Okay, Pac-Man has hit the arcades. Everyone in the world is now waiting in line with quarters overflowing in their pockets just to get chance to play it. In the wake of this awesome game, we now have to weed through a few things. Namely:
Archive for June, 2012
There is no better way for me to lead off this rant than with that word. I really wish that I didn’t have to write an article like this. Unfortunately, because of my commitment to expose the worst in computer history, I have to. This song is beyond stupid. It is beyond pathetic. It is beyond anything that a sane person could comprehend. I have never heard of the people who wrote and sang this. Their names are Buckner and Garcia. I can’t think of anything witty to say about their names, so I’ll ignore that for now and say that they are two talentless hacks.
“You know, Microsoft, when you want to flat out steal someone’s product, it’s a good idea to…actually it is never a good idea for Microsoft to try to steal anything.” – Grantster
Stac Electronics (the maker of Stacker) was one of the many fly-by-night-turned-big-time companies of the late 80’s, early 90’s. They took your precious hard drive and doubled or even tripled the amount of free space. It did this by compressing and decompressing programs on the fly. Kinda like zipping and unzipping files for you automatically. Why was this ever handy? Well, as hard as it is to believe, hard drives weren’t always 2 terabytes in size. They were actually pretty small. The first hard drives were 10 Meg (yes I said MEG!). This was roughly the amount of space that is on 7 of today’s floppies (sorry, I realize many of you have never used a floppy). You could store jack and crap on your hard drive. Therefore, automatic compression software was quite handy. Unfortunately, if your drive ever got corrupted, it destroyed exponential amounts of data due to the way the drive is compressed. Oh, well, details…details. Nevertheless, the was quite a market for this Stacker product.
The year was 1983 and I had my first experience ever with computers. I saw the epitome of modern-day technology in our school library . It was a TRS-80 with about 16k of RAM and a tape drive for storage. I was in elementary school at the time and was just blown away. I saw a girl several years older than me loading up a program (a rudimentary game) from the tape drive. Wow, I thought to myself, I can do that. I WILL do that!! I can make programs too. I rushed home that evening and tried to write my first computer program ever. I had no idea what a programming language was. I didn’t care. I decided to create a “Hangman” game. So, I pulled out my tape recorder and proceeded to say how my program was going to work. I assumed everything because I had no idea how computers really worked. I even assumed that I didn’t have to tell the computer what words to use, it should magically just pick a word at random and proceed to start the game. I did, however, at least tell the computer to put the number of blanks at the bottom of screen equal to the number of letters in the word. I was so excited that I could barely sleep. I was going to school and going to play the new game that I created!! In no time, I would write a game better than Pac-Man and become a millionaire before I even get into high school.
David Barnes is one of those rare people that, if you ever met, you would never forget. He has worked for IBM for a number of years, appeared in IBM commercials, and he was a self-described “OS/2 Evangelist”. He now has some kind of lead position with IBM and their Web 2.0 initiatives. Without this guy, there is no telling how far OS/2 would’ve gone. OS/2 went far, but not by IBM’s standards. If it was a smaller company, OS/2 would be considered a phenomenal success.
Everyone has at least half an idea of how I feel about Coleco (That is, if you already read about Donkey Kong for the Atari 2600). Well, of course, Coleco made the Colecovision, which was a pretty good video game system, I must admit. At the time, it blew everything away. It had the better graphics, sound, and gameplay than the Atari 2600 (DUH!), the Intellivision, and the Atari 5200. Coleco also brought a new idea to the table: the Colecovision Expansion Module. Read the rest of this entry »
We’ve just passed the Gary’s birthday, which was May 19th, 1942. He would be 70 years old if he was still alive today. While everyone, or at least most everyone, knows the names Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, and, to a lesser extent, Larry Ellison, Gary is known by a relatively smaller audience. Although he was a millionaire, he never had a fraction of the wealth of the aforementioned entrepreneurs. I know that I have poked fun at Gary in the past, but that criticism is unfounded. I was one of those who accused him of throwing away a fortune. I realize now, after reading many accounts from credible sources, that Gary wasn’t entirely to blame for the fact that Intergalactic Digital Research wasn’t the company that Microsoft became. Gary invented DOS. Without him, we may not have seen any of the other people rise to prominence. It seems like Gary’s lawyer may have had more to do with IBM’s failed negation than Gary himself. What about the fact that Gary flew for hours in his plane while IBM waited on the ground to meet him? It appears to be mostly folklore by people who love to make up stories. Peter Norton, a person for whom I have a deep respect, was one of those people. He even wrote it in one of his books. One of my college professors even said that Gary lost the IBM business because he decided to go fishing that day. I somehow missed that in all of the research that I’ve done on the subject.
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In my opinion, the video game revolution started by these three games: Space Invaders, Pac-Man, and Donkey Kong. Space Invaders was revolutionary because it was the first and best of its kind. Pac-Man was the first full-feature color video game introducing a main character. Donkey Kong was revolutionary because it was the first to have multiple levels that played differently. While Atari scooped up Space Invaders and Pac-Man, there was no doubt that they were ready to pursue Donkey Kong as well. However, Coleco was finishing up their state of the art video game system, and needed the edge that only a name game like Donkey Kong could give. Coleco won the war, paying a measly $100,000 for rights to produce the Donkey Kong game for home systems. With little development time, Coleco produced a version of Donkey Kong for the Colecovision, Intellivision, and the Atari 2600.