At times I've felt that perhaps my gaming monomania might exact some toll on my family life, and so I am always pleasantly surprised (and somewhat puzzled) to receive gaming paraphernalia as presents -- catering to the me that I am rather than nurturing the me they might prefer me to be. Go figure. Here's my "Christmas eve" haul, of gifts I received before my thrift store / garage sale maniac (which I mean in the nicest possible way) mother-in-common-law, who is generous to a fault, gets her hands on the giving and steps it up several notches:Realia post, that chew toy went into the garbage last week, not lasting even a year -- but not entering my collection after a year in my dog's jaws.) You can see a mug and a "Whiz-Kid" educational pseudo-computer. Look carefully beneath its box and you see some computery chocolate bonbons, then a layer of decade-ish old gaming magazines (which yield more game ads for me to scan -- grr, especially double-page ones -- which in turn yield more blog posts here) topped with a layer of curated (Sonic -- regrettably, judging from the reviews -- and Kirby, last seen stunning my partner with sticker shock upon seeing its $60 price tag when fresh) and happenstance (Medal of Honor, Smarty Pants) Wii finds. And as a peculiar afterthought, one of those infuriating (no thumbsticks! It's hard to go back) PlayStation 1 controllers off to the right. A respectable haul, by any standard. old") microcomputers! (Apparently they also have terminals. Classic!) So what machine do you think it's trying to evoke -- an Apple II perhaps, or a TRS-80, or perhaps a C64? Or indeed, maybe all three.
Whiz-KidIt would take me some time to report on this curious "pre-computer". Benj Edwards over at VintageComputing.com has covered a few different models from the same line -- and from the looks of things, the Hong Kong-based vtech, est. 1976, is, unlike so many other tech companies... still in business today! Presumably their support for such antiquated devices, however, is somewhat limited. It looks like it superimposes LED readouts with backdrop overlays; other models are described as having a small number of BASIC programs in ROM, invoked with a bar code scanner of sorts when data-free "program cards" are inserted. (Not so different from today's launch-day DLC!)
The pre-computer that's the bridge to a personal computer!
* math... music... spelling... logic and more makes learning fun and easy
additional programs available to keep young minds growing
parental assistance recommended for younger children
Le pré-ordinateur qui est une passerelle aux enfants vers l'ordinateur individuel!
* les mathématiques... la musique... l'orthographe la logique et davantage
* grâce à lui, apprendre devient facile et amusant
* programmes supplémentaires disponibles pour faire croître leur jeune cerveau.
* l'attention des parents est recommendee pour les très jeunes enfants
Une passerelle aux enfants vers l'ordinateur individuel!OK, that's all well and good, but you don't speak French!
Enseigne les mathématiques, l'orthographe, la musique et bien d'autres choses encore! * Clavier ordinateur
* Écran à cristaux liquides animé
* Fonction mémoire... programmable
* Effets sonores imitant ceux de l'ordinateur
* 50 programmes logiciels cartes... maths... musique... orthographe... logique... et davantage.
* Programmes supplémentaires sur cartes et cartouches disponibles pour faire croître leur jeune cerveau.
A child's bridge to a personal computer!Parts of this are actually more troubling in English than in French: the first thing it should teach, is, correct, comma, use. What makes a keyboard or sound-effects computer-like? And the folks in layout keep choosing to italicize the bits about the cultivation of young minds while that convention is apparently unknown in Francophone territories (where they also side with the brain in the mind/brain split.)
Teaches, math, spelling, music, and more! * Computer-like keyboard
* Animated LCD screen
* Memory storage... programmable
* Computer-like sounds/effects
* 50 software program cards... math... music... spelling... logic... and more.
* Additional program cards and cartridges available to keep young minds growing.
These machines appear to date to about 1984, so given the general gutlessness of the home computers circulating at that time it's head-scratching how much lower one can stoop for a training-wheels "pre-computer". One thing's certain, it almost certainly couldn't run Zork.yet, so I'm wary of throwing more out there... but once there's a nibble, I'll extend further codes. After all, with the games already in my library, the codes aren't doing me any good. Cheers!