File: PONGTEST.TXT - Revision 1.1 (5/16, 5/18/93) - By Allen C. Huffman
In the beginning there was...
XXXX XXX X X XXXX
X X X X XX X X
XXXX X X X X X X XX
X X X X XX X X
X XXX X X XXXX (tm)
And now, two decades later, Pong(tm) will live again...
[DISCLAIMER: The game name "Pong(tm)" is a TRADE MARK of Atari
Corporation. None of us have anything to do with Atari and we are using
this name strictly as a term to define a video game concept. Read at your
And to think...this rather bizarre idea all started with an impromptu
P.A. announcement at the 2nd Annual "Last" Chicago CoCoFest in May, 1993.
The announcement, written by Sub-Etha founding partner Terry Todd, went
something like this:
Sub-Etha Software, in voluntary cooperation with StG
Net, StrongWare, Intelligent Algorithms, Dave Myers,
BARSoft, Burke & Burke, HawkSoft, the National OS9 Users
Group of Australia, and more of the rest of the CoCo
Community will be sponsoring a programming competition in
which each participant will create a unique, original
PONG(tm)-type game. This contest is open to all who wish
to enter. The programs will be impartially judged at the
1991 Atlanta CoCoFest on the basis of Memory Efficiency,
Speed Efficiency, Originality, Special Effects, and
Playability. The programmer judged best in each category
will receive a cashiers check in the amount of ONE DOLLAR!
Video games all started with Atari's original PONG(tm) game. This
tabletop two-player game, reportedly created in 1972 with a production of
8000 units (see "The Killer List of Video Games", Dec 1992 version, in
text-file format available from various sources), became an instant
success. The original PONG(tm) units are rumored to have broken down
their first day(s) in service...from jammed coin mechanisms. (Atari could
not be reached to comment on this bit of video game lore...)
It occurs to me, though, that many of our fellow CoCo/OS9 users might
not have even been BORN or, if born, might not have even been old enough
to have ever seen a PONG(tm) game either as a console game or the later
home versions (before the Atari 2600, even). For those...a bit of
WHAT IS PONG(tm)?
PONG(tm) was a digital version of table tennis. A black and white
image consisted of a dotted line down the middle of the screen
(representing the net), with a small vertical line on each side of the
screen representing the paddles. A small square represented the ball,
which would bounce back and forth, hopefully to be deflected by a paddle.
Score was kept it the upper corners and typical tennis rules applied -
the first one to 21 won.
It was simple, and it was amazing. (I first remember seeing a
PONG(tm) game in a Shakey's Pizza Parlor in Houston...) Sadly, many
people only remember this classic as a cartridge that used to be available
for the old Atari 2600 called "Video Olympics" (or something like
that...it's been awhile)! Even the original stand-alone home game
machines that did nothing but play PONG(tm) (or the many numerous clones)
have long since been forgotten...until now.
WHAT'S THE DEAL?
It occurred to us that PONG(tm), one of the simplest video games of
all time, might be an interesting target of a programming contest. A
PONG(tm)-type game could be written in BASIC and be quite playable, or
souped up in assembly for some real speed. What we propose is an open
challenge for programmers. What would YOU do with a PONG(tm)-type game?
Perhaps a "classic" version (how close can you make it to the original,
"beep" sounds and everything?) or an updated colorized version, perhaps
with better sounds? Maybe something completely different - a
PONG(tm)-type game with "power-ups" or weapons. Let your imagination take
control. Points will be awarded in a number of categories. Just follow a
few basic rules.
There aren't any, really. Your version of a PONG(tm)-type game must
run on a CoCo under Basic or Assembly (either 6809 or 6309), or under OS9
('C', Basic09, whatever) or even under OSK (MM/1, TC70, etc...). If
enough entries are received, categories will be created for as many
"types" as possible.
To qualify as a PONG(tm)-type game, it must follow a few guidelines.
First, you should have a bouncing ball. Second, you should have two
paddles (and support one or two players) with which to bounce the ball
back and forth. Scoring should go until 21 with whoever gets there first
being the winner. The ball should start from the middle of the screen and
head towards one side. Whoever scores a point gets to "serve" again, and
the ball will launch towards the opponent, just like in tennis. That's
it! The "net" I guess would be optional. <grin>
To summarize: Make it recognizable as a PONG(tm)-type game then use
All received entries will be judged at the Atlanta CoCoFest (which
will probably be held in October) by an impartial individual or group.
