GCC

These 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".

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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.

Posted by Steven at 09:12 PM | Permalink | Comments (11)

GCC : Arcade Games

GCC started off making arcade games. The "Super Missile Attack" Mod for "Missile Command", "Ms. PacMan" (which was actually a Mod for "Pac Man"), "Quantuum", and "Food Fight".

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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.

Posted by Steven at 08:01 PM | Permalink

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.

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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.

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GCC : Post-Layoff Rogues Gallery

If you look in the background on this shot, you can see the Rogues Gallery, post-layoff. Over half the company was let go.

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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.

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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.

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GCC : Fire Pole Meeting 1

Every Friday we'd have the "Fire pole meeting" for the whole company to distribute news, acknowledgements, etc. The guy standing just to the left of the pole is KevinC, President of GCC.

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GCC : Fire Pole Meeting 2

Another shot at the same Fire Pole meeting. KevinC is now to the right, and JohnT (another founder and CFO) is to the left.

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GCC : Fire Pole Meeting 3

A different Fire Pole Meeting. I wish I could remember these people's names.

TomF (a.k.a. "Wookie") is just to right of center (beard, blue shirt)
AllenW (a.k.a. "Alien") is 2nd to the left from TomW.

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GCC : Fire Pole Meeting 4

A different view of the same Fire Pole Meeting. Yet more faces that look familiar; but I can't recall names.

DougM (yet another founder, and CTO) is seated on the table of the far left in the pinkish shirt).

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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).

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GCC : Party 2

Same Party, more people, no more names.

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GCC : Party 3

A good shot of Jonathan at the bottom of the picture.

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GCC : Party 4

Same Party

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GCC : Party 5

Yet more of the same party.

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GCC : Birthday Party 1

This was a birthday party

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GCC : Birthday Party 2

More of the same birthday party

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GCC : Birthday Party 3

Another shot of that birthday party, and a face I can identify: RolandJ - tall, beard and moustache, "under" the balloons.

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GCC : Birthday Party 4

Same Birthday Party. You can see BradP's head in the back center, facing right, with glasses.

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GCC : Spring Party 1

I recall this was some kind of "rite of spring" celebration with fresh fruit. It really bugs me that I can't recall these people's names.

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GCC : Spring Party 2

Same Party

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GCC : Spring Party 3

I really wish I could recall her name. She was for a while the company's "social director", and took care of organizing parties like this.

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GCC : Spring Party 4

The vultures descend. Hmm - not quite as big of a crowd for fresh fruit. TomF is in the center back.

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GCC : Spring Party 5

More of the same. KevinO is on the far left in the red shirt.

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GCC : Halloween Party 1

A Halloween Party. KevinO in the dress.

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GCC : Halloween Party 2

More Halloween fun.

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GCC : Halloween Party 3

Another Halloween shot. Just to the right of KevinO, in the blue shirt is ?Steve?

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GCC : Christmas Party 1

A Christmas Party, with KevinC playing Santa. The holiday gift was a 7800 ProSystem game console, which we had developed for Atari. This was, I believe, just after the layoffs.

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GCC : Christmas Party 2

More of the Christmas Party

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GCC : Christmas Party 3

KevinC's whole family

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GCC : Christmas Party 4

More Christmas Party

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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.

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GCC : Traveling 2

This was definitely a trip to DisneyWorld, as TomW's wife (a.k.a. "Wookette", although she hated that) is to his right.

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GCC : Traveling 3

More waiting in airports

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GCC : Traveling 4

More waiting at airports. KevinO on the right, TomF in the middle.

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GCC : Traveling 5

Another Airport. The standing blur is TomW. Bottom left in the hat facing the camera is RandalM

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GCC : Traveling 6

Another airport shot

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GCC : Traveling 7

A fuzzy picture, sorry. On the far left in the brown coat is "Chef Fred" (and no comments on the fact that I remember the Chef's name).

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GCC : Traveling 8

Heading to DisneyWorld together

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GCC : At Work 1

OK, left to right: TomW (standing), ?? (seated), DougM (standing), ??, TomW, ?Art??

