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#926 Savetz OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Apr 8, 2018 9:46 AM

Dave wrote:

 

"It’s not actually a cartridge:  it’s a circuit board that you plug into the first expansion slot of an Atari 800 in place of the usual 10K ROM board.

 
I haven’t looked at it the board that closely, but presumably there’s another 6502 processor on it because if a breakpoint is hit, it stops the clock on the Atari 800’s motherboard (6502?) and drops into DDT.
 
I have it in my head they made several dozen of those boards — perhaps even as many as 50.  I suspect a few of them still exist, taken by others like me, and perhaps Curt Vendel found some when he did his urban excavation of the Plumeria building a number of years ago, but any not preserved by Curt and us developers were probably destroyed when the Tramiels took over."
 
I have asked him for photos.
 
Kevin
 

 

 

 

Did any unique software or hardware come out of your interview with Dave Comstock?

I noticed he mentions at 31 minutes into Part 1 that Atari had a special cartridge version

of DDT, available to Atari employees only, that ran on an 800. He mentioned that it was

one of the few things he took with him when he left, because it was a necessity for some

things he had done. So, it sounds like he may still have this. Was he ever asked about

dumping this cartridge? Seems like a great thing to have archived. I know I'd love to have

a copy of it.



#927 Savetz OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Apr 11, 2018 9:29 AM

Winchell Chung, Avalon Hill games

 
Winchell Chung worked at Avalon Hill computer games, where he was the Atari 8-bit computer programmer. He worked on Nuke War, B-1 Nuclear Bomber, Free Trader, Paris in Danger, and Vorrak. His best known game is probably Gulf Strike.
 
This interview took place on April 10, 2018.
 
"A good game with lousy graphics doesn't sell, but a lousy game with great graphics will."


#928 Savetz OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Apr 16, 2018 8:20 AM

Mike Matthews, Alien Group Voice Box

 
Voice Box was a external speech synthesizer box for the Atari 400 and 800. Voice Box, and its successor Voice Box II, was marketed by "The Alien Group" starting in July 1982. The device used the Votrax SC-01A speech synthesizer chip to add speech and singing to the Atari. Versions were also available for the Commodore 64 and Apple II computers.
 
The Alien Group was actually an offshoot of Electro-Harmonix. Electro-Harmonix was founded by rhythm and blues keyboard player Mike Matthews in 1968. The company is still is business today, and is well-regarded for its guitar pedals and other musicians' gear.
 
For more background on The Alien Group and Voice Box, I recommend reading Bill Lange's blog post "Atari Says Its First Word."
 
This interview with Mike Matthews took place on November 13, 2017.
 
***
 
One more thing: I talked with Scott Matthews, Mike's son. He told me in email:
 
"My first big software project was for my dad, when I was about 13. What I wrote was an Atari BASIC function that would take a number as input, and would output the phonetic equivalent of that number. The idea was that other people -- who wanted to write applications that would speak a number -- could use the function to convert application-generated numbers to a speakable string."
 
Scott also doesn't remember who, if anyone, won the $5000 contest for best talking software. 
 
AtariSaysItsFirstWord.png


#929 MrFish OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Apr 16, 2018 8:45 AM

Dave wrote:

 

"It’s not actually a cartridge:  it’s a circuit board that you plug into the first expansion slot of an Atari 800 in place of the usual 10K ROM board.

 
I haven’t looked at it the board that closely, but presumably there’s another 6502 processor on it because if a breakpoint is hit, it stops the clock on the Atari 800’s motherboard (6502?) and drops into DDT.
 
I have it in my head they made several dozen of those boards — perhaps even as many as 50.  I suspect a few of them still exist, taken by others like me, and perhaps Curt Vendel found some when he did his urban excavation of the Plumeria building a number of years ago, but any not preserved by Curt and us developers were probably destroyed when the Tramiels took over."
 
I have asked him for photos.

 

OK, I thought that might end up being the case too, being that it was for an 800.

It sounds even cooler than a unique cart.

 

It's great you got ahold of him. Items like this are historical gems.


Edited by MrFish, Mon Apr 16, 2018 8:53 AM.


#930 Savetz OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 19, 2018 11:52 AM

Cynde Moya, Collections Manager at Living Computers: Museum + Labs

 
Cynde Moya is Collections Manager at Living Computers: Museum + Labs. Located in Seattle, Washington, Living Computers is a computer museum that provides hands-on experiences using computers ranging from micros to mainframes. (Last time I was there, there was a Xerox Alto, an Apple I, and yes, an Atari 400 with a number of game carts, plus big iron like a Control Data 6500 and DEC PDP-10 - all those machines and more usable by visitors.)
 
As Collections Manager, Cynde takes care of the museum's collection, and catalogs it.
 
This interview took place on April 9, 2018.
 
