Altair 8800a on EBAY

From: Mike Ford <>
Date: Thu Oct 4 04:34:09 2001

>> Thats it, the Alpha Micro. Programma International had one, and they
>> about danced in circles around it. Totally useless payroll only
>> machine, but it sure looked nice.
>There's a name I haven't heard in a while. I remember when I got my first
>Apple ][+, I had a few disks with some Programma International software.
>One was an Applesoft program editor enhancement.
>Did you work for them?

I went to school with Randy Hyde at UC Riverside, and we shared a couple
early business ventures. He started working actively for Programma on the
Apple II, and talked me into taking the Atari 400 Programma received from
Atari along with the first developement cartridges that existed outside of
Atari. I ported two or three generic games in basic to the Atari, which
failed to get my name written into all the history books (guess which game).

The wiz kid at PI was IIRC a 14 year old named William Robinson, who
managed to buy a Porsche 928 a couple years before he had a license. The
secret of success is that the games were based off the top sellers in toy
stores, ie connect 4 etc., so I spent a few days at ToyRus, then cranked
out about half a dozen pretty darn good games. The catch was that Atari,
while they supplied assembler and basic developement cartridges, and had a
"agreement" with PI, they would not release any details on the Antic or
Pokey video and sound chips. No special graphics or sound, meant rotten
sales and I ended up not getting a dime for close to a years work.

Some months later a different software house, I am thinking Beagle Bros,
but maybe Sierra, fully cracked the Atari specialty chips and wrote a
reference manual. It was some serious bucks, and I decided to move on to
embedded programming where the pay checks could be cashed and rent paid.
One of the things I hope to find "intact" in all my junk are the source
files for the various games, which I am pretty sure I printed to paper, put
on cassette, and even saved to a floppy.

Back to the topic
Programma was in an annex of the Ambasidor Hotel, and we used to walk up
the service enterance through the corridor Bobby Kenndy was killed in. The
two guys running the place were real characters, Dave Gordon, who was the
biggest collector I ever met (bootlegs, tapes etc.), and I can't remember
the other guys name, but he was a serious computer guy from Rand I think,
and he and Randy cooked up PIE, Programma Internation Editor. Basically
Randy did a real slick assembly language port of the Rand concept, so even
on a plain Apple II it was FAST. It supported the radical for its time
features of scrolling (vertically) though a document, cutting and pasting,
with its strength also its weakness. All the commands were keyboard codes,
ctrl this or that, which gave it a bit of a learning curve, but once
mastered it really cooked.
Received on Thu Oct 04 2001 - 04:34:09 BST

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