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ANTIC The Atari 8-bit Podcast


hosts: Randy Kindig, Kay Savetz, Brad Arnold
email: antic@ataripodcast.com
twitter: @AtariPodcast
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May 14, 2022

Michael Park: Swan and Fujiboink Demos, MIDI Maze
 
Michael Park created two well-known demos that are familiar to many Atari enthusiasts: the Swan Demo and FujiBoink. In the Swan demo, a bird flies gracefully across the screen, in front of a spinning fuji logo. In FujiBoink, the Atari fuji spins and bounces over a red and white checkerboard, reminiscent of the Amiga Boing Ball demo.
 
Michael also helped create MIDI Maze, an early first-person shooter that used the Atari ST's MIDI ports to network up to 16 computers. He also worked on the 8-bit version of MIDI Maze, which was never officially released but became available nonetheless. Michael also created Shiny Bubbles, another demo for the Atari ST.
 
Michael was a friend of the owner of Xanth Computer Systems, an Atari dealer in Seattle, Washington. A 2013 article titled "Computer Dealer Demos: Selling Home Computers with Bouncing Balls and Animated Logos," published in the IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, stated:
 
"During the 1985 Winter CES, Atari presented the 130XE... This computer was promoted with a demo that included three animations—Atari Robot, Atari Swan, and Fuji Boink—made by a small software company named Xanth FX. The company’s representative claimed in ANALOG Computing magazine, 'We are a large ST retailer. Our F/X division churns out demos for the betterment of Atari.'  According to the testimonies of Atari users in Seattle, it was actually a 'small computer store in downtown Seattle' and a small software company that employed a few people, among them programmer and graphic designer Michael A. Park."
 
"Xanth Park" (a play on Xerox PARC) and the "F/X division" were deliberate tricks to make the little company and a one or two great coders, seem like a big company.
 
Michael told me that neither he nor "Xanth Park" created the walking robot demo, another popular demo of the era. "I think we did combine robot/spaceship with the bouncing ball so they'd play sequentially, at Atari's request," he told me. He extracted the rotating fuji code from the Robot demo for re-use in his Swan demo. 
 
After the interview, Michael sent an email: "Every now and then I hear from people who have enjoyed the Atari software that I was involved in way back when, and every time, I am reminded of the fun and excitement of those days. To those who have kept the Atari spirit alive all this time, I salute you!"
 
This interview took place on April 6, 2022.