Visuals (In Popular Culture)

It's only in the last decade that computers have been able to generate life-like animations suitable for film and television, even if it's not possible using the computer you're likely to have at home. Jurassic Park was, and still is, the benchmark by which all computer generated imagery (CGI) is judged... and that was made in 1993!

So, in the earlier days of micro-computers the visual effects where used more as a gimmick than a seamless story-telling device. In the early 1980s the BBC Micro was often used because of its high quality visuals and the availability of extra hardware. It's position was usurped in the late 1980s and early 1990s by the Commodore Amiga which, itself, was trumped by the IBM, Silicon Graphics workstations, and other such machines.

The BBC Micro did, however, secure a small place in the annals of the visual arts by providing effects for TV series “The Adventure Game” and “First Class”, along with various episodes of Doctor Who.

Rescuing (Popular Culture)

Computers are only tools. They do as they're told. So when a writer gets hold of one, it becomes a a tool for writing. A typewriter with a memory and a dictionary all in one. While it might seem like a positive thing now, for those who were first using the digital word processors, this became a mixed blessing. A blessing because it's so much more powerful than their typewriters or paper, but they will be forever cursed by lack of joy in the tactile experience our forefathers had.

For historians it's every worse. Whereas writers from the last century will have left letters, first drafts, and other such evidence giving clues as to how their genius manifest and how their work developed, current writers will probably only leave the latest version. Final-draft-1.doc, for example.

Worse still. What happens if their old computers get lost. Or die. Or sold. This has happened in the past. Both Star Trek creator, Gene Roddenbury and Douglas Adams had unpublished work on their computers and those who inherited their machines needed to become digital archaeologists for the day in order to recover this priceless writings.

But it's not easy. The software used is old and unsupported, so no longer runs on modern computers. So you need old (working) computers. Sometimes the file format is stored in a manner that can't be read by anything. And sometimes they've have protected it with passwords. Good for the present day, not so good for the future!

Luckily the stories of Gene and Douglas had happy endings. You can read the original articles from the links below...