Inspired By Atari: Microsoft Arcade

msarcade-introIn 1993 Microsoft released Arcade for Windows 3.1, as part of their Microsoft Home product line. Inspired by Atari, it was a small collection of games that had been played in the heyday of coin-operated arcade machines over a decade prior. The following year, it also was made available on the Macintosh. Dima Pavlovsky had been the sole developer.

Fitting onto a single floppy disk, Arcade was typically sold in its own retail package. However on occasion the disk was tossed in with some models of Microsoft Mouse, as had been the case with my copy.

Here’s a rundown of the included titles – Asteroids, Battlezone, Centipede, Missile Command, and Tempest which actually contains a little secret.

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When Windows’ Calculator Won’t Do: Mathcad PLUS 6.0 Professional Edition

mathcad6-1For simple addition or knowing the square root of a number, the Calculator within Windows has always sufficed. Once you want to do something more complex requiring a surface plot or the use of vectors, you need something a bit more specialised. Some may attempt using Excel, or pull out their graphing calculator. Alternatively there’s Mathcad.

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eBay Purchase #24 – Maxis SimCity 2000 Special Edition

simcity2000-introeBay Purchase Price: $31 AUD

Country of Origin: Australia

Condition: Excellent

For the most part my software collection comprises of mostly operating systems and productivity applications. Games are a bit of an afterthought for me but I guess to some people more desirable. Let’s face it, most with an interest in retro computing would rather an original copy of DOOM, than Microsoft SNA Server.

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eBay Purchase #23 – Micrografx Designer 4.0

micrografx-designer4-introeBay Purchase Price: $19 AUD

Country of Origin: Australia

Condition: Excellent

When it comes to illustration and vector graphics, Adobe Illustrator and perhaps to a lesser extent CorelDRAW spring to mind as the main contenders in this segment. Much like other software from the 1980s and 90s, there were other commercial offerings out there though over time were succumbed to corporate acquisitions. Micrografx was one such vendor.

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Macintosh Files in a Windows World: MacOpener 2.0

macopener20-1Prior to the turn of the century, it was generally considered an outright nuisance sharing files between Macintosh systems and well everything else. Apple provided Apple File Exchange and later PC Exchange in the early 1990s, system utilities that allowed PC-formatted floppy disks to be used initially with System 7.0. Whilst having the annoying habit of creating hidden files, it was good enough for moving around Office documents and JPEG images between platforms.

Users of DOS, Windows, and OS/2 were left neglected in the ability to read Macintosh-formatted disks, and consequently if you were frequently moving across files between platforms it was best to leave them formatted for PC. If you were determined to read Macintosh disks directly on your PC, you were left with no choice but to purchase a third-party utility. Whilst not the only option, this is where MacOpener comes into play.

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File Manager Returns

filemanager-largeiconThis isn’t something I’d expect from Microsoft, and it must have been a bit of a flashback for Ian Ellison-Taylor.

File Manager, once the default file management tool during the heyday of Windows 3.x and NT has come back to life for Windows 10. Now available in open source under a MIT license, two variations of the source code have been published on GitHub. The only dependency is for the Visual Studio 2015 C++ runtime to be installed on your PC.

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eBay Purchase #7 – Microsoft Publisher 2.0

mspub2-1.pngeBay Purchase Price: $1 AUD

Country of Origin: Australia

Condition: Very Good

Sometimes every now and then a bargain is picked up, and in this case it was a new shrink wrapped copy of Microsoft Publisher 2.0 for only $1 AUD. Other copies found tend to be priced between $50 to $100.

This version of Publisher from 1993 had a few minor variations to the retail box particularly with the large typeface on the front, and the coloured diamond that would either say just “Version 2.0” or mention some sort of special offer.

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eBay Purchase #2 – Windows Resource Kit for Windows 3.1

wrkwin31-1eBay Purchase Price: Approx. $10 AUD

Country of Origin: Australia

Condition: Very Good

A book I bought on eBay cheaply, this was Microsoft’s official technical guide for IT professionals concerning Windows 3.1. Unfortunately the original disk was not included, but nevertheless is in really good condition for a soft cover.

For those who haven’t browsed a copy, at over 500 pages this book contains plenty of reference material that is not documented with your traditional user guides or help files. It gets into the nitty gritty of how the operating system works, and how it can be manipulated. An example would be how to create a customised setup installer with your own device drivers and remove non-critical files to create a lean Windows installation.

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