Wednesday, June 08, 2005

The height of Retro cool?

Like Rory, I grew up with a lame arse PC. I too was bitterly jealous of those amiga owners. With their fancy fandanlged-hand-holding-a-floppy-disk bios, and versions of Marble Madness that looked just like the arcade, they had no idea how lucky they were.

But, I'm not so sure that the grey box which evaporated my childhood, (while I'm very fond of it) was actually the height of eighties cool.

In fact, the computer I owned was far, far worse than the virtual boy of PCs - something that made those poor betamax owners laugh themselves into hysterical coniptions as to what a loser of a product this thing actually was, and they paid 450 dollars for a flashing digital clock.

My dad bought us a genuine, IBM PC-JX.

The IBM PC-Jr is widely regarded as one of IBM's dumbest decisions. What very few know, is that after the IBM PC-Jr flopped dismally in the US, IBM was left with a bunch of leftover hardware that nobody wanted.

I can hear the meetings now:

shimmery dissolve in

"Jones! What's the furthest away on the map?"
"Um. This pointy thing. Says 'Australia' on it."
"Right. Do they have television or radio in Ostralia?"
"Er. I don't know. Google hasn't been invented yet sir, it's only 1984"
"Right. Let's dump them there, I hear they're a bit backwards. Get the guys in marketing to replace the case with something black, add some stuff from the Japanese thingy and get them out of here!"

dreamy dissolve out

And so it was born. It had 512K of Ram, 16 colors, an infra-red keyboard, no hard drive, and two built in cartridge slots, which made it look a bit like the bastard offspring of an IBM Golf Typewriter and an Atari 2600. Sadly, I never could find anything that would plug into those slots. Nothing onboard was compatible with anything IBM ever made previously, or would make in the future. When My Dad rang up two years later to ask if it was possible to upgrade, IBM denied all knowledge of ever having created the machine, and abruptly hung up.

Still, most importantly to me, it had IBM PCJr Basic flashed into the Bios. Which meant that I could write the most amazing adventure games known to man...

Shimmery dissolve in

You are at a clearing in the forest. There is a well here, and some markings on a tree
You can go E,S,W

What will you do?
You can't go that way.

What will you do?
You can't go that way.

What will you do?
You can't go that way.
What will you do?
fuck off
I don't understand 'fuck off'

Dreamy fade out
Ahhh. Those were the days.
Now I've got to get back to working on the theme music for Stilly's upcoming podcast...


  1. Anonymous11:00 am


    The JX only had 256kb of RAM
    the upgrade (the only upgrade) was a box the same size to boost that little baby up to a whopping 512KB!

  2. Oh yeah! - I think I remember the monitor moving several inches higher at some stage... Good point!