ANTIC The Atari 8-bit Podcast

de Randy Kindig, Kay Savetz, Brad Arnold

ANTIC The Atari 8-Bit Computer Podcast

Episodios

ANTIC Episode 83 - The Dog Ate It

por Randy Kindig, Kay Savetz, Brad Arnold

ANTIC Episode 83 - The Dog Ate It

In this episode of ANTIC The Atari 8-Bit Computer Podcast...Kay forgets to wear his ANTIC t-shirt, we all have new members of the family (and Brad’s eats everything in sight), Kay goes crazy scanning Atari magazines, and we have lots of listener feedback.

READY!

Recurring Links 

Floppy Days Podcast 

AtariArchives.org 

AtariMagazines.com 

Kevin’s Book “Terrible Nerd” 

New Atari books scans at archive.org 

ANTIC feedback at AtariAge 

Atari interview discussion thread on AtariAge 

Interview index: here 

ANTIC Facebook Page 

AHCS 

Eaten By a Grue 

Next Without For 

What We’ve Been Up To

News 

Shows

YouTube videos this month

New at Archive.org

New at GitHub

Listener Feedback

ANTIC Interview 429 - Jack Verson: Action Quest, Ghost Encounters, Journey to the Planets, Gyruss

por Randy Kindig, Kay Savetz, Brad Arnold

Jack Verson was the founder of JV Software, where he programmed and published several games for the Atari 8-bit computers: Action Quest, Ghost Encounters, and Journey to the Planets. Roklan Software repackaged Action Quest and Ghost Encounters into a single game, titled Castle Hassle.

As part of On-Time Software, Jack programmed the Atari versions of Gyruss, James Bond 007, and perhaps other games, published by Parker Brothers. He ported the Atari 8-bit version of Joust to the Commodore 64. As Applied Systems Engineering, he programmed Time Tunnel for Commodore 64.

This interview took place on December 2, 2021.

AtariMania's list of Jack's software
James Bond 007
Gyruss
Journey to the Planets version differences and bugs
Larry Kalpan thanks Jack in the manual for 2600 Activision Bridge
Time Tunnel for Commodore 64
Jack's company, CDOAN 
Mark Benioff review of Action Quest
Popeye "V1" for Commodore discovered
Verson quoted in Compute! "How the Pros Write Computer Games"

ANTIC Episode 82 - FujiNet to Take Over the World!

por Randy Kindig, Kay Savetz, Brad Arnold

ANTIC Episode 82 -  FujiNet to Take Over the World!

In this episode of ANTIC The Atari 8-Bit Computer Podcast...we have special guest Thom Cherryhomes who tells us why FujiNet is aiming to take over the world, we discuss the recent VCF Midwest and VCF East, and of course tell you everything going on in the world of Atari.

READY!

Recurring Links 

Floppy Days Podcast 

AtariArchives.org 

AtariMagazines.com 

Kevin’s Book “Terrible Nerd” 

New Atari books scans at archive.org 

ANTIC feedback at AtariAge 

Atari interview discussion thread on AtariAge 

Interview index: here 

ANTIC Facebook Page 

AHCS 

Eaten By a Grue 

Next Without For 

What We’ve Been Up To

News 

Shows

YouTube videos this month

New at Archive.org

New at GitHub

Listener Feedback

ANTIC Interview 428 - Dave Johnson: Demon Attack, Atlantis; APX Lookahead; Atari Personal Financial Management System

por Randy Kindig, Kay Savetz, Brad Arnold

Dave Johnson: Demon Attack, Atlantis; APX Lookahead; Personal Financial Management

Dave Johnson programmed software for the little-known Interact Model One computer, and later worked as  a programmer for Atari, where he created the game Lookahead, which was published by Atari Program Exchange. Lookahead is a fun little strategy board game that you can play against the computer or another human.

We think Dave Johnson programmed the Atari Personal Financial Management System, a slick-looking but buggy home finance package that Atari kept delaying, finally released a year late, then quickly discontinued. Read Bill Lange's blog post for the full story about that program.

After Atari, Dave worked at Imagic, where he programmed the Atari 8-bit versions of the games Demon Attack and Atlantis. There, he also created the game Quick Step! for the Atari 2600.

This interview took place on October 12, 2021. A video version is also available.

AtariMania's list of Dave's Atari 8-bit games

Play or download Lookahead

Lookahead in the fall 1981 APX catalog

Bill Lange research on Atari Personal Financial Management System

Personal Financial Management System at AtariWiki

Interact Model One computer

Dave on Twitter

This interview on YouTube

ANTIC Interview 427 - Margaret (Akin) Guilbault, Atari Camper

por Randy Kindig, Kay Savetz, Brad Arnold

Margaret (Akin) Guilbault, Atari Camper

Margaret Akin was one of the children who attended Atari's computer camps, and one of the kids who was featured in The Magic Room, Atari's movie about the camps. Her name is now Margaret Guilbault.

Atari ran its summer camps from 1982 through 1984 at several locations around the United States. That first year, Atari commissioned a film about its summer camps, which was filmed at the San Diego location. Margaret attended Atari camp that first year in San Diego, then again in 1983 the Minnesota location.

It turns out Margaret's first year at a computer camp was in 1981, the summer before Atari's first camps. Her first computer camp experience was at Zaca Lake -- near Santa Barbara, California -- hosted by a company called Computer Camp Inc., which used Atari computers.

I talked with Margaret about her experiences at those camps, and taking part in the filming of The Magic Room, on September 12, 2021.

You can watch The Magic room at YouTube and Internet Archive. In previous interviews I've talked with filmmaker Bob Elfstrom; Linda (Gordon) Brownstein, the Atari vice president who oversaw the camp project; and other Atari computer campers.

The Magic Room (18-minute version)

Newspaper article about Computer Camp Inc.'s Zaca Lake camp

ANTIC Interview 419 - Bob Elfstrom, The Magic Room

ANTIC Special Episode - Atari Summer Camp

ANTIC Interview 426 - Eric Podietz, Interactive Picture Systems

por Randy Kindig, Kay Savetz, Brad Arnold

Eric Podietz, Interactive Picture Systems

Eric Podietz was co-founder of Interactive Picture Systems, a company that created software for 8-bit computers from 1982 through 1984. The company's first program was PAINT! for the Atari 8-bits, which was developed at the Superboots software development lab located at the Capital Children's Museum in Washington, D.C.. PAINT! was first published by Reston then by Atari.

