Five Years of Archiving Video Games' Retro, Silly Past In Print

Video gaming's greatest (and goofiest) moments in print will be forever preserved online, thanks to the efforts of a man and his scanner, Benj Edwards and an Epson Perfection 2480 Photo.

For the past five years, every Monday, Vintage Computing & Gaming's Benj Edwards has posted a new "Retro Scan of the Week," archiving—quite beautifully—classic ads, manuals and catalog for video games, computers and electronics, much of it antiquated technology like floppy drives and modems that now seems quaint.

"I remember thumbing through an old computer magazine and seeing some really silly stuff that I'd like to share with my audience," Edwards says of the scans that have been running since 2006. "I had previously done a few weekly things like 'BBS Validation Message of the Week,' so I through that a new scan every week would be good for the site."

Edwards' archives show the earliest days of Nintendo coming to America, with families playing Super Mario Bros. together. They preserve silly ads for Sega hardware, designed to titillate. Sometimes Edwards scans in other curiosities, like Game Boy bubble gum or the face of a Nintendo Entertainment System. Occasionally, he comes across newspaper ads for televisions... from 1954. "TV is NOW here," it proclaims.

Edwards, a freelance writer, has dug up and scanned in retro fodder for the past half-decade with great humor. Reading Retro Scan of the Week is often as laugh out loud funny as the quirky ads for Game Boy games, 16-bit consoles and classic PC software he preserves online. They're plucked from old video games magazines, newspapers, books and catalogs.

Sometimes they show a nation in the grips of Pac-Man Fever, as in the case of this scan from a 1982 issue of Popular Computing magazine.

Five Years of Archiving Video Games' Retro, Silly Past In Print

Other times, they help us remember personal computer pitchman like Isaac Asimov and Bill Cosby, who shilled for Radioshack and Texas Instruments, respectively.

"I've been collecting computer and video game magazines since I first received them as a kid in the 1980s," Edwards says. "I don't think I ever threw a single one away."

"In late 2006, I started a concerted effort to buy up collections of vintage computer and game magazines, books, and catalogs so I'd have material for scans and primary source material for articles on computer and game history. Around that time I also received some sizable donations of magazines from readers. That lay the foundation of the continuation of RSOTW through the years."

Earlier this week, Edwards wrote a reflection on his efforts with "Retro Scan of the Week," talking about its genesis, how we narrowly avoided seeing each scan plastered with watermarks(!) and touching on some of the site's most popular scans. This is one of them.

Five Years of Archiving Video Games' Retro, Silly Past In Print

Do you remember the Coleco Super Action Controller?

Fortunately for you, Edwards does. He says he'll continue to archive vintage gaming material. "Some folks ask if I will ever run out of stuff to scan, but I remind them that something new becomes 'vintage' every day," he says. "My working definition of 'vintage' for the site is 10 years or older."

Edwards offers a handy list of all 263 Retro Scan of the Week scans at a five year wrap-up below.

One Scan Per Week for Five Years [Vintage Computing & Gaming]