‘Orange’ GAMES (PC)
My grandfather owned a body shop and was sort of a hobbyist computer guy from the late 70’s until his death in 2000. When I was around the age of six my parents decided to get themselves/us a ‘real’ computer to replace the Mattel Aquarius. Turning to my grandfather for advice, he suggested a Tandy 1000, as he was a then recent convert to the system, having had TRS-80’s previously. He of course supplied us with pirated disks of games and programs, long before it was even known as piracy. One disk, an orange-labeled ‘GAMES’ disk, that I think is written in my mother’s writing, contains some BASIC games. I don’t really remember running this all that much, but the disk has survived to this day. What was given to my 6-year old self? Do I remember any of these? More importantly, are they still fun?
Being almost 30 years old, this disk had some errors pop up when I tried to read it, but I pressed on, determined to write this column. DOSBox: on BASIC: running. I made an effort to run everything listed on the disk. I have to admit I’m really impressed with the FC5025 card. I could have just fired up my old 386 Intel desktop and ran these directly, but then I’d be stuck copying files from one computer to another, and my 386 has a power supply fan that sounds like a leaf blower. This card and disk drive combo helps a ton with my little archaeology series. Google also saved my ass this week.
BLACKJCK.BAS – I’m gonna go on a limb and say this was a blackjack game. It also was corrupted.
YAHTZEE.BAS – A Yahtzee game perhaps? System froze thanks to a corrupted file.
PATTERNS.BAS – A prompt asks if I want ‘waves’ or ‘wallpaper’. Hmm.. Waves sound fun. This draws a waveform on the screen. Repeatedly. It looks like it could be used as a background screen in one of the original Star Trek movies.
MENU.BAS – I have no idea what this is. Lost to the bitrot of time.
CIRCLES.BAS – This program eventually draws a circle, starting from a triangle, and erasing the figure, adding in a new point each time (square, pentagon,sextagon, etc). Interesting, I suppose.
DOTS.BAS – Another demo of sorts. This shows a huge bitmap represtentation of a given key.
SAMPLES.BAS – SAMPLES OF WHAT I MUST KNOW!!!! Alas.. It would not run.
At this point I became discouraged. What to do? Turn to Google of course. Some might say it’s cheating in a series (is this a series now?) like this, but I feel as though it’s a great research tool. Anyway. My Google-Fu and some detective work led me to the cd.textfiles.com site, a repository of sorts for old shareware/shovelware disks. It turns out my disk is actually a copy of the first in a series of game and program disks. This particular piece is one of the first game compilations ever created for the IBM-PC. Mind = Blown. How far off was I from what I thought these programs were anyway?
Hmm. Several of these were actually utility programs. I was pretty accurate with some of these. The PC was brand spankin’ new in the early 80s, so I guess some of these would be part of the early demo scene? Still, to a 6 year old they were interesting for all of thirty seconds. What’s here worth playing? I found the contents of this disk at the same site ( here. ) I downloaded everything and started over, with MENU.BAS. Behold!
MENU.BAS – The menu pictured above!
With a proper setup running, I began, this time, filling in the blanks. Some of the menu items didn’t exist on the disk, so I skipped them.
HATDANCE.BAS – Yep.. plays the Mexican Hat Dance via your PC speaker.
KALEID.BAS – As suggested, it draws a kaleidoscope set to music. Rather impressive display for 1982 in BASIC.
OTHELLO.BAS– That famous board game, done with the little white and black smiley face ASCII characters.
MAXIT.BAS- A strategy game with a board full of numbers both positive and negative. Each player takes turns, one can only move horizontal, the other veritcal, landing in a spot taking that number as a point value. Actually rather decent.
WOMBATS.BAS – A math problem generator that allows you to enter the names of people or objects that will be worked in. This was fun when I was little, not so much now. I can see this being helpful for kids learning, so I guess it serves its purpose.
Maxit and Wombats are probably the best games out of this bunch. While I do enjoy Othello, there’s much better ports out there. If you have a Tandy 1000-era PC hooked up and need to play Othello, this will give you your fix. Maxit seems to have faded away into the ether of time. Wombats is good for a laugh if you pretend it’s ‘dirty mad-libs’. The rest of this is more for curiosity’s sake on what BASIC is capable of. That’s ok, as I set out to rescue some old disks before they totally fail, I was bound to find
a few several disks without much replayability. This one had two programs. I’m pretty psyched I managed to not only ‘rescue’ the disk, but I actually answered the question. A short video is below.
What The EFF is on this Disk!?
Compilation disks have been around since disk drives were invented, and this is a great example of what was around in ’82.. and what I had to play with when I was 6, four years later. These were pretty much the norm back then with the occasional purchased game, but hey, I was six, I was happy with my coffee milk and these little games. Speaking of, I’m thirsty. I’ll see you guys next week.