Saturday Musings – A 38 Year Project Is Completed

20170819_saratoga

I remember when I was about 13 years-old, my friend and I used to ride our bikes a few miles to a local Tandy Electronics store. Tucked in the back was a thing with a keyword and black and white screen that just captivated our attention....it was spellbinding.

Escrow.com

For some reason, the store manager didn’t mind a couple of kids spending hours each Saturday morning tinkering away on his demonstration machine. Maybe he thought it was a good sales tool, “Even these kids can do stuff with a computer!”

I’ll never forget filling the screen with white blocks with some simple Basic programming code. It was an amazing event that sparked the imagination and caused us to believe we could do anything with this thing.

10 FOR X=0 TO 128: FOR Y=0 TO 47: SET (X,Y): NEXT Y,X

Type that line into a TRS-80 (affectionately called a Trash 80) and you’ll get the same rush as we did 38 years ago. BTW, the same two kids that road their bikes to the store each Saturday are now working together in ParkLogic.

So why have I just completed a 38-year project? It just so happens that around this time my father met a guy that gave him a copy of a game. This game wasn’t the traditional Star Trek, kill all the Klingons but more of a strategy game that could have you engrossed for literally hours……and it did.

It just so happened that I made a photocopy (remember that wet photocopy paper?) of the code and have kept it in a safe spot waiting for its day to shine once again. Over the years, I’ve made numerous failed attempts to recode the game on different platforms. I even tried doing it in javascript over my recent summer vacation…..yes, for me, the game was that much fun.

Last night, my lifelong friend and I decided to focus and get the job done. We worked until about 2am and this involved some debugging and reading about 10 pages of old code. Laboriously we checked each line that was entered into an old TRS-80 emulator and finally we were in a position to run the game. Guess what, it worked!

The game is called Saratoga (no idea why) and it’s awesome. By today’s standards of fancy graphics and sound it is pathetic (there is no sound but the sound of space) but for two 50+ year-olds we were in raptures as we “geeked” out and became 13-year-olds once again.

What readers should understand is this game ran in 16K of RAM. This is less space than the banner graphic on my blog.....but boy was it fun to play!

The impact this simple game had on my life is not be underestimated. For instance, the starship that I would always captain was called Yorktown……the server that you are reading this blog on is called Yorktown. It also taught me programming, inspired me to get into IT and reminded me to be ever curious.

Have a great weekend….I know that I am!

Ping me if you would like a copy of the game…..like I said, it’s awesome!

BTW - don't forget to have your say in the Leaders survey!

Saturday Musings - My Lady of the Lake
Domain Sales Don’t Add Up
 

Comments

joezepy on 20 August 2017
People can make a difference in other's lives

Hi Michael,

The coolest part of this story is "the store manager [who] didn’t mind a couple of kids spending hours each Saturday morning tinkering away on his demonstration machine..."

I love people who are generous and trusting like that. I'm sure he knew you kids weren't going to be buying that machine but look at the path his generosity put you on and where it's lead for your life. People like that make a difference in the world.

Nice story; thanks for sharing.

Joe

Hi Michael, The coolest part of this story is "the store manager [who] didn’t mind a couple of kids spending hours each Saturday morning tinkering away on his demonstration machine..." I love people who are generous and trusting like that. I'm sure he knew you kids weren't going to be buying that machine but look at the path his generosity put you on and where it's lead for your life. People like that make a difference in the world. Nice story; thanks for sharing. Joe
mgilmour on 20 August 2017

I completely agree with you. He was a really special manager.

I completely agree with you. He was a really special manager.
Bosk on 23 August 2017
The manager was an American

His name was Hank. No one was called Hank in those days in Australia. More importantly, no Australian manager would ever consider letting two kids off the street play with the most expensive bit of kit in the shop.

I asked Hank once if he minded us playing with it and his reply was that he thought it was a good look for people to see kids playing with it. For the time, he was way ahead of everyone else. In the other stores run by the locals, they were kept behind glass with big "No Touching" signs.

As an aside, because we could never actually save any of the programs, we became quite quick at typing! We'd end up spending 2 hours typing in the code to play for 1 hour before the store closed at midday on Saturday.

His name was Hank. No one was called Hank in those days in Australia. More importantly, no Australian manager would ever consider letting two kids off the street play with the most expensive bit of kit in the shop. I asked Hank once if he minded us playing with it and his reply was that he thought it was a good look for people to see kids playing with it. For the time, he was way ahead of everyone else. In the other stores run by the locals, they were kept behind glass with big "No Touching" signs. As an aside, because we could never actually save any of the programs, we became quite quick at typing! We'd end up spending 2 hours typing in the code to play for 1 hour before the store closed at midday on Saturday.
Bosk on 23 August 2017

As Michael's co-conspirator in this, you cannot overestimate the amount of "Geeking Out" that occurred. This little black screen and blocky text was a time machine that took us back nearly 40 years to a time when you used to just stare at a TRS-80 and go "Oooooooooh". Incredibly the same feelings were evoked even though we both have watches that are more powerful than that machine ever hoped to be.

As Michael's co-conspirator in this, you cannot overestimate the amount of "Geeking Out" that occurred. This little black screen and blocky text was a time machine that took us back nearly 40 years to a time when you used to just stare at a TRS-80 and go "Oooooooooh". Incredibly the same feelings were evoked even though we both have watches that are more powerful than that machine ever hoped to be.
Already Registered? Login Here
Guest
Sunday, 19 November 2017