The Games Of Our Lives

I’ve often thought it would be a great to make a series of videos demonstrating the classic software on the Apple II. I’ve already made a couple of them (see here for video and links to others). Now I find someone who has begun to do the very thing I wanted to do. “HighRetroGameLord89” has posted a number of videos of games, Apple II and other classic micros and game consoles. His list goes into games starting with the letter “A” and “B”, and I can’t wait to see how far into the Apple II gaming alphabet he gets!

Check out his YouTube playlist here:

Or, just go to his YouTube site here. Well worth the visit!

Bonjour, Apple II !

François Michaud has an extensive collection of Apple hardware and software, having acquired them for a number of years. You can see his online photos on his web site. Well worth a visit !

[singlepic id=731 w=320 h=240 float=center]

The origins of interface

[This post is courtesy guest blogger Ken Gagne.]

Today’s home computers seem to evolve more incrementally than computers of a few decades ago. When the Apple II was new, innovations abounded as technology was applied and created in ways never before imagined. There were more “firsts” back then, such as the first electronic spreadsheet, VisiCalc, which cemented the computer’s place in businesses nationwide.

The genius of those early pioneers is evident, but what is sometimes overlooked are the giants upon whose shoulders they stood. The Apple II adapted and borrowed from what had come before, and one of its most significant pieces of hardware was the mouse. This input device was popularized by the Macintosh in 1984 and introduced for the Apple II a year later, but it was not an invention of Apple Computer Inc. The mouse was designed decades earlier by Doug Engelbart, with assistance by Bill English, both of the Augmentation Research Center at the Stanford Research Institute in Menlo Park.

It was in 1968 that Engelbart made his first public demonstration of the mouse. It was one part of a much longer presentation that included several other hardware and software innovations.

On December 9, 1968, Douglas C. Engelbart and the group of 17 researchers working with him in the Augmentation Research Center at Stanford Research Institute in Menlo Park, CA, presented a 90-minute live public demonstration of the online system, NLS, they had been working on since 1962. The public presentation was a session in the of the Fall Joint Computer Conference held at the Convention Center in San Francisco, and it was attended by about 1,000 computer professionals. This was the public debut of the computer mouse. But the mouse was only one of many innovations demonstrated that day, including hypertext, object addressing and dynamic file linking, as well as shared-screen collaboration involving two persons at different sites communicating over a network with audio and video interface.

That occasion was preserved in audio and video and is available as this series of nine YouTube videos.

Computers developed very quickly from that point, with many of the word processing, spreadsheet, database, and connectivity concepts Engelbart demonstrated soon becoming available and accessible to the average consumer. That revolution hasn’t stopped, with the expansion of the Internet becoming a truly global phenomenon. What would Engelbart, from his humble yet insightful beginnings, think if he could see today’s computers?

Fortunately, Engelbart is still alive and well, and writer and teacher Howard Rheingold recently hosted Engelbart and Ted Nelson, who coined the term “hypertext”, for dinner. Here is some of their discussion:

Just as using perspective in painting seems self-evident to us today but was groundbreaking upon its first application, our every-day input devices are often taken for granted. But we have a growing number of ways to interact with electronic devices, be QWERTY or DVORAK keyboards, mice, graphics tablets, inbuilt microphones, Web cameras. or touch screens. The Apple II familiarized many of us with these foreign concepts, but people like Doug Engelbart made it possible.

(Hat tip to Michael Nadeau)

[ Ken is the editor and publisher of Juiced.GS, the longest-running Apple II publication in print, as well as the marketing director for the annual Apple II convention known as KansasFest.  He is the senior associate online editor at Computerworld.com and regularly blogs about retrocomputing at Apple II Bits. ]

More advertising

I’m continuing to work on my project to scan advertisements that appeared in Softalk magazine during its four year run. I’ve re-organized the Museum a bit to make the number of pictures in each section more manageable. Thus, there are now (so far) six categories: Ads for software from 1981, 1982, and 1983, and ads for hardware for the same three years. More scanning will be coming; I am up to August of 1983, leaving exactly one year of issues left to scan.