“It's definitely not all glory when you're cleaning dead rats out of an old computer."


#931 Kr0tki OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 19, 2018 4:15 PM

I'd love to hear an interview with Colin Hume, who also worked @ Thorn EMI, especially for his code for Computer War...he crammed one HELL of a game into 4K (it's an 8K cart, but only half of it is used), especially the display tricks used...i'd kill for that.


Correction: "Computer War" is a 16 KB cartridge, although first 4K is duplicated (or empty, depending on the particular cartridge's wiring), effectively resulting in 12 KB of data.

Edited by Kr0tki, Thu Apr 19, 2018 4:16 PM.


#932 tschak909 ONLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 20, 2018 8:55 AM

whoops :)

 

-Thom



#933 Savetz OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Apr 22, 2018 9:34 AM

Matthew McGinley, Elite Personal Accountant

 
Matthew McGinley was the creator and publisher of Elite Personal Accountant, financial management software for the Atari computer. He released it in mid-1985 after working on it for several years.
 
The review of Elite Personal Accountant by Stephen Roquemore in Antic magazine said, "This new program from a small company has just about every capability built into it that anyone could dream up. And the manual is one of the finest I have ever encountered. ... Elite Personal Accountant will handle 79 categories divided into income, expense, asset, and liability groups. As many as nine credit cards are handled separately, but counted as liabilities. There are 17 different transaction codes available. The reporting capabilities go well beyond the competition, with an option that allows you (within limits) to design your own reports."
 
I found Matthew through an  eBay listing, where he is selling the source code disks, printouts, and development notes.
 
This interview took place on April 10, 2018.
 
"Being stuck on certain routines that would give me an error, and I knew there must have been a simple answer. So I'd be going off to sleep, and I'd wake up two hours later. My mind was — ah, that's it! "
 
 


#934 Savetz OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Apr 25, 2018 1:08 PM

Colin Hume, Computer War

 
Colin Hume worked at Thorn EMI for about a year, where he programmed one game for the Atari 8-bit computers: Computer War. Computer War was based on the 1983 movie War Games.
 
Thomas Cherryhomes joined us to ask Colin some questions of his own.
 
This interview took place on April 12, 2018.
 

 

"Of course it was so totally different. There was no specification, no one ever checked through your code. There was no documentation. There was no maintenance."
 

Darts and Sub Commander are fantastic.

 

I'd love to hear an interview with Colin Hume, who also worked @ Thorn EMI, especially for his code for Computer War...he crammed one HELL of a game into 4K (it's an 8K cart, but only half of it is used), especially the display tricks used...i'd kill for that.

 

-Thom



#935 Savetz OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Apr 30, 2018 7:29 AM

Dwight Johnson, Lake County Atari Computer Enthusiasts

 
Dwight Johnson was founder of Lake County Atari Computer Enthusiasts, a users group based in Waukegan, IL. He started the group in April 1983. The group still exists today as a general PC computer users group, and is now called Lake County Area Computer Enthusiasts.
 
This interview took place on April 12, 2018.


#936 Savetz OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Apr 30, 2018 7:30 AM

Bryan Talbot, APX Cartoonist
 
Bryan Talbot published one program for the Atari computer: Cartoonist, which was published by Atari Program Exchange. It first appeared in the fall 1983 APX catalog, where it was awarded first prize in the systems/telecommunications category.
 
This interview took place on December 8, 2017.
 

 

"I was just trying to contemplate what to do, and finally — I'd been going to all the missionary classes and I did the thing that they taught us to do. I just knelt down on the floor and I grabbed my 810 drive, and I prayed that God would fix my drive."


#937 SINGLE TOOTH OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Apr 30, 2018 11:10 AM

 

Bryan Talbot, APX Cartoonist
 
Bryan Talbot published one program for the Atari computer: Cartoonist, which was published by Atari Program Exchange. It first appeared in the fall 1983 APX catalog, where it was awarded first prize in the systems/telecommunications category.
 
This interview took place on December 8, 2017.
 

 

"I was just trying to contemplate what to do, and finally — I'd been going to all the missionary classes and I did the thing that they taught us to do. I just knelt down on the floor and I grabbed my 810 drive, and I prayed that God would fix my drive."

 

Great interview.  Very interesting guy and story.  You didn't even need to ask any questions, he was that good, lol. 



#938 Savetz OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon May 7, 2018 10:33 AM

Jack Smyth, The Learning Company and Add-On Software

 
Jack Smyth was the first CEO of The Learning Company, the educational software publisher best known for Reader Rabbit and Rocky's Boots. He was also involved with Add-On Software, a company that sold CP/M software for several computer platforms, including the Atari 8-bit line. The company built a hardware card, for use with the Atari 1090XL peripheral expansion box, that would have added CP/M functionality to Atari computers. That device was never sold, or at least was not widely available. 
 
