Total Drek

Or, the thoughts of several frustrated intellectuals on Sociology, Gaming, Science, Politics, Science Fiction, Religion, and whatever the hell else strikes their fancy. There is absolutely no reason why you should read this blog. None. Seriously. Go hit your back button. It's up in the upper left-hand corner of your browser... it says "Back." Don't say we didn't warn you.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

In the beginning was the Prompt, and the Prompt was with DOS, and the Prompt was DOS.

As many of you know, I've been a gamer for a long, long time. I played the old Atari classics like pong and breakout. I recorded data onto audio cassettes and popped them into a tape player so I could hear what programs sound like. I futzed around with himem, partitioned drives using the command line, and recall being introduced to mice long after I was familiar with computers. I've played Zork, and Moria. I can remember getting a new game and then spending hours, sometimes days, reading through the extensive manual because no two programs used the same control system. I remember thinking that mouselook was a damned cool innovation.

I learned to type on a DOS shareware program called "friendly writer."

I can recall when a 486 computer was inexpressibly awesome. My fondness for games has spanned data storage media including audio cassettes, 5 1/4" floppies, 3 1/2" floppies, CD-ROMs, DVDs, and online content delivery.* I played Tradewars on the old WWIV BBS systems. There are games I wish I could still play that are only compatible with operating systems that are too primitive to run on modern hardware.

The first computer I ever owned did not originally have a harddisk.

Things have changed over the years. Computer games have, in large part, gone mainstream. They're big business now, showing up in clean, respectable stores. Well-known people now admit to enjoying games.** There are television commercials for games and I see muscular freshmen wandering around with t-shirts that reference Halo or Half-Life 2. There are even music videos about gaming:***

I'm happy that my obsession hobby has become more accepted. I'm happy that new generations are being introduced to an engaging passtime and, particularly, that it's maturing into both a medium for storytelling and a way to interact with other people.

But I have to admit, every now and then I miss my old scout marauder.

* I should point out that, aside from a brief flirtation, console games have never been a part of my repertoire.

** My wife, for example, recently mentioned to me that Matthew Perry apparently plays Fallout 3. Who knew?

*** Hat-tip to Backstage.

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Blogger Tom Bozzo said...

The first computer I ever owned did not originally have a harddisk.

That makes me feel old, since the first computer I owned didn't originally have a floppy disk drive.

I haven't spent much time lately with MAME, but it looks like I could easily emulate my old Ataris were I so inclined. Last time I was at my mother's house, I declined to recycle my copies of M.U.L.E., Seven Cities of Gold, and Crush, Crumble and Chomp so that I could make a claim of playing them legally at some future point when the day is several hours longer.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009 10:39:00 AM  
Blogger Drek said...

Hey Tom,

If it makes you feel any better, the first computer I ever had more or less exclusive access to was a TRS-80, Model 100 which did not have a drive of any sort. I wouldn't say I owned this one, though, so much as took it over from my father. I learned a lot of lessons from that machine.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009 10:47:00 AM  
Blogger Tom Bozzo said...

Fun to see the MSRP on that thing.

Sad to say, I occasionally entertain myself by calculating the long-run Moore's Law effects on prices. For instance, the $50 (1982) 16K RAM expansion pack for my first computer (a ZX81) is the equivalent of about $112 today. That, coincidentally, is just about the price for 8 GB of RAM just purchased for our communal SAS machine at the office. So on a per-kilobyte basis, the (lower-quality) 1982 DRAM was 512K times more expensive. Etc. Though it would sometimes be nice if less of that was spent on eye candy and more was spent on game design.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009 1:29:00 PM  
Blogger scripto said...

I deepsixed my collection just this year - everything from a 2 drive 8088(?) to 286, 386, 486 and ye olde pentium. About 6 CRT's too. Probably $10k worth of original hardware that, if it wasn't bulk pickup day, I would have to pay someone to take away. I kept the Odyssey because I couldn't get the damn thing untangled.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009 1:33:00 PM  

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