• The Epoch Cassette Vision: Definitely Not a Pong Console in a Trenchcoat

    The evolution of consoles from single-game systems like the Magnavox Odyssey 100 to cartridge-based systems like the NES wasn’t a simple process. The original console, the Magnavox Odyssey, had something kind of cartridge-like despite having no CPU, ROM, or RAM. And the original Japanese cartridge-based console had more in common with the single-game TV Vader than you might think. It’s cassette time, with no magnetic tape reader required.

  • Apple II graphics: More than you wanted to know

    The Apple ][ is one of the most iconic vintage computers of all time. But since Wozniak’s monster lasted all the way until 1993 (1995 if you could the IIe card, which I won’t count until I get one), it can be easy to forget that in 1977, it was a video extravaganza. The competitors– even much bigger and established companies like Commodore and Tandy– generally only had text modes, let alone pixel-addressable graphics, and they certainly didn’t have sixteen colors. (Gray and grey are different colors, right?)

  • Composite Modding another Atari, because Colors are Hard

    Back in 1978, I took a look at the Sears Tele-Games Pinball Breakaway, a rebadged version of Atari’s Video Pinball (the home version), whose chip was also used in one of the variants of Epoch’s TV Block. A lot has changed since 1978, and one of those things is that RF modulators just don’t cut it.

  • The Last Bastion of One-Dimensional Analog Control: Pachinko on the SNES

    When I took a look at a modern hanemono pachinko machine, it surprised me that many people thought the pachinko dial control was digital; either you were applying force, or you weren’t and that was it for the amount of control the player has. Now, it’s true that pachinko isn’t quite a game of skill, but there is a little bit more gameplay than that. And if you don’t want to read another pachinko post, don’t worry! This post is actually about controllers for the Super Nintendo!

  • Yes, You Can Play Duck Hunt Without a Television (but I can't)

    Duck Hunt is considered a classic of the Nintendo Entertainment System. But surprisingly, the concept of hunting ducks did not originate in 1984– people have wanted to hunt ducks since at least 1951, when Daffy Duck proclaimed it to be “Duck Season” in the Looney Tunes short Rabbit Fire. But Nintendo didn’t make video games that connected to your television until 1977. What if I wanted to hunt ducks in 1976? BONUS: The ducks are immortal!

  • A Floppy Disk MIDI Boombox: The Yamaha MDP-10

    Longtime readers of Nicole Express might know that I dabble in playing the organ. But sometimes I want to play with sounds that don’t have the organ’s definitive sustain capability; sounds like the piano. The Electone ME-30 had some capability to do this, but limited to its built-in FM synthesizer. I wanted something with a more realistic sound. I also wanted something a little weird; maybe, say, a boombox with a floppy disk drive? Sure, why not. PLUS: MIDIx filters! Windows 95! Final Fantasy IV!

  • Upgrading the Atari 130XE Keyboard! DecentXE

    One of the very first posts on this blog is on the Atari 130XE. The Atari 8-bit computers had some seriously impressive technology (remember, they came out in 1979!), the missing link between the Atari 2600 and the Commodore Amiga, and by rights, the 130XE, the highest-spec version released, should be the best. But it was also released at a time that 8-bit computers were the cheaper alternative to Atari Corp.’s already-cheap ST line. So that comes with some consequences.