big-bird

Caroll “Big Bird” Spinney was originally to be on NASA’s doomed Challenger flight

And he was even offered a seat as Big Bird on the ill-fated Space Shuttle Challenger in 1986 in a bid to get children more interested in the NASA program when Star Wars was all the rage. | But there wasn’t enough room for the costume, which is more than eight feet tall, sparing Spinney from the tragedy that saw the Challenger break apart 73 seconds into its flight, killing all seven people…

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Wander (1974) — a lost mainframe game is found!

Interesting news for historians of digital culture. I had no direct knowledge of this game. I want to learn more about it. Wander was probably the first computer game that is recognisable as what came to be known as a “text adventure” (or “interactive fiction“) – pre-dating even ADVENT (a.k.a. Colossal Cave) by Crowther and Woods! But Wander was more than that because it seems to have been designed to be a tool to allow users…

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Adventure | T.M. Camp

Great story of nerdiness and discovery and friendship, focusing on the author’s adult memories of his love for a particular text adventure game at a crucial phase of his youth. I’ve collected several such stories in “Interactive Fiction Reflection and Nostalgia.” He knew the game, practically had it memorized. He would be the computer. I would be the player.

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All of Your Co-Workers are Gone: Story, Substance, and the Empathic Puzzler

However, running parallel to the evolution of these [graphic] games was a family of explicitly, un- ashamedly narrative titles. Colossal Cave Adventure (Crowther & Woods, 1977), Zork I (1980), and Adventureland (Andventure International, 1978) have equal importance in the evolution of video games, but rarely receive the same kind of general, mainstream popular cultural appreciation as their graphical rivals. These games focused almost entirely on the story and the characters…

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The Most Epic Demo in Computer History Is Now an Opera

This is nice, but what I really want to see is an Elizabethan-style revenge play featuring Clippy. December 9, 1968… in an underground convention center in the heart of San Francisco, Doug Engelbart gave The Mother Of All Demos, introducing the world to an astonishing slew of technologies including word processing, video conferencing, windows, links, and the humble mouse.

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They called it a “flashlight” because early handheld lights weren’t designed to shine steadily

A student’s short story featuring a treasure hunt at an ancestral mansion uses a vintage name for the mistress of the house a vintage name and supplies a butler, suggesting a Victorian Engliand setting. But the story also used the term “flashlight” — an Americanism for what the Brits are more likely to call an “electric torch”. So I looked up the history of flashlights.

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The six wives of Henry VIII, in pie chart form

If you’ve ever wanted to see the reigns of Henry VIII’s wives represented in a pie chart, the New Statesman is here to serve. Catherine was queen for 24 years. That’s nearly seven times longer than her nearest successor. It’s nearly 50 times longer than Anne of Cleves, who was queen for all of six months. There was barely time to adjust the headband on the crown. Frame it a…