Category Archives: Technology

Daily Trivia – 5/10/11

Question: What timepiece brand was introduced in 1983 and was eventually sold in hundreds of styles?


Last Question: What arcade game featured enemies named “Mr. Hotdog”, “Mr. Pickle”, and “Mr. Egg”?

BurgerTime

BurgerTime is an arcade game that was released in 1982. It would then be released for several home gaming systems, such as Atari, Intellivision, ColecoVision, Commodore 64, and Nintendo among others.

The character you control is chef Peter Pepper. You must walk over the hamburger ingredients located across a maze of platforms. When Peter Pepper walks the length of an ingredient (bun, meat patty, tomato, etc.), it falls one level. If it lands atop another ingredient, that ingredient would also fall another level. When you got all the ingredients to the bottom, you move on to the next level.

But, there are three enemies who try to not make it so easy. Mr. Hot Dog, Mr. Pickle, and Mr. Egg chase Peter Pepper around to prevent him from making his burgers. But, Peter Pepper can take care of business. He can crush the enemies by dropping an ingredient on top of them. He can also send them for a ride by dropping the ingredient while they are on top of it. When this happens, the ingredient can drop down several levels – depending on how many enemies are on top of the ingredient.

Peter Pepper also has pepper shots to shake on nearby enemies to stun and render them harmless for a few seconds. Extra shots are obtained by collecting bonus foods, such as coffee, an ice cream cone, or French fries, which appear in the center of the maze when a certain number of ingredients have dropped.

Personally, I used to have this game on Intellivision, and loved it. Here is some video from Intellivision, and from the arcade versions:

Intellivision

Arcade Game

My First Computer: Commodore 64

If you grew up in the ’80s, you saw some major advances in technology at home. You could play video games on your TV with Pong, which was followed by Atari and Intellivision. Microwave ovens were becoming more affordable and popular, so you could get hot food a lot faster. VCR’s came into existence. Now you could watch movies at home, commercial free, instead of having to go to the theater. Cable TV became available. You could watch movies on HBO commercial free, and you could tape them on your VCR. Not to mention, that you could watch your MTV.

One of the best advances was the home computers. You could play games on the computer, and could even create your own games. After graduating Junior High School, my parents bought me one of the most popular PC’s of the mid-80s – the Commodore 64.

I had my Commodore 64 hooked up to the TV. There were games that were in a cartridge format, just like Atari or Intellivision. The computer had a joystick that was similar to the Atari joystick.

But, you could also write code on the computer, using the BASIC 2.0 programming language. It was OK if you didn’t know how to program. There was a monthly Commodore 64 magazine called COMPUTE!’s Gazette which contained code for some games that you would type in line by line.

Today, you can download a game right to your phone, and are ready to play within minutes, if not seconds. But, with the Commodore, if you weren’t lucky enough to have the 5¼ inch floppy drive, you had to save and load the games from a cassette tape. You would type LOAD, then the game you wanted to play. The player would go through the whole tape until it got to the game/program you wanted. Luckily, there was a counter on the tape player. So after you saved a game/program, you had to make sure you wrote down the number where it started. So you could fast forward the tape until it got close to that number. Then you could load the game/program. It was still a cassette player, so it could take a long time to load.

Later on, we did get a floppy disk drive. But, it still took a while to load. So, if you didn’t want to wait too long for the cassette or disk, you could just plug in a game that you had on a cartridge. A couple of my favorites were Boulder Dash and Soccer. Here is a clip of several games from the Commodore 64:

Technology, has obviously come a long way. But, I still miss my Commodore 64.

Nintendo: “It’s On Like Donkey Kong”

Nintendo, creator of the classic arcade/video game, has filed a request with the U.S. Patent and Trademark office to trademark the pop-culture phrase, “It’s on like ‘Donkey Kong.’ ”

According to CNN, Nintendo claims that the catchphrase “is an old, popular Nintendo phrase that has a number of possible interpretations depending on how it’s used.”

“In addition to Nintendo’s use, it has been used in popular music, television and film over the years, pointing to Donkey Kong’s status as an enduring pop-culture icon and video game superstar,” they said Wednesday in a written release.

According to the Urban Dictionary, rapper Ice Cube first popularized the phrase in 1992 with the song “Now I Gotta Wet’cha.” Since then , the phrase has been heard in many television shows and movies.

Could this be a publicity stunt? On November 21 this year, the newest Donkey Kong game – “Donkey Kong Country Returns” – is going to be released.

