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Interview book - yes or no?


R4ngerM4n
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Interview book  

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  1. 1. Would you buy a book featuring all interviews by K. Savetz (and others)?



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Thanks to Kevin Savetz and others there are a lot of Atari releated interviews available as audio files. To be honest, as a non-native speaker some parts I don't understand acustically. It would be nice to have everything in written form. I know there exists a wiki with written transscriptions of some of the interviews, but I am interested in more :) To make it short: I would pay for a nice, printed book with index. You too?

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But with all the new stuff gleaned from these interviews ;)

 

No one has talked about fraud, we hear of "mismanagement" etc - e.g. when you hear about making tons of carts knowing(?) they wouldn't be sold - to get commissions etc. I wonder if this was an understated factor in the demise :ponder:

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I would take a guess that you'll need written permission or otherwise from those interviewed, for it to be printed, as they may have been rather too candid with their comments. As a matter of courtesy.

Also they may actually like to add more information - as they may remember more after the interview, and can be extra information they could add - which at the time, they couldn't remember that much, on the spot.

 

I did have a few text interviews with various Atari coin-op programmers - but have lost them on my hard drive somewhere - so it would always be handy to have them in a book for easy accessibility.

 

Harvey

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I think there's a case to be made for an Atari history book that centers on the 8-bit systems only, which were always overshadowed by the 2600 (and to some extent the ST series) and never received the attention they deserved.

 

And I think there's a case for Kevin Savetz and Randy Kindig to create such a book. They've earned their reputations as Atari historians on the same level as Curt Vendel and Marty Goldberg in my view.

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I'd be keen but only as an audio book, the joy for me is actually hearing the stories from the source in their own voice, it makes the connection more real, yeah I do still like them on paper but as these are already recorded it seems to make most sense, it also removes some of the cost. I'd also like to have an 8 bit Atari book about the computers only but I'd want it accurate and to have a look at all angles ie the rise and fall, the piracy, the shops, the whole scene rather than a factoid based item only about the computers.

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  • 1 month later...

But with all the new stuff gleaned from these interviews ;)

 

No one has talked about fraud, we hear of "mismanagement" etc - e.g. when you hear about making tons of carts knowing(?) they wouldn't be sold - to get commissions etc. I wonder if this was an understated factor in the demise :ponder:

 

That's because that's more of an overstated myth, coming from years of the general public not knowing what was actually going on there and grabbing on to whatever soundbites were available. (As an example, overproduction of Pac-Man is usually thrown up as an example. However the Pac-Man productions numbers include number of carts needed for both the projected amount of VCS consoles out there by the end of that year (which was actually correct) plus for use as the pack-in for the VCS to replace Combat). We cleared some of it up in the book and we'll be adding more in the second edition. It mostly had to do with the consumer industry going through a cycle other consumer tech industries (calculators, electronic watches) had during the 70s (shortage into glut and then crash), and Atari not adopting the same market watch and production controls as the music industry since neither Warner or Atari management thought demand was anywhere near to dropping. The shortage lead them to have retailers place bulk orders for '82 that fall of '81, which in turn lead to overinflated earnings projection (since they only tracked sell in numbers and not sell through). It was of course compounded by the large entry of third party game manufacturers that summer (most of which were gone within a year).

Edited by Retro Rogue
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Joe Decuir is already working on the definitive Atari 8-bit historical book. Myself and a few others are helping out on it. It's meant to fit somewhere in between Racing The Beam and The Future Was Here.

 

Will this book include marketing stuff like sales figures as well?

 

Also it would be interesting to know from Atari people where the 'XL' comes from:

  • is it related to 'to excel',
  • an acronym of 'extended line',
  • a composition of 'X' standing for 64k version (like in preliminary product name 1000X) and 'L' from the leading developer's name Lutvak or
  • something completely different?
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The book is primarily about the development of the line itself, technical and story wise. If you're not familiar, Joe was the co-creator (with Jay Miner) of the 400/800 PCS. If you've

read Racing the Beam and the Future Was Here, it's intended to be in that vein only authored by someone directly involved rather than an outside author.

 

XL stands for Extended Line, it was in a magazine interview with an Atari exec back in the day, which is where Curt got it from. Likewise it was named the 1000 (16k) and 1000x (64k) by marketing during development, and 1200 and 1200x in the Sweet16 project spec docmument.

 

 

Will this book include marketing stuff like sales figures as well?

