The 36th Anniversary of that Bloody Thing

Q: Why, Forty, as a fan of Max Headroom, do you inexplicably hate the so-called “Max Headroom Incident” involving an act of TV piracy in the 1980s. You appreciate signal piracy. You enjoy Max. What’s wrong with you? It’s the 36th anniversary of the hijacking!

The real Max has no ass to spank.

A: I’m glad you asked, random stranger. It’s because I fucking love Max Headroom. As a TV show. As a talk show host. As a movie. And as a character.

And it absolutely twists my tits to realize that the first and probably only thing people will remember about Max, in the future, is this stupid, one-off incident of a dumb-ass interrupting an episode of Dr. Who while wearing a mask, rambling incoherently, and paddling their naked ass.

Don’t get me wrong: this, by itself is very funny. On it’s own merits it’s terrific, in the spirit of things, and it does overlap with some of the major themes of the TV series (e.g. “signal zippers“).

But Max Headroom — as a whole — deserves a much, much better legacy than this.

So I will continue to grump. Just don’t take my grumping about this too seriously.

And I promise not to keep writing posts as questions nobody asked; I am merely creatively bankrupt.

Review – The Prisoner (1967)


I’ve mentioned this show before, but I figured I’d tackle the whole series here in this one post.

Let me tell you: The Prisoner is a truly incredible show. Don’t sleep on it. In fact, consider it required viewing.

It’s a thorough mind-fuck of a war between unstoppable forces and the immovable object. It’s the grand-daddy of many a subsequent TV show’s mysteries, most notably there’s an obvious influence on LOST. At least to me. Though that show went down a different path, the basic kernel of mystery and raw “is this really happening” fuckery is unmistakable to me.

A quick refresher: our protagonist is an ex-spook who angrily shows up one day and and retires from the job with a tea-cup smashing slam of his fist on the desk.

His head full of secrets, valuable to both ‘sides’, he’s gassed in his own home and wakes up in The Village — a small microcosm of a perfect community where people are issued numbers instead of using their names. Escape is made nigh impossible, enforced by a gang of thugs and a bizarre (sentient…?) white ball that smothers people to death.

The people running The Village, headed by the ever-changing form of No.2, just want to know: why did you resign?

No.6, as he’s labelled, not knowing which side his captors are on, refuses to answer the question. He’s valuable to whoever is running the show, so they’ll do everything short of physical torture to try and break him. The various ways in which they attempt to pry this information from him in each episode is quite impressive, and imaginative. And often downright cruel.

I’ll include a brief synopsis (via Wikipedia) as a refresher and talk a bit about each one.

Oh, and uh, it goes without saying but: _spoilers._

And these were watched in the order Shout Factory put them in. I recognize and even noticed that some episodes feel out of order — Dance of the Dead, most notably, suggests No.6 has ‘just arrived’.

There’s a recommended fan-authored viewing order that, in retrospect, I might have followed. But what’s done is done…

…about half way through the series run I started keeping realtime observations and commentary as I watched each episode. I circled back afterward and made some quick notes on a speedy rewatch of the first six, but they’re nowhere near as detailed.

Anyway, onward…

Ep. 1 – Arrival

After waking up in the Village and discovering his captivity there, No.6 encounters a friend from the outside who may have a possible escape.

They really pull out all the stops for the first episode — the sheer wall to wall insanity at times is impressive. The series doesn’t quite put the pedal down quite like it does here, going forward, but that’s a good thing.

If you watch this and enjoy it, yeah, it’s safe to say you’ll be all set for the rest of the series.


Quick Re-watch Observations

    • The very first person we meet, a lady at the local cafe, is wearing a black badge. (124? 104?)
    • A taxi driver later has a black badge as well.
    • The girl in the pink bikini that slides by No.6 by the bridge has one.
  • Places listed in the directory, in order of listing:
    • fun palace
    • hospital
    • shop
    • taxi rank
    • council
    • bandstand
    • exchange
    • town hall
    • old people
    • old ship
    • advisory (advice?)
  • Funny how good this episode looks compared to later eps. Much more on-location, versus stages with phony recreations of the location set.
  • No.6’s taxi trip costs “2 units”.
  • The map is labelled “Your Village”, versus “The Village” as we usually refer to it.
  • No.6’s time of birth: 4:31am, 1928-03-19.
  • Nobody asks if ROVER is okay. 🙁
  • The hot pink room looks like an album cover.
  • The doctor says No.6’s clothes have been burned and doesn’t offer a reason why. (Which either contradicts the finale, or is a lie.)
  • A guy at the end of the hallway is bald, staring at what appears to be a tiny, ping-pong ball sized Rover, while spouting gibberish. (“Oh, he’s coming along nicely!”)
  • We never do see the “electro-pass” again.
  • I enjoy that they give him this elaborate phony escape opportunity just to prove how futile it is to even try.
  • “We’re all pawns, m’dear!”

