Wednesday, July 26, 2023

The Avengers Seasons 1-3 DVD Upgrade

Being an American fan of the quintessential British TV show The Avengers has not always been easy.  The Avengers, that 1960s crime drama/spy series with British secret agent John Steed and a host of assistants tends to be overshadowed by a certain superhero group sharing the same name.  Getting the series in America has been afflicted by times of plenty followed by long periods of drought.  In this blog let me talk about the first half of the series and the ideal means to watch it today.

Thursday, July 20, 2023

Apple IIc - Epitome of the Apple II Experience?

In 1984 Apple Computer released the fourth computer to its Apple II line, the Apple IIc, A2M4000.  The Apple IIc was a "compact" version of the Apple IIe with many expansions built-in.  It was released alongside the Macintosh and despite the hype the market did not respond in the way Apple had hoped.  Nonetheless they still sold about 400,000 systems from 1984-1988.  In 2023 these systems can still be purchased for $150-200, so let's take a look to see what makes them special.

Monday, July 17, 2023

Saving a Simon

Simon was one of the first popular electronic games.  Invented by Ralph Baer and put on the market by Milton Bradley in 1978, Simon sold well for year after year.  Its simple gameplay of remember the randomized sequence of colors not only challenged the short-term memory of its players but their ability to recall sequences quickly.  These devices sold so many units that obtaining a vintage unit with its three switches and three buttons is not hard to find and will not break the bank.  Recently I had acquired a "vintage" Simon and could see that it was in need of repair, so I decided to document the steps I took to repair it.

Sunday, July 9, 2023

Tandy Video vs. EGA - Battle of the 16-colors Graphic Adapters

When the PC was first released in 1981, IBM designed the Color/Graphics Adapter (CGA) card, a card that could display 16 colors on a special high quality RGBI monitor through a digital output.  While CGA could only display all those 16 colors on the screen at the same time in text modes absent trickery, IBM's 16-color digital RGBI video display standard proved quite durable.  IBM used the same color standard in its IBM PCjr. video graphics adapter in 1983 and returned to the standard the next year in the form of its Enhanced Graphics Adapter (EGA).  When Tandy released its Tandy 1000, which was designed as a clone of the PCjr., it included the graphical capabilities of the PCjr and would later expand on them.  The Tandy Graphics Adapter (TGA) really popularized 16-color full screen graphics but by the late 1980s most games would support Tandy and EGA graphics.  So which is better?  In this blog article we will attempt to answer this question.

Saturday, July 8, 2023

Variations of Mouse Trap

And Now for Something Completely Different, for the 500th published entry on this blog, I am going beyond the typical fare of video game and vintage computer content to focus on another type of gaming, board games.  And in this blog entry, I am going to talk about the evolution of the mechanics of the 1963 game Mouse Trap, first published by Ideal.  Mouse Trap is famous for its Rube Goldberg-inspired mouse trap which dominates the game.  The design has endured more or less intact for sixty years and its combination of simplicity and silly design has appealed to multiple generations of children.  I am aware there are a few other games that use the Mouse Trap name and descend from Habsro or Milton Bradley, but these do not use the traditional Mouse Trap mechanics and will not be covered here.  No game with such longevity has survived into the present day without changes, so in this blog entry I will identify three distinct editions of the game and describe their differences.

Tuesday, July 4, 2023

Tandy 1000 Chip Replacements

The Tandy 1000s, especially the older ones, are rather reliable as non-IBM manufactured PCs go.  They tend to continue working year after year.  But inevitably they will fail, and something they cannot be easily fixed because a chip went bad.  Tandy was good enough to socket major chips in most of its machines (DIP and PLCC) and frequently reused chips from machine to machine.  Tandy sometimes would use off the shelf chips, sometimes custom chips and sometimes programmable logic.  In this blog article I will identify the major chips each system uses in order to help people find suitable replacements, if possible.  

Official and Unofficial Variants of the Atari 2600 VCS

The Atari 2600 went through many variations over its long lifespan.  Officially Atari authorized a dozen or so variations of the console, and tolerated several more when the 2600 mattered.  Most only differ cosmetically, but the sheer number of "official variants" for an early console is quite the achievement.  Today we will identify them and discuss what makes them unique.