This interview took place on March 8, 2018. After the interview, Jack sent me anl Add-On Software CP/M catalog (primarily focused on the Apple II) which I have scanned and uploaded to Internet Archive. 
 
Teaser quote: "I took my 5-year-old daughter with me to see how my daughter liked the software. ... Well my daughter loved it, and so I bought the company."
Screenshot 2018-05-07 at 9.31.34 AM.png


#939 Savetz OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri May 11, 2018 8:36 AM

Steve Englehart, Atari Advanced Games Group

 
Steve Englehart worked in the Advanced Games Group of Atari, where he developed ideas for new computer games. He was the designer of E.T. Phone Home!, Final Legacy, and Garfield for the Atari 8-bit machines, and worked on several unfinished games. He wrote the manual for Eastern Front: 1941.
 
This interview took place on November 17, 2017. A Video version of this interview is available.


#940 Tempest OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri May 11, 2018 9:53 AM

 

Steve Englehart worked in the Advanced Games Group of Atari, where he developed ideas for new computer games. He was the designer of E.T. Phone Home!, Final Legacy, and Garfield for the Atari 8-bit machines, 

 

I haven't had a chance to listen to this yet, but did he still have anything left over from Garfield?  I know the game was programmed by Judy Bogart and got to a somewhat playable state (per information from Landon Dyer)



#941 ilaskey OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon May 14, 2018 8:54 AM

 

Steve Englehart, Atari Advanced Games Group

Was it just me or did a lot of his dates sound a bit out, especially taking into account where he was working at the time or was that the 'new' Atari?



#942 Savetz OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon May 14, 2018 1:42 PM

This interview is a departure from the usual all-Atari-all-the-time fare — but an interesting history into a pre-microcomputer business.

 

Hal Segal, Association of Time-Sharing Users

 
Hal Segal was founder and president of the Association of Time-Sharing Users, and the Association of Small Computer Users, and several other groups dedicated to early computer systems. The Association of Time-Sharing Users was formed in 1974: it published a newsletter, which Hal wrote, as well as directories of terminals, applications, database management systems, and so on. Group members held meetings in various cities around the United States.
 
Hal is also author of the books How to Select Your Small Computer Without Frustration and How to Manage Your Small Computer Without Frustration, which were published in 1982 and 1983 by Prentice-Hall.
 
This interview took place January 9, 2018. A video version of this interview is also available.
 


#943 therealbountybob OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon May 14, 2018 4:12 PM

Still enjoying these Kevin  :thumbsup:  :thumbsup:

I also heard you mentioned on the 10p Arcade Podcast (#105) which probably makes you an international podcast star :-o  :) 



#944 Savetz OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu May 17, 2018 7:27 AM

Youth Advisory Board: Kerrie Holton and Tina Bartschat

 
This is the first in a series of episodes featuring interviews with the kids of Atari's Youth Advisory Board. 
 
In 1983, Atari formed a Youth Advisory Board, selecting 20 teenagers from around the United States to share their opinions, test new software, and promote Atari's computers at trade shows.
 
The group consisted primarily of regular kids - some computer geeks, but most well-rounded teenagers. The group also included a couple of celebrities: Todd Bridges, the actor who played Willis in the sitcom Diff'rent Strokes; and Matthew Labyorteaux, the actor who played Albert on the show Little House on the Prairie, then Richie Adler on the adventure show Whiz Kids.
 
The first (and I believe only) meeting of the Youth Advisory Board took place in March 1983 at Atari's headquarters in Sunnyvale, California. Was Atari genuinely doing in-depth market research into the opinions of teenagers? Or was the Youth Advisory Board a publicity stunt? Maybe it was a little of both. Either way, the idea is fascinating, and I wanted to ask the board members to share their memories of that time.
 
In this episode are my first two interviews with Youth Advisory Board kids: Kerrie Holton (now Kerrie Holton-Tainter) and Tina Bartschat (now Tina Volker.)
Screenshot 2018-05-11 at 8.49.20 AM.png
 


#945 Savetz OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon May 21, 2018 10:07 AM

Youth Advisory Board: Anneke Wyman

 
This is the second episode in a series of interviews with the kids of Atari's Youth Advisory Board. 
 
In 1982-1983, Atari invited 20 kids, aged 14-18, to be on its new Youth Advisory Board. Atari was looking for well-rounded, computer-literate kids, with equal representation of sexes and a mix of ethnic groups. Anneke Wyman (now Anneke Wyman de Boer) was one of those kids.
 
A wire service article about the Youth Advisory Board, by Kathy Holub, ran in several newspapers around March 25, 1983. Here's an excerpt from that story:
 
"The fat world of corporate perks isn't just for executives anymore. On Sunday, 14-year-old Anneke Wyman of New York flew to San Francisco on a prepaid plane ticket to dine out on pizza and attend her first corporate board meeting. ...
 
