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#26 GlowingGhoul OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Apr 6, 2015 6:22 PM

These interviews have been terrific. Thanks to everyone involved.

 

We can preserve the hardware, the software, but so much history of our beloved 8-bits would have been lost without these interviews. The A8 community owes you a debt of gratitude.  



#27 RJ OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Apr 8, 2015 7:07 AM

RE: Jerry Jessop
(cross-posted in the "2 Worthy Podcasts" thread"...)

Years ago, when I had damaged my PS1 w/ some combination of controller extension cord & 3rd party controller, I went online asking for help. Jerry heard my call & helped me thru it, graciously mailing me an assortment of chips, unsolicited. Thanks to him (& a certain amount of dumb luck & my VERY basic soldering skills) I fixed it!

I'll always be grateful to Jerry. What a great guy.

Edited by RJ, Wed Apr 8, 2015 7:08 AM.


#28 Savetz OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Apr 8, 2015 10:25 AM

Jerry Jessop, Atari

ANTIC Interview 30 - Jerry Jessop, Atari

 

Jerry Jessop worked at Atari from 1977 through 1985 where he did many jobs - including lead of production repair, customer service supervisor for the Atari 400/800, and he worked with the secret skunkworks group that was creating the Amiga, when it still could have been an Atari product. In this interview he shares great stories, including how he hand-assembled Atari 800s on the production floor, and fired up the very first 800XL prototype the very first time.

 

Teaser quotes:

 

"I worked on the 1400XL. I could tell from day one, nobody had their heart into it."

 

"It was good stuff cutting up Atari 2600s on a Sunday afternoon."

 

"I shoved 72 Atari 810s in a 1979 Dodge Colt one day. I took the seats out so that I could load up as many 810s as I could possibly get in there."

 

"We had this big inflatable frog that we grabbed from the party, and we're walking down the street in Chicago and we ran into a very drunk on-the-street Muhammad Ali."



#29 abbotkinneydude OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Apr 8, 2015 8:29 PM

The Jerry Jessop interview was insanely great. Thanks for sharing Kevin!



#30 FifthPlayer OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Apr 8, 2015 9:23 PM

Just listened to my own interview episode. Man that's weired - amazing how many thing I got wrong :-).  Fun fact: My first Atari was an Atari 800 XL , not an Atari 800 as said there. But since I didn't know by that time that there even was an actual "Atari 800" I tend to call the "Atari 800 XL" instead "Atari 800" until today.

 

I'm in the middle of this interview now - I listen to it in pieces on my commute - and I have to say I'm totally enjoying this one.  The things you've done with WUDSN and with A8 development are just incredible.



#31 DrVenkman OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 9, 2015 5:18 PM

The Jerry Jessop interview was insanely great. Thanks for sharing Kevin!

 

 

I gotta second this. Fantastic interview. I listened to it today and would've happily listened to him talk about stuff for twice as long. 

 

One thing I kind of hoped you'd asked him (maybe he'd be open to a follow-up question by email?) is if he could explain the "two serial number" thing that some (but only some) 400's and 800's have - one stamped on the usual main Atari label affixed to the bottom of the box, and another handwritten narrow white sticker stuck to the bottom as well. This second number (if there is one) usually seems to correspond the serial number label on the inside of the cartridge slot under the cover. I've speculated that perhaps the sticker s/n labels might correspond to units pulled from production for re-work and thus knocked "out of order" for the cases that they would normally be assembled into. Given Jerry's roles in the company he might be able to solve that little mystery. 



#32 Savetz OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 10, 2015 1:12 PM

@DrVenkman — here's your answer from Jerry:

 

"On to the question below regarding the labels I can remember a number of changes in the process and they were all related (early Sunnyvale days) to tracking back to the PITTS test system. They wanted to track product quality back to the original production test data but that never happened. Changes in labels could have been due to rework or retest but honestly I can't remember and I would not at all assume that it did. Like I said the process changed numerous times as the automated testing was a major problem that first year."



