Break Into Chat
Blogs

Unearthed: Kirschen’s “Music Creator” for IBM PC

November 29, 2022 Break Into Chat

Decades before the debut of DALL-E, Israeli cartoonist Yaakov Kirschen was developing an “artificial creativity” system to let computers compose their own music, by extracting components of existing songs and combining them in new ways. The software was originally written for the Amiga, but business changes led them to abandon …

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Unearthed: Kirschen’s Atari ST projects

November 28, 2022 Break Into Chat

The artificial personalities “Murray” and “Mom” were among the very first entertainment offerings for the Atari ST computer. They were also the first products released by Israeli cartoonist Yaakov Kirschen’s new “LKP, Ltd.” software studio in Israel, in partnership with his American firm, “Just For You, Inc.” “Murray and Me” …

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Unearthed: Kirschen’s independent Apple II projects

November 27, 2022 Break Into Chat

Is “Doc Possum” a lost Learning Company game? After the end of Yaakov Kirschen’s partnership with the Gesher organization, he had an idea for a secular educational game for the Apple II, which he pitched to The Learning Company. Around the same time he also made a few independent demos …

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Unearthed: Kirschen’s Apple II games for Gesher

November 26, 2022 Break Into Chat

Ever wonder what the Jewish version of Pac-Man might look like? In the early 1980s, video games were exploding in popularity with kids and microcomputers were becoming available Israel. The Gesher organization saw potential in developing educational software specifically for Jewish students. From 1982 to 1984, Yaakov Kirschen worked with …

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Bringing dry bones back to life: The Kirschen software collection

November 26, 2022 Break Into Chat

It’s time to bring some dry bones back to life. In coming days, I will publish a curated collection of lost software developed by the Israeli cartoonist Yaakov Kirschen together with programmers from Gesher Educational Affiliates as well as from his own studio, LKP Ltd. The collection includes ten games, …

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Ten years of Break Into Chat!

November 25, 2022 Break Into Chat

Ten years ago, editors on Wikipedia began deleting articles about BBS door games. In response, I forked all the door game articles onto a brand-new website. I called it “Break Into Chat”. My original goal was to preserve and expand the articles. They needed better sourcing, better writing, more screenshots. …

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Thinking about Jadzia, C.G., and our ephemeral digital lives

November 23, 2022 Break Into Chat

Synchronet creator Rob Swindell recently shared some sad news: longtime BBSer C.G. Learn died earlier this month. I didn’t know C.G. very well, but we interacted occasionally over the years on Dovenet, a message network for Synchronet BBSes. But I’ll never forget one kind gesture that C.G. extended to me …

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Joe Reiss, creator of the “Spoiler-Free Opinion Summary”

September 28, 2022 Break Into Chat

In 1992, Joe Reiss began the Spoiler-Free Opinion Summary, an effort to collect ratings for each week’s episode of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” from fans on Usenet. The “S.O.S.” caught on and remained popular for years, moving to the web in 1995. Ultimately, Reiss collected nearly 300,000 individual ratings. …

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Remembering the S.O.S. — the Spoiler-Free Opinion Summary

September 23, 2022 Break Into Chat

Today, Sept. 24, is the 30th anniversary of the launch of the Spoiler-Free Opinion Summary. The S.O.S. was a crowd-sourced ratings database, born in the early 1990s, which deserves to be remembered. I wrote this blog post to celebrate the anniversary. For most folks in 1992, if you wanted to …

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Appreciating the physicality of floppies

January 9, 2022 Break Into Chat

As I continue imaging and curating a collection of Apple II software I received last year, I have an increased appreciation for the importance of preserving physical floppy disks. I have a floppy which contains a copy of a game called “Nosh Kosh.” To preserve the game digitally, Keith Hacke …