Ep 2 – The Chimes of Big Ben

A new prisoner, Nadia, may have information about the Village that makes an escape attempt possible.

You might think that it’s a bit early in the run to have him escape all the way back home, being only the second episode. But I choose to see it as a show of power: look at how convincing a fake they can create. How far you think you’ve gotten — yet every single step along the journey was artificial.

But then there’s the whole thing where the series is probably being shown out of order, but let’s take the wins where we can.


Quick Re-watch Observations

  • “Escape, come back, wipe this place off the face of the Earth, obliterate it… and you with it.”
  • I love how shocked No.2 is when No.6 puts sugar in his drink.
  • Not only is Leo McKern the best No.2, but he ends up part of the finale as well. Great choice.
  • Genuine non-alcoholic whiskey: 24 work units. Genuine non-alcoholic vodka: 16 work units.
  • Direct TV range: 2 miles. After that? Radar.
  • We see three Rovers in this episode at once — one large one, and two small ones helping drag the escaping woman back.
  • The art exhibition with all the Leo McKern art is amazing.
  • A Rover gets sniped at from shore, and this seemingly deters it. Or it’s just part of the act.
  • No.6 when asked where The Village is replies: “Lithuania, on the Baltic, 30 miles from the Polish border”.
  • “Why DID you resign?” “It was a matter of conscience!”, later he begins to explain “…for a very long time…”

Ep 3 – A. B. and C.

A desperate No.2 manipulates No.6’s dreams to discover where his loyalties lie.

An interesting exploration using “what would No.6 have done” to figure out his loyalties. Fun watching No.2 sweat in fear of the big red phone, too.


Quick Re-watch Observations

  • My second favorite No.2, Colin Gordon!
  • “A” looks a hell of a lot like Pedro Pascal.
  • The Feb 10th “The Tally Ho” headline reads, “Is No.2 Fit For Future Term?”
  • “B”‘s mouth is HUGE. Like Steven Tyler.
  • “Be seeing you!” “NO! I’ll be seeing YOU.”

Ep 4 – Free for All

Presented with the opportunity, No.6 runs for election to the post of No.2.

This isn’t the weakest episode of the series, but for some reason I found myself struggling to pay attention. Just a mind-fuck to screw with him. What else is new?


Quick Re-watch Observations

  • Several people in the election crowd in town can be seen wearing them in the background.
  • The serving girl has a black badge later in the episode. (No.265)
  • The thugs that rise out of the floor to tackle No.6 have them.
  • No.2 mentions No.6 is “new here”, suggesting this is an earlier episode.
  • The newspaper turns every “no comment” into a full on response. The paper’s headline even reads “No.6 Speaks His Mind”.
  • Random boat fight!
  • This No.2 says “to hell with The Village” when asked if he doesn’t approve.
  • She’s using the Three Stooges technique: “Push Buttons!”
  • Just a bunch of guys in cave, wearing sunglasses, sitting in a circle around Rover. Totally normal.
  • “Give my regards to the homeland.” – a totally normal thing for someone to say.

Ep 5 – The Schizoid Man

No.2 replaces No.6 with an identical duplicate (played by McGoohan) to weaken the real Six’s sense of identity.

This was so damned good. There was even a moment or two where even I was questioning the real No.6’s authenticity. But what’s really great is that they go the extra mile in the last third of the story to turn The Village’s plan to break him, into an escape attempt. If No.6 didn’t botch a bit of personal information, he might have genuinely escaped. (Well… I thought that way until “Many Happy Returns”, at least.)


