Saturday, March 26, 2011

Cover to Cover: Acorn Software Fall 1981 (pp. 8-11)

Our page-by-page review of Acorn Software Products' Fall 1981 catalog continues, picking up the pace a little bit now that we're past most of the games.

There's just one game left at the end of the catalog's Entertainment section, on page 8 -- it's QUAD by Charles Asper, which I have not been able to find in the digital archives.  This is a rendition of the four-by-four-by-four tic-tac-toe game seen under various other titles in board and video game formats; this version was probably inspired by Atari's 3-D Tic-Tac-Toe title for the 2600 videogame console.  You can "rotate the cube six different ways," which at the time probably meant that you could hit a key to see the screen redrawn from one of six different perspectives; real-time 3-D rotation was still past the technology horizon.

Next up, on page 9, are the ordering instructions, notable mostly as a reminder of how much software purchasing has changed since 1981.  At the time, there weren't many computer stores, and no World Wide Web, so you had to send in a check or money order, or speak to someone over the phone with your credit card in hand, then wait for the physical disk or tape media to arrive in the mail so you could finally load and use the software.  Today we can make a quick trip to Best Buy, or even just download the software and purchase a license online to get up and running almost instantly.  Computer users had to be much more patient in the early days.

Pages 10 and 11 are filled with a couple of copies of the order form -- photocopiers and laser printers were not yet standard home-office items, and FAX machines and email were not in evidence either, so it was important to provide potential customers with the necessary paper artifacts.  We also note that Acorn Software Products, Inc. was based in Washington, D.C., slightly unusual at a time when most personal computer software publishers operated out of California, Massachusetts, Texas and Michigan.

Tomorrow, we'll enter the catalog's personal business and utilities software section, and wonder how we ever got anything useful done with such limited tools...

1 comment:

  1. Just for fun I looked up the address on the order form on Google... It's a two story apartment building built in 1910. Acorn was being run out of someone's home.