Tag Archives: 1980s

80’s Music Videos: Theme From 2010

I have decided to start an occasional series that spotlights an 80’s video. The videos spotlighted will be rare, unusual,creative or ones that are well-known.   So to start off not only the series but the year is, appropriately enough, the video “Theme From 2010” by The Police member Andy Summers.  The song is an updated version of “Also Sprach Zarathustra”.  The movie which the theme was taken from is the sequel to Stanley Kubrick’s “2001”.  The music video incorporates scenes from “2010” and of Andy Summers in a great way. Enjoy!


Reading Rainbow: The Final Chapter

Yes, it’s official as Ryan first told me.  Reading Rainbow aired it’s final episode Friday.  It was something that always was in the background of my life, having first aired in 1983.  I even remember watching my first episode “Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain” and how my mother was abuzz about some new show on PBS we were going to watch. Then summer after summer during the 80’s, anxiously waiting to watch new episodes.  Strangely in the late 90’s, RR became sort of an obsession for me.  Slowly, I tried to add a complete list of guest narrators  to the Reading Rainbow entry at the Internet Movie Database.  I would gather info from the internet or happen to catch an episode and then write down the name of the narrator, episode, and year of the original airing.  Then in 2006, when I opened my first account on youtube,  I posted probably 20 or more clips from the show after getting my hands on some tapes from my parents. Both are teachers and had used Reading Rainbow in their classrooms for many years. So here’s a big salute to you RR, and as Levar would say at the end of each episode “I’ll see you next time!”

Below are just two of my favorite Reading Rainbow moments, both from my newer youtube account.


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-AM- Old Computers #3: NEC PC8801

This computer never saw the light of day outside of Japan but within that repressed archipelago it was the personal computer king in the 1980s. It was used for for practical applications but also had a rather extensive gaming collection. The PC8801 and PC9801 were actually a long-running series of models updated incrementally until they basically transformed into a DOS PC by the end of the decade. The PC88’s parts and much of its software was incompatible with standard PCs, even after they switched over to Windows. I may have exaggeratingly accused Apple of slapping a different name and higher price on the same product as PC’s but that’s literally what NEC ended up doing in the waning days of their line.

But back in the early PC88 days it was unique and very successful, inspiring NEC to release a dedicated home video game console, the PC Engine (TurboGrafx-16) in 1987. That’s a nice fun fact but there is some other information that’s way more interesting to American video game nerds – Nintendo actually released games for the PC88 series! That’s right – games like Excitebike and Ice Climber were NOT NES/Famicom exclusives, they also came out for PC88. Even more interesting is that Nintendo allowed Hudson to develop alternate versions of a few MARIO GAMES for PC88. These games included Punchball Mario Bros., Mario Bros. Special, and Super Mario Bros. Special.

You can see screenshots of these games and more at this site

Don’t get too excited, though, Super Mario Bros. Special is pretty shitty but what I appreciate about it is that it shows just how delicate the formula for Super Mario Bros. really is. The running and jumping are a little different but it’s just enough for the controls to be sloppy. If the NES version had played like this it definitely would not have been a hit game. Here’s a link where you can download this game and an easy-to-use PC88 emulator to give it a shot:

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PC9801/8801 series: introduced 1982


-AM- Old Computers Sidebar: “You Got Your Gaming Console In My Computer!” or “You Got Your Computer In My Gaming Console!” or “You Got Your Dick In My Floppy Drive!”

In ye olde days the guts and capabilities of home computers and gaming consoles weren’t that different. Actually, on several occasions one or the other was converted in some way. Examples . . .

In the early 80’s, Atari decided it needed a new console to replace the 2600 so they took their Atari 400 computer, redesigned it, and released it as the Atari 5200 Super System. Unfortunately, the dumbfucks changed the cartridge slot size so Atari 400 cartridges weren’t compatible. STUPID!

Atari tried this again in the later 80s. They took their Atari XE computer, removed the keyboard, redesigned the case, and called it the Atari XEGS game console. This time around they were smarter, as the XEGS played XE (and Atari 400) cartridges. However, the XEGS was almost COMPLETELY unnoticed.

In the early 90s, Fujitsu took their FM Towns computer, remodeled it, and released it as the FM Towns Marty, which officially has the best name for a system ever. It was also the first console to use CDs as its main medium.

