"Insert Coin" is a new documentary about Midway, the Chicago-based videogame developer that transformed the industry with Mortal Kombat, NBA Jam, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and other coin-op classics. Director Joshua Tsui funded the film via this Kickstarter and will premiere at the SXSW Film Festival later this month. From the film description:
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Eugene Jarvis, the creator of 80s classic videogames such as Defender and Robotron, returns to the industry in the 90s. In the process, he assembles a team that pioneers the concept of bringing live-action into videogames, kickstarting a new era in the arcades.
The technology mushrooms into massive hits such as Mortal Kombat and NBA Jam and soon the team begins to conquer the world. What began as a small tight-knit group begins to deal with success and eventually the rise of home consumer technology.
In the late 1960 NASA engineers were tasked with developing a digital flight computer that took up just one cubic foot of space on the Apollo 11 capsule and the software to guide the crew to the Moon. This TED-Ed video explains how it was done.
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The Apollo 11 moon landing was about the astronauts, mission control, software and hardware all working together as a seamless integrated system. None of which would have been possible without the contributions of one engineer: Margaret Hamilton. Who was this pioneer? Matt Porter and Margaret Hamilton detail how a woman and her team launched the software that took mankind to the Moon.
Larry Tesler, the Xerox PARC computer scientist who coined the terms cut, copy, and paste, has died.
Born in 1945 in New York, Tesler went on to study computer science at Stanford University, and after graduation he dabbled in artificial intelligence research (long before it became a deeply concerning tool) and became involved in the anti-war and anti-corporate monopoly movements, with companies like IBM as one of his deserving targets. In 1973 Tesler took a job at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) where he worked until 1980. Xerox PARC is famously known for developing the mouse-driven graphical user interface we now all take for granted, and during his time at the lab Tesler worked with Tim Mott to create a word processor called Gypsy that is best known for coining the terms “cut,” “copy,” and “paste” when it comes to commands for removing, duplicating, or repositioning chunks of text.
Read the rest of his obit on Gizmodo.
[H/t Jim Leftwich]
Image: Yahoo! Blog from Sunnyvale, California, USA - Larry Tesler Smiles at Whisper, CC BY 2.0, Link Read the rest
Over at The Startup on Medium, David Laws, semiconductor curator at the wonderful Computer History Museum, has prepared a fascinating guide to Silicon Valley's "high-tech heritage trail exploring places that housed the early stirrings of the digital revolution." Covering the "30-mile corridor from Stanford University to the former IBM disk-drive campus," Laws visits dozens of historical locations in the area including the spot where in 1908 Cyril Elwell demonstrated wireless telephony, the Stanford Research Park where Russel and Sigurd Varian invented the klystron microwave tube in 1937, and the location of Fairchild Semiconductor, fabricators of the first "monolithic integrated circuit (computer chip)" in 1960. Here are a few other great stops on the tour:
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Apple and Steve Jobs, the most famous beneficiaries of Xerox innovations, borrowed the Alto’s GUI, mouse, and other features to differentiate the Macintosh from the rest of the early PC pack. Together with Steve Wozniak, Jobs co-founded Apple Computer and built the Apple 1 in his parents’ suburban tract home... at 2066 Crist Drive, Los Altos. Private residence, do not disturb...
Scientists and engineers fabricated the first silicon devices in the Valley at the Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory in a former apricot packing shed at 391 San Antonio Road, Mountain View in 1956. Razed in 2014 for a multi-use commercial development, the lab site is commemorated with an IEEE Milestone plaque, an interpretive panel, and towering semiconductor device sculptures mounted in the sidewalk. (photo above)...
Known as Andy Capp’s Tavern in 1972, Rooster T.
I love the Ars Technica "War Stories" series where they interview designers of some of the most iconic and popular computer/video games on the challenges they faced.
This episode features Rand Miller, one half (with brother Robyn) of Cyan, Inc. creators of the early 90s puzzle adventure game, Myst. The game was developed on hacked, maxed-out consumer-grade Macs using the HyperCard program. Myst would go on to become one of the most successful and inspirational games of all time.
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This is a simple but wonderful little original video that shows each incarnation of the Nvidia GPU, from 1995 to 2019. Read the rest
From Etudes.ru (Google translation):
More than 40 years ago in 1968 ... A team led by Nikolai Nikolaevich Konstantinov creates a mathematical model of the motion of the animal (cat). The BESM-4 machine, executing a written program for solving ordinary (in the mathematical sense of the word) differential equations, draws a cartoon "Kitty" containing even by modern standards an amazing animation of cat movements created by a computer.
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In my latest podcast (MP3), I read my essay "IBM PC Compatible": how adversarial interoperability saved PCs from monopolization, published today on EFF's Deeplinks; it's another installment in my series about "adversarial interoperability," and the role it has historically played in keeping tech open and competitive. This time, I relate the origin story of the "PC compatible" computer, with help from Tom Jennings (inventor of FidoNet!) who played a key role in the story.
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Adversarial interoperability is what happens when someone makes a new product or service that works with a dominant product or service, against the wishes of the dominant business. Read the rest
Eudora -- first released in 1988 -- was the first industrial-strength email client designed to run on personal computers like IBM PC and the Macintosh; though there are still die-hard users of the program, the last version was published in 2006.
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I was going through my copy of Stewart Brand's 1974 book, II Cybernetic Frontiers (1974) when I came across this sketch by computer scientist Alan Kay, who conceived of a tablet computer in 1972 called the Dynabook. Although it used a stylus and a keyboard, his 43-year-old sketch of two kids sitting in the grass playing video games on their Dynabooks looks like kids today playing games on their iPads. Read the rest
In 1974 a man with a communications disorder made history when he ordered a pizza over the phone with a talking computer built by Michigan State University's Artificial Language Laboratory. He tried calling Dominoes four times, but they thought it was a prank and hung up on him. But another pizza delivery service took the order.
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In part one of a series, the limitations of color on eighties-era computers and early game consoles like NES and Commodore 64.
Back then, the women themselves were sometimes called “computers.” They used these machines to compute.
Some users gave it the acronym CADET: "Can't Add, Doesn't Even Try."
My only objection is that it's not a full-length documentary.
The Altair 8800 computer cost $621 when it was introduced in 1976. The Altair 8800 Clone is also $621, but it comes with 64k of static memory for free (in 1976, 1k of static memory for the Altair 8800 was $139). (Via Andy Baio) Read the rest