Their next program was Movie Maker, an animation program. Next came three educational titles published by Spinnaker Software: Trains, a business simulation; Grandma's House, a digital dollhouse; and Aerobics, a fitness program. The company also created Operation Frog, simulated frog dissection software for the Apple II and Commodore 64.

This interview took place on September 9, 2021. In it, we discuss Guy Nouri, Ann Lewin-Benham, and Bill Bowman, whom I have previously interviewed.

After the interview, Eric sent me the source code for his early Apple II program Painter Power, which I scanned and uploaded to Internet Archive.

This interview on YouTube

ANTIC Interview 410 - Ann Lewin-Benham, Director of Capital Children's Museum

ANTIC Interview 407 - Guy Nouri, Interactive Picture Systems

ANTIC Interview 278 - Bill Bowman, CEO of Spinnaker Software

Reston Software's Paint manual

The Designers Behind MovieMaker in Compute! Gazette Issue 15

IPS feature in Starlog Magazine Issue 084

Movie Maker feature in Creative Computing April 1984

Painter Power source code

Emma One Sock fabric

ANTIC Episode 81 - Too Much Commodore

por Randy Kindig, Kay Savetz, Brad Arnold

ANTIC Episode 81 -  Too Much Commodore

In this episode of ANTIC The Atari 8-Bit Computer Podcast… we wax philosophical about Raspberry Pi upgrades for the Atari, discuss the drama that was the Atari fest of the past, and talk WAY too much Commodore!

READY!

Recurring Links 

Floppy Days Podcast 

AtariArchives.org 

AtariMagazines.com 

Kevin’s Book “Terrible Nerd” 

New Atari books scans at archive.org 

ANTIC feedback at AtariAge 

Atari interview discussion thread on AtariAge 

Interview index: here 

ANTIC Facebook Page 

AHCS 

Eaten By a Grue 

Next Without For 

What We’ve Been Up To

News 

Shows

YouTube videos this month

New at Archive.org

ANTIC Interview 425 - Jeffrey Sarnoff, Atari Research Group

por Randy Kindig, Kay Savetz, Brad Arnold

Jeffrey Sarnoff, Atari Research Group
 
Jeffrey Sarnoff started at Atari in the home computer division in 1981 as a software architect, where he worked on a 3-D graphics library. The next year he moved to Atari's Research Group, under Alan Kay, where he worked on a holographic animation system and a 4-dimensional strategy game.

This interview took place on August 25, 2021.

ANTIC Interview 424 - Atari at the Science Fair: Mark Knutsen, Star Cluster

por Randy Kindig, Kay Savetz, Brad Arnold

Atari at the Science Fair: Mark Knutsen, Star Cluster
 
This is the third in a series of interviews called "Atari at the Science Fair" where I talk with people who used Atari 8-bit computers to create projects and enter them in science fairs.

Today's interview is with Mark Knutsen, who wrote a star cluster simulation in the Forth programming language for his high school science fair. I found this blurb in the July 1986 edition of the Jersey Atari Computer Group newsletter:

"June meeting highlights ... Mark Knutsen showed us his Star Cluster program in Forth that won a science fair prize for him. Mark’s program demonstrates the interaction of four stars in two planes. Mark also discussed Forth in general."

This interview took place on August 21, 2021. If you'd like to see our talking heads — and the visuals of his program running — a video version of this interview is available at YouTube and Internet Archive. Mark has shared his program and the source code: those links are in the show notes.

This interview at YouTube

Download Mark's Star Cluster program

Star Cluster blurb in JACE newsletter July 1986

ValFORTH Documentation

Computer Recreations - Star Clusters column in Scientific American: At JSTOR and At Internet Archive

ANTIC Interview 423 - Tom Halfhill discusses Charles Brannon and SpeedScript

por Randy Kindig, Kay Savetz, Brad Arnold

Tom Halfhill discusses Charles Brannon and SpeedScript

Charles Brannon was program editor at Compute! Publications from 1980 until 1986. He wrote and edited articles for Compute! Magazine and Compute!'s Gazette. His Linkedin profile says that his "primary responsibility was crafting BASIC and assembly language software creations. Secondary was managing other young programmers." Charles' wrote and ported many type-in programs for the Atari 8-bit and other computers. His Atari programs included FontMaker, a character set editor and The Atari Wedge, for adding commands To Atari BASIC.

His most popular and well-known program was SpeedScript, an assembly language word processor that was available first for the Commodore 64 in the March 1985 issue. In subsequent issues -- one month after another -- versions were published for VIC-20, then the Atari 8-bits, then the Apple II. Each version was a type-in listing that -- after excruciating hours of careful entry -- would build a powerful, functional word processor. Charles wrote a couple of books about SpeedScript (one specific to Atari and one specific to the Commodore versions) which contained the manual, type-in program code, and commented assembly language source code.

I've been trying to get an interview with Charles Brannon since 2015, to talk about his time at Compute! in general and SpeedScript specifically. This year, I heard back from his wife Margaret, who told me that Charles suffered a traumatic brain injury in 2016 and no longer feels confident in his memory. I won't be able to interview Charles.

But, Tom Halfhill, Charles' old friend and colleague at Compute!, volunteered to talk to me about Charles. Tom was a supervisor at Compute! when Charles wrote SpeedScript, and often discussed which features to include and the problems he encountered. Tom worked at Compute! Publications from 1982 to 1988, starting as the first Features Editor for Compute! Magazine later becoming Editor. He was the launch editor of Compute!'s Gazette for Commodore, Compute!'s Atari ST Disk and Magazine, Compute!'s PCjr Magazine, and Compute!'s PC Magazine.

This is not the first time I've talked with Tom: I interviewed him about his time at Compute back in 2016. This time I talk with him with an emphasis on Charles Brannon and SpeedScript. (To be perfectly honest, we stuck to those topics for about 35 minutes. After that, we found other interesting things to talk about, most of which I left in this episode.)

This interview took place on July 22, 2021.

