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1979 Sears Catalog: Miracles in Electronic Entertainment

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Prepare to be dazzled by the newest miracles  in electronics 1979 had to offer.  Just remember, as you mockingly point and laugh at these clunky relics, that your Xbox will one day be a great source of condescending smirks.  Indeed, there’s nothing more sure in this world than rapid technology obsolescence.  Enjoy.

 

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As you’d expect from an electronic toy from over thirty years ago, the graphics weren’t very good – by comparison to today’s games, woefully awful. The question, however, is – what rule do you measure a video game when making a comparison? I think that ultimately it comes down to how much enjoyment was derived from them.

For instance, I played Call of Duty last night and walked away frustrated, stressed and wanting to punch something. Sure, I derived some enjoyment from making clean head shots and watching the realistic gore spray. Overall, it was immersive and realistic, but not especially “fun”. Whereas, the games above provided me with hours upon hours of unadulterated joy. I was mercifully oblivious to the fact that the technology was in the Stone Age,

 

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The Merlin was under every boy’s Christmas tree in 1979. My parents had a dreadful tendency to always drag me to yard sales, and I have a distinct memory of always seeing tons of Merlins for sale the next year, cast aside like yesterday’s news. It had enticing commercials which made it seem like the answer to all your prayers, but the thrill was gone within a few hours..


I actually have very fond memories of this next one, the Quiz Wiz…

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The Quiz Wiz was my “big present” that year.  You plugged various themed cartridges into the adapter and simply answer the questions in the accompanying books. Categories included: books, music, sports, movies, TV, superheroes, and The Book of Lists. Lots of fun, but once you answered all the questions, you may as well throw away the $5 cartridge (about 15 USD today).

 

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Man, who knew the Speak & Spell was so pricey? That’s over 180 USD in today’s money! It’s more expensive than Mego’s Talking Robot for chrissakes.  The Speak & Spell was actually cutting edge back then (it had the TI Speech chip in it), and was the first talking computer toy that just wasn’t some recording.

 

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The level of interest in astrology and other occult practices in the 1970s truly astounds me. We were a superstitious lot back then.  More on that here.

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Despite the occult fanaticism in the 70s, I still doubt this little number was very successful. It doesn’t seem to provide much beyond your daily horoscope which can be found in the newspaper. And there’s no way it actually “told you” the horoscope either; you still would have to look it up in the manual. No thanks.

 

Behold, the Rise of Atari draws near.  I give you, “Tele-Games”…..

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Atari’s Home Pong was actually Sears’ biggest seller in 1975.   Most consider it the game that launched the video game industry as a lucrative enterprise.  Four years later and Sears has rebranded things for no apparent reason (as Sears is prone to do), and the Atari product is called “Tele-Games”.

 

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Everybody remembers Simon. It was unleashed unto the world at Studio 54 in 1978, and it quickly became a symbol of the decade (akin to the lava lamp, pet rock, and disco ball).

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It’s interesting to note that there were imitators a plenty that followed close on Simon’s heels, but no lawsuits for copyright infringement followed. Perhaps, this is due to the fact that Simon itself is an imitation of an early Atari game called Touch Me. The Atari game was wildly unpopular and the sounds were like a metal fork being scraped on ceramic.

 

And a few more pages for the road…

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THE END
(10-4, good buddy. Roger out.)

 

  • Cee

    I think I was the kid in the yellow turtleneck playing pong.