First released in 1991, the Game Genie let players enter special codes that made video games easier or unlocked other functions. Nintendo didn’t like it, but many gamers loved it. Here’s what made it special. Genie in a Bottle Game Genie is the brand name for a series of video game enhancement devices developed by Codemasters and sold by Galoob in the U.S. The first Game Genie model worked with the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System and launched in the summer of 1991 for about $50. Game Genie devices for the Super NES, Game Boy, Sega Genesis, and Game Gear followed. Like a genie of legend, the Game Genie made your wishes come true. To use one, you first plugged a game cartridge into the Game Genie unit and then plugged both devices into your console. Upon powering up, you saw a screen where you could enter a series of alphanumeric codes. These codes injected data between the game cartridge and the system , changing how the game worked and effectively reprogramming it on … [Read more...] about What Was the “Game Genie” Cheat Device, and How Did It Work?
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Thirty years ago—on January 15, 1991 —an American college student named Tim Sweeney released ZZT , a low-key adventure game with a revolutionary element: It shipped with a free, built-in game editor. ZZT’s success spawned Epic Games, Unreal Engine, and most recently, Fortnite . Here’s why ZZT was special. What’s a “ZZT,” Anyway? Tim Sweeney’s passion for programming began on his Apple II when he was a kid. After getting his first IBM PC in 1989 during his freshman year of college, he dove head-first into programming the new machine. While creating an MS-DOS text editor using Turbo Pascal in 1990, he decided to make the project more fun by adding game-like elements. That evolved into ZZT , which was released as shareware in 1991. The genius of ZZT in the early 1990s was that it wasn’t just a cute ASCII-based adventure. With every copy of ZZT downloaded, players also got an in-game world editor for free. That’s because ZZT’s text editor roots meant … [Read more...] about Before Fortnite, There Was ZZT: Meet Epic’s First Game
On February 1, 1991, John Romero, John Carmack, Tom Hall, and Adrian Carmack officially founded id Software. The group went on to revolutionize the game industry with franchises such as Wolfenstein , Doom , and Quake . Here’s a look back at id Software over the last 30 years, with a little help from those legendary developers. id Software: The House That Keen Built The story of id Software began in the late 1980s, when John Carmack, John Romero, Adrian Carmack (no relation to John), and Tom Hall developed games for a mail-order disk magazine company called Softdisk , located in Shreveport, Louisiana. After John Carmack devised a breakthrough scrolling technique for PC games in mid-1990, Hall, Romero, and Carmack created a new platform game— Commander Keen —based on the technology while secretly moonlighting at Softdisk. Soon the talented group began communicating with Scott Miller of Apogee Software , a pioneering shareware publisher. After some … [Read more...] about From Keen to Doom: id Software’s Founders Talk 30 Years of Gaming History
Windows has featured a taskbar at the bottom of the screen since the beginning. That position made sense back in the day, but on modern computers, it doesn’t. I’m here to tell you the taskbar should be on the left. The Origins of the Horizontal Taskbar To understand why the taskbar should be on the left side—or right side—we should first take a look at where it started. Windows 1.0 included a taskbar at the bottom of the screen, but it was only for showing minimized applications. The taskbar we know today first showed up in Windows 95 . RELATED: Windows 95 Turns 25: When Windows Went Mainstream Windows 95 was actually the first version that supported moving the taskbar as well, but it wasn’t really needed at that time. Up until around 2003, computer monitors primarily used a 4:3 aspect ratio, which meant that there was almost as much vertical space as horizontal space. Windows 95 Since the vertical and horizontal sizes were similar, the taskbar spanning … [Read more...] about Why Your Windows Taskbar Should Always Be on the Left Side
Microsoft released Windows CE in November 1996 as a new version of Windows. Designed to run pocket-sized computers, CE brought the user-friendly Windows 95 interface to mobile computing for the first time. Its architecture also formed the basis of Microsoft’s later mobile computing and smartphone products. Here’s why it was needed. A Compact, Portable Version of Windows Windows CE was necessary because full desktop versions of Windows, then tied mostly to the Intel x86 CPU architecture, weren’t practical to run on the pocket-sized devices of the time. As a result, Windows CE represented an entirely different platform from its desktop OS cousins. It couldn’t run programs designed for Windows 95 or Windows NT. Windows CE’s design emphasized low power usage, compatibility with flash memory storage, and relatively low memory requirements. It also retained a user-friendly graphical user interface (GUI) similar to Windows 95 , complete with the Start menu, and even a built-in … [Read more...] about What Was Windows CE, and Why Did People Use It?