This interview at Youtube

Compute! articles by Charles Brannon at AtariMagazines.com

SpeedScript book, Atari version, at Internet Archive

SpeedScript book, Atari version, at AtariArchives.org

Download SpeedScript for Atari or try it in your browser

My 2016 interview with Tom

Tom's web site

ANTIC Interview 206 - Richard Mansfield

ANTIC Interview 7 - The Atari 8-bit Podcast - Bill Wilkinson

ANTIC Interview 422 - Donald Dixon, Robotics R&D at Atari Research

por Randy Kindig, Kay Savetz, Brad Arnold

Donald Dixon, Robotics R&D at Atari Research

Donald Dixon worked at Atari Research from 1983 through 1984, under Dr, Alan Kay. There, he worked in robotics research and development, working on a robotic wheelchair. After Atari, Donald worked at Axlon, Nolan Bushnell's toys and consumer robotics company; and Worlds of Wonder, the company most famous for the animatronic bear toy, Teddy Ruxpin.

This interview took place on July 27, 2021.

Don's web site

ANTIC Interview 11 - David Small

ANTIC 2013 Chris Crawford interview

ANTIC Interview 420 - Brenda Laurel, Atari Research

ANTIC Interview 421 - Jim Leiterman, Atari Research Group

Video version of this interview 

ANTIC Episode 80 - Atari Dunking Booth

por Randy Kindig, Kay Savetz, Brad Arnold

ANTIC Episode 80 -  Atari Dunking Booth

In this episode of ANTIC The Atari 8-Bit Computer Podcast… we discuss the exciting progress being made around the 576NUC+ project, all of the great new Atari projects from the mind of Jason Moore, Kay’s awesome series of recent interviews, and we dunk your minds in the deep booth that is Atari news!

READY!

Recurring Links 

Floppy Days Podcast 

AtariArchives.org 

AtariMagazines.com 

Kevin’s Book “Terrible Nerd” 

New Atari books scans at archive.org 

ANTIC feedback at AtariAge 

Atari interview discussion thread on AtariAge 

Interview index: here 

ANTIC Facebook Page 

AHCS 

Eaten By a Grue 

Next Without For 

Intro

What We’ve Been Up To

News 

Shows

YouTube videos this month

New at Archive.org

New at Github

ANTIC Interview 421 - Jim Leiterman, Atari Research Group

por Randy Kindig, Kay Savetz, Brad Arnold

Jim Leiterman, Atari Research Group

Jim Leiterman worked at Atari from April 1982 through March 1984 in the research group, under Alan Kay. His various projects included software for Project Puffer, an exercise bike peripheral for the Atari 800; an 8-player Hammurabi game; and an unreleased port of the game Warlords.

He created a symbolic disassembler, which he used to port the game Kangaroo from Atari 5200 to the Atari 800. That version of Kangaroo was released by Atari Program Exchange, in the fall 1983 catalog. Prior to Atari, Jim was a programmer at Horizon Simulations, where he worked on Shadow Hawk One, "a futuristic game of spacefaring piracy."

This interview took place on July 12, 2021. Be sure to check out Jim's web site where he has posted some photos of the hardware and software that we discussed.

This interview at YouTube

Jim's Atari page

Jim's games at AtariMania

"Atari nearly introduced the world to fitness gaming 30 years ago" in Washington Post

AtariProtos on Tumbleweeds

Horizons Simulations article in Softline Magazine Issue 1.4
 

ANTIC Interview 420 - Brenda Laurel, Atari Research

por Randy Kindig, Kay Savetz, Brad Arnold

Brenda Laurel, Atari Research

Dr. Brenda Laurel worked at Atari from 1980 through 1984. She began as software specialist for educational applications then soon became manager of software strategy for the home computer division. In mid-1982, she joined Atari Corporate Research at the Sunnyvale research laboratory, where she worked with Alan Kay.

After Atari, she worked at Activision as director of software development. Later she founded Purple Moon, a software company focused on creating games for young girls; and co-founded Telepresence Research, a company focused on first-person media and virtual reality.

This interview took place on July 15, 2021. Check the show notes for links to articles she wrote for Atari Connection magazine; her doctoral dissertation, "Toward the Design of a Computer-Based Interactive Fantasy System"; scans of memos on the subject of interactive fantasy that she wrote while at Atari Research; and more.

Brenda's web site

 
 

ANTIC Episode 79 - Basically MyTek and Nir

por Randy Kindig, Kay Savetz, Brad Arnold

ANTIC Episode 79 -  Basically MyTek and Nir

In this episode of ANTIC The Atari 8-Bit Computer Podcast… we discuss all the great work that MyTek is doing with Atari hardware (including the 576NUC), Nir Dary surprises all of the hosts with (late/early) Christmas (or birthday) Atari gifts, and Randy gets unmercifully teased about his overuse of the word “basically”.

READY!

Recurring Links 

Floppy Days Podcast 

AtariArchives.org 

AtariMagazines.com 

Kevin’s Book “Terrible Nerd” 

New Atari books scans at archive.org 

ANTIC feedback at AtariAge 

Atari interview discussion thread on AtariAge 

Interview index: here 

ANTIC Facebook Page 

AHCS 

Eaten By a Grue 

Next Without For 

What We’ve Been Up To

News 

Shows

YouTube videos this month

New at Archive.org

New at Github

Listener Feedback

End of Show Music - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2klUVHRWtyk Original Atari 800 POKEY Chiptune by Cobra Commander 

ANTIC Interview 419 - Bob Elfstrom, The Magic Room

por Randy Kindig, Kay Savetz, Brad Arnold

Bob Elfstrom, The Magic Room

Interview and research by Kay Savetz.

From 1982 through 1984, Atari ran summer computer camps at several locations around the United States. I covered the Atari camps extensively in a special episode in 2015. Now it's summer 2021, and we're going back to camp!

That first year of the computer camps, in 1982, Atari commissioned a film about its summer camps, about the kids and teachers who were there, about the process of learning about computers, about kids challenging themselves, and about making friends at summer camp. Atari commissioned filmmaker Bob Elfstrom and his partner Lucy Hilmer to make the film. They shot the 26-minute film at the University of California, San Diego campus in 1982. It would be titled The Magic Room and was released the next year.

