Strong Fellowship – Day 12-14

Quick weekend overview: Walked to the Eastman House on Saturday – 3 miles in the freezing snow – and saw an excellent exhibit on Technicolor and history of photography and the house itself. Apparently if you get the tour, you get a detailed overview of all the gizmos and innovations Eastman added to the place. I find it disconcerting to see ashtrays made out of the hooves of giant beasts everywhere. He was a philanthropist though and donated his fortunes to the university. I then stopped at the Strong again on the way back and played some arcade games. Sunday was mostly spent watching MST3K and eating junk food. I felt icky afterward, but a nice change of pace.

Today the Strong closed at 11:45 due to “inclement weather” – that being the blizzard from hell. Actually, I didn’t think it was that bad, although the walk in got pretty nasty after the first mile. I was allowed to stay until 2:30 when Chris Benj drove me back.

I went through some of Ralph Baer’s papers. It was kind of emotional seeing the records of this great inventor who I’d only talked to briefly via e-mail and never got to meet face-to-face. Most of the records are at the Smithsonian, but this contained some information on Maze-A-Tron (useful to my research), the TV Zapper (fun, but not so useful), and Cable TV Games (kind of useful). The rest of the material are his descriptions of the different TV Games prototypes and how they were recreated.

I have to say Baer may have been kind of sober, but the guy had to have a serious playful side – he came up with a frikkin lazer gun to scramble the TV signals during a commercial and display an image of Death Valley. That’s serious fun! The CTVG records were also useful since they were done in a reaction to electronic handhelds and new game systems with interchangeable cartridges. Really too ahead of its time…

I also went through a binder full of Atari memos. The most useful documents were accounts of the JAMMA show (1985 I believe) and visit to Namco. Specific information on sales figures for different games, as well as a listing of the Namco corporate structure. The AMOA show records reviewed every game present.

They had a small selection of gamer magazines that I hadn’t gone through yet, but went through those pretty quickly.

I am a bit distressed – I could actually run out of things to research! I hear the Strong has a large collection of Softalk though – these aren’t digitized on yet, but there is a fan project in the process. I was told this was a good magazine to check so far as the computer game industry was concerned, but it only covers Apple. If anyone knows of publications computer game developers would read before 1986 (other than Computer Gaming World), I am all ears!


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