Computers - past and present.
D&D - one of the best role playing games.
Video games - my video gaming background.
I've been messing around with personal computers since 1981, and haven't stopped since. I was heavily into programming back then, but now I'm mostly a dedicated user (gads, I must be getting old!). Here, for all to see, is a list of all the computers I've owned through the years, with comments thrown in for fun.
1981 - Sinclair ZX81 - Black & white, no sound, and very crude graphics. I loved it! It certainly had it's limitations, but this machine was great for learning how to program. My only major complaints were using those horrible, unstable cassette drives and that damn, wobbly RAM pack. Anyone who ever had this system hopefully had a copy of either Mazogs or 3D Monster Maze - two of the best games for this system. In fact, I've still got these games on tape, and I do play them a couple times a year, just for kicks!
1982 - Vic20 - I had this little bugger for about a year. Some of the games were fun, but that 22 character screen was pure junk! I'm sorry, but I never really got into this machine, and sold it a year later.
1983 - Timex/Sinclair 2068 - Very similar to the ZX81, but it had color, sound, and (gasp) 64K. This machine was also very easy for Basic programming, which is my specialty. In fact, I wrote a very complex DM assistant program for AD&D on this machine, which I lost during a bad save - with no backup or printout!!! Talk about your stupid mistakes! Ever since, I've made a habit of backing up everything. I still have this system and have been using it again (as of 2004), mainly playing with the few video game cartridges that came out for this systems.
1984 - Apple IIc - After Timex dropped the 2068 (after only three months on the market), I talked my dad into getting me an Apple II. From the day I brought this computer home, I've never stopped using Apple computers. Like most younger folks, I played an awful lot of games with the Apple IIc. My favorite game was Questron, which had the best ending of any adventure game I saw (back then). The Wizardry games were also some of my favorites, along with Load Runner, and Airheart. As for productive use, I never really did much with this or earlier computers - except for learning and improving my Basic programming skills.
1989 - Apple IIgs - When Apple released this computer, I just had to have it. I took a loan out to purchase this machine, and never regretted the decision. I was fascinated by the 3.5 drives, stereo sound (which is still pretty good by today's standards), and great graphics (great back then, not today). This machine was a non-stop joy to own, even as Apple Computer let it die a slow, horrible death. I still use this computer today (I've got more than one IIgs), and I do buy things for it occasionally (yes, they still make software and hardware for the Apple II - which is more than you can say for the old 8088 from you-know-who). The program that I used the most for this machine was AppleWorks, the FIRST integrated program - word processing, database, and spreadsheet! I also do some programming, and of course play the occasional game of Shanghai II, Out Of This World, or one of the many IIgs shareware games. The biggest thing I miss for this machine, which is no longer around, is a small (but great) publication, A2-Central. (Tom Weishaar, if you're out there, thanks for all those wonderful years!)
1993 - Macintosh LCIII - I told myself I'd never get a Mac (I was pissed about the Apple IIgs being killed off). However, I really wanted to do desktop publishing, and the old Apple II just couldn't do what I wanted it to do (it could, but not very easily). So, one day, I went to the local Comp USA store and walked out with a brand new Mac. I only had enough money for the computer and monitor, so it sat on my desk for almost half a year. Since the purchase of a HP 4ML printer and HP Scanjet IIp scanner, I haven't stopped using my Macintosh. Through the years, I've added a modem, digital camera, zip drive and much more. I even upgraded the motherboard to a Quadra 605 and added a much bigger hard drive. The best program for the Mac that I've ever come across would have to be ClarisWorks. This program was just marvelous (later renamed AppleWorks), and I used it until 2005 to write the Ink Blot newszine for the Black Spot gaming club.
1997 - Macintosh PowerPC 7300 - Finally, after years of waiting, I bought a PowerPC. Combined with a 19" monitor, 384 meg of ram, and an updated G3 processor, this system kicks butt. Most of my software now runs in Native Mode, running faster than ever. Best of all, this system is very expandable.
2002 - IBook G3 and PowerMac G4 - Took the plunge into the world of OS X. While lack of some hardware support (mainly scanners) has slightly tarnished my image of the Mac (with OS X), it is a wonderful and unique system. I have yet to have the operating system crash once! The applications all run fast and and at the same time, with no hesitation while doing multiple things. I can play music in the background, surf the net, and do some Photoshop work, all at the same time, and it all runs without a single hesitation. In 2003, hardware support has really improved, especially in the scanner department. OS X just keeps getting better and better.