Quick Re-watch Observations

  • Whoa, one of the very few people on the show who isn’t white!
  • Clever using the thumbnail bruise to sus out the scam.
  • The password is “gemini”.
  • Some of the split-screen here is pretty good. Especially for the era.
  • I can’t believe they moved his fucking mole.
  • This No.2 is more like a game show host.
  • Making the little guy give you a massage, dude? Weird.
  • It always looks like Rover is humping people to death.
  • No.6 pushes it way too hard in his “Curtis” disguise. He fucks up. He could have been scot-free.
  • Next time you see a calendar so obviously out in the open like that, you let me know.

Ep 6 – The General

An important prisoner’s new speed-teaching machine can be used to indoctrinate everyone into believing the same thing, posing perhaps the greatest threat to No.6’s independence.

A classic Trek story: secret hidden intelligence turns out to be a computer. Damned well-done story, though. Three years of education in 3 minutes! I enjoyed it despite not just borrowing a Trek “computer god” cliche but also defeating it with the usual “tainted data input” that causes the machine to eat itself.

This episode made me lose a whole Saturday investigating the Professor’s typewritten manuscripts.


Quick Re-watch Observations

  • No.6 undercover!
  • Using “thing boxes” to accept the security token is… inspired?
  • No.6 gets a little sloppy in the projection room.
  • That’s a slightly modified Xerox 660 desktop copier that the manuscripts are being fed into.

Ep 7 – Many Happy Returns

After waking to find the Village deserted, No.6 returns to England, but he does not know whom he can trust there.

After seeing how far No.6 got in The Chimes of Big Ben you’d be forgiven for spending most of the episode waiting for the other shoe to drop. The journey he takes, making a raft, getting picked up by gun-runners, and stowing away in a truck on the way to England makes for an impressive episode, with very little dialogue for half the episode.

What’s interesting here is that he really DID escape, and he was able to get information about The Village to his associates. Even locating it somewhere off the coast of Morocco before being cruelly jettisoned back into The Village by the end.

This one was a delight and it really kept me guessing. But what’s interesting here is that No.6 did make contact, he did reveal what happened to himself, he did give them a general idea of where he was being kept, and they weren’t in on it. And none of that was undone or otherwise subverted by the end. An interesting choice.

In theory, in light of this, a rescue mission should not out of the question. Though that’s never alluded to during the episode.


Realtime Observations:

  • BLACK BADGE WATCH: No.2 wears a rare black badge.

Ep 8 – Dance of the Dead

No.6 tries to save an old friend who is headed for destruction at the hands of the Village.

Maybe the worst episode so far? Only the pure grit of Mary Morris’ performance as this installment’s No.2 keeps this one interesting. She’s a bit over the top at times, especially looking into the camera cackling madly before the credits roll. But still, she’s quite memorable.

It’s recommended that this be seen as the second episode of the series, and the events and dialog that go with it, seem to concur. The episode has elements that either got dropped or at least not explicitly stated before (No.6 being assigned an ‘observer’ for example).

The episode seems more of a showcase for insanity, and an attempt at cementing No.6’s fate.

Realtime Observations:

  • BLACK BADGE WATCH: No.240 wears a rare black badge.

Ep 9 – Checkmate

No.6 thinks he has a means to tell the prisoners from the wardens.

Another one that feels like an early episode. Probably even right after Dance of the Dead. More “getting to know” the island. Prisoners vs guardians.

A weak escape attempt considering Six SURELY must know even stepping foot on British soil doesn’t mean he’ll actually have escaped. Actually escaping from The Village doesn’t mean you’re free.

But it’s hard to be fair about the show’s intentions considering the actual order of them is up for interpretation. There’s a low-level of continuity, but even that’s scrambled a bit.

Mediocre episode, but the “Battle Chess” theme in the first quarter is fun.


Realtime Observations:

  • No.2 has quite a bit of makeup on. He also engages in martial arts. Alone.
  • BLACK BADGE WATCH: opposing ‘human chess’ player had one, and so did the gardener who 6 deduces is a ‘guardian’.
  • The Village is certainly at no loss for caucasians. Makes dialog like “You have to learn to distinguish between the blacks and the whites” a bit ominous.
  • The ship at the end is the SAME BOAT set that the “gun runners” had in Many Happy Returns; even some of the same fighting moves and locations are reused. Cut footage pressed into service?