There are many scenes in the computer lab: we see close-ups of kids concentrating, thinking about the logic of their programming projects. Their faces light up as they solve their problem. There’s an adorable scene with a robotic, computer controlled turtle running across the floor, racing an actual turtle. There's kids riding horses at magic hour, and singing by the campfire, and finally an epic pillow fight, with feathers flying everywhere in the dorm hallways. The end credits were made with an Atari 800, naturally.

This interview is with the filmmaker, Bob Elfstrom. (Lucy Hilmer was unavailable for an interview.) Bob has a long list of film credits to his name. He is known for his work on Johnny Cash! The Man, His World, His Music (1969), and Mysteries of the Sea (1980) -- his IMDB page lists scores of credits.

It's easy to watch The Magic Room (and you should!). It's available at YouTube and Internet Archive.

My interview with Bob took place on June 17 and June 25, 2021.

Watch The Magic Room

The Magic Room Trailer

ANTIC Special Episode - Atari Summer Camp

ANTIC Interview 412 - Linda (Gordon) Brownstein, Atari VP Special Projects

Bob's site

Bob in IMDB

Lucy Hilmer's site

Lucy in IMDB

Magic Room credits:
Robert Elfstrom Productions
Executive Producer: Linda S. Gordon
Executive Consultant: Lauren Dunbar
Produced and Directed by: Robert Elfstrom and Lucy Hilmer
Edited by: Michael Chandler
Associate Producer: Gloria S. Borders
Music by: Sasha Matson
Written by: Lucy Hilmer and Michael Chandler
Production Advisor: Richard Pugh
Sound: Agamemnon Andrianos
Additional Sound: Nelson Stoll
Production Manager: Kathleen Andrianos
Special Assistant Caroline Pugh
Special Thanks: Raymond E. Kassar, Robert A. Kahn, Wayne Harvey, Ted M. Kahn
Head computer instructor: Richard Pugh
Instructor: Karen Okagaki
Computer Campers: Maria Smith, Candace Shockley, Margaret Aiken, Enrique Rios, J. J. Kreideweiss, Vincent Cook, Jim Dillon, Leendert Mulder, Rick Crosby, Brent McDonald, Barry Champagne

ANTIC Interview 418 - Rick Trow, Computers: Expressway to Tomorrow

por Randy Kindig, Kay Savetz, Brad Arnold

Rick Trow, Computers: Expressway to Tomorrow

This is the second interview episode about Computers: Expressway to Tomorrow.

Computers: Expressway to Tomorrow was a school assembly, sponsored by Atari, that played at hundreds of middle schools and high schools throughout the United States in 1983 and 1984. In the previous interview episode, I interviewed one of the show's presenters and the filmmaker. In this episode, my interview with Rick Trow.

Rick Trow was the president of Rick Trow Productions, the company that created the Computers: Expressway to Tomorrow show -- as well as more than 40 other school assemblies and other productions over the years. Mr. Trow wrote the script for the 40-minute show, which combined two synchronized films with a live actor to teach computer basics to young people.

This interview took place on June 5, 2021.

ANTIC Interview 417 - Computers: Expressway to Tomorrow

The Career Game

Rick Trow Productions Employee Newsletters 1983

"Taking the Show on the Road" in Personal Computing September 1983

Atari Brings Multimedia Computer Show To Schools in AtariAge v2n1

ANTIC Episode 78 - The Extremely Elderly Computer Geeks Club

por Randy Kindig, Kay Savetz, Brad Arnold

ANTIC Episode 78 -  The Extremely Elderly Computer Geeks Club

In this episode of ANTIC The Atari 8-Bit Computer Podcast… We discuss lots of new things you can do with your FujiNet, the differences in FujiNet versions, the Old Computer Geeks Club, and other recent Atari news...

READY!

Recurring Links 

Floppy Days Podcast 

AtariArchives.org 

AtariMagazines.com 

Kevin’s Book “Terrible Nerd” 

New Atari books scans at archive.org 

ANTIC feedback at AtariAge 

Atari interview discussion thread on AtariAge 

Interview index: here 

ANTIC Facebook Page 

AHCS 

Eaten By a Grue 

Next Without For 

What We’ve Been Up To

News 

Shows

YouTube videos this month

New at Archive.org

ANTIC Interview 417 - Computers: Expressway to Tomorrow

por Randy Kindig, Kay Savetz, Brad Arnold

ANTIC Interview 417 - Computers: Expressway to Tomorrow

Interviews and research by Kay Savetz

Imagine this. It's 1983 or 1984. You're drudging through yet another day of middle school or high school. But today, there's a surprise, a break from the monotony. The teacher tells your class to put away their stuff and go to the gym, or the cafeteria, or the auditorium. Today, there will be an assembly.

As you and your class -- and all the other classes -- get settled in the uncomfortable folding chairs, or the bleachers, or even the floor, you take in the scene: two large projection screens. Some speakers and audio equipment you haven't seen before. One of your peers is getting ready to run a spotlight. Then, this enthusiastic person -- older than you but really not by much -- explains why you're here. Today, at this assembly, you're going to learn about computers.

The lights go down, the spotlight comes up on that energetic host, and you realize this is a different sort of school assembly than you've seen before. Two projectors come on, lighting those two big screens -- it's a synchronized wide-screen movie. The presenter -- that not-much-older-than-you person -- talks to the screens, interacting with the movie and talking to the audience too. It's kind of corny, but your peers seem interested so you keep watching.

The show discusses the basics of computer operation, and how computers work differently than the human brain. There's a scene where the computers talk in voices like people. There's a section about robots, and a part where Suzanne Ciani shows how she makes music using computers. It touches on computer art, and the social implications of computers in the world.

40 minutes later, the show is over, and it's back to class. You learned a few things about computers, and talk about the assembly with your friends at lunch. Maybe you'll ask your parents for a computer for your birthday.

This scenario played out more or less exactly that way for more than a million middle school and high school students in 1983 and 1984. The assembly was called "Computers: Expressway to Tomorrow" and it was financed by Atari.

According to a 1983 article in InfoWorld: "Atari has a fleet of ... people traveling around the country giving the Atari multimedia presentation 'Expressway to Tomorrow' to a minimum of 500 people per performance at high-school assemblies."

