Sans Protovision
December 20, 2013 9:59 AM   Subscribe

Michael Walden satisfies a 30-year search for the magazine glimpsed in WarGames with help from the efforts of the Internet Archive.
posted by gilrain (62 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
 
wow, that is a crazily fine-grained quest. that must have been extremely rewarding when achieved. i do not obsess over details of movies or tv shows, but i always like hearing about folks that are doing it effectively, if it's important to them. i love reading about the obsessive detail checking each week after each new mad men episode airs.
posted by rude.boy at 10:14 AM on December 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


So great. I've spent a lot of time tracking down images and information about vaguely remembered and obscure things so it's nice to know I'm not the only one doing things like this.

And it's not about having too much time on your hands, it's about using the time you do have to do stuff that is fun and interesting, even if it's only fun and interesting to you. That's one of the best uses of time there is.
posted by bondcliff at 10:15 AM on December 20, 2013 [16 favorites]


I question the usefulness of spending time posting on an internet forum that someone has 'too much time on their hands'. At least this person has done something clever with theirs instead of snarking on a discussion board.
posted by scrowdid at 10:16 AM on December 20, 2013 [8 favorites]


Coulda saved himself some time and asked on Ask MeFi.
posted by Joe Chip at 10:19 AM on December 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


I question the usefulness of questioning the usefulness of questioning the usefulness of questioning the usefulnessof questioning the usefulness of questioning the usefulnessof questioning the usefulness of questioning the usefulnessof questioning the usefulness of questioning the usefulnessof questioning the usefulness
posted by blue_beetle at 10:19 AM on December 20, 2013 [10 favorites]


A nice example of someone's magnificent obsession.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:20 AM on December 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ah, JADE Computer Products, the Fry's of the early 80s. I had completely forgotten all the time I spent poring through their voluminous ads, dreaming of the day I'd be able to afford some of that awesome hardware. (A 16MHz processor? A real EGA monitor? Dream big, little one.)
posted by bjrubble at 10:35 AM on December 20, 2013 [6 favorites]


I've spent a lot of time tracking down images and information about vaguely remembered and obscure things...

Well, there's a lot ot time and then there's A LOT OF TIME!!!
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:38 AM on December 20, 2013


I love it.
posted by GuyZero at 10:48 AM on December 20, 2013


Ahhhh. The curious nerd itch in me has finally been scratched. Thank you, Michael Walden!
posted by bearwife at 10:56 AM on December 20, 2013


A nice example of someone's magnificent obsession.


Humanity at its most glorious.

I am not snarking. Or smarming. Or whatever. I think this is awesome. Not really for the subject matter, though it's neat, but just for the drive. Don't ask why; ask why not.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:03 AM on December 20, 2013 [6 favorites]


I don't know who got the idea that I said TMTOTH was a negative thing.
posted by Melismata at 11:08 AM on December 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Does this qualify as a "First World" activity?
posted by Liquidwolf at 11:11 AM on December 20, 2013


This reminds me of a similar exploit of my own:

In an episode of the Brit-com "Peep Show", David Mitchell passes a piece of pizza through a mail slot by first folding it in a magazine. I quickly confirmed that this magazine was the June 10, 2010 issue of the New York Review of Books.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 11:15 AM on December 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


> Does this qualify as a "First World" activity?

What part of the world doesn't have movies yet?
posted by Space Coyote at 11:16 AM on December 20, 2013


What is TMTOTH?
posted by Mars Saxman at 11:23 AM on December 20, 2013


Elephant Never Forgets. I always thought that was one of the coolest logos.
posted by jquinby at 11:27 AM on December 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


I love these quests.
posted by JBennett at 11:27 AM on December 20, 2013


....and I think it's To Much Time On The Hands.
posted by jquinby at 11:27 AM on December 20, 2013


Too much time on the hands? Nay! I see this as the will to power! As the master told us, when god died we faced the dangers of nihilism, lives without meaning wherein we would be passive consumers of culture. This man is overcoming nihilism through achievement and ambition. I salute his success!
posted by dios at 11:44 AM on December 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


What really makes me happiest is reading that Logo Ideas article about the 10-year-old girl who, during her first time using the language, invented an undo feature and then learned how to make the turtle do the fun spirograph routine. I hope she went on to work in recursive languages.
posted by Spatch at 11:50 AM on December 20, 2013


It pleases me that they took the time to use a real (and relevent) magazine. Reading material is so often a stock item...
posted by samworm at 11:53 AM on December 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Who else remembers using a hole-puncher to create a write notch on the right-hand side of the 5¼" floppies so you could flip them over and use the back? I remember seeing ads for specialized tools that cut beautiful little square notches, but a hole-punch did the trick just as well.
posted by jquinby at 11:53 AM on December 20, 2013 [15 favorites]