Ep 10 – Hammer into Anvil

No.6 takes revenge on a sadistic No.2 for the death of another prisoner.

Yet again, this one feels like an early episode…. though the plot could easily have made for a fine penultimate episode. No.6 turns the tables on the new No.2, stoking his paranoid tendencies, making him afraid of everyone around him until he finally breaks, calling in for a new No.2 to replace himself. That’s crazy.

I wasn’t sure about this No.2 — he was intense out of the gate, and physical, actually striking No.6. Something we’ve never seen before. 2’s are usually hands-off masterminds kind of characters. But seeing him slowly lose his grip and spiral out of control was incredible.


Realtime Observations:

  • This No.2 is way too intense. He even physically strikes No.6. The guy ends up unhinged in a way I’ve never seen a No.2 before. We’ve never seen a No.2’s authority upended so thoroughly, either. Totally played.
  • No.6 spends 2 units on the “Tally Ho” newspaper.
    • Nine words in the classifieds is 3 units.
    • A cuckoo clock costs 42 units.
    • The store keep wears a black 112 badge.
    • The guy in yellow and the tuba player both clearly sport black badges.
    • The band master also has one (252?)
  • No.6’s note about No.2’s instability is signed by him as “D.6.”
  • Funny how the automatic doors seem to have an instinct about when to open or close.
  • The Xerox 660 returns! Last seen in The General.
  • This is great, turning the tables on No.2 and his paranoia.
  • They’re doing personalized messages on The Village’s in-house radio station? From inside their operations center?
  • No.113 doesn’t exist. She died a month ago.
  • 20, 60, 40, 47, 67, 81, 91, 80
  • Tracking a pigeon by radar!
  • Wow, we just skipped right over actually seeing the “beam” fire.

Ep 11 – It’s Your Funeral

To save the Village from calamitous consequences, No.6 must intervene in a Village power struggle and prevent the assassination of the retiring No.2 by his successor.

Definitely one of the weaker entries. An interesting premise, pitting one No.2 against another, but it struggles to keep it interesting. It even devotes over 3 minutes to a phony sport supposedly invented by Patrick McGoohan himself.


Realtime Observations:

    • Immediately get our first black badge within seconds of the titles: 50.
    • “Plan Division Q” guy in pink jacket has a black 100 badge.
  • We see the Kosho… set… again. Though this feels like the first time we’re seeing it — another out-of-order mixup? And wow, the scene just kind of goes on for a while… 17:30 to 20:45… hashtag filler.
  • This basically addresses why No.6 doesn’t just resort to violence when he’s had the opportunity.
  • This may be my least favorite No.2. He looks like some eccentric, B-grade Arch Hall Jr., which wouldn’t matter so much if he wasn’t just very so boring. The whole episode just has this weird drag to it.

Ep 12 – A Change of Mind

No.2 stirs the Village to ostracize No.6, and then takes even more drastic measures to cure Six’s “unmutuality”.

Another episode where the tables are turned on the current No.2. It feels like a bit of a cop-out that they didn’t actually do the full “social conversion” on him, but considering it’s a weekly TV series, we can’t do TOO much harm to our protag.


Realtime Observations:

  • We get a good look at the wilderness gym No.6 created for himself; while it was seen in prior episodes in this particular viewing order, the dialog suggests this is it’s debut.
  • The new No.2 is a sexist and a glutton. Not my least favorite, but nearing the bottom. Ask me again later; I may change my mind.
  • Oh man, No.6 is LOVING this… disharmoniousness. 😉
    • #62, undergoing “aversion therapy” sports a black badge.
  • Speaking of the “aversion therapy” room, it appears the contents of the room aren’t hot pink as it seemed Arrival, just the circular glass in the window.
  • These people are absolutely mindless monsters. I think some of the might have been voters in the US in 2016. 🤔
  • On one hand, it’s a bit silly that No.6 can pull a skill like hypnotism out of his ass, but we don’t really know WHAT he was into before he resigned, so I guess anything is fair play.
  • There are some VERY obvious stages with fake backgrounds here, but they look pretty good. Not too distracting.
  • “The butcher with the sharpest knife, has the warmest heart.” — egad.

Ep 13 – Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darling

Deprived of his memory and placed in another man’s body, No.6 travels back to England to seek a missing scientist. Nigel Stock portrays Six for most of this episode.

