I was watching my 9 year old daughter deftly manipulating the joystick on our original Sony PlayStation (predecessor of the Play Station 2) and that reminded me of a story.
I lived in
I remember perusing a box of surplus joysticks, and was contemplating using them. I wiggled around the joystick and wondered if there were any potentiometers inside. Even today, you can turn over a mechanical computer mouse, remove the ball to clean it and see that the ball turns 2 potentiometers inside: one each for detecting X and Y motion. A potentiometer is typically an electro-mechanical device that has an axis that can rotate to vary the electrical resistance in a circuit: just like a radio volume knob. So, indicating the joystick, I asked the sales clerk: “Are there any pots inside?”
The clerk gave a wry look back at me. After a moment of thought, he responded “Of course there are pots inside!”
I distinctly remember feeling that he didn’t have any idea what I was talking about, and that he probably thought the same thing about me. Remember: Eli’s was in
I had built a Heathkit 25 inch color TV. For those who don’t know, Heathkit sold kits that were “housewife tested”: bags of electronic parts and instructions on how to solder them together. I made a Heathkit stereo, oscilloscope, TV and learned a lot about electronics.
I remember finding some static RAM modules: I believe they were 1K bits each, and I bought 4 of them. Because they were static, they could remember their contents with no refresh circuitry needed. The father of a friend of mine worked at Bell Labs in
I also had a light sensing diode, which I could attach to a pen and it point it at the TV. As the horizontal retrace of the TV swept by, the diode could sense the light and send an electronic signal to the static RAMs.
I was able to draw images on live TV in 1982: way before the football guys could draw X’s and O’s on the screen to indicate which way the players go. I could draw a mustache on the weatherman’s face!
In the 80’s, while living in