1982 Knoxville World's Fair - Pac Man Blacklight Poster

Arcade Games Were King At The 1982 Knoxville World’s Fair!

Just feast your eyes on that beautiful vintage 1982 Pac-Man poster, friends. That was one of many video game related souvenirs you could have obtained at the 1982 Knoxville World’s Fair. As the major focus for the fair was technology it only makes sense that video games were included, right? Although I was delightfully shocked by how many classic arcade games icons were featured at the 1982 Knoxville World’s Fair!

Before I dive into a little history of how the fair took place in Knoxville, I want to direct your attention to that Pac-Man poster once again. Notice anything unusual about it? How about the fact that it is totally a flocked poster? Yes…it is indeed a blacklight Pac-Man souvenir. Which is the second most trippiest thing I have ever seen involving Namco’s legendary icon!

The World’s Fair came to Knoxville, Tennessee due to Spokane, Washington hosting one back in 1974. Obviously it isn’t like a World’s Fair doesn’t help bring in some welcome money to any city. It was the President of the Downtown Knoxville Association, W. Stewart Evans, who approached the city in the first place. As a matter of fact the last time a World’s Fair had taken place in Tennessee was in 1897.

1982 Knoxville World's Fair - Tennessee Centennial Exposition of 1897PyramidParthenon

1897 Pyramid and Parthenon

The location of the World’s Fair was placed between the University of Tennessee and Knoxville. Taking up around 70 acres of land, construction included the towering 266-foot Sunsphere. Which while some of the pavilions have been destroyed or re-purposed over the years, the Sunsphere is still standing tall and proud.

1982 Knoxville World's Fair - Sunsphere - Discordantly

Image courtesy of Discordant.

Since It Was 1982 You Better Believe Celebrities Attended The Opening!


Hard to top having President Ronald Regan open the 1982 Knoxville World’s Fair, right?

[Via] WBIR

Also helping to open the fair was Jerry Lee Lewis, Dinah Shore, Ricky Skaggs, and Porter Wagoner. In addition there were hosting pavilions featuring the nations of the World. Mexico, Peru, Denmark, Egypt, France, Canada, Belgium, Saudi Arabia, West Germany, the U.K., China, Australia, Japan, Italy, Luxembourg, South Korea, the Netherlands, Greece, Hungary, Italy, and the Philippines were represented. Panama had a pavilion set aside for them…but failed to show up, so it went to a collection of Caribbean Islands.

Now then, considering the popularity of arcade games in 1982, it should come as no surprise that they made a big impact. Just for starters you had seven special arcade tokens that were minted exclusively for the 1982 Knoxville World’s fair. Gorf, Pac-Man, Space Invaders, Qix, Donkey Kong, Ms. Pac-Man, and Scramble were the arcade tokens you could collect.
1982 Knoxville World's Fair - Arcade Game Tokens

With this Video Expo logo being presented on the flip side of said tokens.
1982 Knoxville World's Fair - Video Expo toke

That isn’t all though however as besides that groovy blacklight Pac-Man poster, you could obtain this Pac-Family themed bumper sticker.
1982 Knoxville World's Fair - Pac Man Bumper Sticker

On the other hand if you didn’t go for the bumper sticker there was always the license plate version.
1982 Knoxville World's Fair - Pac Man License Plate

Granted with all of that sweet, sweet swag you needed something to carry it home with, right? Rest easy as Bally/Midway, who released Pac-Man in the States, totally had you covered with this plastic tote bag.
1982 Knoxville World's Fair - Pac Man Tote Bag

The fair ran from May 1st until October 31st of 1982. In total there was over 11 million visitors to the event and it is rumored to have netted Knoxville a tidy profit. A whopping $57 dollars after the fair had closed it’s run? It was estimated that the event would in fact earn the city a surplus of around 5 million dollars. While that may be true it was still considered a success by the amount of people it brought in, ranking it as one of the most popular fairs in US history.

Arcade Games Tokens Weren’t The Only Video Game Related Souveniers At The 1982 Knoxville World’s Fair!


How cool would you look today if you were sporting this metal Odyssey2 pin? Well, I am a little biased when it comes to Magnavox products obviously, but I think you would look amazing!
1982 Knoxville World's Fair - Odyssey2

Gygan - Title

Enjoy This 1958 British Pathe Newsreel Featuring Gygan The Robot!

I truly cannot express in words the joy I get at seeing a preserved newsreel, such as this 1958 British Pathe offering, introducing Gygan the Robot. Naturally thanks to 1977’s Star Wars as well as other sci-fi entertainment of my youth, a personal robot is something I have always dreamed of. Having said that however I do think a Droid or a Robot rock band is more my speed compared to the gargantuan beauty of Gygan!

Gygan is know by a few different monikers it would seem. Including Gentle Giant as well as Mister Moto and Cygan, depending on where you were introduced to him. Thanks to a smashing site called the Cybernetic Zoo, we know the robot’s creator is Piero Fiorito. While hailing from Turn, it is said he began building three different stages of robotic companions on a bet. Oh, I should also add that in addition he did all of this from not a laboratory but his garage.
Gygan - Piero Fiorito

What Makes Gygan Tick?


While it is certainly true that Piero’s creation is an impressive bit of robotics. It turns out the construction involved mostly Mecanno parts. Which is model construction kit system that was started in 1898 by Frank Hornby from Liverpool in the United Kingdom. Gygan was brought to life with the aid of a 28-volt battery, 13 electric motors, 170 valves, and over 300,000 parts. I must assume of course this is referring to the bolts and wheels from the Meccano kits. The Robot itself could walk, talk, and additionally accept verbal commands and acknowledge certain light rays.
Gygan - Inside of Robot

If what the Cybernetic Zoo says is correct and it does have quite a few magazine articles and photographs to back up the claims. Gygan itself towered over other early robotic creations at over eight feet tall, not to mention it weighed over a 1,000 pounds.

Gygan - Inner Workings - Front - Cybernetic Zoo

The following four images are courtesy of the Cybernetic Zoo.

Gygan - Inner Workings - Rear View - Cybernetic Zoo

Which might explain how it was in fact able to lift humans up and support them on his arms!
Gygan - Cybernetic Zoo

What Did The Future Hold For Gygan?


Well, not to get all dour but while Piero saw a future where his creation might be used to handle radioactive materials. Rather than fulfilling the noble dreams of it’s creator it appears that the robot instead found more use in advertising. From being used at a Ford motor company in Leeds to eventually finding itself rusting at an old aircraft museum.
Gygan - Air Museum - Cybernetic Zoo

In spite of this downward turn of events there is indeed a silver lining for the robot. About five years ago he turned up at an auction, where he sold for a total of 17 thousand pounds. Perhaps his new owner will help restore him to his past glory?

Now Take A Few Minutes And Marvel At Gygan In His Prime!

[Via] British Pathe

I have to admit that I believe the best reaction from the audience is this young boy. I feel that I might actually be able to read his mind…

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

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