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MikeDijital777

I was a pre release tester for Parker Brothers atari games

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I just joined this forum to sort out some issues I was having with my flashback X but thought if any group of people would appreciate this life experience.. you all would.

 

I was born in 1975  My dad worked for Parker Brothers in Salem Ma from 1972 till the day they closed the factory and sent it all to china in 1993. He ran the bobst ( sp) machine.. basically 50% of every game box made from 1979 till the day they closed went through my dads machine while he was running it. He can open any parker brothers game box 79-93 and look at how the corners are seamed together and tell you if he or Barry the night guy did it.

 

somewhere in 82, 83 ish my dad started bringing home atari games. I never noticed it at first, I was like 8 or 9 but he would ask me questions about the games he would bring home....   My dad never cared for video games, so it always struck me a little odd... I had a really small black and white TV I won from cub scouts for selling candy.. EVERYONE loved my dad at Parker bros, so he took in the candy sales sheet and sold me enough in one day for the TV or the Bike prize lol ... I remember playing popeye on the B/W tv and finding a glitch in level 2 or 3 where the side shooting bullets couldnt be seen, or something like that and my dad told me that he told his boss, and they had 2 very old ladies in the office playing the game trying to get to the level to see the glitch....   I dont know why but that visual to this day still cracks me up.

one day he came home with 4 games. Montezuma's revenge,  and then these three has special instructions I could not 1. play them with friends, 2. trade them to my friends 3. Talk about them to my friends...   Frogger 2, Qberts cubes, and a labeless cart that had the ewok starwars game.    I had to give back the ewok cart almost right away.. but I held onto frogger 2 and qberts cube...   context is king here, at the time the game crash was starting but it wasnt a " game crash " back then, it was just atari wasnt selling anymore.   right around this time you could get an atari for about 50$ and raider or ET for 1$... my dad started coming home with huge boxes of new atari parker bros games he dumpster dove for. Atari800 computers, those nice Wico microswitch  red ball white button controllers. I had stacks of unopened games, I would trade with friends for non parker atari games, lol I had a nice racket going haha

 

Knowing then what I know now....   yikes, The stuff I should have kept that I lost or traded over the years.

 

I remember being 9 or 10 with that atari 800 keyboard thing and nothing else , no drives, nothing, not knowing basic, and thinking, this is junk and giving it away to a friend lol

 

.... and yes... we had every nerf thing you could think of ... i hate nerf ... those boomerangs never worked!!!   and every version of monopoly made lol

 

Edited by MikeDijital777
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3 hours ago, MikeDijital777 said:

I was born in 1975  My dad worked for Parker Brothers in Salem Ma from 1972 till the day they closed the factory and sent it all to china in 1993. He ran the bobst ( sp) machine.. basically 50% of every game box made from 1979 till the day they closed went through my dads machine while he was running it. He can open any parker brothers game box 79-93 and look at how the corners are seamed together and tell you if he or Barry the night guy did it.

Very cool.

 

3 hours ago, MikeDijital777 said:

EVERYONE loved my dad at Parker bros, so he took in the candy sales sheet and sold me enough in one day for the TV or the Bike prize lol

I never made enough in sales to get anything cool. A b/w TV would have been nice.

 

Thanks for sharing and joining AtariAge. You should like it here.

 

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18 hours ago, MikeDijital777 said:

I just joined this forum to sort out some issues I was having with my flashback X but thought if any group of people would appreciate this life experience.. you all would.

 

I was born in 1975  My dad worked for Parker Brothers in Salem Ma from 1972 till the day they closed the factory and sent it all to china in 1993. He ran the bobst ( sp) machine.. basically 50% of every game box made from 1979 till the day they closed went through my dads machine while he was running it. He can open any parker brothers game box 79-93 and look at how the corners are seamed together and tell you if he or Barry the night guy did it.

