GCCThese are some (film) photographs I took related to GCC, my second regular job. Some of these are among the first photographs I ever took, so the quality is pretty variable. I am very interested in help from other former employees of GCC in putting names to some of the faces here (I find that 20 years on, my memory is not the best). Also, please feel free to forward a link to this gallery to other ex-GCC-ers.
I can be reached at "szyslr" at "galleryszy.stevenanne.net". I also have a blog: "Sighs and Musings".
GCC : General Commenting Company
I made this entry with no pictures to provide a place where people could post general comments.
I also wanted to point people over to here, where there is a mailing list for former GCC employees and some additional scans provided by other people.
GCC : Home Games
Then got involved in making games for Atari home systems (2600, 5200, and 7800). The games in this picture are only about a third of the games we eventually developed for Atari. Leveraging our experience with game hardware, we also developed the "7800 ProSystem" game console for Atari.
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GCC : Macintosh Hardware
Unfortunately, the game market bubble burst and GCC was forced to find a new business. What eventually proved successful was peripherals for Macintosh Computers, most notably the "Hyperdrive" internal hard disk for the original Macs.
It should also be noted that GCC went through a rather massive layoff as part of this transition, so there's a real sense of there being 2 different eras in GCC's history – the gamer era and the peripherals era.
GCC : Game Era Rogues Gallery
One cool thing GCC did was maintain a bulletin board with the names and pictures of all employees. Here's the "Rogues Gallery" (as it was known) from sometime in the middle of the game era. Unfortunately, the original negative isn't entirely clear, so I can't blow this up to make it more readable.
GCC : Peripheral Era Rogue's Gallery
And here's the Rogues Gallery from the Peripheral Era, organized the department. The big block of pictures in the lower-right was manufacturing (something we never had before). It was a very different company at this point - not bad, just different.
The negative of this is actually in fairly good shape, and I have a high resultion scan in which a lot of detail can be seen.
GCC : Fire Pole
Perhaps the iconic symbol of GCC at the height of the Game Era was the fire pole that connected the two floors of our space and allowed engineers to move quickly downstairs. We actually went to court to override the building inspector's safety concerns.
GCC : Party 1
We tended to have a lot of parties at GCC. I don't recall what we were celebrating at this one. As above, lots of familiar faces, new names. The only person I recognize is JonathanH in the upper left, wearing a blue jacket over a white T-shirt (I think it’s a "Food Fight" t-shirt – Jonathan was the lead for that game).
GCC : Traveling 1
At GCC we tended to travel a lot, together. There were at least 2 major trade shows a year that most of us went to, plus at the peak of the game era, the company also took us all down to DisneyWorld for a week each year.
On the left, facing away in the blue shirt is TomF. To Tom's right is.... a big embarrassment for me. He and I actually worked together as a team on several projects (we were famous for our "tag-team programming" - we'd each work 13 hours shifts offset by 12 hours, using the same development station. We'd have a half-hour overlap on each end to brief each other on our progress.) "Peacock" sticks in my mind; but that's all. I feel so bad.
GCC : Me in Office
This is me in my office. I did this with ambient light since I was famous for keeping my office dark (still do!) When I left GCC, one of my farewell presents was a flashlight. Another was a "shark hat" as I am an unrepentant pacer and was known for cruising the halls like a shark (another things which has not changed).
GCC : Doing Research 1
Our reserach lab. A lot of what we did was create home-system conversions of arcade games. Since we almost never got source code for the games were were converting; we needed to spend a whole lot of time playing the games to understand how they worked. Poor us.
GCC : My office 1
Another shot of my office, this time lit. This is actually from the transition period - before the layoff, but after we realized we needed to find a lew lines of business.
Also note my (personal) Kaypro computer on the left. An early portable computer. Z-80 based running CP/M.
GCC : The Athenaeum Building
I can't talk about GCC without talking about the building we were in - the Athenaeum Building, which was built to house Athenaeum House Press. Since the place was built to hold multi-ton presses, this building was sturdy.
We started out in the basement front (the row of half windows you see at the bottom). Eventually we moved to the back left on the first and second floors, and then expanded into various other parts of the building.
GCC : View Out the Front
Here's a shot out the front window from the lobby. The brick building on the right was "Land's playground" (the official name was something like "Polaroid Cambridge Research Lab"). It was where Edmund Land (inventor of Polaroid photography) was set up to do independent research.
GCC : The Neighborhood
A bit of a view of the neighborhood. The Athenaeum building is on the far left. This areas was known as "Cambridgeport" at one time; but I discovered that on new maps it gets labeled "Gene town" because of all of the generic research which goes on there now (it looks quite different too, but the Athenaeum building is still there).
GCC : Our Games
Here were the new games Atari was showing off at this show. Most were developed by GCC.
Top row: Millipede (ours), Joust (ours, in fact mine), Dig Dug (ours), Jungle Hunt (don't remember), Moon Patrol (don't remember), Pengo (not us), Crystal Castle (not us), Donkey Kong Junior (don't remember), Mario Brothers (not us), Robotron (ours).
Middle Row: Millipede (ours), Joust (ours), Dig Dug (ours), Mario Brothers (not ours), ??? (not ours), Xevious (ours), Berserk (ours), Baseball (not ours), Pole position (ours), Jungle Hunt (don't remember), moon patrol (don't remember), Choplifter (ours), Pengo (not ours), Robotron (ours).
Bottom Row: Millipede (ours), Xevious (ours), Jungle Hunt (don't remember), Kangaroo (don't remember), Mario Brothers (not ours), Taz (not ours), Dig Dug (ours), moon patrol (don't remember), Pole position (ours), Joust (ours), Battlezone (ours).
GCC : Tsk Tsk
OK, so this was my implementation of Joust running on a Commodore 64 computer. I know that because there were subtle details of the implementation I knew which didn't match the original game perfectly because of limitations in the hardware. Problem was, neither I nor GCC did a version for the Commodore 64, and we certainly hadn't been paid for it. Atari later apologized (and more important paid us).
GCC : The Enemy 1
At that time Activision was the only company who really rivaled us in talent. I remember at this show I ran across an Activision engineer who started chatting me up. I noticed he had a small sheet of paper. It turns out it was a list of GCC engineers who they were supposed to try to recruit. The only thing that bothered me was that we didn't think of it first.
GCC : Around the Office E
General shots around the office in the peripheral era. Note the dining area has been moved to around the top of the stairwell (the old dining area became the graveyard).
You can also see the little gate next to the stairs which you used to get to the fire pole.
GCC : First Manufacturing 1
In the games era, GCC was a pure engineering company. We developed games, someone else built, marketed, and sold them. One of the interesting changes that occurred when we transformed into a peripheral company was that we actually needed a manufacturing department. The first incarnation of manufacturing was at the base of the fire pole.
GCC : Second Manufacturing 6
No, these are not gym lockers. Well, actually they are....
GCC had a lot to learn when it first got into manufacturing hardware. One lesson (which most people in the business know) is the need to "burn in" new components. In any random distribution of new hardware, there is always a subset that fails quickly, and the rest tend to last a long time. The secret is to make sure those components that will fail quickly don't make it to the customer. To that end, we built test rigs (with controlled temperature) to "burn in" each hyperdrive to weed out the poor ones. As it turns out, gym lockers worked perfected to house the rig.