Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Portable Music, Portable Computer Terminals and the Adventure Game

I tend to focus on smokestack industries and civil engineering projects such as bridges and dams. But this post reminded me that music is an industry that has had a significant history.

Alfina Wise Adderly shared
Raise your hand if you remember when "portable music" looked like this!

That is a 45 rpm record on that player. It would have just one song on a side. When I was an older kid (1960s), the 78 rpm records were obsolete. In addition to 45 rpm records, there were 33 rpm albums. And 33 rpm records remained the standard for albums until CDs were developed. The audio industry went through several media types. Off hand, I remember vinyl, reel-to-reel tape, 8-track tape, cassette tape, CDs and mp3. I've had all of those except 8-track. Portable (hand held) versions were cassette tape (Sony Walkman came out in 1979), CDs and mp3. Now mp3 players are one of several devices that have been replaced by smart phone apps.

The advent of transistor radios in the 1960s was another milestone for hand-held portable music.

The fact that the 45 rpm player came in a case reminds me that just because you put a handle on something, that doesn't mean it is portable. In the 1970s, we could take a computer terminal home at night to do more work. That was back when a phone still had a handset. The handset was important because you would dial into work and when the phone started squealing, you would shove the handset into the acoustic couplers on the back of the terminal. (The acoustic couplers are the two black circles on the back of the terminal in the photo.) And you worked at 300 baud with a roll of heat-sensitive paper that the terminal printed on. The problem is that it weighed 40 pounds, and it was almost as big as a suitcase. I use to kid people that just because something has a handle, that doesn't mean it was portable. This photo is what we upgraded to. I consider it portable because it was just 14 pounds. (There was a cover that you put on it when carrying it around.)
eBay

I (and some friends) spent some time on that model playing Adventure. I knew of one person in our office who got a perfect score. I found a version online a couple of years ago, but I could not find the maps I made in the 1970s. So I drew another map. I made decent progress the second time until I came to a random exit node. I never did learn how to control the exit so I gave up. I found an online map of the cave. [BlueRenga] But I don't see any mazes. We at Bell Labs must have gotten a more mature version. This time when I looked online I found Advent 501. This version is more modern than the one I had played because it has a pantry and a poster in the well house. I'm not even going to try to play this one.

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