Amiga did something similar with the Amiga CD32 in 1993 or so. Its guts were exactly like the Amiga and a 3rd party even released a keyboard to make it a full computer.

Finally, during the video game crash of 1983/84, Coleco discontinued the Colecovision and decided to turn it into a computer, known as the Coleco Adam, by adding a keyboard and printer. This computer was a fucking piece of shit and a disaster and BANKRUPTED Coleco. Just as a fun fact, Coleco was the company behind the Cabbage Patch Kids but the Adam lost more money than the Kids made – so Coleco died. Another fun fact, Coleco is short for Connecticut Leather Company! WTF


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-AM- Old Computers Part 2: Microsoft (of Japan)

Since I started out with Commodore Business Machines which inarguably are gaming consoles as much as they are computers, I’ll continue in that line. In that respect I offer for your consideration: the MSX line. The MSX was the brainchild of Microsoft’s Japanese brach in an effort to create an industry standard set of specifications. Microsoft did not manufacture the computers but merely designed and developed them, allowing many 3rd party companies, notably Sony, to produce them. The line debuted in 1983 and eventually became fairly successful in Japan, Brazil and continental Europe. The US and UK were still in love with the Commodore 64 and other models and MSX never took off there.

There were 3 primary models of the MSX over the years: MSX, MSX2 and MSX Turbo R. The first 2 were well-known for their game libraries and, like Commodore 64, had cartridge slots that booted up games immediately on startup just like an NES. Many games that are typically associated with NES, such as Dragon Warrior, Final Fantasy and Castlevania were released near-simultaneously on MSX2. The system is also famous for being home to the first 2 Metal Gear games.

The MSX line faded with the beginning of the 1990s and was deceased by the mid-90s, no big loss for Microsoft, whose operating system was dominating PCs.

MSX: 1983 MSX2: 1986 MSXturboR: 1990


-AM- Old Computers Part 1: Commodore Business Machines

So, my recent rants about Apple have reminded me of the old days when there were many home computer options. I’ve been interested in this topic for awhile as home computer are the cousins of another big interest of mine: video game consoles. Sooooooooo I’m going to write some posts about ye olde time home computer companies. These posts will be very brief and are mostly intended to give you basic information plus pix. I’m starting with Commodore because we had a Commodore 64 in our house back in the 1980s and our friends the Woods had a Commodore Amiga, so I’m actually familiar with them. Here goooooooes!

Commodore PET (1977)
Wow, look at that beast. Do you see that thing to the left of the keyboard? That is a CASSETTE TAPE drive, which was actually a common data storage medium at the time. The keyboard was very small on the early units, as shown in the picture. Later models introduced external cassette drives and larger keyboards. The PET was very underpowered when it came to graphics as it was intended to be a business machine and not a gaming machine. Its direct rivals included the Atari 400 and the Apple ][, which were both more successful.

i am a gay guy!
Commodore VIC-20 (1980)
A much smaller unit than the PET but actually less powerful in some ways, this computer was aimed at households, not businesses, and sold for ONLY $300. For the time period, that price was very impressive since computers cost much more than they do now. As it was aimed at the home market, gaming was a big priority. Cartridge slots were common on computers back then for extra RAM and for programming. The VIC-20 slot was used heavily for gaming. In fact, putting a cartridge in the slot and turning the machine on boots up the game right away just like an NES or Genesis. In that respect, I would qualify the VIC-20 as a gaming console. Congratulations, VIC-20! PS – The VIC-20 was the first computer model to sell over a million units, and its final tally was 2 million.

tee hee! any of you fellas out there wanna get it on?
COMMODORE 64 (1982)
Similar in many ways to the VIC-20 but more powerful, the Commodore 64 was a big-ass hit. It was also aimed at the home market and featured games and a cartridge slot. It still holds the record for the biggest selling computer model ever at over 20 million units.

Caught you looking!  GIGGLE
COMMODORE 128 (1985)
A bit more powerful than the C64 but with many major adjustments to make it more business-friendly. It was a mild hit, moving 4 million units. It was 8-bit like the previous Commodore models. It had something of a game library but it’s not well-remembered in that regard today.

I’ll talk about the Amiga line some other time.