Break Into Chat https://breakintochat.com/blog/ Josh Renaud's blog about BBS history, retro computing and technology reminiscences. Tue, 29 Nov 2022 15:25:58 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=6.1.1 Unearthed: Kirschen’s “Music Creator” for IBM PC https://breakintochat.com/blog/2022/11/29/unearthed-kirschens-music-creator-for-ibm-pc/ https://breakintochat.com/blog/2022/11/29/unearthed-kirschens-music-creator-for-ibm-pc/#comments Tue, 29 Nov 2022 12:38:32 +0000 https://breakintochat.com/blog/?p=1883 Decades before the debut of DALL-E, Israeli cartoonist Yaakov Kirschen was developing an “artificial creativity” system to let computers compose their own music, by extracting components of existing songs and combining them in new ways. The software was originally written for the Amiga, but business changes led them to abandon that platform and port the […]

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Unearthed: Kirschen’s Atari ST projects https://breakintochat.com/blog/2022/11/28/unearthed-kirschens-atari-st-projects/ https://breakintochat.com/blog/2022/11/28/unearthed-kirschens-atari-st-projects/#comments Mon, 28 Nov 2022 12:17:20 +0000 https://breakintochat.com/blog/?p=1861 The artificial personalities “Murray” and “Mom” were among the very first entertainment offerings for the Atari ST computer. They were also the first products released by Israeli cartoonist Yaakov Kirschen’s new “LKP, Ltd.” software studio in Israel, in partnership with his American firm, “Just For You, Inc.” “Murray and Me” (monochrome, 1985) “Murray and Me” […]

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Unearthed: Kirschen’s independent Apple II projects https://breakintochat.com/blog/2022/11/27/unearthed-kirschens-independent-apple-ii-projects/ https://breakintochat.com/blog/2022/11/27/unearthed-kirschens-independent-apple-ii-projects/#respond Sun, 27 Nov 2022 14:00:38 +0000 https://breakintochat.com/blog/?p=1843 Is “Doc Possum” a lost Learning Company game? After the end of Yaakov Kirschen’s partnership with the Gesher organization, he had an idea for a secular educational game for the Apple II, which he pitched to The Learning Company. Around the same time he also made a few independent demos and experimental software. “You and […]

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Unearthed: Kirschen’s Apple II games for Gesher https://breakintochat.com/blog/2022/11/26/unearthed-kirschens-apple-ii-games-for-gesher/ https://breakintochat.com/blog/2022/11/26/unearthed-kirschens-apple-ii-games-for-gesher/#respond Sat, 26 Nov 2022 17:04:42 +0000 https://breakintochat.com/blog/?p=1829 Ever wonder what the Jewish version of Pac-Man might look like? In the early 1980s, video games were exploding in popularity with kids and microcomputers were becoming available Israel. The Gesher organization saw potential in developing educational software specifically for Jewish students. From 1982 to 1984, Yaakov Kirschen worked with them on four games: “Aleph […]

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Bringing dry bones back to life: The Kirschen software collection https://breakintochat.com/blog/2022/11/26/bringing-dry-bones-back-to-life-the-kirschen-software-collection/ https://breakintochat.com/blog/2022/11/26/bringing-dry-bones-back-to-life-the-kirschen-software-collection/#respond Sat, 26 Nov 2022 13:32:19 +0000 https://breakintochat.com/blog/?p=1814 It’s time to bring some dry bones back to life. In coming days, I will publish a curated collection of lost software developed by the Israeli cartoonist Yaakov Kirschen together with programmers from Gesher Educational Affiliates as well as from his own studio, LKP Ltd. The collection includes ten games, demos, and experiments in artificial […]

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Ten years of Break Into Chat! https://breakintochat.com/blog/2022/11/25/ten-years-of-break-into-chat/ https://breakintochat.com/blog/2022/11/25/ten-years-of-break-into-chat/#respond Fri, 25 Nov 2022 14:36:39 +0000 https://breakintochat.com/blog/?p=1810 Ten years ago, editors on Wikipedia began deleting articles about BBS door games. In response, I forked all the door game articles onto a brand-new website. I called it “Break Into Chat”. My original goal was to preserve and expand the articles. They needed better sourcing, better writing, more screenshots. I researched and added references. […]

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Thinking about Jadzia, C.G., and our ephemeral digital lives https://breakintochat.com/blog/2022/11/23/ruminations-on-jadzia-c-g-and-our-ephemeral-digital-lives/ https://breakintochat.com/blog/2022/11/23/ruminations-on-jadzia-c-g-and-our-ephemeral-digital-lives/#respond Thu, 24 Nov 2022 00:30:25 +0000 https://breakintochat.com/blog/?p=1796 Synchronet creator Rob Swindell recently shared some sad news: longtime BBSer C.G. Learn died earlier this month. I didn’t know C.G. very well, but we interacted occasionally over the years on Dovenet, a message network for Synchronet BBSes. But I’ll never forget one kind gesture that C.G. extended to me after my daughter died in […]