2007 - PowerMac G5 - I recently bought a bunch used G5 Macintosh computers from a local college (giving one to my dad), as a slight upgrade to my old G4. It is definately faster in almost every aspect, except for the hard drives, which are a tad slower (go figure). I always love learning about new hardware, especially when I can do it hands-on! Of course, I upgraded the drives (HD and CD/DVD) and memory, and have been dabling with Mac OS 10.5. I will fully convert to 10.5 when Adobe gets their CS3 package fully compatible with the latest mac OS in January 2008 (along with a few other programs that are not yet Leopoad compatible). Till then, it is nice to have Firewire 800, plus built-in front USB and Firewire ports. This unit is also somewhat less on my ears that my old "wind-tunnel" MDD system, which I definately like.
2008 - MacBook - It is a start, but I finally bought my first Intel Mac this Summer, and I am so glad I did! This thing is amazing. It may not have a great graphics card, but it beats the pants off of my PowerMac G5 in every category. It is particularily fast at booting up, which I'm guessing is that OS X runs better on Intel machines. Oh, and I finally updated to a wireless network as well, mainly because of the Airport card built into the MacBook. I love having wireless now that I have it, plus I can't believe the rang of Apple's Airport Express base station. Full bar strength through the entire house (and 1/2 strength in my back yard!). I even upgraded the MacBook recenty, putting in a 320GB HD and 4GB of RAM. I did this partially because I needed the extra space, and partly to run VMware Fusion with Windows XP (Yes, there are a few minor things I need that only Windows can do). Now I can ditch that lone Windows machine I have collecting dust in the basement. I can't wait till I get my next Intel Mac, which will probably be in 2009. Still not sure if it'll be a Mac Pro or just a good old fashion iMac? Time will tell.
2009 - Mac mini - In late 2009, I went from the PowerMac G5, and got a refurb Mac mini from early 2009. While this may seem like a step down, the Mac mini beats out the older G5 Mac in almost all areas, with the exception of disc access speed. The difference was minimal, so I went with it, and of course newer versions of OS X that were going Intel only. I also loved that the mini took up so little space on my desk (the G5 was nice, but it is huge in comparison). VMware Fusion allowed Windows Vista on this computer, for when I needed those few Windows program (like Visio), and for my Computer Network college classes at the time. With the mini, my computer monitor went to 22", along with a 2nd 17" monitor. The inside of the Mac mini changed quickly, as I updated it to 4GB or RAM and 500 GB of disk space. This machine ran great, until I started taking some graphic intensive classes at college in 2010 (Photoshop, Illustrator, and more), which meant my thoughts were on another newer machine that would handle graphics much faster. The Mini is staying with Snow Leopard for some older programs which I still need access to, like AppleWorks, until I someday can manage to convert everything into a newer and supported format. I still use the mini at various times, plus it has now become my disc burning machine, from program archiving to DVD backups and more.
2011 - MacBook Pro - In late Summer of 2011, I decided to consolidate, and mainly use a laptop instead of a desktop and laptop. I was tired of keeping the two machines updated to match content and such, which can be a pain after a while. So I got a refurbished MacBook Pro (early 2011 model, 2.2 GHz Intel Core I7 model, with the higher definition anti-gloss screen). I got it with 8 GB of RAM, but updated the internal drive to 750GB, as I knew I would fill it up rather well in a short period of time (plus I have XP, Vista and Win 7 on here through VMware Fusion). The MacBook Pro has been wonderful, and I even ended up getting a refurbished 27" Thunderbolt monitor for it too. This machine has the power I need to do graphical work, and the nice portability when needed, and I don't have to keep two machines updated all the time. I won't deny that I try to keep the main programs updated on my old MacBook (and that is main programs only), which came in handy when the MacBook Pro had a GPU/CPU failure early in 2012. It was repaired within a week, but I was glad I had the backup laptop, especially since I was taking college classes at the time.
2013 - iMac - During this year, got a used 2011 iMac 21" from a friend, and was exclusively used for my Packrat Video Games, LLC small side business. First time owning one of the newer iMacs, and have to admit that I rather like this computer. Great screen, runs well, and no problems in over 2 years now. Run Windows 7 on it too via Bootcamp, for those Packrat related things that can only be done via Windows software (it happens, I deal with it). Only complaint about this computer, and all current and recent iMacs, is if I want to update the hard drive, it will not be an easy task.
2015 - MacBook Pro - Got a refurb 2012 MacBook Pro, to take the place of my 2011 laptop. Main reasons were, USB 3, and the simple fact that my 2011 laptop is starting to show signs that a sensor on the logic board may be failing. It is out of warrenty, so a replacement that was low cost, and a step above the troubled early 2001 MBP laptops (google it — they have issues), so this was a nice slight step upwards. Will update again, when, I have no idea.
