Ted Dabney - Pong - Nolan Bushnell - Al Alcorn

Rest In Peace: Ted Dabney (1937 – 2018)

Devastated. That is probably the first word that comes to mind on the passing of Ted Dabney. The co-creator of Pong as well as Atari passed away yesterday. On the fan picked Atari Day at that is certainly an even greater blow. With Ted Dabney’s passing we have truly lost a giant in the history of video games.

First of all I want to give thanks to Video Game historian Cat DeSpira for the heads up on this sad news. Yesterday she published the passing on both Facebook as well as on Twitter:

“Ted Dabney, co founder of Syzygy & Atari has died. His vision gave my generation more than people can comprehend unless they lived in the days when Atari was born & remember when the world was changed forever by the electronic dreams that company gave us. #Atari #TedDabney

Samuel F. “Ted” Dabney was born in San Francisco, California. After spending three years in Marine Corps, the young man found his calling in electronics. While his original aim was to attend San Francisco State, he did not have the finances. So instead he ended up working at Bank of America, making sure a prototype traveler’s check scanner remained in operation. A year after that he found himself at Hewlett-Packard. That lasted a mere three weeks before he was hired away by Ampex where he would work on the Ampex Video File.

[Via] IEEE Silicon Valley History Videos

While at Ampex he would also gained a new co-worker, Nolan Bushnell. In the extremely interesting Oral History with Dabney by the Computer History Museum from 2012. The engineer had this to say:

” He always had stuff on his desk. That’s all I know. I don’t know what he did. I never even asked him…I wasn’t worried about anybody else’s work, but I had no idea what he did. I think he studied stuff…But we were close. We wound up being close friends. He was a game player, chess player. He liked chess and so he got me to play chess with him, but he had also started going over to this game “Go” but he needed somebody to play with so he decided I ought to learn the game of “Go” so we could play together, which we did and we played pretty good, that complicated game.”

Around this time Bushnell started sharing his idea for a pizza parlor, a “carnival-type pizza parlor”. That changed though briefly when the duo saw a computer game in action at the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. One that would lead to the creation of both Syzgy and Computer Space!

Ted Dabney - Computer Space - Arkadia Retrocade

This is the Computer Space arcade cabinet at the Arkadia Retrocade.

In 1971, Computer Space marked the first video arcade game. It also was built for Nutting Associates. Dabney and Bushnell cut ties with the company, making contact with Bally to produce both a video game and pinball table. Of course they also dropped the Syzgy title and became a little company called Atari. In that oral history, Ted mentions that Nolan was thinking of a game where you were driving. That is how Al Alcorn was hired. Al didn’t create that driving game however…he helped create an video game empire and legacy with Pong.

[Via] Rich Bartlebaugh

Shortly after that hit, Ted Dabney found himself being pushed out of the company he helped co-found. He ended up selling his portion of the shares of Atari to Bushnell for $250,000. Although it appears that the two men were able to remain on a friendly basis. With Dabney helping out with elements of Bushell’s Pizza Time Theater. Before gaining employment at Raytheon, Fujitsu, and Teledyne. Then opening up a successful grocery store with his Wife in the Sierras.

Friends, while I was never fortunate to meet Ted Dabney. He most certainly helped to create something I dearly cherish.


Thanks to his efforts along with Bushnell as well as Alcorn. I am lucky enough to work in an operating arcade today. His place in history and what he helped start… it affected not only my life but his work continues to impress and inspire kids today. I think however this quote from that oral history sums up Dabney the best:

I said, “No, no, no, no; I’d rather be your friend than your partner.”

[Via] Video Game Journalism

Atari 2600 Garfield Game - Title

Did You Know About The Atari 2600 Garfield Game?

Do you know what today is, friends? It is the 26th of the month. Which of course means that once again it is Atari Day! That fan chosen time every month where we try to take a moment and remember the legacy of Atari. Past as well as present. In addition to celebrating the games that could have been classic but were never released. Of course I am referring to the Atari 2600 Garfield game from back in 1984.
Atari 2600 Garfield Game - Cartridge

Obviously while the video game crash of ’83 had already taken place. It’s not like Atari was quite ready to throw in the towel yet – attempting to find properties to boost game sales. Which is certainly why popular franchises such as The A-Team, The Pink Panther, and The Incredible Hulk were targeted. In 1984 however, Atari’s parent company was hemorrhaging money thanks to the market saturation of games. Which is sadly how the Atari 2600 Garfield game was cancelled.

Honestly, I had no clue that an Atari 2600 Garfield game had even been developed. A couple of days ago I was attempting to find something to share on the Diary of an Arcade Employee Facebook page. Which is how I came across the game, thanks to AtariProtos in fact.