#33 DrVenkman OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 10, 2015 6:05 PM

Thank you for asking, Kevin. :) 



#34 playermissile OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Apr 11, 2015 1:34 AM

Player/Missile Podcast #11: Interview with James Hague

 

James Hague published games in both ANALOG and Antic magazines, published Halcyon Days, an e-book of interviews with classic game authors, and maintains the Giant List of Classic Game Programmers.

 

We talked about his background and interest in games, the process of submitting games to magazines, how he put together the book and the Giant List, and even a little bit about game development in the post-8-bit world.



#35 Savetz OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Apr 11, 2015 9:21 AM

William Volk, Avalon Hill/Activision

ANTIC Interview 31 - William Volk, Avalon Hill/Activision

 

William Volk wrote three Atari games for Avalon Hill: Conflict 2500, Voyager 1, and Controller. He also wrote Forth Turtle Graphics Plus, a 3-D graphics library for the Forth language that was released by Atari Program Exchange; ValGraphics for Valpar International; and Super Smart Terminal, an 80-column terminal application which -- may have been released by APX? He later went on to work on Return To Zork for Activision.

 

Teaser quotes:

 

“True story, when we did Conflict 2500, we had no documentation, so we literally started poking addresses to find out how to do things. Literally.”

 

“It sounded like a good deal but I was still in grad school so I said, ‘I would only do that if you paid me X,’ where X was for the time was some ridiculous amount of money. And they said ‘Sure, we’ll pay you that much.’”

 

“It looked terrible. It looked annoying as hell but it was funny because it made you think you were in a radar room, you know?”

 

“Voyager 1 was in inspired by Alien. In fact I remember taking my future wife to the premiere of Alien in Philadelphia, thinking that it was going to be like Star Wars: pretty light-hearted. I was kind of shocked. As was she! Our first movie date.”



#36 Allan ONLINE  

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Posted Sat Apr 11, 2015 1:18 PM

Wow, another great interview. Homerun after homerun. The only thing that made me sad the the interview with William Volk was the talk about the lost APX title. :(

 

I wonder if Fred Thorlin remembers anything about this program?

 

Allan



#37 rkindig OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Apr 12, 2015 8:52 AM

Al Alcorn, Atari Employee #3

ANTIC Interview 32 - Al Alcorn, Atari Employee #3

 

Welcome to Antic, the Atari 8-bit computer podcast.  I’m Randy Kindig and this is an interview-only episode of Antic.  My guest for this interview was employee #3 at Atari where he created the world's first commercially successful video game: Pong, Mr. Al Alcorn.  Al was a very influential figure in the early Atari and has a lot of great stories to share about those early days.  He tells us about Steve Jobs stealing employees from Atari, his opportunity to buy into Apple, why Atari got into the home computer business, a special meeting with IBM concerning Atari computers, and his thoughts about why Atari failed.  Al has a terrific sense of humor and I very much enjoyed talking with him.  I hope you enjoy it too.



#38 therealbountybob OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 14, 2015 2:08 PM

Really enjoying these and the pod casts :thumbsup:  :thumbsup:  every time I think I'm catching up there are a bunch more! Fascinating stuff. Just finished listening to #14 Chuck Peavey... as a 'new' assembler programmer it's good to hear some insights into the games development side of things :)



#39 Savetz OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 17, 2015 9:43 AM

Louis Massucci, Atari Bench Tech

ANTIC Interview 33 - Louis Massucci, Atari Bench Tech

 

Lou Massucci was a bench technician for the Atari 800 line, repairing 8-bit computers and peripherals in Somerset, New Jersey. Later, he was was promoted to field service representative for the southwest territory.

 

This interview was conducted on March 2, 2015.

 

(and seriously! check out his pictures of the Atari commercial shoot: https://archive.org/...TheScenesPhotos )

 

Teaser Quotes

"Actually, that's what was causing some of the failure modes because the debris left behind by the cockroaches is very acidic and would actually eat through the PC board traces."

