Digi-Comp I - Manual and computer

1963’s Digi-Comp I Was The First Home Computer!

Yesterday I had a bit of time off from the Vault. I had intended to go check out Incredibles 2 but the showings were sold out. So instead I settled on visiting my local Barnes and Noble and picked up a new book. Entitled A History of Video Games in 64 Objects it does what it says on the tin. Which is how of course I was introduced to the Digi-Comp I for the first time. While I will indeed write a review of the book at a later date. I was certainly captivated by 1963’s Digi-Comp I to say the very least.
Digi-Comp I - Mechanical Digital Computer

In a nutshell, the Digi-Comp I is functioning digital computer. Albeit one that is completely made out of plastic and is dependent on a human hand to ‘clock’ it’s processing. While back in ’63 E.S.R. Inc. was focusing on the education aspect of it all. The truth is they ended up delivering the first home computer. All thanks to some plastic flip-flops operated by hand.

[Via] Perkiert

While still basically a toy, the addition of teaching a child how to program this mechanical digital computer, is pretty amazing. In addition as the book points out, it did certainly teach kids to think in binary terms. As well as the aspects of Boolean logic. Which is why, right on the box you had:
“Now for the first time see and understand the operations hidden in the circuits of a giant computer and learn the language of the computers.”

Keep in mind of course that the Apollo 11 wouldn’t launch from Earth for another 6 years. So surely the Digi-Comp I was a pretty magical sounding toy. Furthermore it explains why some of the game programs were so NASA themed. You had a program that allowed you to pretend to launch a rocket from Cape Canaveral. There was one to calculate a satellite re-entry. Or as described in this comic book ad. You could also double check your parent’s bank balance!

Digi-Com I - Electronic Computer Brain ad - DOuG pRATt

Image courtesy of DOuG pRATt.

Not too shabby for a device that is controlled by wires and plastic flip-flops. In addition to blocking some of the calculations by way of cylindrical pegs. It was popular enough that it spawned a second version appropriately named the Digi-Comp II. However this 1965 version used rolling marbles to perform it’s calculations.
Digi-Comp II - Box

Now the Digi-Comp I was amazing and something I need to obtain for myself. On the other hand how can it stack up to a GIANT Digi-Comp II?!

[Via] Evil Mad Scientist

Case of the Missing Mother - The Muppets

Retro Records: The Case Of The Missing Mother (1984)

Welcome back, friends, to a new Retro Records offering. This time since it’s Father’s Day…we are sharing The Case of the Missing Mother? While the timing certainly isn’t working out, this book and record features Jim Henson’s Muppets at least. Released back in 1984 it seems like this read along story is long out of print. Which is a shame as The Case of the Missing Mother most assuredly possesses that Muppets charm.
Case of the Missing Mother - The Muppets - Fozzie - Tough Pigs

For what it might be worth, I believe The Case of the Missing Mother marks a first for Retro Records. What I mean is that it was originally released in 1983 as a book by Random House. Written by James Howe and masterfully illustrated by William Cleaver. But that was it. A book and record as well as tape version were produced a year later.

If James Howe’s name sounds familiar, that is indeed for a good reason. Not only did he write an additional Muppet story with The Muppet Guide to Magnificent Manners. He was also the writer for a very popular series of children’s books. Along with his late Wife Deborah Howe, they co-wrote 1979’s Bunnicula.
Case of the Missing Mother - Bunnicula - Deborah and James Howe

William Cleaver, whose art totally fits both The Muppets and the story. Would go on to do some illustrations for the Sesame Street Magazine in 1988.

Case of the Missing Mother - Sesame Street - William Cleaver

Image courtesy of the Muppet Wiki.

Yet another curious thing about The Case of the Missing Mother is with the book and record. It turns out there are some changes between the original book and the read-along book and records. This might be because of the cast of those recordings.

Case of the Missing Mother - The Muppets - Tough Pigs

Book pages courtesy of Tough Pigs

Jim Henson provides the voice of Kermit the Frog. Frank Oz performs Fozzie, Miss Piggy, as well as Animal. With Jerry Nelson Floyd and Dave Goelz as The Great Gonzo. In addition to Richard Hunt as Scooter, Janice and LaVerne…Animal’s Mother!
Case of the Missing Mother - Animal's Mother - Tough Pigs

Which brings us to the plot for this book and record offering. The Muppet gang can’t help but notice that Animal is acting strangely. More manic than normal…for Animal that is. Then everyone’s favorite drummer up and disappears. It turns out he has lost his Mother’s address and with it approaching Mother’s Day he is frantic.
Case of the Missing Mother - The Muppets - Animal - Tough Pigs

Will The Muppets be able to solve The Case of the Missing Mother?

