LASERS! && Freemont Street LED array (was Re: Cray J932SE (was Re: Straight 8 up on Ebay just now))

ethan at ethan at
Thu Jul 21 12:02:53 CDT 2016

> The only ones worth using that I'm aware of are Scream Tracker and Impulse
> Tracker and neither was around in the 16 bit ISA days pre-386, IIRC. I
> doubt Scream Tracker would be able to function on a 286 anyhow. It puts a
> 486DX2/66 at about 50% CPU load, from my recollection. The Amiga trackers
> were more efficient, but you got fewer channels, too. OctaMED was
> 8-channel and that seemed massive until it wasn't.

IT was VGA but I think Scream Tracker was a 50 line text mode or 
something. I guess it depends if Scream Tracker used protected 
mode. Hmm intarnet says 386s were out during 1990 which was the year the 
more popular Scream Tracker was released. I swear my friend was playing 
coma.s3m on his Northgate 286-16 via PC Speaker....

> Several made it there over the years. I can't remember which ones, but I
> do remember one day I was listening to Nectarine Radio and heard one of my
> own Protracker MODs. That was awesome.


> Ahhh, those air-car-mounted-on-hydraulics "ride" thingys? Huh. Laser disc
> was always a cool thing, too. Remember "Time Traveler" ? That
> "holographic" (it wasn't really but it looked damn cool) game were the
> characters appeared in front of some kind of curved mirror volumetric
> display uhm, thingamabob? It used a Laserdisc too. Of course I loved Space
> Ace and Dragons Lair along with every other self-respecting geek, too.
> Also, my favorite was called "Thayer's Quest" in which you were a wizard's
> apprentice.

Yes. There is an arcade in Chicago called Galloping Ghost which has both 
of the Sega holographic machines, and some of the laserdisc games like 
Space Ace and Dragons Lair. In the arcade world, due to the unreliability 
of the laserdisc players often used in games like Dragons Lair (it uses a 
real HeNe laser tube!) it's okay for people to move them to the MS-DOS 
Daphne replacement system and such. Normally MAME/emulation is frowned 
upon by collectors but the LD games get an okay. The way they work is 
amusing, the game board drives the LED score and just watches for joystick 
directions and sends the chapter skip commands via RS-232 or RS-422 to the 
serial port equipped commercial LD player in the cabinet. Pretty simple 
but legendary.

> Most commercial real estate weasels think you are the next "sucker" coming
> through the door. They seem to believe that some old crufty warehouse
> that's been empty for a decade is actually worth the ridiculous rents they
> charge. You'd think it'd be better to have the buildings occupied and
> someone giving you a bit or two to cover the property taxes, but they
> still don't seem to see their clients as anything more than walking cash
> registers. It's definitely a hard slog to find a screaming deal on space.
> All the hacker-spaces here in big-D have lots of folks pitching in to make
> ends meet. The first one here with an Ethan-style laser arcade will
> definitely get my membership dues.

Hah awesome!

> Then there is the problem that nobody but old dudes remember how fun/cool
> arcades could be, back in a time when they looked a lot more like
> nightclubs. I remember them so crowded you had to go out for some fresh
> air. Flynn's Arcade may never live again, but it's still a paradigm of
> cool in my mind. Then again, I'm probably too old now to adjudicate "cool"
> for anyone. If you do open an laser-illuminated LED-walled arcade, let us
> all know so we can put you on the cctalk road-trip map. We'll rent a bus
> in Seattle, and drive to your place (or visa versa). I nominate Fred to
> run the logistics. I'll drive. :-P

I help with an event each year called MAGFest which is currently in the DC 
area. We had 278  arcade cabinets in the arcade room and a decent 
deployment of classic computers in the museum. The attendance is 20,000 
people or so -- it's a large event. Much of it is video game music 
related, and there is a ton of history and classic computer tie ins there. 
All the synth chips all the machines. The event is an insane amount of 
work though, I think it was 14 26' penske trucks some of which made 3 
trips full of arcade cabinets, and the computer museum stuff occupied 
2/3rds of a truck and was all owned by 3 people (just their personal 
stash.) No big metal mostly plastic micros but it's all hands on.

There is a big arcade event in Seattle / Tacoma that has 450+ games, and 
there is CAX in California which just happened that has a large 
collection. They have a lot more people with lower numbers of games from 
what I understand where MAGFest has a handful of collectors with very 
large collections.

There is definitely interest in the retro computer stuff growing outside 
of the age group the reminisces about it. There is also some cross over I 
think between the arcade and classic computer (plastic micro) crowd.

Ethan O'Toole

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