“Nolan came to me one time and he said, ‘On a TV set, when you turn the vertical hold on the TV, the picture will go up, and if you turn it the other way, it goes down. Why does it do that?’ I explained it to him. It was the difference between the sync and the picture timing. He said, ‘Could we do that with some control?’ I said, ‘Yeah, we probably can, but we’d have to do it digitally, because analog would not be linear.'”
> “He was the guy that could actually make it work,” said Dustin Hansen, a game developer and the author of a book on video game history called “Game On!” “Where the circuit hits the board, he’s the guy.”
Dabney sounds like Woz to Bushnell's Steve Jobs. As much as I liked reading about Jobs, during his life and after, I never got through his posthumous biography. But I think I finished "iWoz" the day after I bought it.
I don't know if I agree Dabney was the Woz of Atari if yoh define it as the buisiness/engineering split at Apple. However, Bushnell empowered Dabney a lot in the early days and a case that Pong was Ataris Apple II could be made.
Woz’s is easy to read.
What was so awful about it?
I don't know if I can blame it on the author though, because the early chapters were great -- it's what got me interested in reading more about Woz in the first place. What's ironic to me is that the "Jobs" biographer (Walter Isaacson) had full access to Jobs even in his last days. Of anyone who wrote about Jobs, Isaacson probably had the most exposure to all the sides of Jobs and might have the truest depiction of Jobs, erratic persona and all. It just wasn't interesting to read.
In contrast, "Bad Blood", the new book about Theranos by John Carreyrou, the WSJ reporter who exposed Theranos, has a thorough and entertaining depiction of Elizabeth Holmes, even though she has refused every of his interview requests. The info about her comes completely from second hand sources. I don't mention Holmes in the context of Jobs to imply that Jobs (for all his warts) was anywhere near the same level of asshole that Holmes seems to be. But Carreyrou frequently mentions Holmes -- not just because she worshipped Jobs -- but because everyone tells Carreyrou how Holmes had the similar superpower of reality-distortion. Reading "Bad Blood" is like reading a book about Jobs and Apple, if Jobs and Apple were a complete scam that never actually created anything.
"Becoming Steve Jobs" by Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli deals with exactly this theme of his personal growth and learning. I got far more out of it than Isaacson's book and would recommend it over Isaacson to anyone interested in reading a Jobs biography.
I'm surprised to learn that Pong had no computer, no microcontroller, no software! Just analog and digital circuits.
It didn’t take long to realise that Pong was an insanely clever masterpiece of digital design.
It looks like the simplest thing ever, but it stores and manipulates representations of three objects plus two score fields, composites them into a 2D representation, and converts that representation into two linear video scan signals - all with discrete logic.
It’s mindbendingly brilliant.
Went to explore it, as it was not working, I was amazed to see no CPU. Inside, there was a C sized paper blueprint of the schematic. Wish I still had it.
Timers, latches, etc... the circuit was the game. Very cool.
One of the amazing things about retro arcade games like Asteroids was just how clear and precise all those vector graphics were. When they're being drawn with analog circuitry with those perfect darks and brights, you get a really immersive world from a very simple concept. It was really amazing.
And "The Secret Life of XY Monitors"
(Jed was an Atari engineer during the vector era and beyond)
(29 page PDF.)