(Full disclosure, the article claimed "Atari has a fleet of 700 people" putting on the show, but I can't believe that number is accurate. More likely the number was closer to 7.)

The traveling show would visit 2,000 schools in 1983, and was booked a year in advance. With the required minimum attendance of 500 students per show, that's a million kids. More than a million kids saw this assembly. that year.

The September 1983 issue of Personal Computing magazine said: "Since January 1983, nine separate touring units have crisscrossed the United States, presenting the show to nearly 1,400 public and private schools — a total of 1.2 million students to date. Touring begins again this September after the summer break, and will run through December 1984." In reality, I believe the show ended by mid-1984.

According to that article: "The show is a lively one, with the host on stage for the entire presentation. Several film projectors are going at once, filling two huge screens with fast-moving shots. Music is constant throughout. The host is busy either talking to the audience or interacting with characters on screen.  ...The program aims to give people [a] feeling of comfort about computing. The show focuses on the many applications of computers today, from storing recipes to teaching a language, to tutoring."

What survives of this show today? Not much that I know about so far. We don't have the film or the script. Audio tapes were available to help the presenters learn their lines. Informational packets were produced for teachers to hand out after the assembly. So far, I haven't been able to find anyone who has any of those things. (If you do, contact me!) What I do have is two interviews: memories of that project by one of the performers who went from school to school running the assembly, and the filmmaker.

Before we get to the interviews, I want to give some background about the business of producing school assemblies. It turns out that school assemblies are a big business. Computers: Expressway to Tomorrow was one of many shows put on by Rick Trow Productions of Willow Grove, Pennsylvania. These shows were often sponsored by corporations, designed to educate kids, but also to get them excited about whatever it was they wanted to promote: taking pictures with Kodak cameras. Going skiing. Buying new music.

According to an article in the Boston Globe from 1972 -- this is 11 years before the Atari show, but some of the few hard stats I could find -- Rick Trow Productions staged 7,000 assemblies in 1971, maintained 23 touring companies offering 16 different shows to schools. They put on educational assemblies that promoted products and services from companies that wanted to reach the "youth market" -- CBS Radio, Air France, Eastman Kodak, and others. Its multimedia productions also included titles such as "The Black Experience", "Environment: Challenge to Action", and "The History of Rock and Roll". At the time, according to the article, the company charged a school just $80 per assembly. But by the time of the Atari show in 1983, the company seemed to have changed its business model to offer the shows to schools for free; earning their money entirely from the companies whose products its shows promoted. The companies got access to an audience of young people who might become eager to buy their product (or to ask their parents to get it.) The schools got free access to (hopefully) an educationally worthwhile presentation that would broaden their students' horizons.

A classified advertisement by Rick Trow Productions seeking presenters stated that in the early 1980s, presenters could expect to receive a salary of $100 per week during rehearsal period, and $500 per week for salary and expenses while on tour.

My first interview is with Veronica Wiseman, who was one of the presenters who traveled from school to school putting on the Atari show. Her name at the time was Ronnie Anastasio. Veronica did three "tours" of Expressway to Tomorrow, from January 1983 through April 1984.

(interview)

Next, my interview with Dr. Chuck Sterin, the filmmaker.

(interview)

The interview with Veronica Wiseman took place on October 23, 2020. The interview with Chuck Sterin took place on June 5, 2020.

Thanks to Chuck Sterin and Veronica Wiseman, and to Tom Bregatta, Bob Barto, and Frank Darby, who were also presenters who provided background information for this episode.

If you remember seeing Computers: Expressway to Tomorrow at a school assembly, I'd love to hear your recollections. If you happen to have any of the materials, such as the script, practice tapes, or the film, please contact me.

Check the show notes for links to magazine articles about the show, as well as scans of material that Veronica Wiseman saved, including Rick Trow Productions employee newsletters, a large collection of thank-you and feedback letters from many schools where she presented, and her photographs from that time.

Veronica Wiseman's collection of letters from schools

Rick Trow Productions Employee Newsletters 1983

Veronica's photo album

New Educational Film Show Charts Future Computer Careers for Students in Atari Connection v3n1

Atari Brings Multimedia Computer Show To Schools in AtariAge v2n1

Spring CUE Conference article in Infoworld v5n4

"Taking the Show on the Road" in Personal Computing September 1983

ANTIC Interview 416 - Bob Evans, Capital Children's Museum administrator

por Randy Kindig, Kay Savetz, Brad Arnold

Bob Evans, Capital Children's Museum administrator

This is the fourth in our series of interviews about the Atari computers at the Capital Children's Museum.

Bob Evans wore many hats at the museum: he was director of special exhibits, where he worked on the museum's exhibit on the history of human communication, which used several computers, both public-facing and behind the scenes. He was administrator of Superboots, the museum's software publishing lab -- it published the computer art program PAINT! but no other software. Bob was administrator of The Future Center, the museum's public computer lab, and administrator of the museum's summer computer camp for disadvantaged youth.

This interview took place on April 22, 2021.

ANTIC Interview 391 - Tracy Frey, Atari Birthday Girl
 

ANTIC Interview 415 - Peter Hirshberg, Capital Children's Museum

por Randy Kindig, Kay Savetz, Brad Arnold

Peter Hirshberg, Capital Children's Museum

Peter Hirshberg was curator of the communications wing of the Capital Children's Museum in the early 1980s, where he helped build The Future Center, the computer lab outfitted with Atari 800 computers; and museum exhibits, some of which were computer controlled.

This interview took place on April 12, 2021. In it, we discuss Ann Lewin-Benham, director of the museum; and Guy Nouri, from the Superboots lab, both of whom I previously interviewed.