 

somewhere in 82, 83 ish my dad started bringing home atari games. I never noticed it at first, I was like 8 or 9 but he would ask me questions about the games he would bring home....   My dad never cared for video games, so it always struck me a little odd... I had a really small black and white TV I won from cub scouts for selling candy.. EVERYONE loved my dad at Parker bros, so he took in the candy sales sheet and sold me enough in one day for the TV or the Bike prize lol ... I remember playing popeye on the B/W tv and finding a glitch in level 2 or 3 where the side shooting bullets couldnt be seen, or something like that and my dad told me that he told his boss, and they had 2 very old ladies in the office playing the game trying to get to the level to see the glitch....   I dont know why but that visual to this day still cracks me up.

one day he came home with 4 games. Montezuma's revenge,  and then these three has special instructions I could not 1. play them with friends, 2. trade them to my friends 3. Talk about them to my friends...   Frogger 2, Qberts cubes, and a labeless cart that had the ewok starwars game.    I had to give back the ewok cart almost right away.. but I held onto frogger 2 and qberts cube...   context is king here, at the time the game crash was starting but it wasnt a " game crash " back then, it was just atari wasnt selling anymore.   right around this time you could get an atari for about 50$ and raider or ET for 1$... my dad started coming home with huge boxes of new atari parker bros games he dumpster dove for. Atari800 computers, those nice Wico microswitch  red ball white button controllers. I had stacks of unopened games, I would trade with friends for non parker atari games, lol I had a nice racket going haha

 

Knowing then what I know now....   yikes, The stuff I should have kept that I lost or traded over the years.

 

I remember being 9 or 10 with that atari 800 keyboard thing and nothing else , no drives, nothing, not knowing basic, and thinking, this is junk and giving it away to a friend lol

 

.... and yes... we had every nerf thing you could think of ... i hate nerf ... those boomerangs never worked!!!   and every version of monopoly made lol

 

Thanks for sharing this!

8)

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23 hours ago, MikeDijital777 said:

something like that and my dad told me that he told his boss, and they had 2 very old ladies in the office playing the game trying to get to the level to see the glitch....   I dont know why but that visual to this day still cracks me up.

That is...  odd.     I remember back then a lot of older people seemed dismissive or hostile towards video games,  so it's weird to think of them being hired as QA/playtesters for games

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1 hour ago, zzip said:

That is...  odd.     I remember back then a lot of older people seemed dismissive or hostile towards video games,  so it's weird to think of them being hired as QA/playtesters for games

He was a kid...they could have been women in their 20s or 30s and might have seemed old to him perhaps? 

 

I take that back, he did state his dad told them they were very old ladies. Yeah that does seem odd but maybe they were really into video games?

 

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9 minutes ago, -^CrossBow^- said:

He was a kid...they could have been women in their 20s or 30s and might have seemed old to him perhaps?

Haha, true!

 

10 minutes ago, -^CrossBow^- said:

I take that back, he did state his dad told them they were very old ladies. Yeah that does seem odd but maybe they were really into video games?

I suppose.   I mean one of my friend's grandmother used to buy and enjoy Van Halen records BITD, so I guess anything is possible :)

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2 hours ago, zzip said:

That is...  odd.     I remember back then a lot of older people seemed dismissive or hostile towards video games,  so it's weird to think of them being hired as QA/playtesters for games

This was the early 80's I assure you they probably grabbed a cleaning lady or receptionist and said, here play this lol..  Context here is king...   in 1982 no one really had a VCR, or a cell phone to record footage....   it was on my little kid word that there was a glitch and Parker Bros was a very small, loose rules family run company for a long time.   It was the stone age for gaming back then for sure...     Much different times in general. Things were alot looser... and kinda halfassed...   I think thats what my dad found funny was to random out of touch old ladies trying to muddle through a " video game " ...   Video games were looked at like toys back then. 

Edited by MikeDijital777
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On 2/21/2021 at 4:48 PM, MikeDijital777 said:

 can open any parker brothers game box 79-93 and look at how the corners are seamed together and tell you if he or Barry the night guy did it.

