Old School Gaming

Unified Theory of Racing Maps

Auto Racing

Did you ever play a racing game and wonder just what the world of the tracks might look like? One fine denizen of the interwebs wondered just that, way back in the early days of home gaming consoles. But better than just wondering, he was motivated to follow through, all these years later.

When I was very young, back in the late seventies and early eighties, my friends and I loved playing games for the Atari 2600, the Intellivision, and the ColecoVision. My family owned the Intelivision and one of our favorite games for that system was Auto Racing.

At some point, my friends and I discovered that if one drove carefully off-road, it was possible to reach one of the other tracks from the one you were currently driving on. And then we realized that the tracks listed in the manual existed inside one giant map and all were interconnected. To my ten year old mind, this was fascinating… it was like discovering a treasure map. We tried to draw out the map as we explored but with limited success.

As years passed I would from time to time think of our virtual explorations, still curious as to what that hidden, giant map really looked like.

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Shutdown: Depths of Fashion

My favorite is the steel barrel with the bare sleeves!

Image via carabaas.


Shutdown: Two TVs!!

As a one tv family, with no cable, no satellite, no such way to watch that televised spectacle yesterday, this seemed appropriate.

Image via


Shutdown: Can It Be Done?

Maybe someday, perhaps.

Image via carabaas.

Old School Gaming

Would You Like to Play a Game?


With the recent craziness of the political world, one of the phrases that gets thrown about is a ‘return to the Cold War’. Who can really say for sure? But with the internet and world connectivity and cell phones (and Russian dash cams, they seriously love those things), it seems pretty clear that a Next Generation Cold War–Russian Refreeze!–will be lacking in the same Iron Curtain information blackout that the previous version held. That Iron Curtain kept the prying eyes of the West out from not only the military workings of the USSR, but also kept the everyday life and times of the ordinary citizens hidden as well. One such area that remained largely unknown was that of video games! The Soviets weren’t really keen to import Atari’s and Nintendo’s, so they made their own. Although, those game systems were more products of the Far East than of decadent Western culture, but hey, I don’t make the rules. Let’s take a look at a few arcade posters from Soviet Russia!

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Deconstructing Technology

Packard Revival


In a bit of positive news out of the land of Detroit, the deal for the former Packard plant has been completed, and the planned revival is scheduled to begin.

The Packard Plant ruins on Detroit’s east side could soon be buzzing with construction cranes as the plant’s Spanish-born owner launches the opening phase of his ambitious redevelopment project.

In an exclusive interview Tuesday, Fernando Palazuelo said he anticipates the arrival within two to four weeks of cleanup crews…the workers and equipment due to start next month would clear debris and dangerous loose concrete from the vicinity of the old Packard Motor’s administrative office building and the iconic red brick bridge that crosses East Grand Boulevard.

An eventual second phase would involve restoring to original condition the bridge and the four-story office, as well as a courtyard behind the office building.

Palazuelo envisions restoring some of the original Packard structure and redeveloping it for commercial, industrial and cultural uses. (Detroit Free Press.)


The plant was sold to Palazuelo for $405,000 in the Wayne County Treasurer’s foreclosure auction, but the actual title to the complex had been in limbo until very recently. A former owner came forward with a claim that he was still the owner because the county auction didn’t satisfy all of his ownership interests, so a deal had to be worked out before the project could move forward. Hopefully now work can begin and some of the iconic structure can be saved.

Past the jump, check out a recent “remote control helicopter cam” video of the complex in its pre-recovery state. (And kudos to theoldmotor.com for calling it an RC helicopter!)

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Covet Thy Neighbours' Swag

Other is a Very Broad Term


The great thing about the “Other” categories on eBay Motors is that occasionally, instead of getting some random suspension parts that someone just listed poorly, instead you get something really out there. An example, a recent listing for a narrow gauge locomotive pair. What is better than one stream engine? Two.

The ad is for Baldwin Locomotives engines Halawa and Sister engine Manana . Selling as Pair. From the ad:

The engines were built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works, of Philadelphia, for plantation service on the island of Oahu. Delivered in 1899 and 1916 respectively.
Sold to a sugar plantation in the Philippines in 1947, the engines worked there until 1998 when they were set aside. Recovered in 2004, these two steam locomotives represent some of the very few Hawaii engines to have survied.
The 1899 engine was nameed”” Halawa” and is an 0-6-2 tank engine of 18 tons- her sister engine, named “” Manana” was built in 1916 to the exact same design. Both ran on the Honolulu Plantation Co operation near Pearl Harbor until 1947, when they were sold to the Hawaiian-Philippine Surgar Co, of Silay City, Island of Negros, Phillippines. To have located a matched pair of Baldwin engines with Hawaii History is a major feat.

Both engines are 36″ gage. Manana was in operating condition when we purchased it from the Philippines, but I think the boiler will need to be replaced. Halawa will need a new boiler for sure. Also the tops of the cabs were cut off for shipping.


Is there certain information that seems to be missing? Do the pictures look like cell phone photos of a computer screen showing images of previously taken photos? Is $275,000 a whole lot of money to spend on something you would have to build a special railway for? Yes on all counts!

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Deconstructing Technology

Secrets Revealed


The Magic Eight Ball is a wonder of wonders, a see-er of seers! But have you ever been the least bit curious how it works? Or what the frequency of positive versus negative answers are? If you harbor no such curiosity, and prefer your spoilers unspoiled, then I would suggest you not hit the jump…


Invented by Albert Carter, the first versions of his future telling device were simple tubes, decorated with mystical promises! Later versions had the look of a crystal ball, for enhanced mysticism. He partnered with Abe Bookman to mass produce this device, but Carter passed away before seeing his product sold to the world. The company they formed, Alabe Crafts, did begin to market the device, and was approached by Brunswick Billiards in 1950 and asked to convert some of the crystal ball style seers into billiards balls for advertising. The powers of the Eight Ball were such that it remains with us today. There is even a digital eight ball, for those who don’t care to venture out into meat space!

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Quixotic Quantum Quandary

Q³: I Have Friends

Yesterday I noticed a habit I apparently have, developed when I was a kid, that now seems to be the wrong routine. See, when I was growing up, our microwave always seemed to leave anything left in the middle of the plate cold. If you left something in long enough to warm the […]

Quixotic Quantum Quandary

Q³: Loco Causa


Lately, the Atomic Toasters site has been inundated with spam comments, which we have perhaps mentioned. Because of such, I have been engaged in a Quixotic Quest of my own, an attempt to slowly rid us of this scourge. And I do mean rid, because although the spam almost entirely shows up as a ‘pending’ comment, which can either be approved, marked as spam, or deleted, there are additional steps to try to ensure it stays gone. It is just somewhat involved. See, in theory, if you mark something as spam, it helps refine the spam filter to prevent similar comments from making it through. At least I think, since this seems to work absolutely not at all. So the comment gets marked as spam, then I go through the spam tab, and click on the IP address for that comment. That filters the spam by only comments from that IP. Then you can block it, so they can’t spam from there anymore! Often, it is just a single comment from a single IP, but every now and again, jackpot!, ten or so spams from one IP! Those are fun. But, this means I have time to block something like 10 spammers a day, I mean, I have a day job. And if my math is semi-correct, an IP sequence that consists of 4 three digit groups (123.456.789.000), means that there are something like 20,922,789,888,000 different IPs out there, no small measure of which are probably available to a spammer…

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