Compu-tots and Other Joys of Museum Life by Peter Hirshberg, Instructional Innovator, Sept 1981

ANTIC Interview 410 - Ann Lewin-Benham, Director of Capital Children's Museum

ANTIC Interview 407 - Guy Nouri, Interactive Picture Systems

ANTIC Interview 414 - Bob Puff, Computer Software Services

por Randy Kindig, Kay Savetz, Brad Arnold

Bob Puff, Computer Software Services

Bob Puff is owner of Computer Software Services, a company that began creating hardware and software for the Atari 8-bit computers in 1982. Bob became president of the company in 1991. He designed a bevy of hardware products for the Atari computers, including The Black Box, a hard drive host adapter; The Multiplexer, a networking system; the UltraSpeed Plus operating system upgrade; upgrades for the XF551 floppy drive; the Super-E Burner EPROM burner; and others. He also created a number of popular utility programs, including the BobTerm terminal program; Disk Communicator, to convert boot disks to a single compressed file for transfer over modem; and MYDOS version 4.53; among other software.

This interview took place on April 27, 2021.

Computer Software Services legacy site

1993 Computer Software Services catalog scan

ANTIC Interview 393 - Charles Marslett, MYDOS and FastChip

ANTIC Interview 413 - Valerie (Atkinson) Manfull, Atari Game Research Group

por Randy Kindig, Kay Savetz, Brad Arnold

Valerie (Atkinson) Manfull, Atari Game Research Group

Valerie Atkinson was a member of Atari's Game Research Group. Now named Valerie Manfull, she was on the team that designed and programmed the game Excalibur, along with Chris Crawford and Larry Summers. Excalibur was published by Atari Program Exchange in fall 1983. She is also one of the programmes of Ballsong, along with Douglas Crockford. Ballsong is a music and graphics demo program released by Atari, in which a ball bounces on the screen in response to an improvised tune. She was one of the programmers, with Ann Marion, of TV Fishtank, a demonstration of an artificially intelligent fish. (It's unclear if the fishtank program was released anywhere, though it apparently was shown at the 1984 SIGgraph conference.)

This interview took place on April 22, 2021.

ANTIC Episode 4 - Chris Crawford

ANTIC Interview 240 - Douglas Crockford

TV Fishtank at SIGgraph

Jim Leiterman describes TV Fishtank

Chris Crawford describes the development of Excalibur in The Art of Computer Game Design

Excalibur announced in Atari Program Exchange, fall 1983

Excalibur review in Atari Connection

Excalibur at AtariMania

Video of Ballsong

ANTIC Episode 77 - Jason Moore PhD

por Randy Kindig, Kay Savetz, Brad Arnold

ANTIC Episode 77 - Jason Moore, PhD 

In this episode of ANTIC The Atari 8-Bit Computer Podcast… Jason Moore joins us to discuss his atariprojects.org Web site and we discuss all the news rocking the Atari 8-bit world...

READY!

Recurring Links 

Floppy Days Podcast 

AtariArchives.org 

AtariMagazines.com 

Kevin’s Book “Terrible Nerd” 

New Atari books scans at archive.org 

ANTIC feedback at AtariAge 

Atari interview discussion thread on AtariAge 

Interview index: here 

ANTIC Facebook Page 

AHCS 

Eaten By a Grue 

Next Without For 

What We’ve Been Up To

News 

Shows

YouTube videos this month

New at Archive.org

ANTIC Interview 412 - Linda Brownstein, Atari VP Special Projects

por Randy Kindig, Kay Savetz, Brad Arnold

Linda Brownstein, Atari VP Special Projects

As I've researched Atari and it's 8-bit computer projects over the years, one name has come up over and over again, attached to the most interesting projects. Linda S. Gordon. Executive Director of Atari Computer Camps. Linda. Executive Producer of The Magic Room, Atari's movie about its camps. Atari's collaboration with Club Med to offer computer labs at vacation destinations — Linda again. Atari Club, the fan group that published Atari Age magazine - Linda launched that. More recently, in my interview with Ann Lewin-Benham of the Capital Children's Museum, Linda's name came up once again -- she was the liaison between Atari and the museum. Linda worked on the most interesting projects.

Today, her name is Linda Brownstein. Linda joined Atari in December 1980 as Vice President of Special Projects, where she worked on most of  the projects that I mentioned before. In October 1983 she became Senior Vice President in Atari's  Education group. She left the company in July 1984 after Jack Tramiel took over the company.

This interview took place on April 21, 2021.

ANTIC Interview 78 - Manny Gerard, The Man Who Fired Nolan

ANTIC Special Episode - Atari Summer Camp

ANTIC Interview 410 - Ann Lewin-Benham, Capital Children's Museum

ANTIC Interview 185 - Ted Kahn

Atari Computer Camps — The Magic Room

Video version of this interview

ANTIC Interview 411 - Mark Simonson, Atari Artist and Font Designer

por Randy Kindig, Kay Savetz, Brad Arnold

Mark Simonson, Atari Artist and Font Designer

Mark Simonson used his Atari computers who create art that was published in magazines in the 1980s, including a portrait of Nolan Bushnell that was commissioned by TWA Ambassador, an inflight magazine; a colorful street scene for the cover of Minnesota Monthly, the magazine of Minnesota Public Radio; and a juggler for the cover of Credit Union Advantage magazine, among others.

Professionally, Mark is a font designer. He created Atari Classic, a free TrueType font family for modern computers that looks like the Atari 8-bit screen font. Today, you'll see Atari Classic used in many Atari emulators, web sites, the WUDSN IDE, and elsewhere.

This interview took place on April 15, 2021.

Mark's Atari reminisce blog post

Mark's Mac/Atari Fusion site

Mark's Nolan Bushnell portrait in Hi-Res Magazine Issue 1

A wild Mark appears on AtariAge

FujiNet

This interview on YouTube

ANTIC Interview 410 - Ann Lewin-Benham, Director of Capital Children's Museum

por Randy Kindig, Kay Savetz, Brad Arnold

Ann Lewin-Benham, Director of Capital Children's Museum

Ann Lewin-Benham was executive director of the Capital Children's Museum in Washington, D.C. The museum was home to the first public-access computer center in the nation’s capital, and indeed, one of the first in the United States. In 1981, Atari and Apple each donated dozens of computers to the museum. The exact number is unclear, but 30 is the number I've seen most often for Atari's contribution.

The computer lab was called The Future Center. There, the museum offered computer literacy classes for people of all ages, from Compu-Tots for preschoolers, to programming classes for adults, there was even a computer literacy session for members of Congress. It also used the lab for birthday parties. (Last year, I interviewed a woman who had her 8th birthday party at the museum.) The museum used more of its computers in its exhibit on communication. It established a software development laboratory, called Superboots, in which developers created custom softare for the museum, and one product that was released commercially: the graphics program PAINT!