[Via] Maxwell Zinck

Apollo - Book Cover - Self Made Hero

Self Made Hero Releases Apollo Graphic Novel

When it comes to history there are a few time periods I wish I could visit. To see historical moments or if we daydreaming, to be part of them. Well, I certainly refer to the brighter moments in history. Case in point the launch of Apollo 11 on July 16, 1969. A moment when the country, the World held it’s breath. As Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and ‘Buzz’ Aldrin left the Earth behind to travel to the moon. Furthermore Apollo 11 allowed Armstrong and Aldrin to stride across its surface. Sadly I cannot visit such a moment in time myself. So instead I can enjoy the new graphic novel Apollo.

Beginning tomorrow you can pick up Apollo for yourself. Written by Matt Fitch and Chris Baker. Illustrated by Mike Collins of Transformers, Slaine, and Spider-Man to name a few. The graphic novel gives us an emotional look at the three astronauts that made history nearly 49 years ago.
Apollo - Lift Off - Self Made Hero

While I certainly didn’t think the book was going to be filled with a dry retelling of the events. I have to say I wasn’t quite ready for how moving it was. Obviously the point of Apollo is to give us some insight of what it was like for the astronauts. Pressure, the fear, the pride of being part of the first moon landing. At the same time giving us a glimpse at their varied backgrounds. Those moments that helped make them capable of changing the World.
Apollo - Abort

Apollo also shares how Family members, President Nixon, as well as soldiers in Vietnam felt about the event. Although having said that the main gist of the story resides with Collins, Aldrin, and Armstrong. These were brave men but still men, doubts and fears were just as important as their professionalism and drive to do the impossible.
Apollo - Armstrong - Aldrin - Collins

I will admit that I might be an easy mark for this type of graphic novel. With my love for space exploration and NASA. I was one of those watching when the Falcon Heavy was launched. Not in person sadly, but online with Earl Green – both of us cheering through our messengers.

[Via] The Telegraph

So if you too are a fan of space exploration and it’s important history. Pick up Apollo when it is released on Tuesday. For more information make sure to visit Self Made Hero. Or to pre-order your copy you can visit ABRAMS official site.

I would add that the graphic novel is intended for mature audiences. The language used throughout might be better suited for older teens and adults.

Now you know about the new Apollo graphic novel. Why not watch the historic moon walk by Neil Armstrong?

[Via] Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

Allison’s “Saturday Night Live” (Starmaker VHS) Collection!

You’ve seen my VHS/VCR Tests, but you have yet to see a rare jewel of my VHS collection – my Starmaker Entertainment prints of The Best of Saturday Night Live!

But First, a little background on Starmaker Entertainment!

Starmaker Entertainment

Type “Starmaker Entertainment” into a Wikipedia search, and you’ll redirect to Anchor Bay Entertainment. If you think that sounds incorrect, it isn’t. Anchor Bay Entertainment is the successor to Starmaker Entertainment. In fact, Anchor Bay traces its origins back to both Starmaker (founded in 1988) and Video Treasures (founded in 1985). Both companies reissued previously-released home video releases at budget prices.

Because Vestron was a ripoff, folks.

Better be a pot of gold at the end of this rainbow, because $29.95 for a video your kids will basically run into the ground after repeated viewings is not “a low price.”

Starmaker Entertainment’s major distributions included (recently defunct) New World Pictures releases, programs licensed to their video division, Viacom programmings, and the aforementioned Saturday Night Live home video collection.

In 1995, the competing Video Treasures and Starmaker Entertainment were sold to the Handleman Company, beginning new life as Anchor Bay Entertainment in May 1995.

How I Got Into Collecting These Videos

I was in Suncoast Video at the mall in the spring of 1997 (I remember this because I was in eighth grade), and spotted a bunch of Saturday Night Live videocassettes on the shelf, all in brightly colored boxes.

Some had titles, others were for specific years. I began getting into reruns of the show the previous summer, when they aired on Comedy Central. The video that jumped out at me specifically was one that said 15th Anniversary Special. I figured out that would have been 1989. Intrigued, and with more than the cost of $4.99 (yes, $4.99) in my wallet, I was sold.

I was sold as long as Suncoast Video carried the videos, which was until 1999.

By that point, I amassed a respectable collection of these videos. I’d be remiss if I didn’t open up my archives to show you my collection!

Upload via Allison Venezio / Allison’s Written Words

Of course, I’d also be remiss if I didn’t include a VHS/VCR test!

Starmaker Entertainment Saturday Night Live Home Video Sampler

Uploaded to WordPress via Allison’s Written Words

I always think I miss videocassettes until I see the degraded quality. Or worse, the videocassette acts up while making a sampler. Either way, they were an important part of my VHS collection/teenage viewing.

Proof that I liked nostalgia long before I was old enough, or before it was cool to like nostalgia.