One of the more daring, fantastical sci-fi plots, the Wikipedia summary spells it all out. An interesting premise, with a different actor playing No.6 for the entire episode.

Another story where No.6 is literally back home on British soil, yet he’s not really free. We get a peek into some of his personal details, too.

This might be my second or third favorite post-Arrival episode, but by far the least interesting No.2, existing only to get hornswoggled in the end by an elderly white man.


Realtime Observations:

  • Whoa, this one starts out with a brief scene at the start. And the title sequence doesn’t include the usual threats from the episode’s No.2. This is unprecedented. 😀
  • Also, this episode was not uploaded in HD. 😐
  • Nice toupee, No.2.
  • No.6 just pacing back and forth alone in his room.
  • Oh shit, just straight up bringing in the MPs to drag him in. No agency for No.6 today.
  • Reminds me of the transporter machine that Dr. Kleiner had in HL2. (“What cat…?”)
  • We get a look at what a “The Prisoner” FPS would be like.
  • Whoa, flashbacks from prior episodes. That’ll fit well into anyone’s ‘recommended viewing’ guide. Actually seeing scenes we haven’t seen yet in the current viewing order.
  • It’s been a year.
  • His car has his theme music, unmistakable who’s driving.
  • Holy shit, they’ve recreated the intro with the body swap. That’s amazing.
  • No.6’s code names: in France, “Duval”. In Germany, “Schmidt”. But you’d best know him as “Z.M.73”.
  • His bosses code is P.R.12.
  • This is neat; we’re hearing No.6’s voice as he walks around in this new body.
  • She’s just cool with believing he’s mind-swapped, eh? I mean I saw the scene, but it still seems difficult to believe.
  • He’s taking a blue screen tour of Europe!
  • I was going to criticize No.6 for driving around in his signature car, but they have a tracking device on him anyway. (But he does’t know that yet…)
  • Big assumption on No.6’s part that his current host body could fight as good as he does.
  • No.2’s actor slightly flubbed his line and they kept it in.
  • Oooh, I bet I know how this will end. Obviously No.6 is restored, but the doctor’s mind will go into the one he was inhabiting the whole episode. That’s how he’ll escape.
  • I was right. But not disappointed. It’s a great ending.
  • But also, they had EVERY opportunity to grab the Colonel before he got on the chopper. Ordinarily they control every inch of the universe around The Village, but they can’t radio the chopper to return? What the fuck? 😀

Ep 14 – Living in Harmony

In an Old West setting, a lawman who resigned is trapped in a town called Harmony where the Judge wants him to be the new sheriff – by hook or by crook.

This one goes right off the rails immediately. If you didn’t know the actor and the typeface on the episode title and minimal credits, you’d never know this was an episode of The Prisoner and just assume it was some random western.

An interesting premise: kind of a microcosm of the entire series, but in Western form. Unfortunately the actual plot is so thin that it has trouble filling the hour without long drawn out stretches of scenes, and all the fist-fights allowed by law. But when you get down to it, this is basically The Girl In Lover’s Lane crossed with vaguest suggestion of The Prisoner, Westworld, and every other generic western.

The ending takes a twist, but with more of an unsatisfying “What the fuck was THAT?” whimper, rather than a real doozy of an angle.

Anyway, I bet if I looked we could find some other shows around the same time using the same Western sets. They’re elaborate, damned good looking TV sets. I can’t believe they’d have been erected just for one novelty episode… probably just heard of the opportunity and slapped together a quick script to take advantage of them. If not, it sure feels like it.

Sigh. Well, nobody can accuse The Prisoner of not having a large variety of settings to keep things fresh. It just doesn’t always work.

EDIT: Turns out this episode was quite literally filler.


Realtime Observations

  • Another episode with an intro before the opening titles.
  • No.6 in Westworld!
  • The traditional pre-titles cowboy fistfight.
  • “I turned in my badge and my gun.” “For what reasons?” Aaaah, I get where this is goin’. Alright.
  • Christ this is a slog.
  • She rescues him from jail. He’ll rescue her from jail. Just an endless cycle.
  • I had to put this on at 2x in some spots. It’s just drags on so, so, so, so, much.
  • “I agreed to wear the badge, but not the gun.”
  • OH MY GOD THIS ISN’T EVEN HALF OVER. It’s just more fist fights, too.
  • I feel like “The Kid” could be played better by Jack Elam.
  • “I knew it wouldn’t work!” — lawwwl
  • Holy shit, I didn’t expect that ending!
  • Wait, she’s DEAD?
  • Holy shit, is everyone on drugs?!