In a 1982 article titled A Day At The Capital Children's Museum, Melanie Graves described the scene:

"My twelve-year-old friend Sarah and I went to the museum to explore the computers. There are several dozen computers scattered throughout the building which are used for exhibits, classroom teaching and the development of educational software...

A machine that calls itself "Wisecracker" is the noisest of the computers that beckon visitors to the Communication exhibit. "My-name- is-Wise-crack-er," it says in a monotone, "Come-type-to-me." This message repeats endlessly until someone types at the keyboard or turns off the computer. "Hello, how are you?" Sarah typed, and pressed the return key. "Hel-lo-how-are-you," the machine’s voice responded. Sarah typed for awhile longer and then proclaimed, "It sure is dumb, but its voice is kind of cute."

The computer next to Wisecracker has a data base program that asked Sarah her name, where she came from, and other questions. It informed her that she was the thirty-seventh person from Virginia to type in data that day... "Fifty-five percent of the people who came here were girls," she told me. Next to the data base, a computer is set up with a music program. Sarah pressed some random keys, causing notes to sound. At the same time, the letter names of the notes appeared on the keys of a piano that was displayed on the screen.

There is also a Teletext terminal that tells inquirers about weather predictions, and news releases, the latest acquisitions at the public library, local cultural events and whatever else has been entered into the data base for that day...

After playing with Teletext, Sarah and I went to the Future Center, a room equipped with twenty Atari 800s. On weekdays, the classroom is available to school groups ranging from prekindergarten to high school. On weekends, families arrive for courses in programming. Classes have also been created for working people, senior citizens, community groups, congressional spouses and other special interest groups. This summer more than sixty students from the Washington, D.C. public schools attended one of two free month-long computer camps at the museum."

This interview took place on April 2, 2021.

Ann's web site

Museum in Atari ConnectionVolume 1 Number 4

A Day At The Capital Children's Museum

 
 

ANTIC Interview 409 - Ed Fries: Romox Ant Eater, Princess and Frog, Sea Chase

por Randy Kindig, Kay Savetz, Brad Arnold

Ed Fries: Romox Ant Eater, Princess and Frog, Sea Chase

Ed Fries programmed three games for the Atari 8-bit computers, which were published on cartridge by Romox: Sea Chase, Ant Eater, and Princess and Frog. His forth game for Romox, Nitro, was unfinished because the company went out of business before Ed was done coding it.

Years later, Ed became vice president of game publishing at Microsoft where he oversaw the creation of the Xbox. In 2010, Ed released Halo 2600, a demake of the Halo video for the Atari 2600. In 2013, he coded an Atari 2600 version of Rally X.

This interview took place on March 11, 2021.

After the interview, Ed sent me the assembly language source code to five games, which he graciously released as open source. You'll find the code for Sea Chase, Ant Eater, Princess and Frog, the unreleased/finished game Nitro, and a chess game, at GitHub.

AtariMania's list of Ed Fries' games

2015 Atari Compendium Interview

Ed's Blog

Ed on Twitter

This interview at Youtube

ANTIC Interview 76 - Tim McGuinness, founder of Romox

The Paper Computer Unfolded

Sea Chase source code

Ant Eater source code

Princess and Frog source code

Nitro source code

Chess source code

 

ANTIC Episode 76 - The Bill Kendrick Show

por Randy Kindig, Kay Savetz, Brad Arnold

ANTIC Episode 76 - The Bill Kendrick Show

In this episode of ANTIC The Atari 8-Bit Computer Podcast… Bill Kendrick gets more mentions than when he’s on the show, Kay discovers he owns more Atari disk drives than the rest of the Atari community combined, and we discuss all the news rocking the Atari 8-bit world.

READY!

Recurring Links 

Floppy Days Podcast 

AtariArchives.org 

AtariMagazines.com 

Kevin’s Book “Terrible Nerd” 

New Atari books scans at archive.org 

ANTIC feedback at AtariAge 

Atari interview discussion thread on AtariAge 

Interview index: here 

ANTIC Facebook Page 

AHCS 

Eaten By a Grue 

Next Without For 

What We’ve Been Up To

News 

Shows

YouTube videos this month

New at Archive.org

Commercial

New at Github 

Listener Feedback 

Closing

ANTIC Interview 408 - David Maynard, Electronic Arts Worms?

por Randy Kindig, Kay Savetz, Brad Arnold

ANTIC Interview 408 - David Maynard, Electronic Arts Worms?

David Maynard created the game/simulation "Worms?" Published by Electronic Arts in 1983, it was a launch title -- one of the five initial releases from the company. David, one of EA's first employees, wrote Worms? for the Atari 8-bit in FORTH. It was later ported to the Commodore 64.

Worms is an interactive version of Paterson's Worms, a family of cellular automata devised in 1971 by Mike Paterson and John Conway. It is an unusual program, in which the player teaches wormlike creatures how to move on a hexagonal grid -- what direction to move in various situations. The worm's goal is to to grow and survive, and to capture more space on the grid than its competitors. Up to four worms could play simultaneously, with any combination of human- and computer-controlled worms.

But the program's manual didn't tell you all that straight off. In fact, here's the first thing you saw after opening the package: "You will find detailed instructions enclosed. Do not read them. Instead, sit down and get started. Don't ask how. Just start. You know how these things work... Resist them. Do not read them for a very long time. In fact, do not read them until you know how the game works... Then never read the instructions. Innocence is bliss."

David also collaborated on Cut & Paste, a word processor published by Electronic Arts in 1984.

After our interview, David sent me a binder of Worms? development documentation and source code for Atari 8-bit and Commodore 64, all of which I have scanned and are available at Internet Archive and GitHub. The originals are going to the Strong Museum of Play, at David's request.

This interview took place on March 4, 2021.

Worms? source code for Atari 8-bit and Commodore 64

Scans of printed Worms? source code

Worms? Development Notes

David's blog

Worms? at AtariMania

Michael Beeler's original Paterson's Worms paper

Martin Gardner's article in Scientific American

Darworms, Javascript version of Worms?

