Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Run Dos, run

So I just finished The Cult of Mac by Leander Kahney. Incredible book. I felt so at home. Well, most of the time. I knew I was a Mac Geek from way back but there are people out there that make me look like a normal human being.

The first computer my dad ever bought for the family was a Franklin Ace 1000, an Apple IIe clone. I don’t remember the specific numbers and such, but at the time it was cutting edge. GE had a bunch they used in their design CAD department.

The old Franklin consisted of this big-ass hard drive, about 18 inches wide, maybe 2 feet deep and 5 or 6 inches high. We had a green screen monitor (about a 10 or 12 inch screen) and a 5” floppy drive.

Dad also got a shitload of shareware. There was one program (I guess it was an early version of Word Perfect) that I used for every paper I ever had to write in middle school and even into high school. At first we had a dot matrix printer that I kept buzzing. With teachers complaining about hard-to-read dot matrix printouts, Dad eventually rigged up a nice electric Smith Corona typewriter that printed out my homework.

And the games. Oh, the games Dad found. We had Swashbuckler, Way Out, Bolo, Sheila and... Aztec! My gawd I loved me some Aztec! You could play difficulty levels from 1 to 9. During those years I made it up to I think 7.

I played the game so much the floppy disc wore out. It would grind and grind in that damn drive, sounding like a sick lawn mower. Each time I won at a level of difficulty, the grinding got longer... and longer. Finally my dad got another copy of the game. It made it a couple of weeks before that one started to die, too.

So I had to give up on my favorite game, never winning at level 9. Damn.

Fast forward to my first years in college. My lifelong friend WasabiJohn got me involved with the student-run college radio station. One day while hanging around the offices I noticed someone playing on an old Apple IIe. Next to the glorious machine was a metric fuck ton of 5 inch floppies, all with games.

And guess which one they had? And guess which one I finally beat at level 9? Do you have any idea how many classes I cut just so I could hang out in the old radio station office and bang on that there Apple? Ah, those were the days.

We eventually had to vacate the offices and move to much smaller quarters. And with smaller facilities we had to chuck a lot of stuff. I have no idea what happened to the old Apple IIe.

But fear not. I have an Apple IIe emulator at home on the iMac. And yes, I have Aztec. My fervor for playing has diminished, but I do occasionally whoop up on it. Haven’t invested the time to get all the way to level 9 yet.

But getting back to the book I just finished. I was talking to my dad yesterday, telling him about these crazy people who are hanging onto, even paying huge amounts of money for, these old, obsolete Apples.

“Dad, you don’t happen to still have that old Franklin, would ya?”

“Oh, damn. No, that thing went straight to the dumpster.”


“Yeah, the microchips started going out on it. I kept replacing them but eventual they quit making the replacements. I had some salesgirl tell me I could try computer junk shops. Well, I tried that but could find what I needed. That’s when we bought that new Compac back in the mid-80s.”

“Yeah I remember. But didn’t you save that old Franklin in a closet somewhere?”

“No. We took that thing and dropped it in a dumpster at GE.”


“Dad, do you have any idea how much money you coulda made by selling that thing on eBay?”

“Yeah, I know. Sucks, don’t it? It was a good machine”


lakelady said...

brings back memories of playing Zork, and text adventure games on Compuserve as well

Hollygoyle said...

I remember Zork well. Never won that one but played it like crazy.