Several categories have been established, with more added later if
necessary. These categories are as follows:
o Memory Efficiency
Awarded to whoever writes the "smallest" PONG(tm)-type game.
o Speed Efficiency
Awarded to whoever writes the fastest PONG(tm)-type game!
Anything goes! This will be awarded for the most original
twist on the old classic.
o Special Effects
The game with the most "bells and whistles" will get a prize,
too! Music, graphics, whatever...basically, the version that
looks/sounds the best.
No matter how memory or speed efficient, original, or "special"
a game may be, if it's no fun to play, it's not a good game.
The will be one overall winner of all entries judged to be the
The "press release" states an award of ONE DOLLAR for winners in each
category. This may not sound like much of a prize, so let's make things a
bit more interesting. Al Dages of the Atlanta Computer Society has
decided to throw in a TEN DOLLAR prize to the overall winner, and
(although maybe jokingly) Dave Myers talked about chipping in an extra
BUCK too. If $13 for top honors still doesn't appeal, let's go a bit
Marketing, my friends! We will attempt to compile a disk (or disks)
of all winning entries and a "reasonable fee" will be charged for this
disk. Funds generated will be split amongst the programmers. Sub-Etha
Software (with hopeful support from other vendors) will "foot the bill"
for the disks, labels, and duplication costs.
If that's still not enough, there MAY be more! We will be talking to
other vendors and see about getting together more prizes for the winners.
This part of the contest will depend entirely on the response from other
vendors (who are, by the way, ALLOWED to enter, too!). It may never be as
good as winning the lottery, but it certainly should be fun!
HOW CAN I ENTER?
Simply write a PONG(tm)-type game and get it to Sub-Etha Software!
As mentioned earlier, you can write it under BASIC, 6309 or 6809 assembly,
OS9, or even OSK. "Cheating" is allowed for all versions, by the way. We
are more concerned with the outcome than "how it got there"...just make
sure it doesn't do anything too bad!
The competition should be interesting. Several "well known" CoCo
programmers are rumored to be interested in working on PONG(tm)-type games
for this "for the fun of it" contest. Don't let that discourage you,
though! We'll do our best to try to make it as fun as possible for all
involved! So...ready? Then let's get started! The clock is ticking.
Get those balls bouncing, and let's have some fun!
Please note that we are in no way connected with Atari Corporation
and have neither their permission or praise to hold a PONG(tm)-type
contest. The game name, PONG(tm), apparently remains property of Atari
but, over the years, has fallen into such common usage that we felt we
should be able to get away with using it to describe this contest without
fear of a nasty lawsuit. (BUT, it is NOT acceptable to call a game simply
"PONG(tm)". That has been used... ;)
Of special interest, though, will be my attempts to contact someone
at Atari for more official information on the history of PONG(tm) as well
as possible "official" permission to actually use the name legally. Who
knows! Maybe we'll be able to take the winner and have it released as a
"real" PONG(tm) game with Atari's blessing...but don't hold your breath.
Let's just have some fun.
Terry, just look what you have started! Any vendors interested in
upping the stakes can try to contact me via electronic mail
(COCO-SYSOP@GENIE.GEIS.COM) or leave a message on the Sub-Etha OSK Midwest
Division line at (815) 748-6638 (24 hours a day) and it will be relayed to
me. Of course, U.S. Mail is always available...
P.O. Box xxxx42
Lufkin, Texas 75915
Have fun! I will be looking forward to your entries! (OSK entries
can be directed to Joel Hegberg and perhaps might even be better mailed
directly to Joel...Leave a message to JOELHEGBERG@DELPHI.COM to get
instructions on how to get something to him...) Thanks!
On 5/18/93, I received a return phone call from a lady at the Legal
Department of Atari. She is currently checking into some "official"
PONG(tm) history for me, as well as finding out some legal guidelines for
using the name PONG(tm) in this text file. Suffice it to say that I had
to revise this file and make sure that the TRADE MARK was clearly visible.
To further disclaim all of this...we are NOT writing PONG(tm)...but games
that are PONG(tm)-like. (Thus, all the changes in this document from