In memory of Christian Oberth

August 6th, 2012 9:34 AM
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Filed under Happenings, History, Software showcase;
1 comment.

The Apple II community has suffered some prominent losses in the past year, such as Stan Marks and Steve Jobs. One that recently flew under the radar was that of programmer Christian Oberth, who passed away in mid-July at the age of 59.

By the time Oberth turned 30, he'd developed an extensive résumé, creating computer and arcade games for companies such as Milton Bradley, Stern Electronics, and Datamost. His published titles for the Apple II included 3-D Docking Mission (1978), Depth Charge (1978), and Phasor Zap (1978). He also programmed coin-op arcade games such as Armored Car (1981) and, perhaps most notably, Anteater (1982), adapted in 1983 to the Apple II as Ardy the Aardvark.

Sadly, the extent of Oberth's portfolio was not fully recognized in his obituary, which offered only the summary: "He was an original Apple programmer, made an anteater game and was passionate about making and playing games."

Donations in Oberth's name can be made to the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, a four-star charity on Charity Navigator.

(Hat tip to Craig Grannell)

Floppy preservation

July 8th, 2010 12:31 PM
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Filed under History;
7 comments.

There seems to be an emerging number of technologies for salvaging old data — not only the recent FC5025, as reviewed in the latest issue of Juiced.GS, but other methods that continue to enjoy developer support, such as ADTPro. I first used ADTPro after setting up an Apple IIGS in my office and wanted to make backups of its aging hard drive. Having done so, it's now occurred to me that I have overlooked a trove of much older data.

Box of floppies

So much data, yearning to be preserved!

A brief perusal of the disks reveals several Apple Writer and Dazzle Draw data disks. Neither appears to be a format supported by MacLinkPlus, but the original Apple Writer is a free download courtesy the Lost Classics Project. In the worst case scenario, perhaps I can use Sweet16's text screen capture function to convert some of the text, and standard screenshots for the images.

My collection also contains several games that aren't exactly lost treasures. Every Apple II user seems familiar with the likes of Ultima or Tass Times in Tonetown, but I've never heard anyone sharing fond memories of Ardy the Aardvark — and I can find no online reference to Pylon Racer and Electra Laser. The clamshells for those latter games don't even have screen shots; I'll need to boot them in an emulator to stir my own memories.

Finally, my collection doubtless includes numerous pirated programs, as we were all younger and stupider at the dawn of the personal computer era. Though I cannot in good conscience enjoy these programs now, I am glad for the opportunity to preserve them for posterity, should legitimate copies prove extinct. With magnetic media subject to decay, now is the best time to save this data before it is too late — assuming it isn't already.

I expect to convert these programs into disk images over a period of several lunch breaks, with cataloging of their contents to come later. A disadvantage of ADTPro over the FC5025 is that it requires a working Apple II computer. But since I have that hardware, I appreciate the advantage of having access to both 3.5" and 5.25" drives connected ot the Apple II. Access to both formats from a Mac or PC is possible but require different approaches, whereas ADTPro can handle both with ease.

Who knows what lost classics of my own I might discover?