Timorous Moths Thinking Of Their Haberdashers
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 12:02 PM on December 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Been there, done that, jquinby! Them things were expensive back in the day, had to get as much use out of them as possible.
posted by tavella at 12:02 PM on December 20, 2013


Yeah the hole-punch thing was a gradeschool folkway. I am so old.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 12:04 PM on December 20, 2013


Hole punch? Scissors worked for me.
posted by DarkForest at 12:14 PM on December 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is a great little story.
posted by Legomancer at 12:18 PM on December 20, 2013


I seem to recall you had to punch a notch in the side for the write-protect sensor as well as a hole just outside the center ring in order for the sensor to see the hole in the disk that lined up the first track. Then you'd be able to write on the second side, gaining you an extra 50K or whatever it was that The Kids today would never, ever, believe.
posted by bondcliff at 12:25 PM on December 20, 2013


The Elephant Memory Systems logo was the best. Found a high resolution copy here. Thinking about making a t-shirt which will get a lot of attention from middle-aged geeks and ignored by everyone else.
posted by honestcoyote at 12:29 PM on December 20, 2013 [7 favorites]


The Kids today would never, ever, believe.

"Your iPhone is more powerful and has more storage than every computer I owned before 2006 combined."

Also this is some pretty hardcore geekery which has led me down a rabbit hole of Logo. So there's that.
posted by uncleozzy at 12:33 PM on December 20, 2013


TMTOTH is the infinitely recursive turtle god on whom the world rests. He also loves pizza, dude.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:38 PM on December 20, 2013


TMTOMH
posted by TedW at 12:56 PM on December 20, 2013


The name of the computer always made me hungry. I'm on the magnificent obsession side on this.
posted by arcticseal at 1:07 PM on December 20, 2013


It's impossible for me to read the content of the first link in any voice other than Eddie Deezen's.
posted by item at 1:09 PM on December 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Fun WarGames fact: in the cash-in paperback novelization of the film, David's father accuses him of being into that noisy punk rock music. David corrects him by whining, "Dad! It's called new wave now!"
posted by item at 1:18 PM on December 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


Conflating punk and new wave is not fun.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:22 PM on December 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


item: "It's impossible for me to read the content of the first link in any voice other than Eddie Deezen's."

I can't believe it, Jim. That girl's standing over there listening and you're telling him about our back doors?
posted by Chrysostom at 1:23 PM on December 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Finding out that there was a cash-in paperback novelization of WarGames, on the other hand, is fun!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:24 PM on December 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Who else remembers using a hole-puncher to create a write notch on the right-hand side of the 5¼" floppies so you could flip them over and use the back?

Yes, I do. Of course, it was possible to get greedy.
posted by Wolfdog at 1:39 PM on December 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


I can't believe it, Jim. That girl's standing over there listening and you're telling him about our back doors?

Mister Potato Head! Mister Potato Head! Back doors are not secrets!
posted by grubi at 1:42 PM on December 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't know who got the idea that I said TMTOTH was a negative thing.

It's not a positive or even neutral thing to say. It's holdover puritanical hogwash, as if there isn't something more productive they could be doing with their time, like churning butter or plowing a field.

The majority of the time I see that non-acronymed phrase used is on forums such as this one or Reddit or whatever, written by people with enough time on their hands to post on forums such as this one.

This is somebody spending time doing something they enjoy doing, instead of being on the Internet too lazy to write a cliché out in words.
posted by Celsius1414 at 1:56 PM on December 20, 2013


The majority of the time I see that non-acronymed phrase used is on forums such as this one or Reddit or whatever, written by people with enough time on their hands to post on forums such as this one.

Or those who might use text expansion utilities. To be fair.
posted by grubi at 1:59 PM on December 20, 2013


Are you gonna bark all day little doggie or are you going to turn your key sir?

I could never understand why Michael Madsen pointed a gun at John Spencer, what was he going to do once he shot him?
Dead men can't turn keys.
posted by fullerine at 2:00 PM on December 20, 2013


I could never understand why Michael Madsen pointed a gun at John Spencer, what was he going to do once he shot him?
Dead men can't turn keys.


Naw, but ones with a bullet in their shoulders might!
posted by grubi at 2:04 PM on December 20, 2013


He was going to shoot his ear off.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:06 PM on December 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, the phrase "too much time on their hands" is a normative statement, no matter how much internet linguistic drift toward it just meaning "hey, that's a neat thing you found/built there" has occurred. That "too much," there, inevitably implies a "shouldn't" and a "should": you shouldn't be doing this thing that you want to do, and instead you should be doing things that other people want you to do.

one of the things I like about mefi is that most people here seem about as touchy about "too much time on their hands" as I am...
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 2:17 PM on December 20, 2013


Protovision Creative Computing Vol. 8 No. 9 (September 1982), I have you now.
posted by pmurray63 at 3:55 PM on December 20, 2013


A nice example of someone's magnificent obsession.

