Saturday, June 30, 2012

Atari 1200XL

As you may have ascertained from this entry, I've been re-reading some of my old video game material from the early 1980s. There's a lot in them that bored me as a kid that fascinates me now as an adult. Back then, I was just interested in the graphics and characters (because I couldn't play for crap, and still can't). Today, they offer a window back into a world that seems so long ago in terms of both hardware and software.

Electronic Fun with Computers and Games is a particularly instructive artifact in that respect. Though designed to jump on the bandwagon after the launch of Electronic Games, and generally uneven in quality (both issues I own have several pages each devoted to utter nonsense, and one cuts off an article in the middle), Electronic Fun with Computers and Games mixes in non-gaming computer material, too. Besides the obvious reviews of contemporary games on every platform imaginable, it also includes articles on computer clubs and an EPROM burner called the Promqueen.

One aspect of these magazines I especially liked were the reviews of new computers by Jules Gilder. At least, I assume that Mr. Gilder is the same Jules H. Gilder who wrote reviews for Electronic Fun with Computers and Games in the 1980s. It would seem improbable two men would have the same uncommon name and a concurrent interest in the same field. Mr. Gilder's reviews weigh both the positive and negative aspects of the new products hitting the market in 1983, and do so in a way that communicates clearly to the reader.

I am especially taken by his review of the Atari 1200XL. If you clicked that link (and you should), you might have an idea as to why. But here, let me show you. This article is scanned from the August 1983 issue of Electronic Fun with Computers and Games (Vol. 1, No. 10). Right click an image to view it at a more legible resolution. (And no, none of them quite match up in terms of size. Sorry.)

Did you catch that last bit? If not, let me quote it for you:
The inaccessibility of most third party software from disks to cartridges linked with the difficulty in doing any serious programming makes it [the Atari 1200XL] a computer that is not geared to any user group at all. (emphasis added)
Though the phrase would not exist for many years to come, my only response to that is "Oh snap!"


Jules Gilder said...

Thanks Christopher. Yes, it was indeed the same Jules Gilder (me). I very much enjoyed writing those reviews and the opportunity it gave me to "play" with new equipment and games, at least for a short while.

C. Elam said...

One of the magical things about the Internet is how you can write something like this, and the person you are discussing might come across it. Thanks for stopping by!