Retrocomputing Lab Page Launch


Over the weekend, I launched a new page under the “Research” menu on for my Retrocomputing Lab.

I use the Retrocomputing Lab’s hardware and software resources in my continuing research on human-computer interaction, human-computer experiences, and human-computer co-influence. So far, its primary focus is on the shift from the pre-Internet, early-1990s to the post-Internet, late-1990s and early-2000s.

During that time, technological and cultural production seems to accelerate. Imagine all of the stories yet to be recovered from that time. How do we untangling of the long shadow of that time from the innovations and disruptions of the present passing into future?

The computer hardware includes Macs and PCs. There are laptops and desktops. There are different add-on cards and peripherals to enhance and change experiences. There are 3.5″ floppy disks, CD-ROMs, and DVDs. There are many different kinds of software ranging from games to interactive encyclopedias to operating systems to word processors. There are different motherboards that can be swapped out in various computer cases (AT and ATX). The machines can be temperamental, but each configuration reveals its own indelible soul (for lack of a better word, but it is a word that I quite like in this context).

My research focuses on reading on screens, depictions of electronic-facilitated reading, and the cognitive effects of reading on screens (of course, there are a multitude of screens and interfaces–a worthy complication) as opposed to other forms of non-digital media (and their multitude).

The Retrocomputing Lab continues to grow and new research possibilities abound. If you are interested in collaborating on a project with Retrocomputing Lab resources, drop me a line at jason dot ellis at lmc dot gatech dot edu.

Let’s Play Unreal Tournament

Bert, Kenny, and I used to play Unreal Tournament on our Macs before I went back to Georgia Tech in 2002. We would regularly gather at one of our houses or at NetlinkIP in the evening where I did tech support during the day. It was also our introduction to online deathmatch gaming with other players around the world. Probably our most accomplished and famous adversary was the porn actress Asia Carrera, who ran her own UT game server where she regularly played. Again, science fiction drives the first person narrative to kill or be killed.

Let’s Play Halo: Combat Evolved

VZ7inHD is another long-play champion on Youtube. In the video above and the full playlist here, he takes us through Microsoft/Bungie’s Halo: Combat Evolved. Halo is a science fiction video game that follows the Master Chief on a ringworld as he tries to prevent the spread of a scourge-like alien species.

I never owned a Xbox, but I played through Halo on my buddy Mike F’s Xbox when I was readmitted to Georgia Tech in the early 2000s. I wonder how the Xbox would have done had Microsoft not captured Bungie in its net before Halo (or what it was to become) was released on Mac OS. I enjoyed Bungie’s earlier Mac Marathon game series (something for a future post!).

Mac OS X 10.6.8 Available for Download, Last Update to Snow Leopard before Lion?

Mac OS X 10.6.8 Combo Update is now available from Apple here. It is also available through Software Update. Will this be the last update to Snow Leopard before Mac OS X 10.7 Lion is released for digital distribution through the Mac App Store in July 2011?

If you are still running Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, Apple also released a new security update that is available here.


ICFA 2009, Talking about Apples and PCs

Last night, Ritch and I were talking about our iPhones (he has a 3G and mine is first gen) and Macs (he has three and I have my unibody MacBook).  Our discussion made me think back to some of the books that I’ve read about Steve Jobs, Apple, and Apple culture in general.  It has been a number of years since I last fulfilled my reading fascination with Apple, but I would recommend these books and films for anyone interested in learning more about Apple:

Insanely Great (2000) by the fantastic technology writer Steven Levy.  His official website is here.

Accidental Empires: How the Boys of Silicon Valley Make Their Millions, Battle Foreign Competition, and Still Can’t Get a Date  (1996) by Robert X. Cringely.  Read his I, Cringley blog on here.

And, I have yet to read Andy Hertzfeld’s Revolution in the Valley:  The Insanely Great Story of How the Mac was Made (2004).  You can out more about Hertzfeld’s book, and read other stories about the early days at Apple on his website here.