Ep 15 – The Girl Who Was Death

No.6 avoids the assassination attempts of a beautiful woman while foiling the plots of her megalomaniac father.

I bet there’s a dozen versions of this on eBay.

This one is… I can’t help but describe it as a drug-fueled over-indulgence. Like a 50 minute long music video.

It just hits the ground running and forces you to piece together things as it goes along. Except none of that matters, since none of this happened because it’s stories he invented for children…?!

Ambitious… The Prisoner certainly takes some big swings, and it usually hits it out of the park. Being that this and Living in Harmony were among the final episodes filmed, it might admittedly be premature to think that maybe it’s best there wasn’t a second season. This just feels like desperation to do something different.

Up until the last quarter I was actually enjoying the inventiveness and creativity put into the whole thing. I LOVE the ‘poisoned’ shot glass and the creative use of the rear projection screen during the driving sequence, for instance.

But once it gets to the Napoleon stuff, and the reveal at the end… eeh.

This was like one of those episodes of Bob’s Burgers where the kids all tell different stories, and that’s the WHOLE episode. Same idea. More or less.


Realtime Observations

  • Back to a proper intro.
  • They didn’t show us the No.2. And it’s using the generic voice many of these use. Hmm.
  • Oh, No.6 is back home again. …?!
  • Bangin’ tunes at the record shop.
  • Doing some traditional spy shit. Another drug-induced fantasy?
  • YOU HAVE JUST BEEN POISONED. That is some fantastic merch.
  • No.6 has just said “fuck it” and is getting wasted on everything ever made.
  • Now he’s shifted into a Sherlock Holmes persona. This is clearly some mental trip at this point.
  • That’s not Sherlock Holmes, that’s Sir Digby Chicken Caesar!
  • This is a really amazing, ambitious episode. A real cracker of a mind-fuck, even if nothing other than that is going on.
  • Did… did they just recycle the Western set from Living in Harmony?
  • Sure, just waste that ammo, 6.
  • VERY clever cyanide gas escape.
  • “Wee!”
  • This is structured so weirdly. Each commercial break is a flip of the page to some new fantasy.
  • Oh horseshit, McGoohan is NOT singing. 😆
  • This is descending into Batman ’66 levels of hijinx. Not in a good way.
  • If you like hot stuffing files into a bag action, boy do we have several minutes for YOU.
  • HOLY SHIT that whole lighthouse model exploded.
  • You are fucking kidding me with this ending. I… don’t know what to say about that.

Ep 16 – Once Upon a Time

No.2 subjects No.6 to “Degree Absolute”, a desperate, last-ditch effort to subdue him – an ordeal that will not end until it breaks one of them.

Hooooooly shit. Was this the Infinity War to the series finale’s Endgame? This was crazy intense. I mean, wow. These two just going off into a bizarro psychological showdown. A lot of screaming. This feels like an episode that if they knew about it, they’d never have given these guys money to make this series. And I love it.


Realtime Observations

  • It’s him! He’s back! Leo McKern is a favorite.
  • No.6 is doing his pace-eating again.
  • Getting a replay of the series up to this point on the projector. The good parts, at least.
  • This is sounding serious.
  • Gettin’ weird again.
  • “Want to go walkies?” — a) that’s hilarious, and b) I thought that was a modern expression. Clearly not.
  • This is a whole weird scene, man.
  • This episode is just full of iconic imagery.
  • “I’m beginning to like him.”
  • There’s an amazing amount of shouting in this episode.
  • This almost feels like an early Q episode of TNG in some ways.
  • The episode’s freaky nature and non-stop WTF’s-a-minute makes even The Girl Who Was Death look pedestrian by comparison.
  • A really special episode. These two are acting their asses off. A real powerhouse.
  • Taking him to No.1?! NEXT WEEK?!!

Ep 17 – Fall Out

No.6 encounters the forces in charge of The Village, but can he finally escape?

You know that last week of school before Summer where you’re obviously done with school, and the teachers stop trying, and it just devolves into skipping classes and generally screwing around, getting away with anything until the bus comes at the end of the day?

