When it comes to thrilling as well as toe-tapping 80’s TV show themes. Airwolf certainly should be in the top ten. It was Pawel Zadrozniak however that realized that a FloppotronAirwolf theme sounded even better. Granted that is due to it being played on a system of 8 hard disks, with 64 floppy drives, and 2 scanners. Because in my personal opinion anything on this system sounds better. Knight Rider, Queen, and yes, even a version of the Floppotron Airwolf theme.
Now just before we let you listen to said theme. Bear with me just long enough to share with you my memories of Airwolf. It will be pretty quick, I promise you. Back in 1984 when the show was beginning it’s first three seasons on CBS…I never watched it. As I have shared before, in my household, if my Father didn’t want to watch something we didn’t see it. However there was one evening when flipping the channels that I was able to catch the opening. Which included that thrilling theme by Slyvester Levay!
So then it became something of an odd situation, friends. I would turn to CBS to watch the intro to Airwolf. Then I would change to ABC so my Father could watch T.J. Hooker. Just remember in those day we only had the one television.
That was thanks to my schoolmates. It was during recess and our lunches that I would sit and listen to them talk about the series. How the supersonic helicopter was stolen by it’s chief designer. Used as an instrument of terror and destruction, it fell to Stringfellow Hawke, the original test pilot to reclaim it. Stringfellow played by Jan-Michael Vincent was aided by a mentor and Father figure, Dominic Santini. Portrayed in the series by the one and only Ernest Borgnine. Together the two reclaimed the helicopter and used it on special missions for a top secret agency. In fact you should listen to Borgnine talk about the series yourself!
Friends, I really don’t expect to find a new C64 game when I come to work at the arcade. That is however what happened today. One of our semi-regular Players was nice enough to donate a copy of Planet X2. A real-time strategy game developed and programmed by The 8-Bit Guy. I would like to repeat that Planet X2 is a brand new C64 title. We live in interesting times to say the very least.
To be honest, the 8-Bit Guy produced Planet X2 by way of Patreon. In fact he originally had plans for it to be published as a cartridge. The cost however of manufacturing that way proved cost prohibitive. It of course made more sense to release it on floppy disk although the boxed set came with a cassette tape. Featuring music by Anders Enger Jensen as well as David Murray – the 8-Bit Guy.
As to the story for the game, you are tasked with the colonizing of Planet X2. It has a climate that will be able to support human lifeforms. The bad new though is another race known at the Protoids have set their sights on the place too.
Obviously this is case of having to take a diplomatic approach. Sending out envoys to peacefully find a way to coinhabit with the Protoids. I am kidding of course – this is a case of time is of the essence. Which means you will need to build up your resources. To create an army to drive the Protoids off the planet once and for all!
Methane gas, mining, and even attempting to collect solar energy will be needed. Amassing these resources will allow you to build factories. These not only allow you to stake a spot to further your conquest. But in addition you can manufacture more mechanized builders, which in turn can collect resources. But this is also where you will roll out your units like tanks to attack the Protoids.
Throughout the game you will also be dealing with various environments. Using the builders you can clear cut forests or move objects. To attempt to find better spots for new factories. You can also construct missile silos, defensive walls, and bridges to reach your foe.
If you would like to order a copy of the game yourself, check out The 8-Bit Guy‘s site. Sadly it does not appear the physical boxed copies are available. Although you can still get the floppy disk, manual and a digital download copy too.
If you would like see Planet X2 in action, check out this review of the game!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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?!
It of course depends on how you look at it, friends. However in 1950 Bertie the Brain made a splash at the Canadian National Exhibition. It has been said that awestruck visitors were lining up to challenge Bertie the Brain, matching wits with the computer in a simple game of tic-tac-toe. In fact that image you see at the top of the post? That happens to be none other than Danny Kaye (White Christmas) quite pleased he has bested Bertie the Brain!
How did Bertie come to be? That is thanks to an Austrian-Canadian immigrant named Josef Kates. The ‘first’ computer game came about thanks to another invention of Dr. Kates. The Rogers 6047 Additron tube!
Named so because Dr. Kates was working at Rogers Majestic. While at the same time I should add building one of the first computers in the world for the University of Toronto. The Additron tube was an electron tube that acted as a full binary adder. Which was of course Dr. Kates’ way of minimizing the amount of tubes and equipment needed in a computer. If you want your mind blown, I beg you to watch this video from Uniservo!
Sadly while patented in 1951, the Additron was never put into full production. As an old time radio enthusiast I obviously love the look of Vacuum tubes. Which is probably why I am so enamored by the look of Bertie the Brain. Rogers Majestic wanted Dr. Kates to build something that would show off the Additron tubes power, which is how the world was introduced to the tic-tac-toe playing computer.
The fact that Bertie the Brain used lights on it’s display instead of graphics. This of course has sparked discussion on if it can be considered a video game. Hence why most folks will admit it was at the very least one of the earliest computer games. Bertie measured a whopping 13 feet or 4 meters tall and possessed a keyboard. As well as allowing Dr. Kates to adjust the difficulty of the game on the fly.
What ever became of Bertie the Brain though? After it’s two week presentation at the Canadian National Exhibition it was dismantled and stored away. As a matter of fact there is a wonderful article from back in 2016 on the Popular Mechanics site. It goes into far more detail and is worth your time to read!
Here is a short video from Mitten Squad, in which the early history of electronic gaming is discussed. Including a segment on Bertie the Brain of course!