Friday, December 26, 2014

Snippets #21: August 10, 1984

       This one is taken from an August 10, 1984 letter to Mom and Pop:

       "Well, I finally got my replacement SmartBasic tape back from the Coleco company. I think I told you that the one that came with our computer turned out to be detective, and I had to send it back. It took a month to get here, and I had been chafing with impatience… I wanted to start learning Basic programming! Now I am… and it's really interesting, albeit in some ways confusing as heck. Not really confusing… more like very involved, with lots of new things to learn. It's sort of like learning a new language. But it's also a lot of fun; last night I skipped ahead in the book and started playing around with the graphics mode, which allows you to create on-screen graphics in fourteen different colors, just by typing in a series of number and letter commands. For example, by typing the following program (supplied by the instruction book):

       10 GR
       20 COLOR=INT(RND(1)*16)
       30 X=INT(RND(1)*40)
       40 Y=INT(RND(1)*40)
       50 PLOT X,Y
       60 GOT 20

and then typing RUN and pressing the return key, you get a constantly moving display which starts as a blank screen and gradually fills up with small, different-colored squares. It's fascinating to watch… the whole screen slowly fills up and the colors of each square (there must be about a few thousand of them) shift constantly. And it's all created by those six short lines of instructions! I haven't yet figured out what they all mean, but I'm working on it. Someday soon I hope to create a "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" Adventure game for the computer. I already have finished a low-resolution graphics program that is about one and a half pages long; it makes the computer spell out "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" in bold block letters, the whole thing surrounded by two bold borders in different colors. Far out, huh?

       Speaking of "Turtlemania"…

       … Of the thirty-seven TMNT-filled boxes that were cluttering up the living room (boxes containing the six thousand copies of our second printing), there are now three left. Not bad, eh? I really hope that we can get the second issue out by November… it's getting increasingly difficult for Kevin and I to get together and work on it during these months he is in Ogunquit. And now his fellow lobster cook has fallen and broken his arm, so ol' Kev has twice as much work to do. But I remain confident. Not supremely confident, but confident nonetheless.
       One really neat thing concerning TMNT was the blurb that appeared in this week's issue of the Comics Buyer's Guide. It was in an afterword that was tacked onto a letter of mine that they printed, and I am enclosing a copy of it. Please note the sentences underlined. Pretty wild!"

       [I never got around to creating a TMNT adventure game on the ADAM computer, though I did create a little program which allowed Jeannine to average her students' grades, which was sort of useful.
       I can't recall what the thing from the Comics Buyer's Guide was. -- PL]

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