This, at least to me, looks nothing like a quick cash grab. While the Garfield game was never officially released. Thanks to Garfield’s creator, Jim Davis, the Roms were made available. Of course considering how popular the character was at the time, it is easy to see why Atari was developing the title.

[Via] Treadman28

The game itself was programmed by none other than Steve Woita. Who had a in hand in such classic titles as Asterix, Quadrun, Kid Chamelon, and Sonic the Hedgehog 2 to name a few.

[Via] Video Game Ads

As for the goal of the unfinished Atari 2600 game? The Player must help everyone’s favorite sarcastic feline hop across fences. Devouring flying hamburgers and avoiding thrown potted plants.
Atari 2600 Garfield Game - Chomp

Atari 2600 Garfield Game - Ducking

As well as contending with the likes of Odie. Thanks to that AtariProtos page, Steve Woita claimed that the hamburgers stage would have taken place in a dream. I say that the whole game would have ended up being a dream as Garfield’s goal was to rescue Nermal!
Atari 2600 Garfield Game - Odie

Atari 2600 Garfield Game - Nermal

You know a bit about the Atari 2600 Garfield game now. Ready to see it in action?

[Via] Epic Game

Would you like to know more about Atari Day?


Atari Day - Atari.IO

Image courtesy of Atari I/O’s Facebook page.


To learn even more about the fun of Atari Day be sure to hop on over and check out fellow Retroist writer Atari I/O’s site by following the link here!

How To Be Cool At Parties…With Malcolm-Jamal Warner!

Oh Malcolm-Jamal Warner, you’ve already taught me how to stay safe when I’m home alone. Now you’re going to teach me how to be cool at parties?

Vestron (and Children’s Video Library) Wrote The Book (Or, Made The Video) on How To Be Cool At Parties!

Have you ever wanted to make a splash at your next party, whether hosting or attending? Look no further than Malcolm-Jamal Warner – and an array of people you wouldn’t invite to your next party – hosting Show Off! How To Be Cool at Parties.

That’s right, from budget home video label Vestron’s Children’s Video Library, comes to the key to popularity and promises of many more party invites. All because you watched Show Off! How to Be Cool at Parties, and said “hey! I can do all of this!”

But, before we start, and this is REALLY important…

Upload via DudeThatLogo

That song will stick with you, and you’ll fight the temptation to punch the television and pop those balloons!

Why, you get to see all these amazing things!

And who better to host this walk-though of potential coolness, other than Malcolm-Jamal Warner. He already taught you how to be safe when home alone, why not how to be cool…at parties?

I’d say you’re in for the greatest how-to guide of them all, but it’s more like comedians/assorted odd people you would never invite to your party teaching you how to be cool enough to be invited. It’s like…they want to live vicariously through you!

As for the party tricks, they’re a bit eye-rolling.

For instance…

The String Trick!

Malcolm’s contribution to the party!

Upside Down Face Lip Syncing!

“I’m gonna up, up, upside down!

I laughed, but a part of my soul also cried.

Beatboxing!

This was actually cool – he’s the voice of Skeeter on Doug, and becomes clear later on!

Thumb Wrestling!

And now for sports…if thumb wrestling was considered a sport.

I picture the liveliest of parties involving a small wrestling ring, fingerless gloves, and “one, two, three, four, this is how we start a war!”

Is this a party for third graders?

Straw Paper Worm!

My straw paper art is way more exciting!

The Imaginary Stairway!

I first saw this on an episode of The Hogan Family…as demonstrated by Sandy Duncan.

One of the oldest, funniest, and at the same time, most eye-rolling gags ever.

Levitating!

Not on a magic carpet, but still, wouldn’t that be awesome!

It’s actually done with your feet. Which is actually…quite depressing.

Making an Exit!

…and smashing your face on the door!

Ouch!

Trying to exit through a locked door…or is it locked?He thinks he’s the COOLEST!

But wait, there’s a dog just waiting at the door, planning their attack upon exiting?

She’s the worst of the bunch, until later on…

The Bicycle Horn!

(I’m so sorry about the screenshot on the right).

The Finger Dangle!

Meh.

The T-Shirt Sheikh!

Offensive in every way possible!

Complete with low budget camel!

Did anyone say “HUMP DAAAAAAAAAAAY?!”

Pencil Tricks!

Bending the pencil…

…rubberizing said pencil…

and making a coin disappear…with a pencil!

Incredibly…lame!

The Invisible Piano!

From offensive to…actually, I like this one. I wouldn’t bust it out at a party, but it’s pretty funny!

But from this we get…

Window Tricks!

Sometimes, she makes such a scary face, she even scares herself!

