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

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Matt Barton
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Good Lord, that tutorial

Good Lord, that tutorial video is loading slowly.

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Bill Loguidice
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Tutorial?
Matt Barton wrote:

Good Lord, that tutorial video is loading slowly.

I'm not sure if it still works properly. I assumed the issues I was having were related to being at work.

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Bill Loguidice, Managing Director
Armchair Arcade, Inc.

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Matt Barton
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Well, I was able to do it!

Well, I was able to do it! It was extremely crude (I didn't even try to fine cut the image or anything), but it definitely works. It seems to work best if you have a clearly defined thing in the foreground (i.e., it already has a look of depth to it). For example, say you had a sign in the front and a house in the back. That would be easy to cut around the sign and get the effect.

Definitely something fun to play around with, but I lack the expertise to really cut out an object precisely. I'm sure mine would end up too jagged looking.

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Matt Barton
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Well, it's all moot anyway

Well, it's all moot anyway unless a copyright holder comes out of the woodwork to send you a C&D. You can argue about it in court, but, win or lose, you're still going to lose far more money than it's worth in court costs. In short, no private citizen can win if a corporation goes after him. I expect, though, that if it were online somewhere, the corporation would just go after YouTube or the ISP and have it taken down without your consent.

I admire your "official licensing" approach, Martin, though that's optimistic (unless you're prepared to do some very serious legwork). Imagine trying to get official permission from Nintendo to use some gameplay or promotional materials in a documentary. My guess it you'd just receive a knee-jerk "No!" immediately, followed by threats and a C&D if you went ahead anyway. Other companies might try to charge you for the footage, or force you to sign something that forbids you from doing anything but kissing their ass. This is all assuming that you know who holds the copyright. What about cases where a publisher is defunct, the authors can't be found, etc.? There's no central depository anywhere that you can go to look this stuff up. If you need the material, you just have to use it and pray the copyright holders don't appear out of nowhere to sue you.

I've heard of cases where the actual authors, thinking the copyrights had reverted, gave permission, only to find out that someone somewhere had acquired the rights from a defunct publisher. Thus, even with the author or creator's own blessing, you could still be sued by some anonymous copyright holder.

It's a terrible mess. I suspect the whole reason fair use exists is to provide some kind of loophole to protect documentary makers who DO have a legal team and so on. Otherwise, it'd pretty much shut down free speech.

While I'm ranting, let me add another protest and a suggestion: Let's boycott Mobygames. I am fed up with their watermarking every image, scan, etc., and then forbidding anyone else to use them. I don't think most people who upload their images and scans (at their own time and expense, I might add) are aware of their ridiculous policy. Mobygames is a profiteering bunch of ingrates who take freely contributed materials and then claim them as their own copyrighted material. Don't support them.

Instead, I suggest uploading images and such to Wikipedia. That way, it's not watermarked, and protected by a license that lets anyone use them.

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Martin Touhey
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Legwork
Matt Barton wrote:

I admire your "official licensing" approach, Martin, though that's optimistic (unless you're prepared to do some very serious legwork).

Actually the legwork is already done, it's just a matter of financing at this point. I've already been in touch with Dragon's Lair, LLC whose members include Don Bluth and Gary Goldman and was emailing Gary nearly every other day. I jumped through a thousand hoops (via their lawyer) in order to just get them to talk to me, but once they looked at my proposal, they liked what they saw and casually agreed to be in the film. For months the wheels of progress were set into motion and I actually had set up interview dates with Don and Gary last June. One week prior to my departure to Arizona, they said they wanted their licensing fee up front, which I didn't have nor did I expect them to ask for, and quickly denied the interviews until they felt the project was "sufficiently funded". It felt like a suckerpunch and it really took the wind out of my sails. Since then I've been looking for distributors and investors for the project with no luck so far. Independent film can be a b**** sometimes.

Bill Loguidice
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I hear you Martin. Even

I hear you Martin. Even though ours is through a studio, it's still an independent production and still very much with a limited budget. I have no doubt it will be a top notch film when completed, but it's certainly a struggle at this point with limited resources.

You may want to consider teaming up with Shane R. Monroe. He has direct contact with both Bluth and Goldman and was consulting on development for one of the canned DS versions. He has a loyal following and you may be able to work out some type of funding/contact with the powers that be type of deal that help get your project moving forward more quickly. He's at www.monroeworld.com if you're not familiar with him.

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Bill Loguidice, Managing Director
Armchair Arcade, Inc.

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Martin Touhey
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Actually...
Bill Loguidice wrote:

You may want to consider teaming up with Shane R. Monroe. He has direct contact with both Bluth and Goldman and was consulting on development for one of the canned DS versions. He has a loyal following and you may be able to work out some type of funding/contact with the powers that be type of deal that help get your project moving forward more quickly. He's at www.monroeworld.com if you're not familiar with him.

Actually I'm quite familiar with him as I'm a member on monroeworld.com and was actually introduced to him by the creator of the canned DS game. Shane is a fan of the RetroSmash vids and he knows that the Dragon's Lair doc is going on, but I'm pretty sure that Don and Gary are quite steadfast in their demand to work out the licensing agreement before I get the chance to interview them. Their concern is mostly out of the time it will take to interview them and they don't want it going to waste (i.e. movie never being made). The irony of the whole thing is that I was going to put together a kick-ass promo reel with their interviews and some fan interviews to attract potential funders at my funding sites. Right now I only have a teaser that uses footage of the game with some creative editing and titles, but nothing that people can see that shows a real production going on.

Bill Loguidice
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The only other suggestion I

The only other suggestion I have Martin would be LinkedIn, and one of the many groups dedicated to documentarians. At the very least, there are good tips on there. If you're there, send me an invite as well if you think of it (I'm under my name, naturally).

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Bill Loguidice, Managing Director
Armchair Arcade, Inc.

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Catatonic
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3D - After Effects

I saw that effect done in After Effects once. The video is here:

Bill Loguidice
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Wow, Catatonic, at 2:56, the

Wow, Catatonic, at 2:56, the effect is stunning. That's EXACTLY what I'd love for our film to have.

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Bill Loguidice, Managing Director
Armchair Arcade, Inc.

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