 

Also it would be interesting to know from Atari people where the 'XL' comes from:

  • is it related to 'to excel',
  • an acronym of 'extended line',
  • a composition of 'X' standing for 64k version (like in preliminary product name 1000X) and 'L' from the leading developer's name Lutvak or
  • something completely different?
Edited by Retro Rogue
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I think many of the audio interviews and subsequent archives are brilliant. I would love to see a written account of the interviews (a "best of" each interview woven into a general history). It would be unique content. Lots and lots of work, of course, but an invaluable resource and companion to the audio archives. Outside of a few instances, however, book compilations of interview material rarely sells well, so again, it would need to be implemented in something of a non-traditional manner to make the necessary impact.

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I think many of the audio interviews and subsequent archives are brilliant. I would love to see a written account of the interviews (a "best of" each interview woven into a general history). It would be unique content. Lots and lots of work, of course, but an invaluable resource and companion to the audio archives. Outside of a few instances, however, book compilations of interview material rarely sells well, so again, it would need to be implemented in something of a non-traditional manner to make the necessary impact.

 

...like an oral history.

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I suppose in one way. I think I'd kind of like a historical skeleton and then the best anecdotes and personal stories applied to it.

There is a great book about the history of MTV named "I Want My MTV". The entire story, besides a few introductory paragraphs, is told through quotes from the various individuals involved. Quotes are mixed, and put in chronological order to tell the story from 100's of interviews.

 

What I like about this kind of "oral history" is that is leaves some of the historical context up for interpretation by the reader. It's well known that people's memories suck, but reading their actual words right after one-another, either confirming or contradicting each other is a pretty powerful way to read a story.

 

For example, I really like Curt and Marty's Atari book, but no matter how hard they try to the contrary, it reads like they, themselves, have a vendetta against Bushnell. Instead, an oral history would put Bushnell quotes up against those of Dabney, Alcorn, Gerard, etc. It would read less like the authors were trying to force a point, and let the personalities make the point themselves. The story then arises out of the events in context.

 

An example of a one story from the Antic podcast that could use this kind of treatment is the tale of the "Syn" products, and how the Tramiels (allegedly) put Synapse out of business by not paying them for the software they shipped. I believe at least three people have told that story, in slight different ways. If told from just one perspective, you get the idea the the Tramiels tried to put Synapse out of business on purpose. But the Tramiels probably don't see it that way. They probably see it as a having a mountain existing contractual "hand-grenades" that Atari Inc. left for them to throw their bodies upon. Telling that story through an oral history, to me, would be much more effective than trying to take one-side. There are so many parties involved and so many different perspectives, an oral history would do the subject justice. It also fit's with the demeanor of the Antic Podcast which feels like it takes an objective, broad and open view of the 8-bit Atari world.

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  • 5 years later...
On 4/17/2016 at 5:05 PM, FifthPlayer said:

I think there's a case for Kevin Savetz and Randy Kindig to create such a book. They've earned their reputations as Atari historians. 

I'm very late to this thread, but I would just like to second this aspect. 

 

 

Kevin and Randy have earnt their reputation as Atari Historians, many times over. 

 

They reached  even ATARI UK people i never saw the likes of Retrogamer Magazine use in any of their features whilst i was an avid subscriber and the magazine used multiple freelancers to write the articles. 

 

 

I can't thank them both enough for the time and effort they've put in carrying out their interviews. 

 

 

On 5/23/2016 at 8:16 PM, Retro Rogue said:

XL stands for Extended Line, it was in a magazine interview with an Atari exec back in the day, which is where Curt got it from.

 

 

 

On 5/24/2016 at 8:33 AM, R4ngerM4n said:

 

Any chance he remembers the name of that magazine?

 

I was going to ask the same thing. 

 

We really need both the name of the magazine preferably along with the issue number and publication date and the name of the actual Exec in question. 

 

 

It'd be fantastic to put the quote in perspective and read the interview in full. 

 

 

With so much being lost these days, it's imperative we preserve what was recorded. 

 

 

Does anyone know which Atari Exec is being referenced and where the interview can be found? 

Edited by Lostdragon
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On 5/24/2016 at 8:33 AM, R4ngerM4n said:

 

Any chance he remembers the name of that magazine?

I've had a brief forage through some issues of Byte magazine along with Analog magazine from around the time the XL line was being covered and so far nothing. 

 

 

It would of been helpful to know if we are talking a US or UK based magazine, the executive's name and from which department within. ATARI they were from. 

 

 

 

There's plenty of articles looking at the XL hardware, the Tramiel's detailing plans for the range, some inside Atari type articles etc within the UK and US magazine press, but so far I can't find anything relating to the article in question. 

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