Generational hardware gap deux

December 19th, 2011 7:36 PM
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Remember those modern kids confronted with ancient technology? They were, for the most part, baffled by archaic storage media and entertainment devices. It was an amusing demonstration of the changes in interfaces and expectations across the generations.

Here's another example of the clash between new and old. Four American kids, all siblings, are given three devices from their mother's attic: a tape deck, a Commodore Plus/4, and an Atari 2600.

It's great fun to see the girl's delight at getting the Commodore to work. Today's computers may be more elegant and inviting, but there's a far greater sense of accomplishment at mastering the rudimentary commands of yesterday's machines.

By contrast, it's challenging to believe the young man couldn't figure out how to fire in a game that has one button, it's not surprising that he and his brother would find the Atari games challenging. In 2009, I brought a 22-year-old to the American Classic Arcade Museum at Funspot. Bred into being a multitasker by today's complex and staccato media, she was confused by the simplicity of the coin-ops of the 1980s. Surely there was more to it than that?

I'm glad there are retro enthusiasts out there who are not only holding onto their tech but are willing to share it with their kids. May we always remember the way things were — the better to appreciate the way things are!

(Hat tip to ComputeHer, 8 Bit Weapon)

Apple II invented the Microsoft Kinect

June 13th, 2011 2:50 PM
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Filed under Hacks & mods, History;
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The annual Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, was held last week in Los Angeles. This convention invites members of the electronic entertainment industry to bear witness to the innovations that will grace home computers and consoles in the coming year.

The Kinect, a peripheral released for the Microsoft Xbox 360 last November, is proving a versatile platform for playing games without any contact or manipulation of a physical controller — "Your body is the controller", says the advertising. Here's a recent tech demo from E3:

Although the particular application and technology of Kinect may be new, the concept is not. Thirty years before Microsoft set out to redefine gaming, Tom DeWitt had demonstrated a similar tool, Pantomation:

According to astrosmash, "The mini-computer they talk about in this video is the PDP-8/L, not an Apple II, although the system was later ported to Apple II in the early 80s."

Although Pantomation may not have made it out of the lab and into consumer applications, it's still a fascinating (and unsurprising!) example of the potential of the Apple II to redefine history.

(Hat tip to timothy)