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MONORAIL: ENTRY ARCHIVE [current]   [random]
COMPUTER, GEEK (permalink) 04.02.2010
under-respected & under-appreciated no more!
my childhood home's first computer was one called a TRS-80. i was twelve or thirteen at the time. of the early home PCs this one made by radio shack was one of the lesser coveted models, but for someone who thought the nascent computer revolution would pass him by completely, i was seven kinds of thrilled to be part of the history. little did i know how much this foreword thinking purchase on my parents part would affect me then (and for unpredictable decades to come). much of my understanding of logic and process stemmed from the early poking and hacking and noodling i did on this unheralded footnote in the early PC landscape.

the computer, and the television it was connected to, sat on an old wooden card table in my home's basement. my dad expressed little curiosity in the contraption as he passed my hunched over frame while he moved to and from the garage. one time something on the screen stopped him. after a few minutes, he asked what i was doing. i told him playing a game. he asked what the point of the game was. i said to eat all of the dots without running into a bad guy. he asked if he could try. i said sure. i stood and he took the seat. i remember him looking uneasy and out of place at the helm of something that was so connected to me and so not connected to him. i handed him the joystick and showed him how to start a new game by pressing the space bar. his first-ever gaming experience lasted less than a minute. instead of handing the controller back to me for my turn, he reached forward and pressed the space bar starting another game. he died again in short order. this time he turned to me and commented how it wasn't as easy as it looked. i nodded in understanding. space bar again. death again. spacebar. death. spacebar. death. he became so rapt on the objective he didn't even notice when i walked away.

my mom spotted me upstairs looking sullen. she asked what was wrong. i said nothing. she asked why i wasn't on the computer (it was still new enough that it was pretty much all i had done for weeks). i told her dad was using it. surprised she asked if she heard me right. i told her she had. i went to my room and read a book.

the next time i sat down at the computer, on a tablet of paper was written a number with an emphatic underline beneath it. it was in my father's handwriting and it took me a moment to realize it was a score, his high score, to the game. it was also higher than my highest score to date. i was duly impressed. i fired up the game and sat down convicted to best my father's mark. when i did, i enjoyably scratched his number out and wrote mine below it. several nights later when i sat down, i saw that my number was scratched out and replaced with one of his. and like that my father and i for several months engaged in a wordless form of togetherness that to this day stands as one of my warmer, more special childhood memories.

i was at a lunch the other day when the topic of early computer experiences came up. it made me remember the above story. i pulled my pen from my shirt pocket and wrote the words MEGA-BUG on my hand. later that night i set out in search of the game and as usual the interwebs delivered. should you like to experience the game that brought a young awkward boy and an old-school father closer, i invite you to do so. it also doesn't hurt that to this day i consider this to be one of the most quaint and thoughtful computer games ever devised.

to play:
  1. go to this link (link will open in new window so you don't loose the instructions).
  2. if prompted to trust the site, trust the site.
  3. click the SETUP button.
  4. click the MEGABUG button from the list (12th one down).
  5. after returning to the green screen type CLOADM and hit enter.
  6. wait a minute or so while the game loads.
  7. when given an OK prompt, type EXEC and hit enter.
  8. as the story says, press the space bar to play.
  9. use the arrow keys to move.
  10. as in the real world, you only get one life, so make it count.

i challenge you to clear a board in less than 100 attempts. surviving more than a minute is even a bit of a feat. if you clear two boards, both my father and i bow to you in great homage and respect.








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