Darworms instructions and explanation

More Paterson's worm math

EA We See Farther poster 

This interview at YouTube 

ANTIC Interview 407 - Guy Nouri, Interactive Picture Systems

por Randy Kindig, Kay Savetz, Brad Arnold

Guy Nouri, Interactive Picture Systems

Guy Nouri was co-founder of Interactive Picture Systems, a company that created software for 8-bit computers from 1982 through 1984. The company's first program was PAINT! for the Atari 8-bits, which was developed at the Superboots software development lab located at the Capital Children's Museum in Washington, D.C.. Its next program was Movie Maker, an animation program. Next came three educational titles for the Atari: Trains, a business simulation; Grandma's House, a sort of digital dollhouse; and Aerobics, a fitness program. The company also created Operation Frog, virtual dissection software for the Apple II and Commodore 64; and First Draft, an outline processor that helped kids plan their writing.

This interview took place on March 7, 2021.

PAINT! manual

First Annual IPS Computer Film Show

PAINT! in K-Power magazine

ANTIC Interview 406 - Atari at the Science Fair: Michael Fripp, Silent E

por Randy Kindig, Kay Savetz, Brad Arnold

Atari at the Science Fair: Michael Fripp: Silent E

An article was published in the Daily Press newspaper of Newport News, Virginia on February 13 1985, titled "Best in Show at Science Fair: Computer program helps young readers conquer the 'silent e' challenge'.

Two years ago Michael Fripp wanted to make sure his younger brother didn't face a hard time learning how to deal with the "silent e" principle in reading lessons. Putting his own Atari computer to work, Michael developed a fun, educational computer program designed to teach then 6-year-old Daniel how to successfully pronounce words like "cap," "tub" and "man" when an "e" is added to each.

"I remember the trouble I had with 'silent e' and didn't want him to have that trouble," says 13-year-old Michael, an eighth grader at Queens Lake Intermediate School. "There are lots of math but few English programs for computers. I hope to bridge that gap."

Michael went on to expand the "silent e" program, complete with more detailed instruction and graphics, through his computer science class at school and entered it as an exhibit in the York County Science Fair. Michael's educational reading program — "Silent E: A Program for K-3" — was judged best in show.

"We were pleased and surprised a computer program was picked because usually the judges pick pure science," says Carolyn Gaertner, who teaches math and computer science at the intermediate school.

Michael's computer program involves a simple story outline about an earthling named Tim and his spaceship landing on the planet EOP which is ruled by the Silent E's. There, Tim learns how the Silent E's simply and quickly turn words such as "pan" into "pane" with the addition of their favorite letter...

He has copyrighted the program and hopes to market it commercially. More than 100 hours of work have gone into the project...

"Computers are like a fever; they grow on you," says the young man. "I try to do a lot of programming at home but homework really limits me."

The large photograph accompanying the article shows young Michael, replete with calculator watch, in front of an Apple II computer, not an Atari.

I talked with Dr. Fripp to hear all about his program.

This interview took place on February 28, 2021.

Intro song: Silent E by Tom Lehrer

ANTIC Interview 405 - Heidi Brumbaugh, Antic Magazine

por Randy Kindig, Kay Savetz, Brad Arnold

Heidi Brumbaugh, Antic and START Magazines

Heidi Brumbaugh worked at Antic Publishing, where she started off as editorial clerk, then was promoted to editorial assistant, for both Antic magazine and START magazine, then was programs editor for START Magazine. She wrote many articles for Antic and START, including three programs for the 8-bits published in Antic: Red, White and Blue, a board game; Hot and Cold, a Master Mind-type game; and Antic Prompter, a teleprompter application.

She met her husband through Antic publishing, START author and programmer Jim Kent, who also created the Cyber Paint program for Atari ST.

This interview took place on February 28, 2021.

List of Antic articles by Heidi Brumbaugh

List of START articles by Heidi Brumbaugh

Heidi's programs at Atarimania

Heidi's review of Linkword Languages

Cyber Paint by Jim Kent

2013 Interview with Jim Capparell, Founder of Antic Magazine

ANTIC Interview 404 - Atari at the Science Fair: Scott Ryder: Atari-Controlled Robot

por Randy Kindig, Kay Savetz, Brad Arnold

Atari at the Science Fair: Scott Ryder: Atari-Controlled Robot

Here's an article from The Fresno Bee (Fresno, California) dated April 15, 1982: "Science proves Fair game to young minds".

"Joseph Paul Ogas, 17, has designed a cheaper way to manipulate material beneath a microscope. Garey Nishimura, 13, has evaluated the relative flammability of several household fabrics. Theirs were the big winners among the 693 projects that filled the Fresno Convention Center Exhibit Hall for this year’s California Central Valley Science and Engineering Fair.

"There were other interesting projects that didn’t win big [such as]
'The Effects of Birth Control Pills on Plants,' and 'Determining the Correlation Between Canine Howling, Cockroach Activity and Earthquake Prediction'."

And later -- in the article's final paragraph, the reason for this interview: "Runners up [included] Scott Ryder, a sixth-grader at Ayer Elementary School: "Can an Atari 800 Control a Robot With Software?"

Can an Atari 800 control a robot with software? And if so, why did an awesome Atari-controlled robot only earn a runner-up award at the Science and Engineering Fair? I talked with Scott to find out.

This interview took place on February 21, 2021.

ANTIC Episode 75 - Video Wars

por Randy Kindig, Kay Savetz, Brad Arnold

ANTIC Episode 75 - Video Wars

In this episode of ANTIC The Atari 8-bit Computer Podcast… we discuss the merits of Sophia vs. VBXE for video upgrades, kick off the BASIC 10-liners contest, discuss some new games, and talk about numerous hardware upgrades that are coming.

READY!

Recurring Links 

Floppy Days Podcast 

AtariArchives.org 

AtariMagazines.com 

Kevin’s Book “Terrible Nerd” 

New Atari books scans at archive.org 

ANTIC feedback at AtariAge 

Atari interview discussion thread on AtariAge 

Interview index: here 

ANTIC Facebook Page 

AHCS 

Eaten By a Grue 

Next Without For 

What We’ve Been Up To

Recent Interviews 

News 

Shows

YouTube videos this month

New at Archive.org