Filler Time!

Some longer posts still being under construction, all I can offer tonight is a link or two from the Shameless Filler grab-bag.

First, I’ll bet all of you who frittered away the Cold War years in our nation’s amusement arcades did so secure in the knowledge that Our Side must ultimately triumph, due to our lop-sided advantage in video-game technology. After all, to name just a few, we had Donkey Kong, Pac Man, Frogger, Q*bert, Galaga, Space Invaders (and to seal the deal: Missile Command). What did the Russkis have? Just boring old chess, and those dorky nested dolls.

Well, we did prevail, of course, but it turns out it was a much closer thing than you may have thought. Learn more here.

What’s that? Too shameless for such somber times? Well then, on a more serious note, our reader JK has sent along a link to something a little less frivolous: Letters of Note, a website that describes itself as “an attempt to gather and sort fascinating letters, postcards, telegrams, faxes, and memos”. Go and have a look.

Oh, and before you go: what the hell is this?

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  1. Kevin Kim says

    “What the hell is this?”

    My soul. Dammit, it’s been found again.

    Posted September 13, 2010 at 11:59 pm | Permalink
  2. JK says

    Oh, I dunno Kevin. It could be representative of our collective souls.

    “What’s that,” you ask?

    Well, like all good things, explaining in simple terms isn’t as easy as it might/should appear. One must, as the image indicates, do a little digging. And since this is the computer age, “to dig” means, “follow the links.”

    Posted September 14, 2010 at 8:32 am | Permalink
  3. It’s the guy’s missing teeth.

    Posted September 14, 2010 at 1:39 pm | Permalink
  4. chris g says

    That “letters of note” site is fantastic.

    Check out this Bill Gates letter…

    February 3, 1976

    An Open Letter to Hobbyists

    To me, the most critical thing in the hobby market right now is the lack of good software courses, books and software itself. Without good software and an owner who understands programming, a hobby computer is wasted. Will quality software be written for the hobby market?

    Almost a year ago, Paul Allen and myself, expecting the hobby market to expand, hired Monte Davidoff and developed Altair BASIC. Though the initial work took only two months, the three of us have spent most of the last year documenting, improving and adding features to BASIC. Now we have 4K, 8K, EXTENDED, ROM and DISK BASIC. The value of the computer time we have used exceeds $40,000.

    The feedback we have gotten from the hundreds of people who say they are using BASIC has all been positive. Two surprising things are apparent, however, 1) Most of these “users” never bought BASIC (less than 10% of all Altair owners have bought BASIC), and 2) The amount of royalties we have received from sales to hobbyists makes the time spent on Altair BASIC worth less than $2 an hour.

    Why is this? As the majority of hobbyists must be aware, most of you steal your software. Hardware must be paid for, but software is something to share. Who cares if the people who worked on it get paid?

    Is this fair? One thing you don’t do by stealing software is get back at MITS for some problem you may have had. MITS doesn’t make money selling software. The royalty paid to us, the manual, the tape and the overhead make it a break-even operation. One thing you do do is prevent good software from being written. Who can afford to do professional work for nothing? What hobbyist can put 3-man years into programming, finding all bugs, documenting his product and distribute for free? The fact is, no one besides us has invested a lot of money in hobby software. We have written 6800 BASIC, and are writing 8080 APL and 6800 APL, but there is very little incentive to make this software available to hobbyists. Most directly, the thing you do is theft.

    What about the guys who re-sell Altair BASIC, aren’t they making money on hobby software? Yes, but those who have been reported to us may lose in the end. They are the ones who give hobbyists a bad name, and should be kicked out of any club meeting they show up at.

    I would appreciate letters from any one who wants to pay up, or has a suggestion or comment. Just write me at 1180 Alvarado SE, #114, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 87108. Nothing would please me more than being able to hire ten programmers and deluge the hobby market with good software.


    Bill Gates
    General Partner, Micro-Soft

    Posted September 14, 2010 at 4:58 pm | Permalink
  5. Roland says

    Looks like some kind of radish to me.

    Posted September 17, 2010 at 5:32 pm | Permalink
  6. Sassy says

    They appear to be some kind of sweet potato, yam or taro.

    Posted August 17, 2011 at 8:44 pm | Permalink