Time Travel

Playing an 80's computer game
Time Travel | Nuremberg | 2020

Well, the title sounds more dramatic than it really is. But the Covid-19 imposed lockdown had Big Boy and myself taking a trip down memory lane (for me) respectively a time travel into the digital stone age (for Big Boy)….

Easter weekend this year was, thanks to Corona, also a stay-at-home weekend. One of my goals during the lockdown (we are in the 4th week, with at least two more weeks to come) was to finally clean out my home office (which made sense as I’m spending now all my days in there). Doing this, I came across a box that contained my very first personal computer, a Commodore C64, acquired in 1985. Which is a whopping 35 years ago.

In the box where also a disk drive for 5 1/4” floppy disks (those huge square ones, that were really floppy) and stacks of black floppies, meticulously hand labeled with the names of the games I stored on them. “Frogger”, “Mule”, “Space Invader”, “Pacman”, “Ghostbusters”, “Elite”, “4th and Inches”, “5-a-side Football”, “Summer Games”, to name a few. Beautifully pixelated vintage, 1st generation computer games.

Somewhere in a guest room I also found an old tube television. Carrying everything into the living room, I connected stone age computer with stone age TV and fired the baby up. Voilà…the long forgotten, but still familiar blue screen (back then a blue screen meant nothing bad) with a blinking cursor. I stuck the disk with “Frogger” on it in the drive….and waited….nothing happened. Vaguely I remembered that back then you needed to instruct the computer via keyboard commands in “BASIC” programming language what to do (it was many years before a mouse would be invented). Good that I also had kept the manual in the box. The magic command was LOAD “$”, 8 to activate the drive. Then LIST, to see what’s on. Then LOAD “FROGGER”, 8 . Amazingly, the file loaded into the whopping 64KB RAM of the computer. Then RUN.

Familiar pixels appeared, like a ghost out of the past. The funky “Frogger” tune. I smiled like the child I was when I first started the game 35 years ago. Plugging in one of the two joysticks I still kept from the days, I started navigating the frog across the highway, avoiding all kinds of trucks and cars, then onto the logs, turtles and crocodiles swimming in various directions. To reach the other side. If you want to check out the game, here is a clip on youtube.

Attracted (or rather disturbed) buy the tune, The Significant Other showed up, asking me to turn down the volume. Then Big Boy came down from his room. Of course he had to take command of the frog himself. A millennial playing a computer game released twenty years before he was born. I felt I needed to show him the real deal. The games me and my high school buddies played for hours. The legendary sports games “Wintergames” and “Summergames” I and II. Also they loaded fine. Big Boy and I had thoroughly fun playing Biathlon, Ski Jump (the title image of this post), bobsleigh and we tried to make the little figure skater jump gracefully. A true time travel afternoon. Here is a link to a youtube clip showing the opening ceremony and the games. Check it out, you’ll love it!

I found it totally amazing that the 35 year old computer system and the programs still work. The huge floppy disk have retained all their data. And as it was a closed system (long before the Internet was invented), everything worked just fine together. A real time capsule. And so much fun. Thanks to the Covid-19 lockdown. You just have to make the best of it!

The photograph was taken with the Leica M and the Summicron 35mm F/2. Image specs 1/125 sec @ f/8, ISO 1600.

If you rather go shooting instead of playing computer games, check out my free Learning Center for many tips and inspirations around photography.

Hope you had a great Easter weekend yourself! Stay safe and healthy!

Marcus

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34 thoughts on “Time Travel

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  1. Haha, kinda did the same. Playing „Indiana Jones and the fate of Atlantis“ thru an Apple emulator. It felt like back in the good old days when amiga-games were top notch. Hilirious!
    Really enjoyed that post!
    Cheers jkb

  2. Oh my! Floppies and Frogger 😂 them were the days. My fella had a ZX Spectrum and we tried unsuccessfully recently to load a converter program onto his laptop.

    1. 🙂 Too bad you didn’t get to start the Spectrum converter. I also have a Sinclair ZX-81 in that box, but with no commercial programs, I programmed the games myself. Happy Sunday, Jill, and stay safe!
      Marcus

  3. We’ve been doing the same thing — cleaning out closets, reorganizing photos, etc. We have a pile of donations, but the places that usually welcome good junk aren’t even open! Thanks for including the link to Learning Center. Would be a good thing for me to access.

  4. Hey Marcus. Hope all is well. Amazing what you find when you take time to clean out the clutter. I still have a lot of old floppies to toss. Stay well. Allan

    1. Thanks, Allan, all is well here. We get a bit bored with the Lockdown (still at least for tow more weeks over here). I need to get under people….Happy Sunday and stay safe! Marcus

  5. That’s awesome! Pacman is such a classic! Great memories….I remember there was a game called pong as well…hahaha Glad you showed that son of yours what they missed out on 🙂

  6. What fun! Having our wings clipped and being stuck at home, I’ve also been attending to all those little (and not so little) jobs that I’ve never got around to doing but sadly now have no excuse. We’ve lived in the same house for 26 years and a good tidy and declutter has long been overdue. Coincidentally, I unearthed loads of floppy disks big and small, old CD computer games, joysticks, games consoles, steering wheels and pedals – you name it, I found them, not to mention dozens of leads and cables that no-one seemed to have a clue what they at one time connected to! Goodness only knows what else will be found lurking in other cupboards and drawers as the tidy up continues as I haven’t even made it off the ground floor yet! The garage now has boxes destined for charity shops when they re-open and stuff to go to the refuse tip (also currently closed). The downside of having a big house with lots of storage is that it’s too easy to accumulate things over time. As we rarely eat in the dining room, we’ve re-purposed it into a temporary table tennis room and by moving the dining table to one side there’s ample room to play. New bats and ping pong balls have arrived and husband, younger son and me are having great fun playing each day, just hope we don’t wear out the carpet! Take care and stay safe, Marion.

    1. Thanks for sharing some insights into your Corona days, Marion. How fun to read. I love the conversion of the dining room into a table-tennis room, how fun! Thank heavens the weather has been quite agreeable here, so we spend a lot of time out in the garden, at least one the weekend. Working form home office has us putting in regular hours of work during the week, and all I have in the occasional glance out of the window onto the house of the neighbors. I love the cleaning out work in the evenings. Lot’s of stuff to throw out or donate, but also a lot of former treasures that I will try to sell on Ebay. Also something to keep me busy. I hope this all ends soon. We are looking at two more weeks of lockdown, minimum. And heaven knows when we will be able to put a foot on an airplane again. Our planned West-Canada trip in mid-June was cancelled last week. Happy Sunday and stay safe! Marcus

  7. I love this!! Thanks for the link too, Marcus. I remember playing this game too so long ago. The sound effects and graphics are so different. Stay safe! 🙏🏻

  8. A real treat for sure. Amazing that you still have everything and the means to still use it. I had the first video game, Pong circa 1974, if memory serves me. Glad you and yours are doing OK with the COVID-19 rules and regs. Stay safe and healthy Marcus.

    1. Thanks, your kind words and wishes are very much appreciated! I also remember we had a Pong set in the 70’s, how fun it was and we played for hours. I still have it in front of my eyes. Happy Sunday and stay safe! Marcus

  9. What a fun trip! Wonderful that it all worked. Your son may now understand what that enigmatic icon to Save to File means. Or maybe not, depending on what device he’s using 🙂

    1. Thanks for taking the time to visit and comment, Allan. Amazing you had an Apple IIe. I still have the image of that machine in front of my eyes, even I never owned one. We were the pioneers of the digital world, back then. Happy Sunday and stay safe! Marcus

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