Category Archives: Unearthed

Bringing dry bones back to life: The Kirschen software collection

Yaakov Kirschen works on "The Goldberg Variations" in 1983.

Yaakov Kirschen works on “The Goldberg Variations” in 1983.

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 12 games, demos, and experiments in artificial personality and artificial creativity. The software was developed between 1983 and 1989 for various platforms including the Apple II, Atari ST, Commodore Amiga, and IBM PC. [Update: Two more pieces were added in January 2024, bringing the total to 12]

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Unearthed: Dark Fortress for the Atari ST

The title screen from the Atari ST game “Dark Fortress”

Hey Atari ST fans! Want to play something new?

Today I’m happy to share “Dark Fortress,” a previously unreleased game written by Herb Flower for the Atari ST in the late 1980s.

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Unearthed: My Atari 8-bit cassette tape

Side 1 of an old cassette tape I used to store programs for my Atari 8-bit computers.

Last weekend, I was rummaging through my old Atari ST disks when I came across something I hadn’t noticed in 30 years: A cassette tape for my Atari 8-bit.

As I have recounted before, I used hand-me-down Atari 800s, a 130XE, a 410 program recorder, and lots of other equipment and disks from family members when I was a kid before later graduating to the 16-bit ST series. Alas, I got rid of most of it when I was in college.

But here was this little tape … perhaps my only tangible link to my old Atari 8-bit equipment.

Each side of the tape was only 10 minutes long. What was on it?

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Archiving 300,000 Fidonet messages

In 2015, I began looking for archives of networked BBS messageboards, hoping to find contemporary discussions of BBS door games from the 1990s. The best source I found was the fidonet.ozzmosis.com archive.

The Ozzmosis archive is awesome — and it’s still active, archiving any new messages posted to Fidonet. (yes, Fidonet still exists!) But I quickly realized the archive was heavily weighted to the new millenium. I put my data journalism skills to work, analyzing the dates of every message in the Ozzmosis archive. I found that only 7% of the archive was from years prior to 2000.

That realization set me on a search. I began visiting long-running BBSes, looking for caches of old Fidonet messages. I found two, of differing scopes.

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