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Mark Vergeer's picture

Mark plays... Gyruss on Atari 8-bit with other console footage (HD)

In this video I am trying to play Gyruss on the Atari 8-bit home computer range (800XL/130XE) and I talk a bit about the game, life, the universe and everything on the side.

It is a very fun game and belongs right up there with my all-time favorites (time pilot, gyruss are right up there).

Intro music by ZombieAndy1979

"Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use."

Mark Vergeer's picture

Replay 2011 - day 1 - Teaser

Had an amazing day at the Norbreck hotel at Replay 2011. Met a lot of great people and the atmosphere was just awesome! And it is happening again tomorrow!

Retro geek heaven this is! I'll be going again in 2012 - it will be held in Manchester city a few weeks earlier even!

Bill Loguidice's picture

Don Lancaster releases his classic computer books as free ebooks!

Thanks to the Apple II news Website,, for the heads-up about Don Lancaster releasing some of his classic computer books as free ebooks, each of which are presently available for download as PDFs. Check it out, particularly if you're into the Apple II!

Bill Loguidice's picture

Do you know what and when the first recognizable modern day personal computer with BASIC was?

Commodore PET 2001-8Based on a lively discussion over at AtariAge, I finally have what appears to be independent confirmation of what and when the first recognizable modern day personal computer with the BASIC programming language was. For purposes of definition, "first recognizable modern day personal computer" means a pre-assembled (non-kit) computer with a built-in display output (typically to a monitor early on and later to a TV) and full keyboard. The BASIC part means having some type of operating system with BASIC commands, preferably (though not required to be) in ROM. Now, we all know the holy trinity of 1977, the Apple II, Commodore PET and TRS-80, which were released (meaning not just announced, but actually available to buy and, more importantly, use) in that magical year, in that order, and each of which set the standard for all others to follow. Logic would dictate then that the first computer to fit our definition would be the Apple II. However, as the French would say au contraire mon frere. After some total misses were brought up, one computer in particular began to generate some legitimate consideration, the Processor Technology SOL-20 (SOL 20; NOTE: Though apparently far less popular, the reduced feature-set SOL 10 was also available). Unfortunately, there is a criminal lack of historical information related to both the company and the computer, so pinning down a release date for the pre-assembled version was difficult (as was customary for the time, kit versions were available--even the Apple II could be bought as a kit, though the Commodore PET and TRS-80 could not). While I've been able to briefly handle a fully operational SOL-20 in the past, due to its high cost on today's open market (easily north of $400 with often questionable functionality), I've been unable to acquire one, so my first-hand knowledge of the system is decidedly limited.

AtariAge user "desiv", was the first to find this article, which is a report from a gentleman who had a computer store at the time and pretty much pegged a general availability of 1976 for the SOL-20. Not satisfied with this single account (for one thing, there were a few mis-remembrances in there, like saying the SOL-20 was never sold as a kit), I decided to end the debate (if only primarily with myself) once and for all by checking my personal library's materials for another contemporary perspective. Luckily, I found one.

According to my copy of Owning Your Home Computer (The Complete Illustrated Guide) (1980) by Robert L. Perry, on page 49, "About the same time [mid-1975], Robert Marsh, a computer engineer, founded Processor Technology, which marketed the first computer complete with keyboard and video screen--SOL, the first personal computer deserving the name." and "Except for the first version of the Processor Technology personal computer, called SOL, there was no complete home computer at the beginning of 1977." Then he goes on to talk about the usual suspects, Commodore PET, Apple II, TRS-80, Exidy Sorcerer and Ohio Scientific Challenger, as being introduced that year (of course actual availability is a different issue).

He mentions another challenger a bit later, the Polymorphic 8800, which was introduced in 1976, which contained connections for a video monitor and a cassette recorder (as well as BASIC in ROM). Unfortunately, you had to add your own keyboard, which disqualifies it. He then talks a bit more about the SOL 20, "The first computer a hobbyist could simply turn on and use was the Processor Technology SOL 20. It had its own keyboard, an audio cassette interface, a complete video processor that used numbers and letters (in upper and lower case...), both kinds of input/output ports (serial and parallel), and an internal power supply. It had neither switches nor blinking lights on a complicated-looking front panel. It did have an internal operating system fixed in its memory, which allowed a user to simply plug it to a video monitor and use it. [description of an operating system] Yet the SOL, too, was too complicated for the average user. A buyer still had to know computer programming to use it." So, while BASIC was not in ROM (just a "simple" operating system was), it was apparently readily available on paper tape and cassette (see more info, here, here, and here (the latter of which points to BASIC availability no later than circa January 1977, still well before the Apple II's actual release)).

Perry then devotes some time to the second generation of kit computers, like the RCA Cosmac Elf II, and Heathkit H-8. Then, towards the end of page 54, he starts in with the TRS-80, leads into the PET, talks about the Apple I and II, the Ohio Scientific Challenger, the Compucolor 8001, and the Exidy Sorcerer (which he says, correctly, was introduced in the Spring of 1978).

