I grew up playing videogames. I remember begging my parents incessantly for an Atari when I was six years old. I was too young to know that there were better systems available, and I had no idea that the machine I wanted was actually called an Atari VCS.
I remember one particular Christmas morning, rushing down the stairs as fast as I could to see what Santa Claus had delivered for me. I unwrapped small boxes with game cartridges like Munch-Man, Parsec, and Hunt the Wumpus. These didn’t sound like Atari games to me.
Then I opened a rather large present containing a Texas Instruments TI-99/4a personal computer. It had a metallic case, a keyboard to the left, and a cartridge slot to the right. It didn’t bear much resemblance to an Atari VCS.
My disappointment and confusion vanished pretty quickly once my father got this new piece of equipment hooked up to the TV. By then, I was happily laying down chains in Munch-Man, or shooting down aliens in TI Invaders. Both of these games were superior to the originals from which they were cloned, but I was completely oblivious to that at the time. I was just having fun playing them.
I still enjoy playing some of these games today. I have some of the best TI-99/4a games, like Parsec, Munch-Man, and The Attack running on my arcade cabinet. It doesn’t quite feel the same playing them like this, but it sure does bring back a lot of memories.
I often wonder where I would be today if my father had gotten me that Atari VCS that I actually wanted. Making a living working with computers has been enjoyable and profitable. I doubt I would be where I am today if my father hadn’t chosen to buy that TI-99/4a.
Thank you, dad!