Bob Knetzger is a toy and game designer and the Toy Inventor's Notebook columnist for MAKE. He says:
Saw your cool post on clunky 80's Apple ][ software interfaces -- wow, that really takes me back.
That kind of horrible interface is what inspired me to develop the EasyKey keyboard overlay for the Apple ][ and other home computers.
This EasyKey brand was created by me and my two partners at the time, fellow industrial designer Rick Gurolnick and programming and hardware whiz EE Dan Schoff. Together we started a small company called Neosoft that created some of the most highly regarded educational software of the 1908s. We created products for CBS Software, Simon and Schuster, and others, that combined the clever 6502 assembly language programming techniques (who remembers page flipping, pixel patterns to create extra pseudo colors, and sound waveform zero-crossing for A to D sound tricks?) with solid educational values together with state of the zippy bit-map art work.
The titles were award-winning, museum-level quality, and just plain FUN! Baby dinosaurs hatched out of their eggs to show your scores, human body cut-away layers dissolved to show internal organs, maps and timelines came to life...and more. And this at a time when most Apple ][ software offered space invader sprites.
With our EasyKey titles you could change programs and just swap the keyboard cover. Here, play US Presidents games without any typing or spelling--just press for your choice:
Kids around the world had fun and learned with our programs--here's an Aboriginal student in AUS tries out some looking-and-counting games with Number Farm -- as depicted in National Geographic:
Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of Boing Boing and the editor-in-chief of MAKE and Cool Tools. Twitter: @frauenfelder. His new book is Maker Dad: Lunch Box Guitars, Antigravity Jars, and 22 Other Incredibly Cool Father-Daughter DIY Projects