2018 - MacBook Pro - Got another refurb 2012 MacBook Pro, to take the place of the 2011 iMac used for Packrat. Decided to use this for my small company, plus also as a computer in the basement and elsewhere as needed. Plus unlike the 2011 iMac, this will update to Mojave at this time. Not sure beyond that.
Other Misc. Stuff - Through the years, I've also had the following computers, which are variations of ones listed above: Timex/Sinclair TS1000 and TS1500, Spectrum (European version of TS2068), Apple IIe, Apple IIc+, Mac Plus, Mac SE, Mac IIsi, Mac IIci, Mac Quadra 605/610/630/700, PowerMac (6100, 7100, 7200, 7300, 7500), PowerMac G4 (summer 2002), IBook (2002), Blue and White G3, Bondi Blue iMac, iMac 2002 (slot loading), and the Mac Portable.
One other note - I did have an IBM 486 (that I got for free), that I was just for running a Sinclair ZX81 emulator - and nothing else (but that computer got scrapped around 2018)! I currently run Windows 7 on my two MBP using Parallels, which works rather well. I don't want to have two computers if I can run two in one.
1976 - In the Beginning - I originally got interested in D&D by hanging out at the local Hobby Horse store, where I would check out the latest modules and magazines. I couldn't afford them at the time, so I would read them when the store employees where busy.
Later that same year, after dropping numerous hints around the house, my parents bought me the D&D boxed set for my birthday. This being the blue boxed set, with the Caves of the Unknown module. After trying to play a few times, I just could not figure out the rules and gave it up for about a year. The original rules were rather confusing for first timers - like myself.
1978 - Over a year later, a couple of friends in my neighborhood took an interest in the game, and it took off from there. I bought tons of books, modules, dice, miniatures, and anything else I could get my hands on. For one whole summer vacation, the local kids and I would play from sunrise to sunset.
1979-88 - During this time period, I played AD&D sporadically. Most of this was due to the fact that I couldn't find any local groups that would play on a regular basis. I even ended up running an online game on a local bulletin board system, called MAUDE. I also tried different games for a short while, such as Gamma World and Boot Hill.
1989-2008 - While working at my hotel job at the time, I came across another AD&D player! He convinced me to join his group, and I've been playing non-stop ever since. During this time, I also helped start up a gaming club, The Fellowship of the Black Spot. I was involved in the publishing of their bi-monthly, award winning newsletter, the Ink Blot, and am the Web Master for the club's web site. A different newsletter may potentially replace the Ink Blot soon, but this is still not certain yet.
2008-Present - With D&D 4E, and then 5E being the big thing around town, my group and myself have made the big decision to stay with good old D&D 3.5! I spent way too much time and effort to convert to a new edition of D&D this soon. And besides that, I really like 3.5, simple as that. Not impressed with 4E, and the new 5E frankly stinks as well. Thus for now I no longer have to buy any expensive rulebooks!
I've been hooked on videgames since 1978, when my parents bought me and my sister an RCA Studio II for Christmas. Since then I've slowly been accumulating quite a large collection - even though it's far from being complete. Since the advent of multi-carts, I've been selling off most of my cartridge collection, with the exception of my favorite games. I still collect some of the more rare games, but don't have what most would consider to be an exceptional collection. For me though, it is most satisfactory, since I still get to play all my favorites from my childhood.
The system I'm most attached to is the Odyssey2. My father bought the system for the family after a few years of trying other systems, including the Atari VCS. The Atari unit we bought at the time failed in the first 24 hours, so we ended up taking it back to the store. Sounds quite amazing, considering how simple and reliable the 2600 usually is. In the end, after looking around for a bit, my father and I decided on the Odyssey2 system. I found the games to be about average as a whole, until the Master Series came out. UFO just blew me away. Even my friend who had an Atari 2600 thought UFO was so much better than Asteroids on his Atari. And you know what, he was right. UFO was, and still is, an outstanding game.
During the time when I owned the Odyssey2, I spent most of my money earned at a part-time job buying games for the unit. I slowly ended up with almost every game made for the O2, including favorites such as K.C.'s Krazy Chase, Quest for the Rings, Attack of the Time Lord, Killer Bees, and Turtles. While most of these game never looked as good as games for other systems, I still found them very enjoyable, and that's all that mattered to me. If the game is fun, it doesn't matter what the graphics look like - plain and simple!
