harrymcc writes: After Nolan Bushnell founded Atari and Chuck E. Cheese in the 1970s, he had so many ideas for new tech products that he started a tech incubator called Catalyst to spin them off into startups. Catalyst's companies were involved in robotics, online shopping, navigation, electronic game distribution, and other areas that eventually became big businesses--but they did it with 1980s technology. Over at Fast Company, Benj Edwards tells this remarkable, forgotten story.
harrymcc writes: Ms. Pac-Man--the most popular arcade game in U.S. history--was officially unveiled on February 3, 1982. Unlike Pac-Man, which was created in Japan by Namco, it was designed by a Boston-area startup called General Computer Corp., founded by MIT dropouts. (They originally intended to call the game "Crazy Otto" before selling it to Midway, Pac-Man's U.S. distributor.) In Fast Company's oral history of Ms. Pac-Man's origin, her creators tell their remarkable tale.
harrymcc writes: By now, it isn't news that vinyl albums continue to sell, even in the Spotify era. But a new report says that sales of music on cassette are up 140 percent. The antiquated format is being embraced by everyone from indie musicians to Eminem and Justin Bieber. Fast Company's John Paul Titlow took a look at tape's unexpected revival, and why it's not solely about retro hipsterism.
harrymcc writes: Over at Fast Company, we rounded up the year's dumbest, silliest, and/or most embarrassing moments--covering ground from the year's big news (Trump's tweets, Yahoo's leaks) to the mememorably strange (Facebook accidentally telling users they were dead) to odd little items you might have missed when they happened (in September, a tech writer confidently declared that the Samsuing Galaxy Note 7 was definitely not going to be banned from air travel).
harrymcc writes: As Mark Zuckerberg's personal challenge for 2016, he built Jarvis--a service similar to Alexa or Google Assistant, but built to do exactly the things he wants to do in his home, and controllable by both voice and Messenger bot. Now that it's mostly complete, he demoed it for Fast Company's Daniel Terdiman.
harrymcc writes: On December 15, 1966, Walt Disney died in a Los Angeles hospital, bringing to an end one of the most remarkable careers not only in entertainment, but in business, period. Over at Fast Company, we asked Floyd Norman, who worked with Walt starting in the 1950s, to share his thoughts on the man and his legacy.
harrymcc writes: In 1954, the Ideal Toy Company released Robert The Robot, the first toy robot made in the U.S. He was made of plastic instead of the more common tin, had a hand-cranked remote control and talked. And he not only became a bestseller, but appeared in a movie, inspired songs, and was generally a media superstar. And then everyone forgot about him. Over at Fast Company, Jared Newman chronicles his odd and interesting story.
harrymcc writes: In 1992, the web was not yet a consumer medium, but proprietary online services were increasingly popular. And for the first time, presidential candidates courted voters in cyberspace--starting with an obscure Democratic challenger named Larry Agran, and eventually including almost all the candidates, including president Bush and Democratic nominee Bill Clinton. I detail this almost forgotten--but important--intersection of politics and technology in a Fast Company article, featuring some rare vintage screenshots.
harrymcc writes: David Bunnell has passed away. He stumbled into a job at PC pioneer MITS in the 1970s and went on to create the first PC magazine and first PC conference--and, later on, PC Magazine, PC World, Macworld, and Macworld Expo. He was a remarkable guy on multiple fronts, and I shared some thoughts about why he mattered so much at Fast Company.
harrymcc writes: The third season of AMC's "Halt and Catch Fire," a drama about the tech industry in the 1980s, debuted this week. The new episodes are set in San Francisco and Silicon Valley in 1986, and are rich with carefully-researched plot points, dialog, and sets full of vintage technology (including a startup equipped with real Commodore 64s and a recreated IBM mainframe). I visited the soundstage in Atlanta where the producers have recreated Northern California in the 80s, and spoke with the show's creators and stars about the loving attention they devote to getting things right.
harrymcc writes: It now seems all but certain that the next iPhones, to be announced next month, will ditch the standard headphone jack. Fast Company's Mark Sullivan talked about the switch with author and EFF adviser Cory Doctorow, who thinks it could lead to music companies leveraging DRM to exert more control over what consumers can do with their music.
harrymcc writes: Over at Fast Company, I profiled two London entrepeneurs who loved the legacy of Polaroid instant photography so much that they moved to San Francisco and started a company around it. Their app, Polaroid Swing, captures a second of high-frame-rate, interactive imagery--and the goal is less about satisfying nostalgia than creating a future for a beloved American brand.
harrymcc writes: On the web, there may be no such thing as a bad idea for a business--only concepts that are purely executed or arrive before their time. Over at Fast Company, Glenn Fleishman looked at grocery delivery, tip jars, annotation, and other categories which failed and then bounced back, sometimes in unexpected ways.
harrymcc writes: Until now, as far as we knew, Windows Holographic was the software for Microsoft's upcoming HoloLens augmented-reality headset. But at Computex in Taipei, the company just announced that it will offer it as an operating system for third-party AR and VR devices-- a bigger bet with more long-term potential to impact both AR/VR and Microsoft's own future. Big names from the PC industry such as Acer, Dell, HP, and Lenovo are on board.
harrymcc writes: Apple, which was established as a partnership on April 1, 1976, officially turns 40 today. Over at Fast Company, I wrote about its original marketing guru, Regis McKenna, and the notes he took when he was formulating a marketing plan for the company that year. They're an amazing snapshot of where the tiny startup was and where it hoped to go.