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Retro Arcade at The History Center

On July 16th, 2011, the FamiLAB crew hosted a “Retro Arcade” at the Orange County Regional History Center to accompany their “Games People Play: The History of Video Games” exhibit.

We’d been preparing for this for a month or so – we’d loaned equipment to The History Center for their exhibit…

Ian's Atari 400, Commodore 64, and BASIC books in the Exhibit

we’d dug out tons of old consoles and 8-bit computers for “hands-on”…

and we built a recreation of “Tennis for Two” – the original oscilloscope-based “video game”.

"Tennis for Two" on an analog oscilloscope

We did some early setup on Friday – The History Center had us in this HUGE room – we immediately asked them for more tables and more TVs. We also grabbed a short-throw projector so that we could have the NES inviting guests down the hall from the exhibit to the Retro Arcade.

You know you want to walk in that direction...

The History Center team was AWESOME (Special Thanks to Alexandra!), and they let us arrange the room as we saw fit.

As you walked in, you saw a small crowd by the NES (Who knew Bubble Bobble was so popular?!). The first table you came to had the FamiLAB crew demonstrating  the “Tennis for Two” oscilloscope game, and on the same table was the Radio Shack “TV Tennis” soldering kit game, along with flyers for the upcoming July soldering classes.

A family is playing the Radio Shack TV Tennis kit game, while Ted is explaining the "Tennis for Two" game

The “Tennis for Two” game was played CONSTANTLY during the event – thanks again to Ted for building it quickly this week, and to Evil Mad Scientist Labs for the plans…

Two History Center visitors enjoying "Tennis for Two"

Chris used the Vinyl cutter to create FamiLAB stickers for the event...

The Radio Shack TV Tennis kit was also played almost constantly – I loved telling them that it was assembled by an eight year-old girl as a way to teach her to solder.

Tom and Bill "demonstrating" the TV Tennis game

As you looked to the left you saw people playing a Super Nintendo, a Nintendo 64, a Sega Genesis, and a Sega Dreamcast.

The Super Nintendo, Genesis, and Dreamcast in action....

If you looked to the right, people were playing an Atari 2600 “Retro Replay 2”.

The Atari 2600 "Retro Replay 2" in action...

Further back of the room were the 8-bit computers – a Commodore 64 with an original monitor and 1541 disc drive, The Jeri Ellsworth-designed Commodore 64 in a joystick , A VIC-20 with a VIC tape drive, a TRS-80 Color Computer 2, a TRS-80 Model 100 (thanks to Kyle for resurrecting it!), a Timex-Sinclair 1000, and a TI-99/4a.

These two played Basketball as Larry Bird & Dr. J for over 30 minutes 🙂
She's playing "Kickman" for the C64 - a _very_ strange game cart - it was forgotten when I gave the other C64 to the History Center, so all the GOOD carts are in the exhibit...
Two women playing Yahtzee on a TI-99/4a...

This layout caused an interesting separation of ages – everyone gravitated to “Tennis for Two”, the TV Tennis kit, and the NES – but then the older crowd (yikes, thats me!) gravitated to the 2600 and the 8-bit computers, while the younger crowd went for the N64 and Dreamcast (Special thanks to Greg, Alex & Tyler for bringing the SNES, N64, Genesis, and Dreamcast – I was introduced to Greg last week and he and his sons not only showed up armed with some great gear, they also worked the entire event!)

In summary, the FamiLAB crew had fun preparing for the event, we built something cool, and we got to hang out together (with our families!) and play video games (and wear our favorite video game t-shirts!) – I don’t know that it gets much better than that!

Bill approves this image!





4 thoughts on “Retro Arcade at The History Center

  • Adora English Avalos

    This looks like we really missed a great event. It’s amazing to see how far we’ve come technologically in such a short time!

    • Adora, the History Center asked us if we’d be interested in doing another event with them, so you might have another chance in September or October…stay tuned! 🙂

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