A Visual Look at the 1985 book, I CAN BE A COMPUTER OPERATOR, by Catherine Matthias

Bill Loguidice's picture

Back on November 23, 2009, the Awful Library Books blog featured a book entitled, I CAN BE A COMPUTER OPERATOR (1985, Childrens Press), by Catherine Matthias. After expressing interest in the book in the comments, I was contacted about and subsequently received the book through a generous anonymous donation. What immediately attracted me to the book were the wonderful period photos, particularly of home and education personal computer use. I have now taken photos of the entire book and made them available, here. The book is also available used on Amazon and via other resellers if you're interested. I posted a few of my favorite images of the book below. Can you name the systems (and when possible, the games on the screen) in each of the photos from the small selection of my favorites from the book below? (you may need to click through and select "All Sizes" and see the original resolution to make out the details)

01
IMG_3957

02
IMG_3959

03
IMG_3960

04
IMG_3965

05 (no need to identify what's in this one, I just love the bad drawing of Pac-Man to indicate "video game")
IMG_3966

06
IMG_3967

07
IMG_3974

08
IMG_3976

09
IMG_3980

10
IMG_3983

Comments

Matt Barton
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Wow, what a find. Those are

Wow, what a find. Those are some interesting photos! The glare (from the flash?) and bending are too bad for anything beyond a casual glance, but thanks for posting them regardless. I'm tempted to buy a used copy and make some good quality scans for personal use! Unfortunately, that'd probably mean taking a razor to the pages (I'm assuming the spine is really rigid). There are definitely not enough photos like this available online.

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Bill Loguidice
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The whole book is readable
Matt Barton wrote:

Wow, what a find. Those are some interesting photos! The glare (from the flash?) and bending are too bad for anything beyond a casual glance, but thanks for posting them regardless. I'm tempted to buy a used copy and make some good quality scans for personal use! Unfortunately, that'd probably mean taking a razor to the pages (I'm assuming the spine is really rigid). There are definitely not enough photos like this available online.

I can certainly take high quality scans of any page necessary, but I didn't want to do it for the whole book for a variety of reasons, including one of copyright. If there are any pages you want a formal scan of, I'll see what I can do, though keep in mind that these are very glossy (reflective) pages. Those photos were taken WITHOUT the flash by the way. Those are reflections from the kitchen lights!

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Bill Loguidice, Managing Director
Armchair Arcade, Inc.

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Matt Barton
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Yikes! That is one glossy

Yikes! That is one glossy book. :)

I was wondering about the copyright issue. Is that a book published by the government? It's my understanding that anything published by the government is public domain (that's why we tend to see the same clips of things like the rocket launches and such over and over). I wonder if, say, you wanted to show the picture of the kid using the TRS-80 in an article about TRS-80s...Would that be covered under fair use? Or perhaps use it in our film when we talk about, say, how computers back then were focused on marketing to education. I know the knee jerk reaction from lawyers is to disallow anything as fair use (they prefer explicit permission, naturally), but there is wiggle room. Of course, we're assuming that the publishers or copyright holders of this book are still around and care enough to send cease and desist orders. I doubt that would happen if they are defunct.

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Bill Loguidice
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I obviously don't know

I obviously don't know enough about copyright laws to know that, but it's published by "Childrens Press" and has no indication of having anything to do with the government. The full text of the book is available on that link I provided to Flickr if any of that additional information will help.

I don't see why we couldn't use some of those images in the documentary. Certainly a few of those and some footage from that "Joystick" movie will help a little towards our need for contemporary archive footage. Of course, I also have tons of old books and magazines, but we really do need moving footage more than still, since that's much harder to get.

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Bill Loguidice, Managing Director
Armchair Arcade, Inc.

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Martin Touhey
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Fair Use

Working on a documentary myself I've come across the fair use question and after some research I found that you can use any image, sound, or motion picture footage as long as there is a significant information provided that supports the use of that media. For example if you wanted to use the pic of the TRS-80 you'd have to have a voice over or text describing the TRS-80 or it would have to relate to the subject matter in that section of the film. Also keep in mind though that photographing a book is not in violation of copyright and is fair to use, scans are a different story because of the near-perfect replication. For example, I could film somebody playing Dragon's Lair from beginning to end and have no problems whatsoever, but if I used the actual video footage and presented it on-screen then I would have to make sure that my scene requires that footage to support it. It's a really hazy gray area which is why I'm going for a full-blown licensing agreement to clear it up. Hope this helps.

Bill Loguidice
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Fair Use
Martin Touhey wrote:

Working on a documentary myself I've come across the fair use question and after some research I found that you can use any image, sound, or motion picture footage as long as there is a significant information provided that supports the use of that media. For example if you wanted to use the pic of the TRS-80 you'd have to have a voice over or text describing the TRS-80 or it would have to relate to the subject matter in that section of the film. Also keep in mind though that photographing a book is not in violation of copyright and is fair to use, scans are a different story because of the near-perfect replication. For example, I could film somebody playing Dragon's Lair from beginning to end and have no problems whatsoever, but if I used the actual video footage and presented it on-screen then I would have to make sure that my scene requires that footage to support it. It's a really hazy gray area which is why I'm going for a full-blown licensing agreement to clear it up. Hope this helps.

All of our stuff will be cleared by the studio's legal team anyway, but yes, that's the definition of fair use that we've been told as well.

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Bill Loguidice, Managing Director
Armchair Arcade, Inc.

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Matt Barton
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True, though I'm impressed

True, though I'm impressed with what editors can do with photographs. For instance, that one with the lady and the computer--I could see an extreme closeup on the right side (showing her face), moving down to her hands, and then up and out to show the computer. All that movement from a single photo! Amazing what you can do, really.

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Bill Loguidice
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Movement
Matt Barton wrote:

True, though I'm impressed with what editors can do with photographs. For instance, that one with the lady and the computer--I could see an extreme closeup on the right side (showing her face), moving down to her hands, and then up and out to show the computer. All that movement from a single photo! Amazing what you can do, really.

I still prefer the 3D effect, where the camera moves through the photo. We were supposed to be able to have that effect implemented, but who knows at this point. I guess we can do a "beauty pass" on all the still images when it reaches that point. I don't even think the rough cut is the place for that.

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Bill Loguidice, Managing Director
Armchair Arcade, Inc.

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Matt Barton
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Can you link a video with

Can you link a video with that 3D effect? I think I've seen it, but would like to see it again.

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Bill Loguidice
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Parallax Photo Effect (aka, Ken Burns Effect?)

Matt Barton wrote:
Can you link a video with that 3D effect? I think I've seen it, but would like to see it again.

Here is a very simple one:

And another (starts around 00:30):

It's apparently quite easy to pull off. I should experiment with one for a future AA TV episode. Here's a tutorial: http://www.webdesign.org/photoshop/photo-editing/parallax-photo-effect-u...

I've seen it referred to as the "Ken Burns Effect" in addition to the "Parallax Photo Effect", but it seems like the former is mostly just moving the camera around on a still photo, while the latter actually involves creating multiple layers on the photo to move the camera through.

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Bill Loguidice, Managing Director
Armchair Arcade, Inc.

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