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GCC : At Work 2

Hard at work testing our Pole Position cartridge.

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GCC : At Work 3

People I can not name in their office (!!! help !!!)

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GCC : At Work 4

Sorting EEPROMs

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GCC : At Work 5

Busy at work

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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).

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GCC : Randal in Office

RandalM (a.k.a. "Randar the barbarian"), one of our staff artists, in his office.

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GCC : C in Office

Still embarrassed I can't remember her name.

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GCC : Ro in Office

RolandJ in his office.

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GCC : At Work 6

Ro working on one of the many incarnations of "Nightmare" - an arcade game that never quite made it out the door.

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GCC : At Work 7

A sound artist at work.

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GCC : At Work 8

My partner at work. This is a good view of one of the GenRad development stations we used to develop our console games.

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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.

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GCC : At Work 9

Neatness was never one of our strong suites.

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GCC : Taking a Break

Takaing a break to watch the fish. This was a 50(?) gallon, salt-water, tropical fish tank that AllenW helped set up.

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GCC : Doing Research 2

More research being done.

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GCC : Arcade Development Station 1

Arcade games generally used custom hardware (although we employed at least some standardization for our games). This was a typical development station for arcade game prototypes.

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GCC : Arcade Development Station 2

Another view of an Arcade game development station. Just to the left of the monitor you can see the card cage for holding the wire-wrap prototype boards for the games.

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GCC : Around The Office 1

More shots around the office. This is headed back from the main area upstairs to where the dining room was. The open door on the right was the back way into the kitchen.

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GCC : Down the Stairwell

A view down the stairwell with the fire pole. For most of the time we were in this space "upstairs" was arcade development, and "downstairs" was home console development.

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GCC : Around The Office 2

A (poorly focused) view back towards the hardware lab.

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GCC : Around The Office 3

Downstairs in home console land.

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GCC : Around The Office 4

More of home console land (which was my department). Fish tank in back.

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GCC : Around The Office 5

Even more of home console land

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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.

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GCC : GenRad Server Room 1

This was one of the server rooms for the GenRad equipment

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GCC : GenRad Server Room 2

Another view of the RedRad server room, and particularly the network patch panel.

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GCC : Our Vax Server Opus

We also had a VAX server, named Opus, to support development.

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GCC : Dining Room 1

A shot of the dining area looking from the entrance.

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GCC : Dining Room 2

Another shot of the dining area, looking towards the kitchen.

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GCC : Kitchen

The kitchen, where Chef Fred served us.

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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.

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GCC : Replacing Athena

While we were there, the building owners did some maintenance on the roof and took the stature of Athena down for a while. This is a picture of they day they put her back.

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GCC : Athena in Waiting

Here's Athena waiting in the lobby to be returned to the roof.

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GCC : Building Lobby 1

A nice shot of the building lobby.

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GCC : Building Lobby 2

The building lobby, looking in. The entrance to GCC's space was in the far back left.

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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.

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GCC : Better View Out the Front

A better view out the front of the building, this time off the roof as I recall. That's Boston across the Charles River.

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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).

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GCC : Manny

This is Manny, the building maintenance guy. Why do I remember his name and not some of the other people?

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GCC : CES

Back in the game era, one of the big shows every yera was CES - the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

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GCC : Welcome to CES

Inside CES

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GCC : CES Floor 1

The floor at CES was utter chaos.

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GCC : CES Floor 2

More from the CES floor. Note how crowded the aisles were

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GCC : CES Floor 3

Again, look at the crowds.

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GCC : CES Floor 4

The Sega booth.

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GCC : Atari Booth 1

The Atari booth from a distance.

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GCC : Atari Booth 2

The Atari booth, closer.

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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).

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GCC : Our Games on Display 1

Our games on display.

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GCC : Our Games on Display 2

More of our games on display.

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GCC : Our Games on Display 3

Another view of our games on display.

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GCC : Game Factory

Game factory. This was one of my projects - you essentially had a very simple (and limited) iconic language which you could use to build games.

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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).

