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.