[singlepic id=347 w=320 h=240 float=left]

[singlepic id=418 w=320 h=240 float=right]

[singlepic id=700 w=320 h=240 float=center]

[singlepic id=721 w=320 h=240 float=left]

[singlepic id=691 w=320 h=240 float=right]

[singlepic id=530 w=320 h=240 float=center]

Text Adventures Illustrated

I am in the process of viewing the excellent documentary video by Jason Scott, GET LAMP (find out more at http://www.getlamp.com/). It is well worth the purchase price, and I am thoroughly enjoying it. In this two-DVD set, it features the main documentary (of the same name), as well as side features connected to the topic of text adventures.

As an Apple II user who started with the computer back in 1980, at the start of that platform’s “golden age”, I purchased the original “Zork: The Great Underground Empire” as sold by Personal Software. It took me a long time, but I was finally able to finish the game, after many maps and puzzle solving. Like many who purchased text adventures in this era, I found the richness of the descriptions enticing, and the puzzles challenging. And I wanted to get to the end of the game, to see what happened!

Scott’s documentary caught my attention completely while I watched his parade of people involved in this genre, not just with Infocom, but with all the other aspects of what became known as “interactive fiction”. As a history buff, I enjoyed the story of how it started, its transition from mainframes to the new technology of the personal computer, and how it developed and changed over time.

Like Scott’s previous DVD set, BBS: The Documentary (http://www.bbsdocumentary.com/) he uses his hours of taped interviews with people involved with text adventures, weaving together the different sections into a coherent story as told by many different people. My only disappointment with both DVDs is the same disappointment that my Apple II History gives: All three stories are those of the rise and fall of a particular technology. There is excitement during the years of ascent and peak, but then the discouragement associated with the story of the fall (the decline of BBSes, the decline of text adventures, and the decline of the Apple II).

Anyone who played and enjoyed this type of game back when they were popular, I would highly, highly recommend that you buy this DVD set. If you have at all enjoyed reading the stories here of the rise and fall of the Apple II, you will definitely enjoy the story of the birth of interactive fiction, and what it has developed into in the 21st century. It sells from Jason Scott’s web site for $40, plus $5 shipping.

Links reorganized

I’ve done a little remodeling on the Links page, adding a section at the top for my favorite, personally most visited sites.

Back in business!

Sorry to have had the site down for the past three days; I’ve had to migrate to a new hosting service, due to problems caused by my old hosting service.

Got Blue?

Thanks to the dedicated efforts of Gerry Doire, I’ve had a beautiful copy of the classic Apple II “Red Book” manual available for download for quite a while. He actually re-tooled most of the pages in that book to make it look classic, but actually be more legible than it ever was.

I have not take the extra, careful time that Gerry did, but I have scanned in my prized copy of the Apple II “Blue Book”, the first Applesoft manual released by Apple Computer, Inc., and thanks to the help of Bill Martens and his Apple Archives project for A.P.P.L.E., the scanned pages were assembled into a beautiful PDF copy of this rare manual.

Both are available for download in the Downloads section (see the top links to get there).

[singlepic id=430 w=320 h=240 float=center]

KansasFest 2010 concludes

I was unable to attend, but I had a brief opportunity to announce this newly revised website to the attendees at KansasFest 2010. The keynote speech was done by Mark Simonsen of Beagle Bros, and is available to view at A2Central.com.

New look!

After nearly ten years of managing this site with standard tools, I’ve got it translated into a different platform. WordPress will provide the flexibility to do updates and additions more easily than in the past.

For previous visitors to the Apple II History site, some things have moved. The major sections have links along the top and the left side. I’ve moved some of the minor sections into the Appendix:

WATN? (Where Are They Now?) is now found here.

The Song Parodies section is now found here.

In preparation for this update, I have actually re-read the text of the History chapters completely, probably for the first time in many years, and have updated the point of view from 1991 to the present. I will continue to reviewing content on the rest of the site in the near future, and try to make sure that it also reads properly for the 21st century.

The Museum has a new look, and the pictures are (hopefully) easier to see.

If you have pictures to contribute, contact me via the link in the About section.

Enjoy!