The Best of Creative Computing Volume 1 (published 1976)

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Introducing Computer Recreations Corp. (computer games delivered through home terminal)
Your Own Computer? (functions of a computer in the home)
Lies, Lies, Lies (Inaccuracies in Creative Computing magazine)

graphic of page

Your Own Computer?

bv David H. Ahl

A number of people have asked me lately about
computers in the home and about building your own.

Somehow the two subjects seem to go hand-in-hand,
probably because of an increasing number of low-priced
computer kits on the market obviously aimed at the home
hobbyist. In my mind, having your own computer at home
and building your own are two entirely different animals.

A computer in the home is not like a ham radio rig or
model railroad in which half of the enjoyment comes from
the building. A computer is more like a TV set; 97% of the
households in the U. S. have one, but most are not from
Heathkit. A computer is, of course, much more than a TV
- it provides education, recreation, and even utility.

You may find the following analogy chart useful to
decide where you fit in the computer spectrum.

1. Use application programs  Drive a car (90% of population)

2. Program computer using    Change oil, do tune-up
   high-level language       (20%)
   (BASIC, FORTRAN, etc.)
3. Computer science -        Auto mechanic - tear down
   machine languages,        and rebuild engine (1/4%)      
   compilers,  etc.              
4. Build your own computer   Build a dune buggy or
   from kit                  or plans dragster (0.1%)
5. Design and build your     Design and build an efficient
   own computer              electric vehicle          
                             (0.001%)

In future issues of Creative Computing, we will report on
No. 4, in particular, building an Altair 8800 computer kit
(yes, I have previously built an HO model railroad, hi-fi
components, and even a dune buggy). We'll also have some
in-depth discussion on Nos. 1, 2, and 3 - that is, just what
do you do with a home computer other than play games,
and also where do you get one if you don't build it
yourself?

***

Lies. Lies. Lies

Every once in a while I get a letter from a reader that
makes me wonder whether you readers really believe
everything you read in Creative. What am I saying? That
there are falsehoods in Creative? That there are errors? That
the truth is blemished? In a word, yes! And sometimes even
deliberately!

The reason for this blasphemy is simply this: along with
the best in computer activities, articles and other goodies, I
happen to believe that we also have an obligation to do as
much as possible in the way of bringing you an objective,
multi-faceted, interesting, mind-expanding, broadening view
of the world. And this is a world that contains people and
ideas that are sometimes in conflict with one another, (not
war, now) but what you might call cognitive dissonance. If
we run an article which proclaims "there is no such thing as
randomness," I don't really care if you believe it or not,
but rather that it is a provocative idea that makes you
think, or evaluate, or ponder, or wonder. That's what it's all
about, folks - thinking and stretching your mind in order
to create new ideas and make better use of the old ones.

And, incidentally, to have fun while you're at it!

-DHA

***

Introducing
        Computer
[Image] Recreations
        Corp.

by Trish Todd and Scott Guthery

Last year Americans spent over $50 billion on recreation.

And billions more on home entertainment - television
sets, radios, stereos, quadraphonic sound systems, tape
recorders and home movie and video tape equipment.

This is no passing fancy. We live in an age of increasing
leisure time. More people have more time to do more things
with more money than ever before.

We live in an age of advancing technology, too. And
when the consuming public seems ready for a new
innovation, the technology always seems to be there, ready
to meet that need. Witness the booming electronic calculator
market.

We also live in an age of shortages - of energy, of raw
materials. And the recent gasoline shortage made people
suddenly aware of the need to search out new sources of
entertainment and recreation. Closer to home, or at home.

Reports from the travel and entertainment industries
indicate that this awareness remained, even after the gas
returned.

We live, as well, in an age of computers. Only up to
now the computer has seemed a sort of enemy to many of
us and at best a friend only to the specialist. To the average
consumer/citizen/worker the computer is as foreign as the
Crab Nebula.

Fear of the unknown, of course, is understandable. But
anyone who has witnessed the average child adapt to the
computer environment knows how short lived fear of
computers can be. And how soon the computer becomes a
friend.

Which brings us to COMPUTER RECREATIONS, a
company formed to bring a wide (and friendly) selection of
computer games into subscribers' homes through a special
home terminal. This terminal resembles a typewriter with a
cradle for the customer's telephone headset and is connected
to his home television. In dialing a special number,
the player is connected with the Computer Recreations
WATS line, and he enters the "Game Parlor."

The player is then given several options. He may ask
what games are available, ask for game rules, inquire who is
in the "Game Parlor" or watch another game that is in
progress. The game possibilities include chess, golf,
Monopoly, football, Space War, Solataire, Blackjack, and
many others. The participants may use an alias while
competing with other subscribers; their faces are never seen.

Computer Recreations is also involved in simulating urban
planning, management decision-making, and political
models. The possibilities will be constantly expanding
because of a built-in market research program.

The system is fairly expensive today although it is
within the financial reach of the affluent middle class;
however, the technology exists to develop a terminal within
the reach of almost everyone. (DEC, RCA, and others are at
work on very low cost terminals today.)

Many Americans tend to think of computers as
impersonal machines which are gradually changing the
spontaniety of human life into a dehumanized number
system. Not so, says Computer Recreations, and they aim
to prove their point. For more information, write Scott
Guthery, President, Computer Recreations, P.O. Box F,
Cliffwood, NJ 07721.

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