Sunday, May 27, 2018

New arrivals including an original IBM PC!


Last weekend, I picked up a huge haul of new-to-me vintage computer equipment, including one of my holy grails - an original IBM 5150 PC. These aren't particularly rare (IBM sold a lot of 'em!) but they are getting hard to find complete with all included documentation, with both a CGA card and the 5153 CGA monitor, in good condition and at a reasonable price. Out of all those things, you can normally pick two. I held out and finally found one with everything, along with a few bonuses that I didn't know until I took it home and cracked it open! (Watch the video for more on this.)

I'll be featuring this IBM PC in several more videos - I'm planning a history of the IBM PC, then a review of the computer itself, and a comparison between the Model M and Model F keyboards (fight!), the legendary slabs of beige typing goodness that remain among the most beloved boards for hardcore key clickers (like myself).

Also included in this haul are a full Atari 800 setup, and a mystery box of what the seller just termed "Atari games" but which turned out to be pretty interesting too.

Interestingly, these items were part of the Warner Communications Videotex tests of the early 1980's - the seller was one of the executives at the company at the time they owned Atari. They had some ideas that were way ahead of their time, and unfortunately didn't really work on existing hardware of the day. These computers proved that!

Saturday, May 12, 2018

What's inside a Tomy Digital Diamond from 1978?



I've posted a bunch of new videos to my Modern Classic YouTube channel since the Quad 8 video a year ago - I'll be going through and retro-posting a bunch more, and eventually they'll all have their own blog to live on. But for now, check out my little teardown of a Tomy Digital Diamond electro-mechanical baseball game from 1978. I've owned it for 40 years, and this is my first time taking it apart!

Scandal US tour!



Has it been almost a year since I've written anything here? Well, that changes now!

It's also been a while since I've written anything about SCANDAL, but I've got a couple of good reasons to now. The first is that they're coming back to the US, and more helpful for me, to New York City this time! If anyone hasn't heard, here's the list of announced dates on what looks like a very hastily written up (or just intentionally lo-fi) official flyer from the band's Facebook:


For the image-averse, that's:

Sep 5/PlayStation Theater/New York, NY
Sep 7/The Regency Ballroom/San Francisco, CA
Sep 9/House of Blues/Anaheim, CA
Sep 16/The Bomb Factory/Dallas, TX

I've already got my VIP ticket to the NYC show - couldn't pass up that chance, because it may never come again.

You can get tickets to the NY and SF shows here; the Anaheim show here and the Dallas show here. I've previously written about how they're the best live band I've ever seen (something you can see for yourself on any of their many live DVD's and Blu-Rays), so don't miss them if you have the chance to go.

Also, have you heard their new album Honey? It smokes! Buy it!

Platform Syndrome (at top) was released a couple of months ago, but it leads off the album and it just goes on from there. I love this song, and the album. They are not slowing down. If anything, they've gone in a lot of different, more extreme directions as they've gotten older and been unleashed to write all their own songs. Their punk songs are even more punk than they used to be, and their heavy songs even heavier. But at the same time, there's a full-on R&B song on this album (and it's actually kind of great).

I do think it's mastered way too hot with audible clipping all over the place and a bit of a transistor radio-ish overall sound. Kind of a shame and a disservice to the band, but the music's pretty incredible if you can get past that. (And I suspect most people can.)

Bring on September!

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Repairing my rare, broken Japanese Intellivision



I grew up with the Mattel Intellivision - I've made a video about that before. It was my first real game console and I still love it.

Not a lot of people realize that Mattel licensed the system not just to Sears and Radio Shack (who made their own versions), but also to Bandai in Japan. This system was one of the first American game consoles ever to get an official Japanese release.

But it never caught on there, and consequently it's pretty rare to find a Bandai machine in the wild even in Japan. I discovered this one purely by chance sitting on a shelf at Super Potato in Ikebukuro, Tokyo for ¥9,800 - about $90 at the time. A steal!

It was marked "untested" and I was warned verbally about that before purchasing too, but it looked almost unused and these machines have no moving parts - what could go wrong? You see where this is heading.

Of course it didn't work - there was major character corruption in every game. (One of my YouTube commenters asked if this wasn't a mismatch between a Japanese console and American games, but to be clear, there were no localized Japanese games. They just repackaged the American ones with some Japanese language packaging and instructions.) You can see that at the beginning of this video.

So here I am trying to diagnose and fix this machine, with some help from the good people at AtariAge.com. Was I successful? Well, watch and find out! I will warn you that the process was not short, and neither is the video.

About This Blog

This is increasingly not a blog about Alphabet City, New York. I used to live in the East Village and work on Avenue B, but I no longer do. Why don't I change the name if I'm writing about Japan and video games and guitars? Because New Yorkers are well-rounded people with varied interests, and mine have gone increasingly off the rails over the years. And I don't feel like changing the name. I do still write about New York City sometimes.

About Me

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I'm married. I like to travel. I have no kids. I have a house... that I'm bad at maintaining. I used to collect classic video games. I own a lot of musical equipment that far outstrips my ability to use it. When I was younger, I was in a band. I like gadgets, and I'm an Android guy. Someday, I would like to live on a different planet.

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