 

This is going to sound weird, but this was probably the bit that touched me more than anything. Personal touches like this just shows how involved the human side of production used to be, even when it came to building the box. We've lost a lot of that now I think, in many things. 

 

As for the rest of it "cool story bro" perhaps a line for the overused phrases thread but here not used sarcastically! Interesting stuff. 

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Excellent great story. Thanks for sharing. It's not often you get an inside of the 'whats going on' within gaming companies.

Maybe because you and the old ladies tested the Parker games we have a great ratio of good games within the Parker range.

Did you know any programmers like Ed Temple or Mark Lesser or Laura Nikolich?

Edited by high voltage

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16 hours ago, -^CrossBow^- said:

I take that back, he did state his dad told them they were very old ladies. Yeah that does seem odd but maybe they were really into video games?

It could also be the fact than an older generation who were not immersed into video games, would take it on as task to specifically replicate a glitch, rather than just get lost enjoying playing the game.

 

I mean fast forward to today and a lot of people would dream about working as game testers, before they figure out it is about stress testing anomalies and document how these occur, rather than playing for highest scores. Compare with Matthew 22:14: "Many are called but few are chosen".

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Interesting story. Sounds like we had some of the same stomping grounds back in the early 80s. I was a born in Salem but lived in Peabody up until my family moved to Texas in '83, and I'm a year younger than you. I remember seeing the Salem, MA address on the box of my Frogger cart, and wondered what it would be like to see their headquarters. I think a lot of kids at that time would have killed to be in your position. Thanks for sharing your story.

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14 hours ago, Mikebloke said:

This is going to sound weird, but this was probably the bit that touched me more than anything. Personal touches like this just shows how involved the human side of production used to be, even when it came to building the box. We've lost a lot of that now I think, in many things. 

It still is..  depends on the scale of your manufacturing.  

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Pretty cool story...

 

Frogger II is one of my favorites that came from Parker Bros. Hearing that were able to play a prerelease of the Ewok game would be a priceless memory. Being a Star Wars nut... I used to salivate over that catalog showing that artwork - but it was never meant to be - least for a while.

 

Was hoping your dad would've brought that mysterious James Bond game home before we go that horrendous final version.

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13 hours ago, Sauron said:

Interesting story. Sounds like we had some of the same stomping grounds back in the early 80s. I was a born in Salem but lived in Peabody up until my family moved to Texas in '83, and I'm a year younger than you. I remember seeing the Salem, MA address on the box of my Frogger cart, and wondered what it would be like to see their headquarters. I think a lot of kids at that time would have killed to be in your position. Thanks for sharing your story.

Born in Salem, Moved to Danvers, then to Gloucester, I landed in Peabody in 89 , Higgins middle school for 7, 8 and Peabody Vets memorial HS for the rest of it   GO TANNERS!  lol

Edited by MikeDijital777
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5 hours ago, schuwalker said:

Pretty cool story...

 

Frogger II is one of my favorites that came from Parker Bros. Hearing that were able to play a prerelease of the Ewok game would be a priceless memory. Being a Star Wars nut... I used to salivate over that catalog showing that artwork - but it was never meant to be - least for a while.

 

Was hoping your dad would've brought that mysterious James Bond game home before we go that horrendous final version.

I forgot all about that awful bond game.   I got pretty good at it though. back then it didnt seem awful as much as it was hard. Now I got to crank up stella and give it a rip again lol . , I always loved Sky Skipper, Amadar, and Gyrus.   I liked the empire SW game and the Jedi one too.

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19 hours ago, high voltage said:

Excellent great story. Thanks for sharing. It's not often you get an inside of the 'whats going on' within gaming companies.

Maybe because you and the old ladies tested the Parker games we have a great ratio of good games within the Parker range.

Did you know any programmers like Ed Temple or Mark Lesser or Laura Nikolich?

