Oh how I loved to play around with the contrast and brightness controls – and it was just so intuitive. Today no computer screen I know has extra buttons to control brightness and contrast – but back in the days, at least the screen of the IBM PC had this basic set of controls.
A ‘portrait’ of the IBM Personal Computer – the original PC – my first computer. What a beauty! Two floppy drives, one RGB screen – and loaded with a promising 64 kBytes of RAM. We also had an Acoustic Coupler which would connect me to the world whenever I liked – although there was not much to connect to.
A screenshot of the cockpit of MS Flight Simulator, approaching the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York. The graphics were of course quite poor – but the ‘plane’ and all the surroundings were at least moving in real time. So it really took time to fly the little Cessna from example from JFK Airport to Manhattan.
Back then the game designers could not add too much detail to the map – but at least the Twin Towers, the Brooklyn Bridge the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty were there to see and enjoy. And looking down you could see one white line resembling Broadway and another white line resembling Fith Avenue – and of course a large green rectangle that would resemble Central Park.
Being bored kids of the Eighties we would usually take off at JFK and fly some rounds above New York City. The usual Tour de New York would include a round around the Empire State Building, then flying down Broadway, trying to fly between the Twin Towers, taking a look at the Statue of Liberty and then back above the Hudson River, enjoying the view to the Brooklyn Bridge. Yay!
The MS Flight Simulator was one of the first rather complex games you could play on an IBM PC in the mid-eighties. Here’s a screenshot of the settings screen. You could basically choose any start position for your flight – but also details like Airspeed and Reality Mode which would make flying the Cessna a bit more difficult.
Turning on the old IBM PC the first thing you get to see is a system message, asking for the current date – in this case in German:
Datum ist: Di, 1-01-1980
Neues Datum eingeben: _
This is what it looks like when a MacBook Pro says goodbye… Super crash: Kernel Panic. Hardware failure. Motherboards was broken. Hard drive could be saved. The ironic part of this screen shot is that the “hello” mac face icon is still smiling, as if everything was ok.
Ach back in the days, when a Happy Mac was smiling at you would mean that the computer is starting up and probably everything will be fine.
View through the Brandenburg Gate to the TV Tower on a sunny day in October.