"As members of Atari Inc.’s new Youth Advisory Board, they got the sort of pampering reserved for top corporate clients, including a private movie screening, a tour of San Francisco and all the food they could eat.
 
"What did they do to deserve all this? They can’t figure it out. 'It's almost a fantasy,' Anneke said, giggling. 'I had a three-minute interview calling from a pay phone at school. The dime ran out and I thought, well, I’ll never hear from them again. A few weeks later, they told me I was in. Now I'm sort of nervous.'
 
"The video game market, once monopolized by Atari, has become as fiercely competitive as the home computer and educational software markets, and Atari hopes the kids can keep the company on the right track on all fronts...The 20 young board members are expected to keep Atari in touch with its market. ...
 
"Anneke has danced in about 60 performances of The Nutcracker Suite with the New York City Ballet and can write computer programs in four languages. Her career? 'I don’t know yet,’ she said. 'But I'm much better in math and science.'"
 
This interview took place on April 5, 2018. A video version of this interview is also available.

Edited by Savetz, Mon May 21, 2018 10:08 AM.


#946 Mr Robot OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue May 22, 2018 6:05 AM

 

 

Request noted, but realistically that's not going to happen. A podcast app does the job for 99.9% of listeners.  

 

Kevin

 

 

If it's just a matter of time available, I'm happy to transcode these, add your podcast logo and upload to my youtube channel if you like. 

 

EDIT: Just noticed you have a channel yourself, sorry!


Edited by Mr Robot, Tue May 22, 2018 6:18 AM.


#947 Savetz OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed May 23, 2018 8:29 AM

Youth Advisory Board: John Dickerson

 
This is the third episode in a series of interviews with the kids of Atari's Youth Advisory Board. A quick recap: In 1983, Atari formed a Youth Advisory Board, selecting 20 teenagers from around the United States to share their opinions about computers and video games, test software, and promote Atari's computers at events. The group consisted of kids aged 14 through 18, mostly regular kids, some computer geeks, and a couple of celebrities.
 
This interview is with John Dickerson, who was one of the computer geeks.
 
There was an article about the Youth Advisory Board in the March 1984 issue of Enter magazine, with a quote from John:
 
"'We were an added dimension to what they already do,' says 14-year-old John Dickerson. 'Atari's problem is that they don't get close enough to the consumer. We'll bring them a lot closer. But, so far, we haven’t found out which of our decisions they really listened to.'"
 
This interview took place on April 16, 2018.


#948 tschak909 ONLINE  

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Posted Wed May 23, 2018 9:56 AM

The cynical part of me really thinks Atari did this purely as a PR stunt.

 

-Thom



#949 Savetz OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat May 26, 2018 7:39 PM

Youth Advisory Board: Robert Allbritton

 
This is the fourth episode in a series of interviews with the kids of Atari's Youth Advisory Board. Robert Allbritton was one of the 20 kids who, in 1983, were accepted into the Youth Advisory Board, a group of teenagers who were able to take a trip to Atari's headquarters in California, enjoy free 1200XL computers, and he even got to work at Atari's booth at the Consumer Electronics Show.
 
Robert was, and still is, friends with John Dickerson, another Youth Advisory Board member, whom I previously interviewed.
 
This interview took place on April 24, 2018.


#950 Savetz OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue May 29, 2018 8:54 AM

Youth Advisory Board: Musa Mustafa

 
This is the fifth in a series of episodes featuring interviews with the kids of Atari's Youth Advisory Board. If you're just joining us: In 1983, Atari formed a Youth Advisory Board, selecting 20 kids, aged 14 though 18, from around the U.S. to share their opinions about computers, test software, and promote Atari's computers at events. 
 
This is an interview with Musa Mustafa, who was one of those kids. 
 
A March 25, 1983 article in the Santa Cruz Sentinel by Loretta Noffsinger said:
 
"Computers without keyboards, toys that come to life at the sound of a child's voice and programs that shoulder the chores of thank-you letters — that's what the whiz kids see in the future. They envision a computer disguised within a toy to tell youngsters about the workings of the universe and others 'far beyond man’s imagination.' And Atari is listening to them."
 
Later in the article, Noffsinger wrote: "Musa Mustafa, 15, says he hopes to design an astronomy program to chart the location of stars and planets at specific times ‘so that I can easily track them down in a telescope.' The Walnut sophomore, who will skip his junior year at Rowland High School, also envisions computers designing computers. This year, they're helping him make a movie about the 1984 Olympics. A combination of computer animation and film, the endeavor will 'open a new category' in the Los Angeles International Film Exposition this spring, he says."
 
My interview with Musa took place on April 26, 2018. In it, we discuss Ted Kahn, whom I previously interviewed. 






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