Parker Bros really did nothing more than slap labels on carts that arrived from where ever they made them, and my dad made the boxes. They really were more of a distributor than anything. Thats why when my dad told the front office about the popeye glitch they really had no idea what to do than grab the breakroom tv, an atari and whoever wasn't important to sit there is find it so they could report it to nintendo, or whomever was doing the actual creation of the game.

Sadly Parker Bros just boxed and labeled premade carts, all of their electronics where outsourced. I think at the time , Kenner and/or Tonka bought them as a parent company ( it was kenner/parker/tonka for a while , Coleco owned a piece of it at some point too ) , and the video games deal came with that.

Edited by MikeDijital777
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If all the electronics were outsourced, does that mean that different games on the same system and in the same era, may have different type PCBs and mappers? I'm not into the 2600, but recognize that Parker Bros published games for a number of systems, both consoles and home computers which would mean they had to source a lot of manufacturers unless they outsourced all the nitty gritty work to one single electronics manufacturer.

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4 hours ago, carlsson said:

If all the electronics were outsourced, does that mean that different games on the same system and in the same era, may have different type PCBs and mappers? I'm not into the 2600, but recognize that Parker Bros published games for a number of systems, both consoles and home computers which would mean they had to source a lot of manufacturers unless they outsourced all the nitty gritty work to one single electronics manufacturer.

My pops said the carts for all the systems arrived in the salem plant in a box, no labels instructions or boxes...   just black carts. the salem plant would make the books, my dad made the boxes, and they had a line that put the labels on the carts.   Then another machine took all 3 parts put them together and shrinkwrapped them.   I " think " the game deal came through Coleco. Coleco bought Parker brothers in 83 ish... might have been kenner too... once companies bought parker brothers, they would dump the manufacturing onto them they themselves didnt want to deal with .  I remember they dumped the cabbage patch kids on parker brothers simply because printing birth certificates with a new name for each doll was a daunting task in 1984....    so let parker brothers deal with the headaches....  It really was the beginning of the end for what was once a small family run company that had been there since the turn of the century ....   in 1993 Hasbro bought parker brothers , shut down all the american plants and sent it all to china

The salem plant was an unrenovated since it was built building, old wood floors, sketchy looking elevator. it was warm and smelled like hotglue, the thing I remember most is 5 foot tall  2x2 foot boxes of monopoly houses, hotels, and those colored player pieces with the ball on top of a cone shape from like sorry and clue and NO SAFETY MEASURES. my mom and I would just walk in to give my dad lunch or something... no one cared. It wasn't a high tech place. there was no way they were making PCB boards lol ..

Edited by MikeDijital777
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On 2/22/2021 at 11:25 AM, -^CrossBow^- said:

He was a kid...they could have been women in their 20s or 30s and might have seemed old to him perhaps? 

 

I take that back, he did state his dad told them they were very old ladies. Yeah that does seem odd but maybe they were really into video games?

 

In my experience old ladies are generally nosy, if something is afoot at the workplace, they want all the gossip/credit/etc...

 

BTW - very cool story bruh ;)

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@MikeDijital777

 

Do you remember getting any Atari 800 games through Parker Bros., verses getting Atari 2600 (VCS) games? Any specific memories  of them if so?

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11 hours ago, Allan said:

@MikeDijital777

 

Do you remember getting any Atari 800 games through Parker Bros., verses getting Atari 2600 (VCS) games? Any specific memories  of them if so?

Before the games crash no. I had an atari and a coleco, so thats all he came home with.. When the games crash hit he would bring home anything he found video game wise in the dumpsters.  I know he brought home an 800 computer itself ( no drives or peripherals to run games ) , and some wico's one day. and I do remember him bringing home games I didnt have systems for but I dont remember what they were..   more than likely if I didnt have the system I didnt care ... 10/ 11 year old logic lol , either i didnt commit it to memory cause it was useless to me, or I gave them away.     but they did have 800's there for my dad to take home, so I have to assume they packaged the games too.

Edited by MikeDijital777
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