Oldskooler Ramblings

the unlikely child born of the home computer wars

Archive for April, 2013

Journey’s End

Posted by Trixter on April 21, 2013

I was part of the first wave of people tackling the gigantic task of preserving personal computing gaming history in the early 1990s. ¬†(I suppose pirating software in the 1980s counts too, but scanning materials and interviewing people began, for me, in the 1990s.) ¬†Without connecting to others or knowing what was out there, I started to hoard software and hardware where financially possible and appropriate. ¬†I collected software I considered hidden gems, that should be given their due in some public forum before being forgotten. ¬†I grabbed many Tandy 1000s and other early PCs to ensure various works could be run and studied. ¬†I was an original member of the abandonware movement. ¬†I wrote articles on how to get old software running on modern machines, and contributed to software that did the same. ¬†I co-founded the world’s largest gaming database¬†so that information about these works could be consumed and researched by millions.

I did this all before Y2K. ¬†When you’re the only guy shouting in a crowd, you tend to look the lunatic, and that’s pretty much how most of my friends and family saw me.

Look around the preservation landscape today and much of what I was working towards for years has come to pass. ¬†There are many vintage hardware and software museums, both physical and virtual, including some dedicated to gaming. ¬†There are some wonderful emulators that get closer and closer to the real thing each year. ¬†There are even some curated collections online. ¬†(There are many more curated collections offline, orders of magnitude larger than what is online, but in a decade or so I believe these will move online as well.) ¬†Most importantly, there are established communities that support these efforts. ¬†All in all, I’m pretty happy with how things have turned out.

Looking around all of my possessions inside my home, I see the fallout of what I was trying to accomplish many years ago. ¬†I see no less than five PCjrs, three identical Tandy 1000s, three identical IBM PC 5150s, and multiples of Macs, Apples, C64s, and Amigas. ¬†I see crates and bookshelves and closets filled with hardware and software. ¬†I see clutter where there should be a nice desk for displaying a computer in a respectful way, or an easy chair for reading or watching TV. ¬†It’s too much. ¬†It’s time to let most of it go, and focus like a laser on the things that are the most important. ¬†I will be disseminating most of my collection, both software and hardware, in the following year.

What I will continue to do, however, is archive and preserve software, as there is still a ton of IBM PC software from the 1980s that has not yet been released into the wild. ¬†I am also committed to creating the “sound card museum” project I keep threatening to do. ¬†To those ends, I will retain a few systems that will allow me to achieve both of those goals.

So, I’ll still keep buying and collecting vintage software — the difference is, I won’t retain the software after preserving it. ¬†Consider me a vintage personal computing clearing house.

Posted in Family, Gaming, Home Ownership, Lifehacks, MobyGames, Software Piracy, Vintage Computing | Tagged: , , | 11 Comments »

PCjr talk cancelled

Posted by Trixter on April 18, 2013

Our basement flooded due to Illinois floodrains, and we also had some issues regarding our roller scooters so I will not be traveling to notacon; there will be no PCjr talk this weekend.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

PCjr Presentation Details

Posted by Trixter on April 16, 2013

As previously mentioned, I’ll be giving my PCjr history/hacking talk “Admiring one of IBM’s Biggest Mistakes” this weekend in Cleveland, OH at NOTACON, but I didn’t know the exact details until a few days ago, so here they are: ¬†My talk is at 1pm Saturday, plenty of time to wake up, find some lunch, and ¬†settle in. ¬†(I say this to reassure myself, not give instructions to potential audience members. ¬†I will likely be freaking out about the PCjr-to-projector hookup, since the jr’s video output is not quite spec.)

Because they gave me a larger time slot, the talk has been expanded from 50 minutes to 90 minutes.  There will be some media to watch, as well as a real PCjr showing off its more unique features.

I’m not sure what to do with the extra time — I’ll have the room for 2.5 hours, and I can’t imagine people having more than 5 minutes’ worth of questions. ¬†How to fill the time? ¬†Boot up the original first version of King’s Quest (which has additional functionality on PCjr) on the projector and let people have at it? ¬†Connect it to the internet and join an IRC channel? ¬†Take game requests? ¬†Show off additional software that supported the PCjr? ¬†I’m open to suggestions.

Rumor has it I might have something silly to submit into the wild compo.  Maybe.

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