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Joe Reiss, creator of the “Spoiler-Free Opinion Summary” https://breakintochat.com/blog/2022/09/28/joe-reiss-creator-of-the-spoiler-free-opinion-summary/ https://breakintochat.com/blog/2022/09/28/joe-reiss-creator-of-the-spoiler-free-opinion-summary/#respond Wed, 28 Sep 2022 14:37:40 +0000 https://breakintochat.com/blog/?p=1780 In 1992, Joe Reiss began the Spoiler-Free Opinion Summary, an effort to collect ratings for each week’s episode of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” from fans on Usenet. The “S.O.S.” caught on and remained popular for years, moving to the web in 1995. Ultimately, Reiss collected nearly 300,000 individual ratings. Were you on Usenet in […]

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Remembering the S.O.S. — the Spoiler-Free Opinion Summary https://breakintochat.com/blog/2022/09/23/remembering-the-s-o-s-the-spoiler-free-opinion-summary/ https://breakintochat.com/blog/2022/09/23/remembering-the-s-o-s-the-spoiler-free-opinion-summary/#comments Fri, 23 Sep 2022 15:00:33 +0000 https://breakintochat.com/blog/?p=1751 Today, Sept. 24, is the 30th anniversary of the launch of the Spoiler-Free Opinion Summary. The S.O.S. was a crowd-sourced ratings database, born in the early 1990s, which deserves to be remembered. I wrote this blog post to celebrate the anniversary. Also, don’t miss my interview with Joe Reiss. For most folks in 1992, if […]

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Appreciating the physicality of floppies https://breakintochat.com/blog/2022/01/09/appreciating-the-physicality-of-floppies/ https://breakintochat.com/blog/2022/01/09/appreciating-the-physicality-of-floppies/#comments Mon, 10 Jan 2022 00:20:53 +0000 https://breakintochat.com/blog/?p=1730 As I continue imaging and curating a collection of Apple II software I received last year, I have an increased appreciation for the importance of preserving physical floppy disks. I have a floppy which contains a copy of a game called “Nosh Kosh.” To preserve the game digitally, Keith Hacke created a “disk image”, which […]

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“Creaks” scene 45: Goat glitch https://breakintochat.com/blog/2021/01/17/creaks-scene-45-goat-glitch/ https://breakintochat.com/blog/2021/01/17/creaks-scene-45-goat-glitch/#respond Sun, 17 Jan 2021 19:10:33 +0000 https://breakintochat.com/blog/?p=1703 I have long loved playing games by Amanita Design with my kids, particularly “Machinarium.” They create such stellar worlds with interesting characters, without a single word of intelligible dialogue. So it was like Christmas in January when I read on Twitter that Amanita had released a game called “Creaks” in 2020, and somehow I had […]

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Jon Radoff’s BBS-related correspondence https://breakintochat.com/blog/2020/12/03/jon-radoffs-bbs-related-correspondence/ https://breakintochat.com/blog/2020/12/03/jon-radoffs-bbs-related-correspondence/#comments Thu, 03 Dec 2020 22:15:56 +0000 https://breakintochat.com/blog/?p=1688 Yesterday entrepreneur and tech pioneer Jon Radoff shared on Facebook a letter he found from a former player of his early internet game Legends of Future Past. I asked him if might have similar letters related to his earlier Atari ST BBS door games, Space Empire Elite and Final Frontier. Today he found some and […]

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Paul Witte and Herb Flower, creators of Thieves’ Guild https://breakintochat.com/blog/2020/09/15/paul-witte-and-herb-flower-creators-of-thieves-guild/ https://breakintochat.com/blog/2020/09/15/paul-witte-and-herb-flower-creators-of-thieves-guild/#comments Tue, 15 Sep 2020 16:32:21 +0000 https://breakintochat.com/blog/?p=1572 Paul Witte and Herb Flower were friends who collaborated from 1988-93 to create the BBS door game Thieves’ Guild and its graphical front-end client for the Atari ST under the “Mythyn Software” banner. Flower went on to found the Rewolf Entertainment studio, which produced Gunman Chronicles. Witte and Flower teamed up again in 2001 as […]

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I completed my 7-year quest to play Thieves’ Guild https://breakintochat.com/blog/2020/09/15/thieves-guild-memories/ https://breakintochat.com/blog/2020/09/15/thieves-guild-memories/#comments Tue, 15 Sep 2020 15:35:07 +0000 https://breakintochat.com/blog/?p=1536 The sky is clear, the breeze is strong. A perfect day to make the long sea voyage to Mythyn. You prepare your galley, hire a crew of sailors, and cast off. But a few hours into your trip, the dreaded words appear: “Thou seest rippling waters…” Sea serpent? Giant squid? Something’s out there, and it’s […]

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A different way to play, part 5: TWTerm https://breakintochat.com/blog/2020/09/09/a-different-way-to-play-part-5-twterm/ https://breakintochat.com/blog/2020/09/09/a-different-way-to-play-part-5-twterm/#comments Wed, 09 Sep 2020 18:44:28 +0000 https://breakintochat.com/blog/?p=1557 This is the fifth installment in my series “A different way to play” about front-end clients for BBS door games. TWTerm I was never a very good TradeWars 2002 player. Sure I would trade, hunt for the StarDock, and fight other players — but I was probably just cannon fodder for the serious players. (Check […]

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