 

"And it kind of came out of nowhere. I mean, we were repairing these things for a year, and really never had a problem with the keyboard. Then all of a sudden we're starting to get this rash of defective 800s with spacebar problems."

 

"I think it was a Friday afternoon. We got a call from Atari California, and my manager came in saying, 'You need to get the modem going and they're going to download this file.' We complete the download and it was basically a beta copy of the Pac Man cartridge. So for the next two hours, I think, four or five of us were sitting around our computers playing a beta copy of the Pac Man cartridge."

 

"I was actually a support engineer for a commercial -- an Atari 8-bit computer commercial."



#40 Savetz OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Apr 19, 2015 4:01 PM

Ian Chadwick, Mapping the Atari

ANTIC Interview 34 - Ian Chadwick, Mapping the Atari

 

Ian Chadwick is the author of Mapping The Atari, which was -- and remains -- the ultimate

memory map for the Atari 8-bit computers. Mapping was published in two editions: the

original was for the 400/800 computers, then an updated version was later released for

the XL and XE machines. Ian also did a lot of documentation writing behind the scenes,

including many of Antic's software manuals, and several manuals for Batteries Included and other companies.

 

This interview was conducted on March 3, 2015.

 

Teaser quotes:

 

"So I would write these little BASIC programs that would go along, and they'd POKE a bunch of memory locations, and at the same time they'd be PEEKing into other memory locations to see what would happen. And it was so much fun!"

 

"It wasn't intentionally started out as a book, it really intentionally started out as a database of information for my own use."

 

"They'd say 'You're the guy who wrote Mapping The Atari! You know, that turned my life around when I was 18!' or something."

 

"It took about two or three minutes to get the platter warmed up. Spinning up to speed it sounded like a Lear jet taking off. Wooooosh! And it held six megabytes."



#41 JAC! OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 21, 2015 12:49 PM

That Jerry Jessop interview was just - WOW! Really great stories and insights.

#42 Savetz OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 21, 2015 5:21 PM

ANTIC Interview 35 - Michael Phillips, Atari Bench Tech

http://ataripodcast....tari-bench-tech

https://archive.org/...age/n0/mode/2up

 

Michael Phillips worked as a bench technician at Atari from February 1981 to June 1984, doing component level repair of Atari video game systems, personal computers, and peripherals.

 

Because Michael is a lifelong stutterer, he didn’t want to do a voice interview — but he was willing to be interviewed by email. Because this is an audio podcast, I’ve enlisted Randy Kindig to read Michael’s responses. You can also read the original written version of this interview here: https://archive.org/...age/n0/mode/2up

 

The interview was conducted via email, February 2015.

 

Teaser quotes:

 

“Beating the device in question...was part of being a good tech. The key is knowing how hard and where to hit.”

 

“Misspellings, bad English and odd terminology were par for the day. One guy once referred to the I/O cable as a ‘hose’.”

 

“One I vividly remember was an 810 [disk drive] that came back 3 times. The guy claimed it would randomly erase disks, but we could never find a culprit...”

 


Edited by Savetz, Tue Apr 21, 2015 5:21 PM.


#43 Bill Lange OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 21, 2015 9:50 PM

I enjoyed the Louis Massucci interview.  He sounded like he really loved his time in the Atari world.  I currently live in Somerset, NJ and the building where the Atari service center was (10 Worlds Fair Dr) is only a couple of miles away.

 

Bill 



#44 Savetz OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 23, 2015 7:37 AM

Charles Ratcliff, son of MAT*RAT

ANTIC Interview 36 - Charles Ratcliff, son of MAT*RAT

 

Charles Ratcliff is the son of Matthew Ratcliff, the prolific writer for the Atari magazines. Matthew Ratcliff -- or MAT*RAT -- died in 1999.

