Posted on April 12, 2007
Atari Nerd Chronicles: The Apple Adventure
Sometime around 1981 a wonderful event took place in the lives of two lower-middle class twin boys. Eric Barth, a cool little kid down the street from our house, was given an Apple IIe. Steve and I spent almost every waking minute with Eric exploring the machine and all it had to offer. Without Eric and his Apple, this site would not exist in its current form. There definitely would be a site made by Steve and I, but it would have a named pertaining to some other exciting first time programming or computer game experiment. It could have been the Price Is Right game, random sentence generator, or some other Atari 800 programming adventure.
It might have been called PERTEC-Rocket.com in reference to the VMS (or CPM) based machines our Junior High was given in the 7th grade. Steve and I made a historical adventure game in the modest Junior High computer lab and were featured in Forbes magazine because of it. It might have been named after one of the all time great gaming experiences on the Atari ST : Phantasie I, Dungeon Master, Kick Off II, or Megaroids. It might have been named after a great VCS, 7800, Master System or Lynx game.
It might have been named after one of the Genesis or Nintendo games we played with Ian Legler, one of the Coleco Vision games with Played with Brandon Crist, or one of the Atari 400 games with typed in with Kenny Brown. It might have been an early PC or Fairchild game we played at Wesley Crew’s house. All of those times were defining moments in our computer and game creation education. None of them though can hold a candle to that first year with Eric’s Apple IIe.
The three of us almost went blind staring at that beautiful green screen monitor. We played great games like Apple Panic and Ceiling Zero. We cobbled together pieces of random basic code to make the namesake 8bitrocket programs. We made all kinds of games. We had pretend phone dialers and our own early versions of the a hacker simulator well before the Hacker games were released. We spent countless hours creating machines in Pinball Construction set. I remember that Eric was an exceptional math student and started to create awesome graphical games well before Steve and I could. Anyway, I mention all of this as a thanks to Eric. In the funny world we live in where anyone can Google themselves for fun, Eric found us last week. After almost 20 years with no contact, Eric sent an email to the firstname.lastname@example.org box over the weekend. I want to publicly thank him and his father for letting Steve and I ride their Apple IIe coat tails until we got our Atari 800 in 1983. Without Eric, there would be no 8bitrocket. Thanks Eric, and let’s not make it another 20 years before we talk again. You know where to find us.