Summer Insomnia

I don’t know what it is about the summer that seems to bring on insomnia for me, but it’s been brought-ed.

Do you know what was a great toy back in my day? The Etch-a-Sketch Animator. Peep:


Here’s the setup.

  • Big plastic (white) box with knobs per the E-a-S design motif.
  • LCD 40x30 screen in which you can either set the pixel to active or inactive
  • 8 big, soft, mushy buttons at the bottom: a pen-up, pen-down, a save, clear screen, recall last screen, reverse black to white / white to black toggle, erase, and the magic button: animate

You could save 12 “frames” of animation and then push the ANIMATE button and…viol?. Pushing ANIMATE a couple of times more could speed up the replay.

The animation had this odd eek-yyy-uurk-eeek-ee sound that went with animated frames. As I recall the frame flow was not evenly metered and some frames would drag a bit but the illusion of animation was still there - just like a flip book.

The instruction book came with 12 basic tasks for you to learn with and one enterprising netizen has made animated .gifs for you to look at to get the feel.

The down sides were that the frames were stored in RAM. Knock a battery loose - goodbye. Obviously this made working on more than one project impossible as well.

This limitation wasn’t too painful, I was 10 (or so).

Funny to think that the difference between this and a Game Boy was only more pixels, more memory, and different inputs. Heck, it’s the same principle as what was in mass market spinach-screen cell phones (those still exist, right?).

As I recall my animator started “flipping out” towards my growing out of it. I noticed the box in my closet back at my Dad’s house … maybe next time I’m there I’ll dust it off and see what I can do.

But really – shouldn’t there be an emulator for OS X for this?

Maybe this is my task to learn a new aspect of Cocoa…