MAKE IT STOP!!!!

The Imaginary Ball Trick!

His “ball” is blue, and he takes it everywhere with him.

Mmmmkay…I could make a joke about a blue ball, but I won’t.

How about…

Juggling!

The Dancing Scarf!

And finally, because this trainwreck can’t go on forever…

Hawaiian Nose Humming!

Which looks like something entirely different altogether.

And how about that amazing cast of fine mentors of the art of being cool at parties?

The “How To Be Cool at Parties” Players!

A few of these fine folks did nothing/next to nothing beyond this video, but some of them are actually comedians, writers, and Fred Newman is a voiceover artist. And Friedhoffer is an actual magician!

And as we move on to the credits, which display a set reminiscent of what happens when Pee-Wee’s Playhouse goes on a three-day bender…

We are then treated to the horror of this logo all over again…

Upload via Dude That Logo

Which, by the way, is terrifying at 3 am. Not sure why that’s important, but it is.

Because I’ve never sat up at 3 am watching logos!

And this reminder…

Catalog valid until 1987.

So, what do you say? Are you ready to find out what it takes to be cool at parties?

Well, wonder no more! You’re about to live it!

Show Off! How To Be Cool at Parties!

Upload via Occult Demon Cassette

As we close out yet another golden moment of weirdness from the dustiest of archives, I wonder who this video was marketed at. No, hear me out. The video was distributed by Children’s Home Video, the family-friendly arm of Vestron Video, itself a (former) distributor of various instructional videos. This isn’t exactly the type of film that targets high school partygoers. Heck, I bet it wouldn’t even target middle school partygoers.

Which means one thing, and one thing only…How To Be Cool at Parties is made for the cool Kindergarten parties!

Nah, that’s harsh. It’s more mature for first grade parties.

I’m going to walk away now.

Oh look, my ride is here!

That’s a Not Bicycle. I’m talking about this ride!

Don’t be jealous, T-Shirt Sheikh!

The Thing Ads - IMDB - Title

Saturday Frights: 1951’s The Thing Ads Are Terrifying!

When we think of The Thing most of us can’t help but think of John Carpenter’s version. I have shared before how breathtaking it was when I first saw it at the local 112 Drive-In. It was bleak, and the special effects by Rob Bottin for a ten year-old were truly terrifying. However that fear also applies to the Howard Hawk’s The Thing from Another World. Not just the special effects, while perhaps looking dated now were impressive for the time. In addition 1951’s The Thing ads, turned out to be scary too.

While some see the 1982 film as a reboot of Howard Hawks’ The Thing from Another World. There are many fans that rightfully feel that it isn’t a reboot. It is in fact an adaptation of John W. Campbell’s Who Goes There? from 1938. Honestly I believe both groups are correct. Furthermore you can hear The Thing‘s Director address some of that himself in the clip below.

[Via] Film SCHOOL Archive

On the subject of Directors, there is indeed some speculation as to who directed The Thing from Another World. Even in that clip with John Carpenter and the late Robert Osborne, it came up in their talk. See there have been rumors for many years that Howard Hawks helmed the film. In addition you have some of the original actors who say it was the legendary Director. Others however say it was in fact Christian Nyby who helmed the movie. It seems the man had a thing or two to say himself about the matter at a reunion for 1982:

“Did Hawks direct it? That’s one of the most inane and ridiculous questions I’ve ever heard, and people keep asking. That it was Hawks’ style. Of course it was. This is a man I studied and wanted to be like. You would certainly emulate and copy the master you’re sitting under, which I did. Anyway, if you’re taking painting lessons from Rembrandt, you don’t take the brush out of the master’s hands.

It sounds very much like the rumors surrounding another 1982 film, released around the same time as John Carpenter’s The Thing. Of course I am referring to Poltergeist by Tobe Hooper.
poltergeist

When the movie was released in 1951, RKO Pictures really wanted to make sure people knew about it. That of course naturally included popular magazines of the day. Which is how through the IMDB I stumbled on so many vintage The Thing ads.
The Thing Ads - Scientist - IMDB

Now I know that wasn’t very scary, right? Take a look at this original piece of advertising courtesy of Museum of Mom and Pop Culture. A little more menacing.
The Thing Ads - Museum of Mom and Pop Culture

I saved the best for last, friends. Do yourself a favor and imagine you were turning a magazine page and came upon this in 1951. Terrifying, no?
The Thing Ads - Little Girl - IMDB

There are many times when I see this type of promotion for a film, I find myself missing those days. It seemed like there was such a strong sense of ballyhoo to it all.

Now that you’ve seen The Thing ads for yourself. Why not check out the original trailer too?

[Via] Horror Film Keller