• Tag Archives Atari 8-bit
  • Infidel (Infocom)


    Did you know that Infocom’s ‘text adventure’ games can be found on tablets and mobile devices for free? Infocom was founded 39 years ago, today and is responsible for bringing us text adventures, which were unique in terms of game play. Players are given scenarios in text form to which they must respond in written commands such as ‘go north’ or ‘use shower’ to progress. Since the games were in all text format, Infocom was able to easily release them on popular home computers like the Apple II, Atari 800, Commodore 64… Infocom’s text-based games were sold in book stores and so were their hint books (#InvisiClues), which were best-sellers in the computer books genre. Some Infocom games came with maps, invisible ink messages, or props like scratch and sniff cards that would help players solve mysteries and progress the story, which makes them interesting We not only to play, but also to collect.

    For those not familiar with Infocom, they were famous for creating a line of text-based adventure games (otherwise known and interactive fiction) in the 1980s, the first and most famous of which is Zork. Though graphics were added to later games by Infocom, for a number of years their games were purely text based. I description of the environment and what was happening was displayed on the screen and you could type phrases to performa actions. The goal was usually to accumulate points by collecting items or otherwise progressing through the game.

    The plot of Infidel involves the finding of a 5,000 year old pottery shard with hieroglyphics describing a previously unknown pyramid and great riches. Your role is to find and explore this pyramid. The plot and many of the obstacles are reminiscent of an Indiana Jones movie. There are 40 ways to die so good luck :).

    Infidel was Infocom’s 10th game and was released in 1983 near the height of Infocom’s popularity. Like some of their other games (Zork, Planetfall, etc.) this was originally meant to be part of a series of games (called Tales of Adventure in this case) but no others were ever made in this series. If you want to play this game, the bad news is that an original could cost you quite a bit, especially complete in the box as Infocom games typically came with lots of extra goodies. The good news is that this game like other Infocom text adventures were written in a virtual machine (Z-Machine) and was available on a huge number of platforms. It’s also available on a number of modern platforms as well.

  • Compute! (August 1981)


    Source: Compute! – Issue Number 15 – August 1981

    If you happened to be a computer owner in 1981 then Compute! would have definitely been a magazine that you would have wanted to subscribe to. The magazine lasted for more than a decade and in these early days it was exclusively covering 8-bit computers based on the 6502 processor. There were more of these than you might think.

    The August 1981 issue includes:

    • The Editor’s Notes
    • Ask The Readers
    • Computers And Society: Some Speculations On The Well-Played Game, Part II
    • The Beginner’s Page
    • Basically Useful Basic: Checking Randomness Of Random Number Generators
    • Trenton: The Original Computer Festival
    • Basic Oneliners: Minimize Code And Maximize Speed
    • Computer Assisted Instruction – Worth The Effort?
    • Wolves, Caribou, And Other Problems
    • Add A Programmable Sound Generator
    • The Carry Bit – What It Is And How It Works
    • The Floating-Point Division Routine
    • Practical Aspects Of Assembly Language: Part II
    • The Apple Gazette
      • Apple Disk Motor Control
      • Interfacing The Apple To 6500 Family Peripherals
      • A Cassette Tape Monitor For The Apple
      • Diskette Sector Space In A Greeting Program
    • The Atari Gazette
      • Restoring And Updating Data On The Atari
      • Easy Reading Of The Atari Joystick
      • Poem Writer
      • Supercube Update
      • Atari Sound Utility
      • Blockade For The Atari
      • Define A Line On The Atari
    • The OSI Gazette
      • The OSI RS232 Port And The High Speed Printer Interface
    • The Pet Gazette
      • The CBM “Fat 40” – Boon Or Bane?
      • Digital Arrayment
      • Keyword
      • CBM/PET Loading, Chaining And Overlaying
      • Converting Pet Basic Programs To ASCII Files
    • The Single Board Computer Gazette
      • The Single Board 6502
      • Nuts And Volts: Build Your Own Controllers Part II
    • New Products
    • Advertiser’s Index

    …and more!

  • S.A.M. (Atari 400/800, Apple II/II+)


    Source: inCider – March 1983

    Speech synthesis seemed to be all the rage in the early to mid 1980s. S.A.M. is one of a variety of speech synthesis products available during that time. S.A.M. is short for Software Automatic Mouth (I can see why they abbreviated it) and was available for the Atari 400/800 and Apple II/II+. This was a product primarily designed to incorporate speech into your own programs.

    Advertised as “cheap”, I suppose that’s a matter of opinion. The Atari version was priced fairly typically for the time at $49.95. However, the Apple II version required additional hardware and cost $124.95. Not really cheap in my opinion, especially for the time. The Atari sound chip was sophisticated enough not to require additional hardware for speech synthesis of acceptable quality at the time. Despite the limitations (iffy speech quality and having to blank the screen for maximum quality among others), these products were fairly popular and S.A.M. was one of the better known products of its type.

    The whole talking computer thing never really appealed to me that much (though we have it now more or less with products like Alexa). I guess after the movie Wargames, everyone wanted a talking computer…or something.

    This ad is from the March 1983 issue of inCider.