sister, Cara,
had been to the Future Center on a school field trip "and Tracy got
so excited when she heard about it that she insisted we have a
computer birthday party.” ...
"Tracy said the reason she wanted to come was because her friends
liked to push buttons," said 11-year-old Cara, who had baked the
white birthday cake with pink frosting that had "Eight" spelled out
"What is your name?" the Birthday Banner computer asked. "And how
old are you now? Are you a boy or a girl?" As Tracy typed in the
answers and her friends serenaded her with “Happy Birthday,” a
five-foot computer tape slowly emerged from the machine, reading in
letters six inches tall: "Happy Birthday Tracy."...
Tracy, aided by her friends, Katherine Herz and Annamaria Hibbs,
tried out her entrepreneurial skills at Lemonade Stand. ... Tracy
played Hangman with her father, Dr. Philip Pizzo. She said, "Make
it hard, but not too hard," as she closed her eyes and her father
entered the word "Christmas" for her to guess, each incorrect guess
slowly forming a hangman’s noose on the screen....
Asteroids is the only noneducational game offered in the computer
Computer birthday parties cost $5 a person, with a minimum of eight
in a party...
As for Tracy Pizzo, as she and her friends filed down the hall to
the balloon-festooned party room for ice cream, cake and presents,
she pronounced the day "just perfect."