Donkey Kong burst onto the Arcade scene in 1981, and was one of the most populat games of the ’80s. It was the first appearance of the iconic Mario. In the original game, Donkey Kong captured Pauline, and you control Mario to climb up the girders to rescue her. In the meantime, Donkey Kong would throw barrels at you, and fling hammers up in the air. You would have to time the barrels and jump over them. When you reach Donkey Kong, he grabs Pauline, and goes to the next screen. The original Mario was actually named Jumpman (similar to “Pac-Man” and “Walkman”), and he was a carpenter instead of a plumber.

This should bring back memories:

Donkey Kong spawned the sequels Donkey Kong Jr. and Donkey Kong 3, as well as the spin-off Mario Bros.
In 1982, Coleco liscesed Donkey Kong, and included it in the pack-in cartridge for all the ColecoVision consoles. The game was very similar to the actual arcade game, so it sold well. There was even a hand-held Donkey Kong game.
In 2007, a popular documentary called The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters was released. It follows Steve Wiebe as he tries to take the world high score for the arcade game Donkey Kong from reigning champion Billy Mitchell.
Over the years, Donkey Kong has transitioned very well with all the newer video game systems. As I mentioned earlier, there are still new games coming out, as “Donkey Kong Country Returns” is coming out on November 21.

R.I.P. Sony Walkman (July 1,1979-October 25, 2010)

The Sony Walkman, one of the greatest technologies of the ’80s, has died as Sony announced that it has stopped production of the cassette tape player. It had been suffering from the disease of irrelevance since October 23, 2001, when the Apple iPod was released. It is survived by the very ill Discman, VCR, and floppy disk. The latter will have its production stopped this coming April.
The Walkman had a great life. If it was not for the Walkman, the iPod may never had been invented.
You could listen to your music while running or working out. Depending on your job, you could listen to the Walkman while you worked. You could also listen to it at home without annoying the rest of the family.
But, you could look like a fool by singing, really loud, to what you were listening to, and nobody else could hear the music. Here is an early commercial for the Walkman:

19 Somethin’ – Microwave Ovens

The 19 Somethin’ series continues. If you missed the previous articles, you can get caught up here.

Here are the next lines in the song:

It was the dawning of a new decade
we got our first microwave

It’s hard to imagine a world without microwave ovens now. But, I remember getting our first microwave oven in the early ’80s. It may be surprising, but the microwave oven was not an ’80s invention.
The first home microwave was launched in 1952 in the US. But, it did not catch on due to its hefty price tag, and due to the fact that it probably freaked people out. In the ’60s, several companies started producing the microwaves. But, nobody could still afford them. The prices started to drop in the ’70s, but it was still not worth it unless your name was Rockefeller. By the ’80s, normal people could afford to buy them – and soon, everybody was.

There was a learning curve though. Have any of you put something metal or aluminum in a microwave? it looks awesome, but probably not good for the microwave! And it became known that you shouldn’t stand near the microwave if you had a heart pacemaker. I wonder how they found that out! Well, if you wanted to knock off somebody with a pacemaker, the microwave would be very handy. It was also handy if you needed to get rid of a gremlin.

But, the microwave did make our lives easier. You could cook a lot faster.

The earlier microwaves usually had 2 dials, one for the cooking time, and one for the cooking power. Things are even easier today. The microwaves are mainly digital, and they usually have pre-programmed cooking options.

Now we just need something to automatically clean the microwave if you forget to cover something that explodes all over the place when you cook it.

19 Somethin’ – Pac Man

The 19 Somethin’ series continues. If you missed the first article, you can get caught up here. Here is the next line in the song:

Had the Pac Man pattern memorized

Before home video games, you used to have to go to the arcade to play video games. And it would cost a quarter a game. So, in order to spend less money, and more time on the game, you learned the patterns to the games pretty quickly. Most, if not all, video games had a pattern. And you either spent a lot of quarters learning them, or you watched your friends spend a lot of their quarters on the game, and learn the patterns that way.

Here is the full article about Pac-man that was posted on May 25, 2010 in case you missed it:

Pac-Man, the most successful coin-operated video game in history, was released in Japan on May 22,1980. Pac-Man is an icon of ’80s pop culture. Not only did it boost the popularity of video games, it generated spin-off games, merchandise, a television show, and even a cereal!

When Pac-Man was released, the most popular arcade video games were space shooters, such as Space Invaders and Asteroids.

Pac-Man is one of the longest running video game franchises from the golden age of video arcade games, and one of only three video games that are on display at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C., (along with Pong and Dragon’s Lair).

The original Japanese name was Puckman, which evolved from the Japanese word paku, meaning ‘chomp.’ But in America, arcade operators were worried that vandals would alter the letter P. Eventually, ‘Pac’ was suggested as an alternate name.

