Your Own Computer? bv David H. Ahl A number of people have asked me lately about computers in the home and about building your own. Somehow the two subjects seem to go hand-in-hand, probably because of an increasing number of low-priced computer kits on the market obviously aimed at the home hobbyist. In my mind, having your own computer at home and building your own are two entirely different animals. A computer in the home is not like a ham radio rig or model railroad in which half of the enjoyment comes from the building. A computer is more like a TV set; 97% of the households in the U. S. have one, but most are not from Heathkit. A computer is, of course, much more than a TV - it provides education, recreation, and even utility. You may find the following analogy chart useful to decide where you fit in the computer spectrum. 1. Use application programs Drive a car (90% of population) 2. Program computer using Change oil, do tune-up high-level language (20%) (BASIC, FORTRAN, etc.) 3. Computer science - Auto mechanic - tear down machine languages, and rebuild engine (1/4%) compilers, etc. 4. Build your own computer Build a dune buggy or from kit or plans dragster (0.1%) 5. Design and build your Design and build an efficient own computer electric vehicle (0.001%) In future issues of Creative Computing, we will report on No. 4, in particular, building an Altair 8800 computer kit (yes, I have previously built an HO model railroad, hi-fi components, and even a dune buggy). We'll also have some in-depth discussion on Nos. 1, 2, and 3 - that is, just what do you do with a home computer other than play games, and also where do you get one if you don't build it yourself? *** Lies. Lies. Lies Every once in a while I get a letter from a reader that makes me wonder whether you readers really believe everything you read in Creative. What am I saying? That there are falsehoods in Creative? That there are errors? That the truth is blemished? In a word, yes! And sometimes even deliberately! The reason for this blasphemy is simply this: along with the best in computer activities, articles and other goodies, I happen to believe that we also have an obligation to do as much as possible in the way of bringing you an objective, multi-faceted, interesting, mind-expanding, broadening view of the world. And this is a world that contains people and ideas that are sometimes in conflict with one another, (not war, now) but what you might call cognitive dissonance. If we run an article which proclaims "there is no such thing as randomness," I don't really care if you believe it or not, but rather that it is a provocative idea that makes you think, or evaluate, or ponder, or wonder. That's what it's all about, folks - thinking and stretching your mind in order to create new ideas and make better use of the old ones. And, incidentally, to have fun while you're at it! -DHA *** Introducing Computer [Image] Recreations Corp. by Trish Todd and Scott Guthery Last year Americans spent over $50 billion on recreation. And billions more on home entertainment - television sets, radios, stereos, quadraphonic sound systems, tape recorders and home movie and video tape equipment. This is no passing fancy. We live in an age of increasing leisure time. More people have more time to do more things with more money than ever before. We live in an age of advancing technology, too. And when the consuming public seems ready for a new innovation, the technology always seems to be there, ready to meet that need. Witness the booming electronic calculator market. We also live in an age of shortages - of energy, of raw materials. And the recent gasoline shortage made people suddenly aware of the need to search out new sources of entertainment and recreation. Closer to home, or at home. Reports from the travel and entertainment industries indicate that this awareness remained, even after the gas returned. We live, as well, in an age of computers. Only up to now the computer has seemed a sort of enemy to many of us and at best a friend only to the specialist. To the average consumer/citizen/worker the computer is as foreign as the Crab Nebula. Fear of the unknown, of course, is understandable. But anyone who has witnessed the average child adapt to the computer environment knows how short lived fear of computers can be. And how soon the computer becomes a friend. Which brings us to COMPUTER RECREATIONS, a company formed to bring a wide (and friendly) selection of computer games into subscribers' homes through a special home terminal. This terminal resembles a typewriter with a cradle for the customer's telephone headset and is connected to his home television. In dialing a special number, the player is connected with the Computer Recreations WATS line, and he enters the "Game Parlor." The player is then given several options. He may ask what games are available, ask for game rules, inquire who is in the "Game Parlor" or watch another game that is in progress. The game possibilities include chess, golf, Monopoly, football, Space War, Solataire, Blackjack, and many others. The participants may use an alias while competing with other subscribers; their faces are never seen. Computer Recreations is also involved in simulating urban planning, management decision-making, and political models. The possibilities will be constantly expanding because of a built-in market research program. The system is fairly expensive today although it is within the financial reach of the affluent middle class; however, the technology exists to develop a terminal within the reach of almost everyone. (DEC, RCA, and others are at work on very low cost terminals today.) Many Americans tend to think of computers as impersonal machines which are gradually changing the spontaniety of human life into a dehumanized number system. Not so, says Computer Recreations, and they aim to prove their point. For more information, write Scott Guthery, President, Computer Recreations, P.O. Box F, Cliffwood, NJ 07721.