July 16, 2004 --  Vintage Computer Festival East 2.0

Sun Microsystems (Burlington, MA.)




   Several weeks prior to the VCF East show, I had to opportunity to arrange for a presentation with Steve Golson who was one of the VLSI chip designers of "MARIA" the graphics processor of the Atari 7800 Pro System.     In an interesting turn of events, my good friend Sellam Islmail had run into Steve out on the West Coast and thought that since Steve was involved with the creation of the Arcade Ms. Pac Man game, he and I should talk. 



Click to Enlarge


    After several emails Steve and I decided that it would be really great to put together a 20th anniversary presentation about the history of GCC, Super Missile Attack (the upgrade board Atari sued GCC over) the creation of Crazy Otto (which would become Ms. Pac Man) and of course the creation of TIA-MARIA which would later become "MARIA" the codename for the Atari 3600 (final name: the Atari 7800 ProSystem.)


    One thing I suggested to Steve, was to give him all of my GCC contacts and have him formerly invite them out for an impromptu 20th reunion and hoping that maybe some of the old gang would find some time to stop by and say "Hi."      Well, stop by they did, besides Steve 10 other GCC'ers stopped by the Vintage Computer Festival to not only say hi, but to also have a lot of fun being a part of an hour long speaker presentation Steve and I did on the history of GCC and the Atari 7800.



Click to Enlarge


    Afterwards, everyone took a walk through the main corridor of Sun Microsystems into the large gallery where so many Vintage Computer exhibitors had set up shop to show off such wonderful pieces of history as early PDP systems, HP systems, Sun systems, one of the largest collections of handheld devices, even replica's of the original Apple-1 and the new C-1 Commodore clone.   Among the many display's was the Atari Museum display.    For those not familiar, the Atari Museum is a traveling display of Atari History, exhibiting at many events big and small and each time, showing a different and unique set hardware, materials and documents for show goers to examine, research and enjoy.



Click to Enlarge


   The display consisted of the internal schematics and chip plots of the MARIA, documents on the Computer Enhancement, the High Score adapter, Trakball controller and 7800 module for the Atari 5200.     Early packaging and box art was on display, prototype hardware, case plastics and even prototype games and computer applications were demonstrated as well.



Click to Enlarge


   Some additional eye candy for many were the original MARIA VLSI samples including the earlier MARIA-1 chip.     Additional demonstrations of the Computer Apps such as the OSS/Atari 7800 BASIC module, the VideoWriter module and even the AtariLab series of Light and Temperature modules for the Atari 7800 were displayed.


   To truly take in the history of GCC and the Atari 7800, please download and listen to the hour long speaker spot Steve and I did for the show, thanks to Tom Owad.   (CLICK HERE)


  Video footage will be made available soon to either download or will be made available on DVD along with the audio-only speaker spot and high res photo's from the show.  



Curt Vendel

Atari HIstorian - The Atari Museum