Double Exposure: ‘A-Z’ by Colin Newman and ‘Positive Touch’ by The Undertones

By Richard McKenna and K.E. Roberts

It must have been difficult to imagine, when art-punk band Wire’s guitarist and vocalist Colin Newman released his first solo record, that he could have much to add to the evocation of the strange tensions of contemporary life that Wire had elucidated over the course of their first three LPs: Pink Flag (1977), Chairs Missing (1978), and 154 (1979)…

Walking Straight Into the Past: David Keenan’s ‘This Is Memorial Device’

By Michael Grasso

“Worldbuilding” has become a trendy word to throw around when it comes to fictional universes. Franchises with the luxury to build their worlds over multiple motion pictures costing billions and billions of dollars fill the media landscape. In David Keenan’s debut novel, This Is Memorial Device, we enter a world with a much more humble, much more homely set of concerns, but with a universe no less studded with outsized personalities…

SDS-V Drum Synthesizer, 1981

Released in 1981, the SDS-V was an electronic drum kit produced by British company Simmons, which was founded in 1978 by Dave Simmons and remained active until 1999. Though retaining a classic layout, the SDS-V’s glossy, hexagonal drums invoked a futuristic, scientific aesthetic that implied a rejection of the sweaty toil previously involved in percussion…

Texas Instruments SR-52 Programmable Calculator, 1975

As the microchip revolution took root in the late 1960s, one of the most obvious uses for the new miniaturization was in the field of mathematics. Digital computers’ original tasks had, of course, been related to calculating much faster than deskbound human beings. The power of a once-massive digital computer transferred to a handheld device would allow for a revolution in calculation, allowing mathematicians of all stripes, from accountants to engineers, to free themselves from lengthy and difficult slide rule calculating…

Adventures in Atari BASIC: Lesson Five – Take Aim and Fire

By Mikey Walters

In Lesson Four, we experienced a crash course in manipulating Atari computer memory, specifically to initialize and control Player/Missile Graphics, and we learned how to move our players across the playfield. With those powerful techniques under our belt, this lesson is action-packed! Not only will we cover joystick control, but also how to fire the mighty Fission Gun Tower…

‘Bureaucracy’ Board Game, 1981

In Avalon Hill’s Bureaucracy, players attempt to “simulate the bureaucratic behavior which constitutes so much of what we call government” and “[rise] up through the masses” to become Director, which amounts to marching around a Monopoly-style game board seeking promotion…

‘Star Wars: Escape from Death Star Game’, 1977

During the holiday season of 1977, kids were desperate for Star Wars toys. Unfortunately, Kenner couldn’t ramp up toy production fast enough (leading to a groundbreaking marketing maneuver: the Early Bird Certificate Package), so there were very few Star Wars-related items available for parents to put under the Christmas tree…

‘Disaster/Désastre’ Board Game, 1979

Disaster, created by American board game titan Parker Brothers for the Canadian market, transposes nearly every cinematic disaster scenario of the 1970s—the Decade of the Disaster Movie—onto the game board. Disaster films usually consisted of a huge ensemble cast, uniting current Hollywood stars with has-beens and stars of yesteryear, and they “explored” a common theme: the implacable destructiveness of nature and the inability of human structures to protect against it…