I keep finding more and more that I want to read in the archives. Yes, THE archives, referring to the ever-growing massive “collection of collections” at archive.org. I’ve been using the magazine archives extensively to read about early computing, since there is hardly a better way to get an overall picture of what it was like in those times. You can read first hand about the different systems, developments, and new products as they come out and be absolutely amazed at what people used to have to pay for what amounts to little more than a toy. But… a revolutionary toy, for sure.
I usually start investigating by trying to find an early publication date of a video game. Through different links, I inevitably find out there is some reference to an ad, or a review in a magazine I’d never heard about. And OFF we go – another series of magazines to check out, read through, take notes and marvel. I love it. I might not get much actual writing done, but I guess I’m not in a rush. For me, just playing through a bunch of games all supposedly from a certain year is only a jumping off point. The real fun is actually discovering the context of these games, what lead to their development, if the timeline as we understand it is accurate at all, and what other kinds of things were happening at the same time. It’s digital archaeology, and for that the archive.org is an invaluable resource.
Recently I stumbled upon “The Space Gamer” – a wargame and tabletop RPG focused magazine that actually started in 1975! So I began reading through its pages. The interesting thing about magazines that date back this far is they predate both the microcomputer revolution (big turning point in 1977) as well as the drastic cultural shift to Sci-fi/Fantasy that we see after the introduction of Star Wars in 1977. You can peruse the pages of these magazines from month-to-month and see how those two major milestones begin to change and reshape the very industries these magazines were created to support.
What I’m really gold digging for is to find those first advertisements or announcements for video or computer games. There doesn’t seem to be a better way to reveal a non-biased timeline of introduction than what you can find in old magazines. Even with the standard 2-3 month delay between when articles, ads, and layouts are finished to actually being on the newsstand… that is still more factual and definite than trusting people’s memories sometimes 20, or 30 years after the fact. All things considered, time-dating some games really doesn’t change their influence, what new innovations they brought forth, or sometimes how they helped launched companies, etc. but I just really like to know the ACTUAL timeline with as much proof or documentation as can be mustered. It sure beats reciting MobyGames or wikipedia’s dates without question… even if those sites most definitely have their value!
So for kicks, I wanted to share some great launching off points I’ve found in the archive. Currently I’m still sifting through sources starting circa 1975-ish through 1979. I haven’t even yet delved into 1980’s. I’m still trying to wrap up all my facts for 1978, in preparation for more articles about that most fruitful year of 1977, and the continuation of the computer revolution in 1978. Hope you enjoy these links and do some of your own digital archaeology!
– You can start here and begin searching to fall into not just rabbit holes… but seemingly endless voids.
Don’t forget… you can search by DATE on any of these… but there are still quite a few things that ARE NOT dated at all – so they get screened out. But that ought to give you JUST A BEGINNING look into the crazy amounts of data we now have available in the comfort of our home. Happy digging!