 

Matthew wrote for Antic, STart, Compute!, A.N.A.L.O.G. Computing, and ST-LOG. In 1986 won Antic magazine's award for Outstanding Contributor. Here's what they wrote about him:

 

"In 1985, Missouri programmer Matthew Ratcliff was really on a roll--publishing four major Antic programs on a remarkable variety of subjects. In March, he delivered the powerful printing utility Custom Print. Following in August was Atari 'Toons, an ambitious animation program that we featured in a popular contest. In September, it was the innovative Revision C Converter that debugged a longstanding problem for many users of Atari BASIC Revision B. Then in December, BBS Crashbuster was a valuable safeguard for bulletin board sysops needing protection against destructive system-crashers."

 

Charles dug around in his dad's filing cabinets and found a lot of interesting Atari-related material that he lent me to scan. In it, you'll find: Matthew's a record book listing expenses and income related to his writing (which is fascinating look at the financials of an early technology writer), writing contracts for A.N.A.L.O.G. Computing, Antic Magazine, and ST-LOG Magazine, and a version of Matthew's resume. (Matthew Ratcliff Atari Documents Collection)

 

This is a different sort of conversation, in which I interviewed Charles about his dad, then he sort of interviews me about his dad, then we end with some technical troubleshooting on his Atari, which I've left in the recording because, why not.

 

This conversation occurred December 12 2014.



#45 Savetz OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Apr 26, 2015 8:35 AM

David Fox, Lucas Arts/Rescue on Fractalus

http://ataripodcast....ue-on-fractalus

 

Hello, you are listening to Antic, the Atari 8-bit computer podcast.  I am Randy Kindig, one of the co-hosts, and I’m bringing to you today an interview episode with the author of one of the best games ever released for the Atari 8-bit computer line.  That would be David Fox, one of the authors of Rescue on Fractalus.  David shares his memories of developing that iconic game, working for LucasFilm (later LucasArts), publishing a book about Atari graphics and much more.  Please enjoy.

 

This interview was conducted March 18, 2015 via Skype.

 

Teaser Quotes:

 

“Every time someone does a LucasArts or LucasIflm retrospective, they find me and they ask me to do stuff.  Happy to talk to them because it's fun!”

 

"The original 2 games that we did, which were Rescue and Ballblazer, were intended to be kind of throw-away games."

 

"Thank you George (Lucas).  He knew about story telling in a way that I didn't and it was really great to have his feedback on that."

 

"And I think Star Raiders also kind of inspired me to do Rescue, to do Rescue on Fractalus"



#46 Savetz OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Apr 27, 2015 8:38 AM

Liza Loop, Technical Writer

ANTIC Interview 38 - Liza Loop, Technical Writer

 

Liza Loop wrote the first users manuals for the Atari 400 and 800 computers. She was a Consultant/Technical Writer for Atari from June 1979 through April 1980, sometimes writing documentation for interfaces that had not been designed yet -- so her description became the de facto interface specification.  Liza also worked for Personal Software, where she wrote the reference manual for the original VisiCalc program.  And in an interesting Atari-related note, she and her husband Steve Smith were married by Atari 400/800 designer Jay Miner -- she talks about that in the interview, too.

 

This interview was conducted January 28, 2015. As of the day I'm recording this in April 2015, Liza hasn't been able to find the manuals and newsletters that we discuss to scan them -- but she says she's still on the lookout. When she finds them and we get them scanned, they'll be added to the show notes at AtariPodcast.com.

 

Teaser quotes:

 

"There was no way that this machine [the Atari 800] would be accepted by a touch typist if you had to shift to get lower case."

 

"I met Steve Wozniak...I was the first person that he had ever met who was taking computers into schools so he gave me the first Apple... So we have Apple I number 1 and Apple II number 10."

 

"One of the things very few people know about Jay [Miner] is that he was interested in nudism. The local nudist group used to have their parties at his house."

 

"So I would have to go and stand in the accounting office...and say 'It's a week after my pay date and I have not received my check... write me a hand check, and put it in the system later ... And I'm going to stand here until you do it."

 

"The guys who started Activision were at Atari. ... Somebody asked me how much I was being paid. I told them ... And they said, '$40 an hour! We're in the wrong business.' And they all quit, and they said 'If you want us to work for you, hire us back at consultants for $40 an hour.'"

