Day Games (PC)
October 28, 1989. I was 9 and about two months into middle school. Every Saturday night I’d watch Star Trek: The Next Generation with my parents. I think Worf had already made his way out of red shirts into the yellow security uniforms. Mega Man 2 was my Nintendo addiction. My family had a Tandy 1000 as the household computer. While I’ve covered a ton of games that I feel deserve a Fair Shake, I stumbled on this disk recently while cleaning out a closet for paint. Written in my awful penmanship with a dollar store marker I can make out the following:
Oct 28. 89
I can recall a time when I would mix and match programs to create my own game disks. Most often these were BASIC games or displays that were ASCII based. Some of these were just graphic demos that were meant as teaching tools. Most had come from this book in the school library.
Way back in the dark days 1989, you could get game programs printed on paper or in book form. If you typed out the code in BASIC and saved it, you had the game. In the days before the internet and modems, this was a common way of entering a game, or even a program. I burned countless hours typing games in, altering their code, attempting to make things move and trying to make my own simple programs. I never got very far, but I look back on this time with fondness. Of course, as time marched on, 5.25″ disks became obsolete, falling into disuse, and in my case, into the bottom of a closet in a box. Over 20 years later, I picked up a FC5025 card so I could read 5.25″ disks on my still relatively new i5 Intel box. Did I find any gems I wanted to play or at least explore?
Reading the disk generated a few read errors. I kind of expected this since the floppy was over 24 years old. Hoping it’d read anyway, I booted up DOSbox, copied the generated image files into a directory, and opened GWBASIC. It’ll still run on new machines for the most part as is without DOSBox, but long story short, DOSBox slows a computer’s processor WAY down, so these old programs, many of which have built in timers, will jive with a new system. I didn’t run all of the programs listed above, but I tried most of them. As a side note, apparently I used this disk to save some SimCity Classic cities. I should investigate these sometime, but not now.
Let’s see a few highlights from this old floppy. Cut me some slack, I was nine and I guess at one point I felt it was worth saving these programs.
AGES.BAS – Apparently this short program tells me how many days I’ve been alive, as well as regurgitating my name to me. Joy.
CAR.BAS – Sweet. This must be some sort of game where I drive a car around on the screen, right? WRONG. It draws the outline of a car, complete with the body going through the tires. Oh well… Not sure why it’s teal, I think because my father had painted his Buick that color and I liked it.
SHUTLE.BAS – Ah yes, Shutle (sp). Is this one of the DOS games I’ve been looking for, the one that has the space shuttle landing? No. This draws an airplane. At least the lines are in their proper place. Green
was is my favorite color, so that most likely explains the shocking background hue. Or I was mimicking the cover of the book shown above, either way.. wow.
Hmm. I’m sensing a theme. Moving on….
USA.BAS – So patriotic of my nine year old self. I mean, what the hell could this possibly be but…
The flag of the US. Oh, with an undefined line number in line 250. I’ll have to get on that someday.
CLOCK.BAS – Is this a line drawing of a clock? No.. It’s a functioning clock. Yay. Complete with, you guessed it, a green background way off center at the top of the screen.
ROADRACE.BAS – Ok THIS I remember. it was a turn by turn text game where you entered commands to drive a car. 1 = speed up 2 = slow down 3 = turn sharp left, that sort of thing. Went to load it, and……… FREEZE. Yup. Those bad sectors popped up here, of all places.
A few more, like 3-D.BAS, SPAHES.BAS, and FISH.BAS all froze in the same manner. Oh well. Disheartened and tired of mounting the floppy in DOSBox each time it froze, I quit. These were not the programs I was looking for. Even when I was nine I really had no desire to ‘program’ full time, but I did like to dabble and make ASCII question and answer type games. While this wasn’t the disk I was really looking for, it was an interesting peek into my past. This may be my first Fair Shake piece that doesn’t specifically cover any games. Whoops. I guess the ‘game’ was 24 years ago, with me typing away while drinking coffee milk from my Nestle Quik bunny mug. We all had our comfort zone as a child, and this was one of mine. Usually I’d type in stuff and my father would double check it. He was never a programmer, just in hindsight, a good father interested in what his son was doing.
Odds are anyone who had a computer, be it Commodore, PC, Apple, VIC 20, Atari, back then most likely has one or a dozen disks like this with little programs, some finished, some not. Did you? Do you? For my next WTEiotD, I’ll see if I can find something with actual BASIC games on it, that work. Is this something I should do more often? Does the internet make this kind of digital exploring obsolete? Comment below! Until then, please excuse me, I have an undefined line number to find in that flag program, but first I need to find my bunny mug.