It was an innocent time. In 1982, people either played proper video games in arcades / convenience stores / donut shops, or they played not-so-good games on the Atari system.
My friend Derek and I used to go over to this guy Kurt’s house to play Atari. Atari was fun, but Kurt’s smoking-hot mom (she smoked a lot, was quite a bit younger than most moms in Blackburn, and wore 1980’s short shorts even in winter time because the thermostat was up so high) made the experience complete. If it wasn’t for the anticipation of looking at Kurt’s mom, we probably wouldn’t have bothered with Atari. I stopped going to Kurt’s place when my mother accused me of smoking cigarettes (second hand smoke from you-know-who).
Derek’s mom was also cool, but in a different way. She was a smart, kind woman who owned the local toy store (next to the Donut Shop), which meant that Derek was the first person in town to get ColecoVision when in launched in August 1982. Derek and I were actually friends, but I probably spent about 1 afternoon more a week than normal at his place between August and December 1982 because ColecoVision was SO GOOD.
- Was vastly superior to Atari or Mattel Intellivision
- Included Donkey Kong in the box, and it was 90% as good as the arcade version of Donkey Kong (which was pretty great for consoles at the time). It was the first time Nintendo really made it into North American homes.
- Was the first machine to have the potential to get kids out of arcades, and back in their houses.
So I wanted one! I dropped so many hints with my parents it was almost embarrassing. I was very happy to see a ColecoVision-sized present under the tree on December 24, 1982. At midnight mass that night at the Greek church in Ottawa, I looked up at the huge ceiling icon of Jesus. He looked rather sternly down at me. I whispered to my mother “Does Jesus look like He’s angry?”
My mother looked up, looked back at me, and cruelly said “That’s weird. He’s smiling at me! I guess he’s just angry with you.”
That night, we got back home and I was still eagerly anticipating opening that ColecoVision present. I ripped and opened and opened and ripped, and I got… an electronic typewriter.
I guess Jesus was angry with me. I spent all Christmas Day 1982 trying to make lemonade out of lemons. I pretended the typewriter was a video game and I did lots of typing exercises that ended up being (a) very helpful with my speed on Track and Field, a game I would play in the arcade a lot in 1983 (b) useful with piano studies and (c) a perfect start for acing my grade 10 typing course a few years later… I got an 87, one of my highest marks in high school.
I’m still quite an excellent typist.
I hope you all have at least one Christmas wish come true this year.