To play the game, you would insert your quarter, then use the joystick to move Pac-Man through a maze and eat dots, and avoid the four ghosts – Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde. Near the corners of the maze are four larger, flashing dots known as power pellets that provide Pac-Man with the temporary ability to eat the monsters. The monsters turn deep blue, reverse direction, and usually move more slowly. When a monster is eaten, its eyes remain and return to the monster box where it is regenerated in its normal color. Blue monsters flash white before they become dangerous again How many of you would become greedy and try to get all the ghosts? But then just when you try to get one of the last ghosts, they would flash white, and they would get you before you could get them.

In addition to dots and power pellets, bonus items, usually referred to as fruits (though not all items are fruit) appear near the center of the maze. These items score extra bonus points when eaten. The items change and bonus values increase throughout the game. Also, a series of intermissions play after certain levels toward the beginning of the game, showing a humorous set of interactions (the first being after level 2) between Pac-Man and Blinky.

In 1982, Pac-Man was released for Atari. For people how had Intellivision instead of Atari, you had to settle for Lock & Chase.

Pac-Man spawned numerous sequels, the most significant of which is Ms. Pac-Man, released in the United States in 1981. The game features several changes from the original Pac-Man, including faster gameplay, more mazes, new intermissions, and moving bonus items. Some consider Ms. Pac-Man to be superior to the original, and even the best in the entire series.

In 1982, Milton Bradley released a board game based on Pac-Man.
9192b8ymoxnl-_sx355_

An animated TV series was produced by Hanna–Barbera and aired on ABC from 1982 to 1984:

The song “Pac-Man Fever,” by Jerry Buckner and Gary Garcia, reached No. 9 on the Billboard pop chart in early 1982:

And you know you’ve made it when “Weird Al” Yankovic does a parody song about you. Here is “Weird Al”‘s Pac-Man song, done to the music of The Beatles’ “Taxman”:

If it wasn’t for Pac-Man (the game, not those songs!), there may never have been a Mario, Lara Croft, or Call of Duty video games.

Pac-Man fever began 30 years ago this week

Pac-Man, the most successful coin-operated video game in history, was released in Japan on May 22,1980. Pac-Man is an icon of ’80s pop culture. Not only did it boost the popularity of video games, it generated spin-off games, merchandise, a television show, and even a cereal!

When Pac-Man was released, the most popular arcade video games were space shooters, such as Space Invaders and Asteroids.

Pac-Man is one of the longest running video game franchises from the golden age of video arcade games, and one of only three video games that are on display at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C., (along with Pong and Dragon’s Lair).

The original Japanese name was Puckman, which evolved from the Japanese word paku, meaning ‘chomp.’ But in America, arcade operators were worried that vandals would alter the letter P. Eventually, ‘Pac’ was suggested as an alternate name.

To play the game, you would insert your quarter, then use the joystick to move Pac-Man through a maze and eat dots, and avoid the four ghosts – Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde. Near the corners of the maze are four larger, flashing dots known as power pellets that provide Pac-Man with the temporary ability to eat the monsters. The monsters turn deep blue, reverse direction, and usually move more slowly. When a monster is eaten, its eyes remain and return to the monster box where it is regenerated in its normal color. Blue monsters flash white before they become dangerous again How many of you would become greedy and try to get all the ghosts? But then just when you try to get one of the last ghosts, they would flash white, and they would get you before you could get them.

In addition to dots and power pellets, bonus items, usually referred to as fruits (though not all items are fruit) appear near the center of the maze. These items score extra bonus points when eaten. The items change and bonus values increase throughout the game. Also, a series of intermissions play after certain levels toward the beginning of the game, showing a humorous set of interactions (the first being after level 2) between Pac-Man and Blinky.

In 1982, Pac-Man was released for Atari. For people how had Intellivision instead of Atari, you had to settle for Lock & Chase.

Pac-Man spawned numerous sequels, the most significant of which is Ms. Pac-Man, released in the United States in 1981. The game features several changes from the original Pac-Man, including faster gameplay, more mazes, new intermissions, and moving bonus items. Some consider Ms. Pac-Man to be superior to the original, and even the best in the entire series.

In 1982, Milton Bradley released a board game based on Pac-Man.

An animated TV series was produced by Hanna–Barbera and aired on ABC from 1982 to 1984:

The song “Pac-Man Fever,” by Jerry Buckner and Gary Garcia, reached No. 9 on the Billboard pop chart in early 1982:

And you know you’ve made it when “Weird Al” Yankovic does a parody song about you. Here is “Weird Al”‘s Pac-Man song, done to the music of The Beatles’ “Taxman”:

If it wasn’t for Pac-Man (the game, not those songs!), there may never have been a Mario, Lara Croft, or Call of Duty video games.