Archive for technology

Learning BASIC with the Marvel Super Heroes

Posted in 80s, books, comic books, nostalgia, pop culture, reviews with tags , , , , , , , on August 17, 2011 by Paxton

Badass Book Report

Yesterday I looked at the Star Wars Q&A Book about Computers. It featured a history of the computer (through 1983) and some awesome art by Ken Barr. Today, I’m looking at another awesomely vintage computer book, it’s the Marvel Super Heroes Computer Fun Book Two from 1984.

This book is LOOOOOOOOONG and it features A LOT of programs.  I’ll just be looking at some of the more notable programs and artwork.  You can check out my Flickr set to see more.

Marvel Computer Fun cover Marvel Computer Fun cover2

Here’s the cover to the activity book and the intro page telling you what to expect inside.

How to use this book
And here’s the Fantastic Four to tell you how to use this book (in case you weren’t already aware that you used it to, you know, program your computer).

Capt America 900 lines 900 lines 2 900 lines 3

Here’s Capt America reminding you to code your 900 lines.  He gives you 9 examples (there’s another page of code I’m not showing you) of 900 lines from different BASIC environments like the Commodore 64, IBM PC and Apple II.

Cap program
Here’s a program featuring Cap called Menace of the Gray Gargoyle.  It’s a “fence busting” program.  See the code here.  Man, that Gray Gargoyle looks lame.

Iron Man to the RescueIron Man to the Rescue Code 1Iron Man to the Rescue Code 2

This program is called Iron Man to the Rescue.  It’s a game in which Iron Man has to stop a ship from shooting missiles at a school filled with children.  Hope you get them all or the deaths of thousands of small schoolchildren on your head.  Is it just me or does that seem like a needlessly violent scenario for a kid’s computing activity book?

Iron Man's Robot Retriever Iron Man's Lock Problem

There are two other Iron Man programs.  The first is called Robot Retriever. It’s awesome because the title page features MODOK and ROM: Spaceknight.  The other is Iron Man’s Lock Problem.  I like the artwork on the title page.  I didn’t realize Iron Man was popular enough in the 1980s to get three programs in this book.

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A look at the Star Wars Q&A Book about computers (1983)

Posted in 80s, books, computers, movies, pop culture, reviews, Star Wars, technology with tags , , , , , , , on August 15, 2011 by Paxton

Badass Book Report

I love vintage kids books.  I love vintage pop culture books.  I also love vintage books looking at early computing technology.  This week, I get all three wrapped into one.  I’ll be looking at three early 80s activity books featuring awesomely retro computing technology.  Being a tech guy and a pop culture guy sure pays off some days. The first book I’ll be looking at is the Star Wars Question and Answer Book about Computers from 1983. SW Q&A book cover Yes, I know, mixing Star Wars and computer technology? Yes, please.  And the book is filled with some of the most awesome artwork mixing R2-D2 and C3PO and computer machinery. SW Q&A title The artwork in this book is by Ken Barr. Ken Barr is a comic artist. He’s done a lot of work for Marvel, especially back in the 70s and 80s with titles like Deadly Hands of Kung Fu, Doc Savage, Savage Sword of Conan and Rampaging Hulk.  Most of that work being for Marvel magazines that showcase the really nice painted look of Barr’s creations.  You can see a lot of that here, too. This book is mainly an information dump about computers, how they began and what they can be used for.  Much of the information is surrounded by Barr’s gorgeous paintings. However there are also pages without artwork but instead use photographs of actual computer machinery.

SW Q&A intro SW Q&A AppleIIe

Here’s the intro to the book explaining about computers. Next to the intro is another information page featuring a picture of an Apple II.  Click the images to make them BIGGER.

SW Q&A chess SW Q&A arcade

Here are some pages talking about computers and video games. You can see an adorable picture of R2-D2 playing chess against a computer and both Artoo and Threepio playing an upright arcade machine. I’m seriously in love with that arcade machine painting. See it much bigger here. Continue reading

More fun with my camera phone

Posted in camera phone, cell phones, random, technology with tags , , , , , on January 27, 2011 by Paxton

I bought my first camera phone back in 2006.  It was the original Motorola Razr V3.  It was pretty cool being able to snap pics of stuff I came across at any given moment.  So, in December of that same year, I wrote an article that  took a look at some of the random photos I had taken with my phone.  One of my blogging/Twitter buddies Trish just posted a very similar article and it got me thinking that I want to do it again.  It has been 4 years.  Plus, I have a much better phone now, the iPhone.

