The Retroist

The KoalaPad

The KoalaPad was a drawing tablet released by Koala Technologies for multiple 8-bit computers. Released in 1984, versions of the KoalaPad were released for Apple II, Atari, Commodore 64, IBM, and TRS-80 Color computers. I personally owned the Apple II and Commodore 64 versions.

The KoalaPad consisted of a 4″x4″ drawing area and two buttons. The KoalaPad also came with KoalaPainter, a relatively basic drawing program that allowed budding artists to draw basic shapes, swap colors, and load and save their creations. It was no PhotoShop, but for the time, it was pretty awesome.

Prior to the KoalaPad, all the graphics I created were either done by poking them in one pixel at a time (an arduous task, to say the least), or scribbled poorly using a joystick (remember, this was long before the mouse was a standard input device). The KoalaPad, combined with KoalaPainter, allowed computer users (most for the first time) to draw whatever they could dream up.

Thanks to modern technology, lots of old computer artists have been able to convert their old artwork into web-friendly graphic formats. One such artist is Sean Huxter, who owned the Commodore version of the KoalaPad and has posted several of his drawings from the 1980s online. Here are a couple of Sean’s drawings.

Thanks to Sean for posting his old Koala artwork online, and thanks to Koala Technologies for putting such an awesome tool in the hands of kids everywhere, including myself.