Dr. Bob's minions tire away endlessly to help the good Doctor in the name of science,
but with what little downtime they get they would like to share with you fine people! 


Good Evening, Bobites!  Monsterians?  Midnight Shifters?  Wait that's something else, anyway, thanks for coming over to this week's Minion Musings, which this time is being written by myself, Chris Stephenson, the webmaster of this-here establishment. 

Brief bits about me - I was formerly a cast member of The Fishnet Mafia, Columbus's Rocky Horror Picture Show group, for about 8 years, I am the founding Cast Director of The Midnight Shift/Night Shift, I'm on a Rocky cast down in Ironton, Ohio called the Tri-State Transylvanians, and am also a Rear Admiral on board the USS Maximillian, a Science Fiction fan organization.  It sounds like a lot when I'm putting them all in.  I have known the esteemed Doctor for some time and finally was able to find some way to help out.  Granted, at the time of this writing, Dr. Bob has been replaced by Master Bob Tesla from the alternate universe, so hopefully my position is still safe!

As far as the topic for my spiel this time around, I'll talk about one of my main interests, Video games, and a brief history thereof. 

IN THE BEGINNING - There was Computer Space.  Then Spacewar, then Space Invaders came around and properly started the video game boom in the arcades, launching a multitude of various arcade games, most of which were designed to capture quarters while not entirely cheating the customer out of some small measure of entertainment.  Games were so well recieved that there was some demand for home equipment that would bring a similar experience home.  The problem was that Arcade machines were mainly designed for the bottom up for a very specific chipset and use, and were fairly expensive.  To bring that kind of experience home in any similar capacity would not be cost-effective and likely kill the home market before it start.  So a completely different type of machine was invented, one that would not provide it's own screen but instead hook into a screen that everyone already had at least one of in their homes - The television!  Now these had to be simple devices, and the early machines weren't capable of many colors (Or any, really) so the home market for several years was limited to Pong and variations therein.  There were attempts of consoles with their own 'screens', as seen in the Vectrex, a vector-graphics based boondoggle that operated with overlays that you would slide over the screen, but none were that successful, and then Atari came along.

The computer company developed the Atari 2600, advancing the numbers slightly from the Home Computer systems Atari 800/1200xl.  Where the computers were competitors to the more popular Commodore units, Atari saw an opening to expand to a whole new market that was losing interest in simple paddle games.  With the 2600, though the graphics and sound and pretty much everything about it was primitive even with the day, Gamers could actually play some approximations of popular arcade games like Pac-Man (Now considered one of the worst games of all time.) and also experience unique creations like Adventure and Star Raiders.  Looking back now, it's hard to see how people could even play a console like the 2600, but for the time, it was a major leap forward in entertainment, and it spawned several followups, such as the Colecovision, and Atari's own 5200 and 7800.

It was a great time in the 80's for gaming companies, as hundreds upon hundreds of games were dumped upon the system.  However, quality control was their ultimate downfall.  Games were even more expensive then than they are now, and most games were haphazardly programmed and were barely games at all!  Atari made some very poor business moves, and made more copies of Pac-Man and E.T. than there had been consoles made, let alone sold.  A glut of horrible games caused the general public to quickly lose interest in this new form of entertainment, and the 2600 quickly disappeared from the public consciousness.  While gaming did thrive in a few other countries, in the United States of America it was dead as of 1984...


Previously on Minion Musings...