So, I’m going to delve into my cell phone photos and see what randomness I can come up with.  Here we go.

Croc Lobster
I found this odd statue outside a restaurant in the French Quarter in New Orleans. I call it “Croc-Lobster” (get it?…The B-52’s song?…hello?).  I find myself completely fascinated by the idea of a Croc-Lobster.  This needs to be a monster that fights Godzilla.  NOW.

P A X
Before the baby, my wife was an elementary school teacher. So she had these alphabet letter cards up on the walls of her classroom. I took pics of the letters P, A and X (because it’s my name, duh) and texted them to my brother.  It looks silly now that I’m looking at it but that’s the stuff my brother and I text to each other.

Knight Industries truck
I got so excited when I saw this truck. I have to wonder if a black Firebird named KITT was inside as this is very similar to the truck that transports that awesome car in the show Knight Rider.  Even the logo is similar.

Margarona
Went to Charleston, SC a few years ago with some friends. In the middle of the night, drunk and hungry, we wound up in a small Mexican restaurant in the middle of downtown.  Featured on the menu was this unbelievable site, The Margarona.  A frozen margarita served with a full bottle of Corona turned upside down into it.  It never even occurred to me to try something like this.  My mind can now be considered BLOWN.  For some reason, they wouldn’t serve it at 2am, which seems to me to be the only time someone would order it.

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Microsoft Windows 1.0 was released 25 years ago this week

Posted in 80s, computers, Microsoft, pop culture, technology, Windows with tags , , , , , on November 19, 2010 by Paxton

Orig MicroSoft logo

The original version of Microsoft Windows (v1.0) was released around 25 years ago this week. I say about 25 years ago because It’s really tough to pin down the actual release date due to differing information depending on where you look. If you look at official Microsoft history, they mention in one paragraph that Windows 1.0 was released in 1983, but then in the next paragraph they say Windows 1.0 was released in 1985.  Other places alternately list 1983 or 1985.  It’s possible that the first few releases of 1.0 (ie, 1.0, 1.01, 1.02) were not official and only demo releases.  Most places I check have the release date for Windows 1.0 to be Nov 20, 1985.  So I’m going with that.

Here’s the box for that first release of Windows.

Microsoft Windows 1.0 box

Windows 1.0 required you to use 10 installation disks. And they were floppies!!

Windows 1.0 disks(Via Digibarn Computer Museum)

The original Windows used a radical new GUI interface to handle typical computer tasks like starting programs and file management. This freed the user from having to type commands at a DOS prompt. Delivered applications for this release included a File Manager, calendar, clock, notepad and calculator.

Windows 1.0 screenshot

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Microsoft Windows 95 was released 15 years ago today

Posted in Microsoft, pop culture, technology, Windows with tags , , , , , on August 24, 2010 by Paxton

Microsoft Windows 95 startup screen

Microsoft released Windows 95 on Aug 24, 1995, 15 years ago today.  It was developed internally as Windows 4 or under the codename Chicago.  The whole operating system was designed to be a “ground up” improvement of Windows 3.1 including vast enhancements to the GUI, or “user interface”. It was with this release of Windows that Microsoft became the computing powerhouse it became in the late 90s/early 2000s. It was also this success with Windows 95 and early versions of Internet Explorer that would lay the ground work for all of Microsoft’s problems with the Justice Department about being a monopoly.

Windows 95 welcome screen

Like I said, Windows 95 was the birth of Windows as we now know it today.  The taskbar and Start button began here as well as “plug and play” compatibility, 32 bit processing and the Windows Explorer file management application.  All of these innovations were included and remain in current versions of Windows mostly unchanged to this day.  Internet Explorer 1.0 was available for the release of Windows 95, but not with the default installation, which didn’t even install TCP/IP.  You had to buy the Microsoft Plus! pack to get the brand new Microsoft browser as well as other features like themes and disc compression.  Microsoft Plus! was mostly used in factory installs, so not many people used IE at first.  Internet Explorer would become part of the Win95 installation with IE v2.0 several months later.

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