Saturday, November 5, 2011

Cover to Cover: Adventure International Spring 1981 Catalog (pp. 25-26)

We're continuing our pagethrough of the Spring 1981 Adventure International catalog, getting near the end now.  Scott Adams founded the company to market his classic text adventures, but soon expanded to carry a broad line of software for home computers of the day.

Page 25 contains another set of simple computer games typical of the early industry:

Owl Tree (with sound -- at a time when this was rare on the TRS-80) is a logic puzzle game written by James Talley, creator of the Kid-Ventures.  Bill Presby's Welcome U.S.A. is an educational database and quiz game about the fifty states.  Bill Miller's Dr. Chips is a variation on the classic early artificial intelligence experiment Eliza -- and for fun I played the two off of each other a few years ago.  Bewary is by Leo Christopherson of Android Nim and Dancing Demon fame, and Lying Chimps is another logic puzzle game.

Page 26 promotes some interesting technical material marketed but not produced by Adventure International -- a book of documentation, a disk utility, and a peripheral:

James Farrour's Microsoft BASIC Decoded & Other Mysteries provided deeper insight than the official Microsoft documentation for TRS-80 owners (and users of other Z-80-based machines).  Individual software programs today are much more complicated than Microsoft's whole operating system at the time, but in an era when being a serious hobbyist meant doing some programming yourself, these kinds of books were very popular. 

FDM (Floppy Disk Maintenance) program was also for serious computer owners -- no simple disk defragger or undelete utility, this tool required use of an oscilloscope and assisted the user in physically aligning and maintaining the first generation of consumer-grade floppy-disk drives.

Finally, we have The Original Photopoint Light Pen, a peripheral my younger self coveted mightily at the time, though I never anted up the $19.95 to own one.  This was yet another early computer doodad with intriguing possibilities, but no real commercial software support.  And the presence of "two sensitivity settings" implies that the pen may not have been tremendously reliable under real-world lighting conditions.  I think I realized at some point that my visions of making cool vector drawings with a light pen were never going to be realized on the 128 x 48-pixel TRS-80 display!

Tomorrow, we continue...

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