In memory of Christian Oberth

August 6th, 2012 9:34 AM
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)

Tributes to Steve Jobs

October 10th, 2011 10:10 AM
Filed under Mainstream coverage, Steve Jobs;
Comments Off on Tributes to Steve Jobs

Between last week's video and a special episode of the Open Apple podcast, I've said all I can about Steve Jobs' passing. But many others have shared more eloquent thoughts than mine, and I'd like to share some of my favorites here.

The Open Apple shownotes link to several celebrities' social media tributes. Among those not mentioned are Richard Garriott, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg.

On the visual front, there have been many artistic interpretations, including from the New Yorker and XKCD.

No replacements found

There's always the hope that if you sit and watch for long enough, the beachball will vanish and the thing it interrupted will return.

New Yorker

Pailheads temporarily reskinned their site with a familiar look.

Boing Boing

Several celebrities have offered video tributes, including liberal show hosts Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart.

Read the rest of this entry »

Remembering Ryan

April 28th, 2011 10:04 AM
Filed under Musings;
1 comment.

It's Thursday, and I need to write an Apple II Bits blog post. Never have I so wanted to avoid doing so.

I wish I could write about Ultima, or Steve Wozniak, or KansasFest, or interactive fiction, like I always do. I wish those were the only topics that were on my mind. But the only thing I'm thinking about is this strange world I now find myself in: one without Ryan Suenaga.

When Eric Shepherd emailed the KansasFest list on Monday morning to tell us that Ryan had passed away, too many disbelieving, conflicting, and illogical thoughts occurred to me. Surely he didn't mean the Ryan Suenaga? Or maybe there was a word missing from the email. Ryan's aunt had been ill; maybe Sheppy meant that Ryan's AUNT had died. Or had Ryan, like Joe Kohn before him, been sick without letting anyone know? Or was this a sick joke? The hiker hadn't been named in the original news story, after all. Was there any chance we were mistaken?

As time went on and more facts emerged, reality started to settle in. Friend and Apple II colleague Ryan Suenaga was gone. He had turned just 44 this January — an occasion I'd neglected to observe.

Ryan's passing was a tragic, sudden, and freak accident that leaves his friends and family with little explanation. What happened on the Olomana Trail that would cause an experienced hiker like Ryan to fall to his death? Did he lose his footing? Was he so busy tweeting from the trail that he didn't see where he was going? Did he somehow suspect this would happen? I even wondered, was the fall a consequence, a complication, from some other health issue, such as a diabetes-induced heart attack? (No.)

Ryan Suenaga plays DDRThis shock was made easier by the company of Apple II friends, courtesy IRC, the same support network I turned to the morning of 9/11. Before long, one of those friends, Sean Fahey, asked me to share the news on I was reluctant to do so, and I asked Sean to give me time to compose myself before I could compose anything else. In time, I wrote tributes for Juiced.GS,, and, in order. That's three tributes too many — and there are more to come in the next issue of Juiced.GS, the next episode of Open Apple, and at KansasFest 2011.

These tributes are primarily to aid the grieving. How can we move beyond that into something constructive, so that Ryan can better the world in death as he did in life? Ryan himself suggested one idea; former KansasFest keynote speaker Jason Scott added another.

Our community is going to continue working through our feelings and taking actions as we're able. We'll do our best, just as Ryan always did. And if we ever falter, we'll know that somewhere, he'll be watching and telling us, "You suck."

Aloha and mahalo, Ryan.