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GCC : The Enemy 1

Boo... Hiss...

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.

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GCC : The Enemy 2

More of the Activision booth.

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GCC : The Graveyard 1

When the game market went bust and we had to lay off more than half the company, we ended up with a lot of excess equipment. The next few shots are of the "graveyard" (which used to be the dining room).

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GCC : The Graveyard 2

More of the graveyard

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GCC : The Graveyard 3

Graveyard again

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GCC : The Graveyard 4

The graveyard eventually moved to a corner of the manufacturing space upstairs.

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GCC : My Office 2

This was my office after we got into doing serious Macintosh development. No, I am not neat.

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GCC : Around the Office A

The hardware lab in the peripheral age.

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GCC : Around the Office B

General shots around the office in the peripheral era

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GCC : Around the Office C

General shots around the office in the peripheral era

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GCC : Around the Office D

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).

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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.

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GCC : Around the Office F

More random shots around the office in the peripheral era

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GCC : Around the Office G

The base of the fire pole towards the time when I left the company. This area (which used to be part of the console game land) was now sales and marketing.

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GCC : Around the Office H

More of the old home console land.

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GCC : Around the Office I

Random shots of people at work.

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GCC : Around the Office J

more Random shots of people at work.

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GCC : Around the Office K

Even more random shots of people at work.

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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.

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GCC : First Manufacturing 2

Another shot of the first-generation factory.

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GCC : First Manufacturing 3

Another view of the first factory.

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GCC : Second Manufacturing 1

We quicly outgrew the first manufacturing space (and besides, we needed that area for sales and marketing staff). So, the second location of manufacturing was a narrow space on the 2nd floor front of the building.

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GCC : Second Manufacturing 2

More of factory 2

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GCC : Second Manufacturing 3

More of factory 2

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GCC : Second Manufacturing 4

More of factory 2. We both sold Hyperdrive kits of authorized dealers, and did some installations ourselves.

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GCC : Second Manufacturing 5

closeup of the insides of an original Mac. The wooden blocks were (as I recall) spacers we used to line up the mounting brackets.

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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.

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GCC : Second Manufacturing 7

The backs of the burn-in rigs.

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GCC : Second Manufacturing 8

OK, here I'm just playing. Factories are a great place to experiment with photography. I have a whole collection of more "artistic" pictures I took here.

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GCC : Third Manufacturing 1

We also outgrew the 2nd factory space and finally got an enormous area on the third (fourth?) floor of the building. This is just a small part of the space.

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GCC : Third Manufacturing 2

More of the third factory. By the way - the lockers in the back of this shot are actually lockers for the factory workers.

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GCC : Third Manufacturing 3

One of the assembly stations.

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GCC : Third Manufacturing 4

We still did burn-in the old fashioned way.

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GCC : Third Manufacturing 5

A test rig

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GCC : MacWorld booth 1

Our first booth at MacWorld (the new big trade show).

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GCC : MacWorld booth 2

Another shot of the MacWorld booth.

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GCC : MacWorld booth 3

More MacWorld booth

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GCC : HyperNet 1

Hypernet was a networked filesystem which I worked on.

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GCC : HyperDrive 2000

Hyperdrive 2000 (bigger hard disk)

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GCC : Booth Duty 1

Getting ready for booth duty.

From left to right: TomW, DougM, KevinC, JonathanH, JohnT.

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GCC : MacWorld booth A

The booth from our Second MacWorld. pretty much the same, only the marketing was better (we talked about "solutions" rather than "products").

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GCC : MacWorld booth B

More booth

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GCC : MacWorld booth C

Even more booth

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GCC : MacWorld booth D

We also had some good partners by now.

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GCC : MacWorld booth E

I completely forget what product was being demonstrated here.

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GCC : HyperNet 2

Hypernet, marketed.

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GCC : GCC Printers

And by this time we were also making printers for the Mac. GCC still exists (as of 2004) as a printer company, so this is the one piece of what I knew that survives.

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GCC : Booth Duty 2

People getting ready for booth duty. The only name I recall is BethM (in the middle).

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