Oldskooler Ramblings

the unlikely child born of the home computer wars

Archive for November 22nd, 2011

MindCandy Volume 3 Is Now Available

Posted by Trixter on November 22, 2011

After 4 years of hard work and many setbacks, I’m very pleased to announce that MindCandy Volume 3 is finally available.

The official launch date is December 6th, however the first shipments will be going out to people who pre-ordered as early as Friday of this week.  You can order directly from us, from a reseller in your hemisphere, or from Amazon.

I’d like to thank the entire MindCandy crew past and present for getting “that  demodvd project” to this point.  From capturing some clips of a Capacala demo in 1996, to a professional Blu-ray in 2011 with over 3.5 hours of demos and 7 hours of extras, it’s been a long great ride.

And special thanks to my family, for putting up with me and my hobby :-)

Posted in Demoscene, Digital Video, Entertainment, MindCandy | 12 Comments »

Family Computing

Posted by Trixter on November 22, 2011

Today’s post over on Vintage Computing and Gaming’s Retro Scan Of The Week covered the magazine Family Computing, one of the lesser-known personal computing magazines of the 1980s, which brought back a memory that I think is important to share.  Normally I’d write a lot of historical info about Family Computing Magazine itself, but not today.  This post is less about Family Computing and more about how a simple choice my father made shaped my life.

In 1983, having started using the Apple IIs at my school for word processing and simple programming with LOGO, I became quite interested in computers and really wanted one, but our family didn’t have a lot of money at the time and couldn’t afford one, even a C64. My father was sympathetic to how I felt, and as a small consolation bought me a subscription to Family Computing Magazine. It turned out that the magazine subscription was just as valuable a gift as the computer I wanted. Whenever it arrived, I read it cover to cover in 2-3 hours, absorbing everything in that magazine and learning about every system on the market as well as what kinds of software and hardware were available for them.  More importantly, I also learned what other people were using their computers to accomplish, far beyond a simple checkbook balance or playing a game.  And for those specialized tasks, they were often writing their own software in BASIC.

That’s a nice memory, but not a life-changing one.  What changed my life, specifically, was the combination of three things:  My desire to use a computer + not actually owning one + the BASIC listings in every Family Computing magazine.  Every mag had a few BASIC programs that did various things, usually a utility program, a simple game, and some “mystery” program that displayed or printed some graphic or message and you had to run the code to see what it was.  They were written in Applesoft BASIC, with diffs for other computers of the time (usually Atari 8-bit, C64, TRS-80, and TI 99/4A were represented, with later diffs for Spectrum and PCjr’s sound and graphics).  Because we didn’t own a computer, I would spend hours tracing through the BASIC listings in my head to “run” them to see what they did.  Sometimes I had a pad next to me to jot down notes, as I couldn’t juggle more than 5-6 variables at a time. For the “mystery” programs that output graphics, I would plot the output on graph paper.  Each program was a puzzle to solve.  My brain became an emulator.

Dad saw me spend hours reading each magazine, and going over older ones, so he found a way to save monthly for a computer.  A little over a year later, he surprised the family with an AT&T PC 6300, which he was able to get at a discount because he worked at AT&T at the time. I nearly exploded, and barreled through that machine with a purpose.  I used that computer just as long as I read Family Computing, both until roughly 1989.

Today, I program in 8088 assembler for fun.  It calms me down.

Thank you, Joey Latimer, for writing all those BASIC programs, and thank you Dad, for a simple act of empathy.

Posted in Programming, Vintage Computing | 1 Comment »