Uhhh, Flashback


Scan originally appeared in Wired 03.05, May 1995

This was a cool game! I played it start to finish. Very Prince of Persia like.

There's a Youtube video of Flashback, and if you feel like it you can download it from this abandonware site - just search for Flashback.

PS: It was made by French dudes - Sacre Bleu!

Innovation in expanding circles


Scan originally appeared in Wired 03.05, May 1995

So, Unique Selling Points for the internet, 1995: Be entertained, Read, Shop, Communicate, Pay bills, Work, Search, Pay taxes, Play Poker.

What do we do today online that's not on that list? The social aspect is near-missing, I guess, but other than that it's still pretty spot on. So, we've been through 3-4 iterations of what the web is, and the only seriously new selling point we've added is Hand Over Your Privacy to Facebook - nice!

And by the way, yes, my computer is utterly boring without a net-connection!

In Redmond, a man is warping his a** with your OS


Scan originally appeared in Wired 03.02, February 1995

Why is it that OS ads are so lame? There must be some special quality to the concept of an OS that just makes the ad-men give up, regurgitate their lunch, smear it on some paper and call it a day. Where's Don Draper when you need him? Guess he went with Apple?

And actual product qualities aside, this ad campaign clearly didn't cut it for IBM - Microsoft won that war. OS/2 never got a hold of the mass-market. But I'm told it's still used in some ATM's apparently... Hope it doesn't warp any of my cash.

Love on a disc


Article originally appeared in Wired 03.05, May 1995

Oh, Adam...

In 1995, CD-ROMs were the big thing in media - you could pack a whopping 640MB into those babies! So, of course, the industry of sweet sweet love got into the game, and made this beauty: A dating CD-ROM.

Unsurprisingly, it didn't go down well with the Wired reporter: "What's the attraction of tinny audios and jerky videos of men located all across America?"

Well, even though we've come a long way, baby, it's not like todays web doesn't have its own weird attempts at hooking people up - like ChatRoulette - Here's a TechCrunch review worth a funny read.

Ehm, no I won't


Scan originally appeared in Wired 03.05, May 1995

So, I guess the idea of having your phone attached to your wrist didn't work out. Apparently, not enough consumers wanted to look like secret service agents, mumbling into their wrists.

Oh wait:
Kemplet Strauss wrist phone watch

Now that's just silly!

Faster, I say. Faster!


Scan originally appeared in Wired 03.06, June 1995

Remember when CD-Rom drives had a crazy run of getting faster and faster? 2x, 6x, 16x, 32x – it just kept going. Like digital cameras when it was all about pixel resolution. Or phones today coming out every month with small improvements.

As a techy consumer, these iterations can be seriously frustrating – I’ll be hesitant to buy, ’cause what if I can get it twice as fast/high/low/cool in two months? You even get paranoid, and feel like the hardware industry is like Sergei Bubka in the 90’s, when he improved the pole-vault world record with 1 centimeter at every major event – you knew he would be able to just add 5 centimeters to it in one go, but why would he do that when every world-record earned him millions…? (He did it 31 times...)

Well, I’m sure the hardware industry is not really like that – they’re churning out these improvements as fast as they can (and faster than they should, sometimes) – but it sure is frustrating when you’re in the middle of a wave of innovation and only have the money to catch it once.

About the CD-ROM speeds: They didn’t actually improve much since the late 90’s, due to the physical nature of the CD-ROM – when spinning it much faster than 12x (12 times faster than a music CD, around 2MB/s) you started getting into trouble with heat and vibration. It didn’t stop the industry in going for 32x and even higher, but actual throughput didn’t quite follow the marketing. Then came DVD's, then USB2 - faster, faster, faster.

Rent-A-Coder will never happen!


Article originally appeared in Wired 03.06, June 1995

Wired has never been afraid to predict the future. This one from June 1995, on the future of software, is not far off target in general.

'Software Superdistribution' is what we today would call Software as a Service, and even Platform as a Service. Salesforce.com, arguably the biggest success within SaaS so far launched in 1999 – the prediction says 2005, so that’s a bit off, but at least the trend was spotted.

Offshore programming, however, is completely off. 'Our novels will not be written offshore, nor will our programs'. Oh, phhleeease... Offshore programming took off in a big way in the early 0’s – I remember how we had a branded popup blocker made in a day for $10 through Rent-A-Coder in 2002 – we were amazed, and realized how much of a threat this was to our local rock-star attitude coders.
Not saying offshore programming can’t lead to epic fails – but overall, it’s been successful enough to make a huge impact on how software is made today.


Artsy Europeans


Scan originally appeared in Wired 03.06, June 1995

Yeah, Nokia made computer monitors in the 90's - who knew!

I'm a Mac!


Scan originally appeared in Wired 03.06, June 1995

"Hi, I'm a Mac - and I'm a... oh wait, I'm a Mac too!"

Back from when "Alarm clock" was still a selling point. I wonder how that would actually work on a 1995 Powerbook laptop - just keep the thing turned on during the night and wait for the bell to sound?

It's all in the marketing


Scan originally appeared in Wired 03.02,February 1995

1995, Ad for Dark Forces

2010, Ad for Bioshock 2

And then the screenshots from the actual games, first Dark Forces:

So, never trust a poster....

Dark Forces from Lucasarts was launched in 1995 and did extremely well. It was another "Doom-clone" but improved on the popular genre.

Incidentally, this was exactly the point in time where the gaming-industry lost me. I never got on the first-person-shooter band-waggon, so I spent the next 15 years looking in amazement on boys and men shooting stuff up POV-style, with ever increasing screen-resolutions and my interest ever decreasing

Last year, Dark Forces was re-released on Steam, so if you're into this stuff, head over there for a shot of retro.

1995 – IP telephony for the masses…?


Article originally appeared in Wired 03.05, May 1995

The internet as Ma Bell

The claim in the above article is that by building Modems and microphones into the computers, the phone-market will be revolutionized right now, in 1995.... Well, guess not.

So why did we have to wait until 2005 and Skype to get some disruption going? Well, a headset and a modem are just the first building-blocks - Skype got the most important thing in consumer IP telephony right: By using peer-2-peer traffic, their call-quality actually increased as their userbase grew, as opposed to the hundreds of previous competitors. Until Skype, a (paid) ip-telephony service would end up delivering a decrease in quality as their userbase grew, when desperately trying to handle the traffic through central locations. Using peer-to-peer technology, Skype could be free, a price that’s hard to beat, and base a sound business on added-value services.

Yahoo! 1 year


Article originally appeared in Wired 03.06, June 1995

Article on Yahoo!'s 1 year birthday.

In 1995 it was "internet directory", then it became "search engine" and now "decision engine" is the love-child of new-speak ad magicians.

In any case, 15 years on we're still talking about search. In September 1997, two other dudes registered the domain google.com, giving Yang & Filo more than a run for their money. However, Yahoo! still holds second place when it comes to display ads market-share in 2010.

Yahoo! shareprice 1996-2010Google shareprice, 2004-2010

Ah yes, that backlog of faxes!


Scan originally appeared in Wired 03.05, May 1995

Don't you just hate it when you return from a long day of meetings and see that pile of unread faxes on your desk?!