 

Kevin's notes: Liza gave a great interview. Listen to it. Great stories.


Edited by Savetz, Mon Apr 27, 2015 8:38 AM.


#47 slx OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Apr 27, 2015 1:03 PM

Still months behind but enjoying every interview. It's a real pity some of them lack a bit in sound quality but the contents really make up for that tenfold!

 

Looking forward to a Clinton Parker interview.

 

(re. the Liza Loop teaser: as a non-native speaker, I always wondered why it is "naked as a jaybird". Question answered? ;) )



#48 Faicuai OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Apr 27, 2015 1:38 PM

 

Jerry Jessop, Atari

ANTIC Interview 30 - Jerry Jessop, Atari

 

Jerry Jessop worked at Atari from 1977 through 1985 where he did many jobs - including lead of production repair, customer service supervisor for the Atari 400/800, and he worked with the secret skunkworks group that was creating the Amiga, when it still could have been an Atari product. In this interview he shares great stories, including how he hand-assembled Atari 800s on the production floor, and fired up the very first 800XL prototype the very first time.

 

Teaser quotes:

 

"I worked on the 1400XL. I could tell from day one, nobody had their heart into it."

 

"It was good stuff cutting up Atari 2600s on a Sunday afternoon."

 

"I shoved 72 Atari 810s in a 1979 Dodge Colt one day. I took the seats out so that I could load up as many 810s as I could possibly get in there."

 

"We had this big inflatable frog that we grabbed from the party, and we're walking down the street in Chicago and we ran into a very drunk on-the-street Muhammad Ali."

 

 

...WoW!!!

 

Talk about a revelation, here. This is a MUST-HEAR for everyone...

 

Enjoy!


Edited by Faicuai, Mon Apr 27, 2015 1:39 PM.


#49 Lynxpro OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Apr 27, 2015 11:44 PM

Gotta say, Kevin, you and Randy at ANTIC have been hitting the ball out of the park with the cool interviews these last couple months. Catching up on podcasts last week, I REALLY enjoyed your interviews with Scott Adams, Alan Watson and Michael Katz  as well as Rob's with Chuck Bueche. 

 

The Atari podcasting scene is really great these days, and these interviews, as well as the very off-the-beaten-trail subject matter Wade has chosen for Inverse ATASCII, are big reasons why.  Great jobs all around, guys. 

 

They interviewed Michael Katz, former head of the Colecovision division, Atari Corp's Entertainment Electronics Division, and Sega of America? Holy schnikes. I hope they asked him what type of LazerTag type system he wanted Atari Corp to sell back then.

 

I want someone to interview James Morgan…that would be priceless.



#50 Lynxpro OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Apr 27, 2015 11:47 PM

Listened to the Sean Hennessy interview. Fantastic. It was disappointing to learn that he had to shrink down Realsports Tennis. It's still a fun game. I think there is a easter egg in this one as well. I'll have to see if I can spot one in Pengo. Nice to learn about others that were involved in making his two games. The 2600 Dune game sounded interesting. I wish he had more info on it. It would have been cool to at least know what the game was going to be like.

 

Great interview with Peter Dell. We always apprieciate his hard work.

 

A+ as always guys.

 

Allan

 

I don't have time to listen between now and Saturday. Did he do the 5200 version of RealSports Tennis.  Some of us are trying to figure out if the commercial released version actually will do 4-player [the box says 2]. Dan Kramer states it supported 4-players in the lab back at Atari Inc. So we're gonna try to scrounge up 4 Trak-Ball controllers at the Davis Atari Party this Saturday and see if they work.

 

Has anyone had success in interviewing John Palevich? (sic). He's on LinkedIn. I know I'd love to hear his side of the Dandy/Gauntlet/Dark Chambers stuff, not to mention his thoughts on the AMY chip.


Edited by Lynxpro, Mon Apr 27, 2015 11:56 PM.






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