On another note, he devotes Chapter 5 to "The Newest Home Computers", which, given sufficient publishing lead time for this 1980 book, would have placed most of these releases between 1978 - 1979, which falls in line with what we already know well (of course, some, like the Mattel Keyboard Component, were only ANNOUNCED at this time and would still be some time away). These systems include: Sinclair ZX80, APF Imagination Machine, Interact Model One, Mattel Intellivision (with Keyboard Component), TI-99/4 (not the 4A), Bally Professional Arcade, and HP-85.

On a final note, in Chapter 6, "The Handiest Home Computers", he discusses the TRS-80, Commodore PET, Apple II/III, Ohio Scientific Challenger series, Compucolor II, Exidy Sorcerer, and the Atari 400/800. Definitely a good book, and definitely an end to the "mystery". Nevertheless, if you want all of the usual qualifiers above and BASIC to reside in ROM, you're still looking at the Apple II, which was released in June 1977.

Any thoughts out there to the contrary?

Bill Loguidice's picture

New Atari 8-bit Article on Gamasutra - Loguidice and Barton

Gamasutra has released the last in the series of book excerpts from the future Hiive Books publication, this one on the Atari 8-bit computer series, from their "A History of Gaming Platforms" series from authors Bill Loguidice and Matt Barton. Check out the cover feature article here, and look below for images that Gamasutra chose not to use:

Bill Loguidice's picture

1,001 Boxed Computer Games from the 1970's to Present - Requests for Reviews and/or Detailed Photos Taken!

OK, it's not really 1,001 boxed computer games, it's actually 1,035 as of this writing by my best cataloging efforts (hopefully not missing more than a couple), but 1,001 has a certain literary ring to it... Here's the link. Anyway, this has taken me months of free time here and there to inventory. I just stuck to basics - Game, Platform(s), Publisher(s), Box Type (I winged that) and Genre (winged that too). This is ONLY boxed computer software - no videogames (consoles or handhelds), and only stuff that was commercially released (or at least appears to be). Inventorying my boxed videogame collection will take another long period of time independent of this. General photos of the computer software on their shelves, is here. Finally, the list of systems currently in my collection is here. A high percentage of those computer systems listed, both common and rare, have representation in my boxed software collection.

So, why do I bring this up? Simple. I'm taking requests. It's very important for me to share my collection in as many ways as possible and this is certainly one way to do it. Do you want to see photos of the box and insides? Would you like a review? Would you like a simple overview? Screenshots? It doesn't matter as I'll try to accommodate it in a structured, orderly manner. Of course, requesting something like Archon or Elite would be rather silly, since information on those is readily available and redundant--requests for coverage of common items really doesn't do anyone any good, does it? Let's try to make it interesting and useful for everyone.

Bill Loguidice's picture

Photographic evidence of my collection of 250 systems, related software, peripherals, literature and more...

Well, after going almost a year after moving into a bigger house, I've finally finished unpacking my whole collection of vintage and modern computer and videogame systems, software, literature and more. I didn't bother to go into much photographic detail or move anything on the shelves (or describe anything in the photos at this point - sorry). Some point soon, I"ll do a video feature on this stuff, then begin to go into much greater detail with articles and in-depth video features. Regardless, this is a huge weight off my back to finally get this stuff out to a reasonable point of access for me. Just in time too, as I needed to start taking photos again for my upcoming book anyway and the publisher all but threatened to take a hit out on me...

The list of my systems here, where yes, I do stretch the definition a bit of what constitutes a "system".

The link to Flickr with all (185, linear) the photos, here.

Bill Loguidice's picture

Feature Article: Defining Past and Present Game Genres


Why past and present?  Certain game types, while still alive through the efforts of thousands of active hobby programmers, are no longer available in mainstream retail outlets and thus don’t knowingly exist to large portions of the game playing public.  Therefore, described in alphabetical order is what has been and what is still available.  Keep in mind, however, that one of the beauties of gaming is that many games don’t fit neatly into one specific category.  When example software titles are listed, only the publisher or developer is noted in parentheses, along with one of the systems or platforms the game appeared on.

Bill Loguidice's picture

Feature Article: Defining Home Videogame, Computer and Handheld Eras


What is often lacking in casual discussion of eras or time periods when certain systems or types of technology dominated is an agreed upon definition of what these really encompassed.  Below is one attempt at defining the significance of eras in the key classifications of home videogames, computers

Bill Loguidice's picture

Do Computer and Videogame Collectors Have an Overriding Responsibility?

The Warp Factor (SSI, 1981): Front of box image from an eBay auctionThe Warp Factor (SSI, 1981): Front of box image from an eBay auctionAh, the wonders of eBay. While you can occasionally get a hard-to-find game for a low price with lots of luck - say maybe $35 with shipping - other times you'll see boxed software go for ridiculous prices that no mere mortal can afford, like SSI's classic "The Warp Factor" for the Apple II, with a very recent final sale price before shipping of $449.44! Even though it's sealed, it's still an amazingly over-the-top winning bid. As is usual with SSI games - particularly pre-1986 SSI games - the cover artwork is beautiful and there are nice extras inside the oversized box. A fine specimen or not (though this one is actually a bit crushed!), average-to-good game itself or not, it can't help but make you reflect on the meaning of collecting, particularly as it applies to our hobby.

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