As of the start of this Century, the Odyssey2/Videopac homebrew market has really started moving. At least 2 games a year come out, with more coming out each year. I've even helped write the manual for two releases so far, Pong and Calculator. My favorite home brew so far is Mr. Roboto, which is just a super cool game. Some of these new games are actually old games that were never released back in the early 80's. They were found years ago on Eprom chips or prototype carts, and are slowly being release by dedicated fans to the public.
As the 80's moved on, and I started earning more money at work, I ended up branching off onto other gaming systems. The Intellivision was my second system, and probably my favorite of all time. The Odyssey2 still holds many affections and such, but the Intellivision just has so many darn good games for it. Tron Deadly Discs, Pinball, Astrosmash, both D&D games, and countless others are among my favorite video games of all time. The amazing thing that I liked was that the system was still made and produced into the early 90's, even though this was on a limited basis. As with most gamers, my only complaint about the Intellivision was those darn disc controllers. All of my units have been modified by myself with joystick adaptors permanently attached to the discs - and I mean permanently attached - with nails, screw, glue and anything else I could use to make sure the joystick never came off of the discs. Sounds nasty, but they look good and work very well. Cool thing about the Intellivision was that it was the first 16-bit gaming system! Most folks think of it as 8-bit, but the processor was truly 16-bit. Just goes to show what some people don't know. Heck, I didn't find this out till a few years ago.
The next system I bought during the early 80's was the ColecoVision. I purchased this system very close to the so-called Video Game Crash, so I did not end up with a huge library for it at first. It did however end up with a decent amount of cheap games that stores were selling of during the 'crash', which was fine by me. The Coleco is a very good system, and many of the games are fun to play. The only problem I had with this system, back then and even today, is that the contacts on the cartridges/unit get dirty way too easily. This of course leads to games that get garbled graphics during the middle of a game, or even worse cut out during game play. I have never been able to completely eliminate this 'dirt' problem. The games I still love to play on this system are Q*bert and Pepper II, both outstanding reproductions of their arcade counterparts.
Around the same time I was buying ColecoVision games, I bought the Vectrex game system, just as it was being liquidated during the video game crash! Talk about timing! I got the system at a really good price and bought all the games I could for it. For a stand-alone, black and white vector system, this unit was outstanding. The controllers were great, the sound just a delight, and of course the vector graphics were pretty good too. Of course, the graphics were best for space games, which is what the Vectrex excelled at. The built in game Mine Storm is still one of my favorite video games. This system also had such wonderful games as Cosmic Chasm, Hyperchase, Space Wars (excellent two player game), and Web Wars. Even today, there are devoted fans of this system still producing game for it! Personally I think this system will be around for a long time, even if not that many people know about it!
During the mid 80's is when I finally got on the Atari 2600 wagon. I bought the system and about 100 games for it at a very good price from a kid selling of his collection. At the time I didn't realize it, but about 1/5 of his collection was rare games that now go for $25 to over $200 each! Since I don't collect big time for the 2600, I sold off all of my rares in the first part of the new century (so don't go asking me if I have any rare games). Most of these rare games sucked anyway, such as Swordquest: Waterworld. This game was just horrible. I have to admit that the Atari 2600 does have some very good games for it, such as Millipede, Robot Tank and Solar Fox, just to name a few. Of course, there are many bad games for this system too. I still buy the odd game for the old 2600 here and there, but as mentioned, I do not seriously collect for this system. I've even stopped buying homebrews, as they are on Eproms and will eventually die in time (roughly 20 years), so I don't waste my money the 2600 ones anymore.
Also during the mid 80's, I picked up on the Atari 5200. I bought a system with a bunch of games from a lady selling the set through the local paper, for a rather good price. Even though the 5200 controllers were odd, to say the least, I really liked this system. I think the main reason for this was the simple fact that it had some really good arcade games for it, along with a really good version of Wizard of Wor. With the roller-ball attachment, games like Centipede and Missile Command were just outstanding to play. I even ended up buying a convertor to allow me to use normal joysticks for games that really didn't work well with the ones that came with the 5200. Of course, one of my favorite games - Space Dungeon - works just a charm with the non-centering 5200 joysticks. Over the years I eventually got some spair Atari 5200 units (both 2 and 4 port), along with a multi-cart (this is one system I am not actively collecting for). I have bought a few homebrew games for the 5200 a few years ago, but that was about it. As said, I really like the Atari 5200, but am not really big on collecting for this system.
(and everthing after this is a long story, which isn't happening here)...
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