Dulce et decorum est pro patria party


On April 2, 1996, at the then-named Computer Game Developers Conference, Microsoft introduced DirectX 2.0 to great fanfare. And by great fanfare, I mean "ridiculous fanfare."

Read Jay Barnson's account of the event. Do it.

I did not attend the party, but I did receive a surplus toga kit. I've donated it to the Microsoft archives. The kit includes a fake laurel wreath, and a pouch containing DirectX coins and a few chocolate coins.

On what I presume to be the obverse of the chocolate coins is a head in profile with the message "sic itur ad astra", which the Internet tells me translates as "Thus we go to the stars." On the reverse it contains the ATI logo surrounded by the message "MILLIONS WILL FEEL THE POWER".

The DirectX coins read

PAX ROMANA
IV-II-MCMXCVI

The party theme Pax Romana intended to convey that Microsoft was bringing an era of peace to the game industry by introducing a common API that targets all PC video cards, so game developers didn't have to write custom drivers for every video card they wanted to support. (According to that article, the message was not welcomed by the game development community at the time.)

Here's a closer view of the pouch and the DirectX coins, part of this retrospective of the history of DirectX from the point of view of one of its founding members, Craig Eisler.

I hung onto this toga party kit for many years, initially thinking that maybe I could use the toga for a costume party or something, but a bout of spring cleaning convinced me to donate it to the Microsoft archives. "Never worn. Chocolate coins still uneaten. (We recommend that you consult your doctor before attempting to eat multi-decade-old chocolate coins that were stored in a garage.)"

Bonus artifact: The PAX ROMANA poster.

PAX ROMANA
THE DAWN OF A NEW CIVILIZATION

TIRED OF HIGH-TECH CYBER-BABBLE? SICK OF THE INTERNET? DO YOV MISS A SIMPLER TIME BEFORE THERE WERE COMPVTERS, WHEN 'INTERACTIVE GAMES' MEANT THROWING CHRISTIANS TO THE LIONS? WELL, SPONSORED BY THE THREE COMPANIES YOV'D LEAST EXPECT, A ROMAN GALA OF EPIC PROPORTIONS IS TAKING PLACE ON THE FINAL DAY OF THE COMPVTER GAMES DEVELOPER CONFERENCE™ IN SANTA CLARA, CA. YES, EVERY CITIZEN OF THE GREAT PC EMPIRE IS INVITED TO AN EVENING OF FEASTING, TOVRNAMENTS, MVSIC, SLAVE AVCTIONS, DEBAVCHERY, AND SILLY STRING (OKAY, MAYBE A LITTLE TECHNOLOGY) MICROSOFT,® ATI,® AND IBM® INVITE YOV TO THE LARGEST TOGA PARTY EVER, SPONSORED BY OTHERWISE SERIOVS AND RESPECTABLE COMPANIES! REGISTER QVICKLY BEFORE OVR MANAGEMENT CHANGES THEIR MINDS BECAVSE IF YOV MISS THIS EVENT, BEING TRAMPLED BY CHARIOTS WILL SEEM LIKE NOTHING COMPARED TO THE AGONY YOV'LL FEEL WHEN FRIENDS DESCRIBE THE BLAST THEY HAD AT THE PAX ROMANA WITHOVT YOV.

IF YOV CAN STILL FVNCTION THE NEXT DAY, WE'LL BE HOLDING AN ALL-DAY CONFERENCE CONSISTING OF THREE CONCVRRENT TRACKS OF SEESSIONS ON EVERTY ASPECT OF WRITING STELLAR GAMES FOR MICROSOFT WINDOWS® 95, AND MASTERING THE NEXT GENERATION OF PC GAME TECHNOLOGY. THERE WILL BE AN OVERVIEW AND IN-DEPTH COVERAGE OF THE BETA RELEASES OF THE NEXT DIRECTX SDKs, FEATVRING DIRECT3D®, DIRECTDRAW®, 2.0, AND DIRECTPLAY®, 2.0, FOR ON-LINE GAMING.

Tuesday April II, MCMXCVI
6:30 – 11:30pm
Roman Circvs and Toga Party

Wednesday April III, MCMXCVI
An all-day seminar at the Santa Clara Westin® Hotel
Annovncing the newest components of DirectX®:

Direct3D

Integrated tightly with DirectDraw, Direct3D sets a baseline for killer real-time 3D that will really slay yov.
DirectPlayX

Microsoft takes mvltiplayer gaming to the Internet. DirectPlayX will provide a host of services for bvilding on-line gaming servers and peer-to-peer connectivity.

WINE, TOGAS, GOLD, LIONS, SLAVES, ENTERTAINMENT AND VOMITORIVM SVPPLIED. BRING YOVR OWN SANDALS.


REGISTRATION REQVIRED
Comments (7)
  1. IanBoyd says:

    I also love the Michael Abrash’s article “The Day The World Changed” from the October 1995 edition of Dr. Dobbs magazine.

    It talks about the 1994 Game Developer’s Conference, and how DOOM was running under Windows 3.1, in real-time, in a window. It was a version of DOOM specially built by iD at Microsoft’s request and used WinG (“win-gee”).

    Civilization for Windows was another game (that i still play) that also uses WinG.

    WinG died shortly thereafter; replaced with DirectX. But it served its purpose.

    1. Scarlet Manuka says:

      Heh. I still play Civilization II, which also uses WinG.

  2. Dan says:

    An actual ancient Roman would have referred to “ante diem IV Nonas Aprilis” (or “a.d. IV Non. Apr.”) instead of “April II”, but you’ve got to simplify things for modern audiences.

  3. Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori is a line from the Roman lyrical poet Horace’s Odes (III.2.13). The line is usuallly be translated as: “It is sweet and proper to die for one’s country

    1. Simon Clarkstone says:

      The phrase “Dulce et Decorum Est” is also the title of a Wilfred Owen poem that describes the effects of chemical warfare on WWI troops. (I assume the timing of this article to be shortly before Remembrance Sunday was pure co-incidence.)

      1. It’s written on one of the arches in the Royal Memorial Chapel at RMA Sandhurst as well.

  4. outadoc says:

    I like the idea that this alphabet would contain no U, but contain a “registered trademark” symbol.

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