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Let's Talk PCs, Part I

On 04/04/2017 at 06:33 PM by KnightDriver

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                                              IBM PC 5150, $1565 ($4123 in 2016)

My frist experience with a PC was in 1981. My aunt and uncle had an IBM 5150, and on one visit, I played some Zork on that monochrome screen. Zork's a text based adventure game. I don't think I finished it either. I was much more interested in my aunt's massive scif/fantasy paperback book collection. I'm ashamed to admit it, but I took some of them home with me without permission. 


                                           Apple IIc, $1295 ($2985 in 2016)

My second experience with a PC was in 1984 when my parents bought an Apple IIc. The Apple IIc was a streamlined Apple computer designed to be easy to use. I played Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord and Wizardry II: The Knight of Diamonds on it. I played those games on Sunday afternoons after church, where I was a verger. Wizadry was one of the first great first-person dungeon crawl RPGs based on Dungeons & Dragons. You created a six member team and carefully mapped the dungeon on graph paper as you went along. The Etrian Odyssey series has successfully copied this design on DS and 3DS, the bottom screen taking the place of graph paper. 


                                     Apple Macintosh Plus, $2599 ($5679 in 2016)

My next experience was with the Apple Macintosh Plus in 1986. I was given one to take to college (I'm shocked to see what these things cost back then. I never knew). I used it as a word processor and printed my papers for school and letters to friends. But I also had a few games I probably got from friends at school. I had Wizardry and my roomate showed me how to hack it to get the best weapon in the game, Blade Cuisinart.

I also had Shadowgate, a point-click-adventure game. You entered Castle Shadowgate, a place full of death traps, and tried to make your way by solving the puzzle of each area. Your object was to stop The Warlock Lord from summoning The Behemoth from hell. I'm pretty sure I finished it. My most lasting memory of it, though, was a flute that you needed to solve a puzzle. It sung a short melody that I identified later as being lifted from the opening to Jethro Tull's song "Songs from the Wood". I can still whistle it. 

Dark Castle and Beyond Dark Castle were also in my tiny collection on 3.5 floppy discs. These games were fixed screen action platformers. In the first game, you were a Prince out to defeat the Black Knight in his castle. There were some puzzles to solve, platforming and throwing rocks or fireballs. In the second game, the Black Knight is still alive and offers you more tricks to get past. You get a helicopter pack to fly and drop bombs. Both of these games had excellent sound. I can still hear those sounds in my head after all these years. 

That takes us through 1990 or thereabouts. Next is all the rest. 



Matt Snee Staff Writer

04/04/2017 at 06:42 PM

After the Apple 2E we never had another mac in my family for about twenty years. But I remember the 2E a lot.... and I also took programming classes at a summer class on the Apple as well.  

I remember playing that game MOntezema's Castle or something like that a lot.  


04/04/2017 at 06:50 PM

Is this what it looked like? 


Montezuma's Castle National Monument is where the Puebloan cliff dwellings are. Montezuma's Revenge: Featuring Panama Joe is your game, I think. 

Matt Snee Staff Writer

04/04/2017 at 07:26 PM

that looks like it.  Look at the beautiful 80s industrial design of those disc drives.  Love it. 


04/04/2017 at 08:13 PM

I just got a smart phone and I'm already thinking of it as my PC replacement. To think, that arrangement of boxes has been crammed into a handheld that's exponentially more powerful. There's something to be said, however, for a device that is as large as furniture. 

Super Step Contributing Writer

04/04/2017 at 07:37 PM

I think those were what we had early on in my mom's middle school computer labs she taught in in the early 90s. 

What's a verger?


04/04/2017 at 08:09 PM

Steve Jobs was big on getting Apple PCs into schools. We had Macs galore in my college computer lab with wopping 20MB external hard drives. Holy cow! The amount of text I could store on that, maybe a whole picture!

A verger is like an assitant to the clergy of an Anglican church. I was in the Episcopal church which is basically what the Anglican church became in America after the revolution. The only differnce is no allegence to the King of England. I would open the church in the morning and then fill in if any acolytes didn't show up. 

I just realized that this show I used to watch Vicar of Dibley, has a verger in it. The character Alice Tinker was the verger and she was depicted as a humerous dimwit. I wonder what that makes me then. 

Super Step Contributing Writer

04/04/2017 at 10:26 PM

I grew up Catholic so i just think altar boy.


04/05/2017 at 09:13 PM

Interesting. I usually think of the Epicopal church as pretty close to Catholicism just without the Pope. I guess there are some other differences too. 

Super Step Contributing Writer

04/05/2017 at 09:58 PM

Robin Williams called it Catholic lite.


04/06/2017 at 08:28 PM

Funny, I'm reading Master and Commander by Patrick O'Brian right now and there's lots of back and forth conflicts between the anglicans and catholics like they were world's apart from each other. It's making me think I'm on the other side of the fence from all my catholic friends and most of my friends are catholic. 


04/06/2017 at 12:15 PM

Oh wow that's the computer from elementary school that we played Oregon Trail on. My school had a funky dark room that was turned into its first computer lab and I think on Thursday's we had maybe 30 minutes as a class to go in, learn about computers, and then play some Oregon Trail. 


04/06/2017 at 08:24 PM

I never played that game. Funny, but with the Apple II, I only ever played Wizardry on it. 

Cary Woodham

04/04/2017 at 08:43 PM

Our first computer was an Apple ][+.  We got it when I was in kindergarten.  I played a lot of games on it.  Plenty of arcade ports that were way better on the PC than the 2600.  And some other games, too.  The first video game I ever beat was on that computer, and it was called Mickey's Space Adventure (kind of a hybrid text adventure with pictures so little kids can understand it better).  Other games I enjoyed were Spare Change, Aquatron, and the many Pac-Man clones we had (my favorites were Taxman and Snack Attack).

We had computers after that, but I don't remember them as much.  I played a few computer games after that every now and then, like the LucasFilm point and click adventures (my favorite was Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders), as well as Lemmings and Pro Pinball.  But once I got the NES I didn't do PC gaming as much.


04/04/2017 at 08:59 PM

It looked like this?


I never played arcade games on a PC back then. I guess I missed out. I really want to play that Zak McKracken game. 

Cary Woodham

04/05/2017 at 08:31 AM

The keyboard looked like that, but the monitor, disk drive, and joystick were a little different.


04/04/2017 at 10:52 PM

We use to have some of the older computers back until the 2002. Not sure if the old DOS machine is still in Ohio...


04/05/2017 at 09:06 PM

A little while ago, I still had my two tower computers and thought about fixing them up to play retro games on them. Then I just ditched the idea and turned them in for recycling. 


04/06/2017 at 12:18 PM

I never really played computer games (other than the story about my elementary school) until I got my first desktop in college (WOOOO Sim City/MK II, and Command and Conquer). I do remember those boxy Apple Mac Plus computers. My roommate in college had one, and the funny thing is the first computer lab in my dorm had like five of those things. If we wanted to use something more modern we had to go to one of the computer labs on campus. 


04/06/2017 at 08:22 PM

I liked the portability of those Apple Macs. Monitor and all with a nice handle built into the top to carry it with. 

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