MagnificentObsession

(would be nice to add the tag)
posted by Rumple at 4:30 PM on December 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I do not miss having to type in programs printed in COMPUTE's Gazette a line at a time in hex with a checkdigit.
posted by Rhomboid at 5:21 PM on December 20, 2013


Mr. McKittrick, after very careful consideration, sir, I've come to the conclusion that your new defense system sucks.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:14 PM on December 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is somebody spending time doing something they enjoy doing, instead of being on the Internet too lazy to write a cliché out in words.

Too lazy? Perhaps they do not have enough time on their hands!
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:20 PM on December 20, 2013


jquinby: "I remember seeing ads for specialized tools that cut beautiful little square notches, but a hole-punch did the trick just as well."

I had a disk notcher (actually I probably still have a disk notcher in the big boxes of obsolete hardware waiting for a trip to the recycler). It's big advantage over a hole punch was it automatically placed the notch in the right spot which was a pretty nice feature when you were notching dozens of disks at a time. Towards the end of the floppy floppy disk era they still sold single sided disks but the disc itself was exactly the same as double sided disks so it was crazy to buy the more expensive media.
posted by Mitheral at 8:00 PM on December 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Were some comments deleted in this thread? Because man am I confused about how this "too much time" conversation went. I don't see anyone saying anything negative about this fellow's quest (which I think was awesome).

Also, what would happened when you punched more than one hole in a disk like that? Was there any reason to? I grew up with 5.25" disks, but by the time I was using them, they all seemed to come pre-punched.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 10:57 PM on December 20, 2013


Nothing it was just fooling around. The notch was there to let a sensor read a light source on the other side to indicate whether the disk was double sided or not and in theory allowed for single sided disks to be sold. But it rapidly (immediately?) became the case that it was just cheaper to make disks with magnetic material on both sides. IIRC single sided Apple drives (eg: Original Apple II) and TRS-80 (the ubiquitous Model III) even used different sides of a single sided disk. You could format a single disk to work in both systems, one on the top and one on the bottom, without flipping the disk over.
posted by Mitheral at 12:22 AM on December 21, 2013


Light source? IIRC there was a microswitch and lever or solenoid mechanism in there similar to the lever sensors they had in cassette tape decks (you'd break the tab out creating a void to prevent writing to that side in that instance.)

In order to write protect the floppy disk there were little metal foil stickers that came with them that you'd fold over that notch. Noone ever seemed to keep track of them and everyone just used scotch tape. The slide switch arrangement came about with the 3-1/2" disk and remains in use in datacenters today with our LTO (linear tape) backup systems. I kind of miss the old tape-over-it method because I routinely forget to take write protect off the tapes when we go to re-use them.

I'm totally going to make a t-shirt out of that Elephant logo just to see which of our punchcard era operators recognizes it (speaking of write protect I've seen a few of those yellow rings in the above link floating around the office. I suspect they saved them to throw at each other when we got rid of the R2R's.)
posted by mcrandello at 2:45 AM on December 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


It pleases me that they took the time to use a real (and relevent) magazine. Reading material is so often a stock item...
posted by samworm at 2:53 PM on December 20


Whoa. mind blown.
posted by mcrandello at 3:01 AM on December 21, 2013


I love everything about this thread. It's also reminded me that I've always wanted to start a YouTube channel to support a "Microfilm in the Movies" blog or tumblr. WarGames has an excellent montage of Matthew Broderick scanning through microfilm in the library, looking for hints to crack Falken's back door. Perhaps I should start there. If only I had more Time On My Hands.
posted by steef at 6:06 AM on December 21, 2013


mcrandello: "Light source? IIRC there was a microswitch and lever or solenoid mechanism in there similar to the lever sensors they had in cassette tape decks"

At least some drives were just a photo diode and LED pair.
posted by Mitheral at 10:50 AM on December 21, 2013


If only I had more Time On My Hands.

Sir!
My Aunt makes $8,000 a month online! Working just a few hours A weeek.
Would you like to know more?
posted by Mezentian at 4:06 PM on December 21, 2013


actually I probably still have a disk notcher in the big boxes of obsolete hardware waiting for a trip to the recycler

I keep mine in a styrofoam Big Mac clamshell.
posted by radwolf76 at 6:35 AM on December 23, 2013


I put MINE in a styrofoam McDLT double clamshell.

Game, set, and match.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:46 AM on December 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


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