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Ten Games, Day 1

2020-04-24 18:01:21.139367+00 by Dan Lyke 2 comments

A friend suggested a Facebook game of 10 video games that were influential in your life, 1 per day, and explain why. Consider yourself tagged if you think this'd be fun...

Day 1: Lunar Lander

Probably the first video game I think I played. My Dad worked at GE Power Transformer in Pittsfield, Massachussetts, and whenever we went to see him there it was always "stop at the gate, wait for him to come out", so what happened inside those buildings was a huge mystery.

One day, or weekend, the entire Pittsfield GE operation had a huge open house. There were demonstrations of big arcs in the high voltage testing lab. Cool technology over in whatever the naval/submarine/whatever group was. My Dad's workplace was a cube farm, though I liked to think he bounced back and forth between there and the high voltage labs, but in the cube farm there was a CAD system, and on that CAD system there was a lunar lander game.

Simple cartesian X/Y motion controlled by a joystick, no rotation.

At some point, his friend John Hammond brought over an early programmable HP calculator. It had the little mag strips you slid through the slot to save programmers. It too had a "lunar lander". This one had a display of three numbers, altitude, fuel, and speed, and the game was to select various different burn intensities to hit altitude 0 with some minimal speed, and still have fuel left.

And then he brought home from work a KIM-1. This had a 6 digit LED display and a 20 key keypad (and a whopping 1K of RAM, though filling that meant a lot of data entry), and a half-hour of mashing in hexadecimal codes from a book got me a similar lunar lander, but in real-time! 4 digits of altitude, 2 digits of speed, hit 0-9 for burn intensity, the 'F' button to toggle the fuel-left display.

And I could change it. If I understood the assembly language listing, I could change the acceleration, or starting fuel, or fuel consumed per burn unit...

And that was my first introduction to programming.

[ related topics: Nostalgia Interactive Drama Books Games Movies Software Engineering Work, productivity and environment Architecture Video Real Estate ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: Ten Games, Day 1 made: 2020-04-24 19:16:48.93918+00 by: battjt

My introduction to programming was self teaching based on the Timex Sinclair 1000 book and my Mom's old physics book of equations. I wrote and rewrote the same programs over and over... a spirograph drawing program, a lunar lander (with interactive keyboard input) and a "gravity particle simulator" (with point masses). I saw some pictures of a lunar lander program and intuitively derived acceleration. Over time I graduated to a C64 and sprites.

I wasn't really inspired by games, other than as a simulations. I still enjoy writing simulations, but now it's CPUs (SH2) and CAN modules (to test heavy truck diagnostic tools).

#Comment Re: Ten Games, Day 1 made: 2020-04-24 21:18:01.070535+00 by: markd

My programming intro(e) was typing in games from the Apple ][ book (There was a low-res graphics "Dragon Hunt" game in Integer Basic that lived in the back pages), and then from magazines.

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