Our latest special collection: The ACE-St. Louis “NewsLine”

It’s time to stop waiting.

Years ago, I scanned and OCRed my own collection of eight issues of “NewsLine”, the newsletter of the Atari Computer Enthusiasts of St. Louis, or ACE-St. Louis, club.

Of course there were many more issues of the “NewsLine” beyond these eight. I held off publishing them for a long time, hoping to obtain more issues, or perhaps even the complete collection. I’m still working toward that, but I realize there’s no point delaying publishing what I already have.

So here you go! You can find the issues in the Special Collections section of Break Into Chat. These issues will also be added to the Internet Archive.

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Unearthed: My old OASIS BBS Atari floppy disk

For the last few years, I’ve been researching and imaging other people’s old disks — but recently someone turned the tables and salvaged one of mine!

Let me tell you the story.

Front of an old 5.25″ floppy disk labeled “OASIS-BACKUP”.

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Slides yield glimpses of Kirschen’s lost “Magic Harp” software

A box of slides sent from Sali Ariel in Israel.

Yaakov Kirschen and his wife, Sali Ariel, are in the process of downsizing and moving to a new home in Israel. Sali has been hard at work, sifting through decades of collected belongings in preparation. She found a bunch of things related to Kirschen’s 1980s software development firm, LKP Ltd., and sent them to me recently.

There are a lot of cool things, including printed user manuals for several versions of “The Music Creator” — a previously lost software package we saved for the IBM PC. I have scanned the manuals and posted them on the Internet Archive.

But even more interesting was a box of high-quality slides from a 1986 or 1987 publicity photo shoot at LKP. Sali had sent me a rough scan of one photo from this set years ago, but these slides were the alternate takes.

I’m still scanning the slides — which are in great shape! — but wanted to share some cool details I found today in the first high-res scans. New glimpses of Kirschen’s lost music software for the Amiga, called “Magic Harp”!

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Talking about Kirschen’s software at Arch Reactor

This Sunday I spoke about my retrocomputing hobby and digital preservation work at Arch Reactor, a hackerspace/makerspace in St. Louis.

I was honored to be invited, and I had a blast sharing some of the things I’ve learned as I researched (and rescued) the lost 1980s software of Ya’akov Kirschen.

I recorded the talk, and some of the Q&A afterwards, for those of you who are “geographically challenged” and couldn’t join us.

Do you enjoy my retrocomputing research on Break Into Chat? Please join my email list so I can share future projects with you. 📬

Unearthed: Kirschen’s “Music Creator” for IBM PC

Photo of the staff of LKP Ltd.

The staff of LKP Ltd. pose for a photo with a Commodore Amiga running an early version of their Magic Harp software, probably in the summer of 1986 or early 1987. In front, from left to right: Yaakov Kirschen and Sali Ariel. In back: Dror Heller; Orly Aknin; Orly’s sister, Sigi; Yuval Ronen; Marcelo Bilezker; Esther (Etti) Yotvet; and Hedva (surname unknown).
(Photo courtesy of Sali Ariel)

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 program to the PC. Only the PC version survives.

Keep reading for more background on Kirschen’s multi-year effort to find a market for his musical innovation, or skip down to the links to the disk images.

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Unearthed: Kirschen’s Atari ST projects

Screen capture of Mom talking in Yaakov Kirschen's 1985 program "Mom and Me" for the Atari ST.

Screen capture of Mom talking in Yaakov Kirschen’s 1985 program “Mom and Me” for the Atari ST,

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.”

Keep reading for more background on Kirschen, LKP, and Just For You, as well as details about each of these programs.

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