That’s the series finale of The Prisoner. It decomposes into a crazy, unhinged, strange, abstract art piece.

I don’t know if it was good television, but it was one hell of a show.

And it conclusively ended.

With some minor asterisks.

It’s a shame that it spiraled out like this. A large part of really appeals about the show’s basic premise was that it was the usual “out there” super-spy stuff, but it was grounded. More or less. Mind swapping machines notwithstanding. Instead of an ending that suits that ‘groundedness’, it quite literally takes off into orbit.

Frankly, I’d rather have had it be open-ended without a conclusion (which I’d feared), than go out the way it did.

Bit of a monkey’s paw wish seeing a proper finale, I suppose.

Hell of a ride, though. 🥃

EDIT: This was apparently a rocky, last minute scramble to assemble a finale. It’s kind of impressively weird in it’s own right given those conditions. Supposedly McGoohan had to “go into hiding in the mountains for two weeks, until things calmed down”. I kind of believe that. 😉


Realtime Observations

  • This is clearly a part 2 to last week’s Once Upon a Time. We get a (very lengthy) recap of it here at the opening, for the first time ever.
  • Abbreviated intro titles. Very different. I’ve never noticed them give credit to The Hotel Portmeirion before. (That’s the real-life location that played the part of The Village.)
  • Written and Directed by Patrick McGoohan
  • Giving him his old suit back?!
  • Loooove, looove, loooove…. wow, they got the real song. Must have blew a chunk of the budget on that.
  • This is like a Bond villain’s basement.
  • Oh no, it’s the psychotic kid from the Western episode. (No.48)
  • Oh shit, the barrister is the No.2 from that, too. I think.
  • This just feels like McGoohan taking a break while everyone else just freaks out around him.
  • Is the computer with the “1” on it No.1? Is this like The General? I hope not.
  • This is just off the rails stream-of-consciousness improv horseshit. What in the absolute hell.
  • It’s tedious. With bizarrely licesned music.
  • Yeah, I get it, you’re random. For fucks sake.
  • So I guess the idea is to make No.6 “the man” and presenting him with rebellious stand-ins?
  • Very clear commercial breaks, I’m noticing.
  • Oh god, No.2 with a haircut is a terrible sight. What a shame.
  • So this No.2 was abducted, too?
  • So this is what it’s like for Mario in the pipes.
  • ORBIT 48. ORBIT 2. …?!
  • So much for my theory that he’s unwilling to kill. (Just really hurt people. Like Batman.) This just turned into a shootout.
  • A shootout with The Beatles in the background.
  • Oh yeah, remember The Village? Remember them?
  • Faaaakey.
  • Oh no! All the toy helicopters are leaving!
  • OH. MY. GOD.
  • They REALLY pulled out all the stops for this. Just flat out insanity.
  • His door hums like it did in The Village.
  • That’s it, huh? No denying that.
  • Rover remains an unexplained enigma. Good.

At a Glance…

viewed orderepisode titlerating
2The Chimes of Big Ben⭐⭐⭐⭐
3A. B. and C.⭐⭐⭐
4Free for All⭐⭐⭐
5The Schizoid Man⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
6The General⭐⭐⭐⭐
7Many Happy Returns⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
8Dance of the Dead⭐⭐
10Hammer into Anvil⭐⭐⭐⭐
11It’s Your Funeral⭐⭐
12A Change of Mind⭐⭐⭐
13Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darling⭐⭐⭐⭐
14Living in Harmony⭐⭐
15The Girl Who Was Death⭐⭐
16Once Upon a Time⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
17Fall Out⭐⭐⭐

Behold Your Vector Nightmare, Amiga Fans


Over on Hacker News there was an entry about the “awful” Amiga Kickstart 1.x icon and why it looked the way it did. This led to a link over on Stack Overflow where it was revealed that this was graphic actually drawn in a vector style, as opposed to raster pixels.

They also provided the actual bytes used to render the graphic. I thought it’d be fun to write a little parser to render these bytes.

And so did several other people, apparently, as I’m discovering now. 😐

Anyway, here’s my humble Codepen. And if that goes down, the original code is below the embed. 😎

(I skipped flood fill because I used two.js for this, and didn’t realize until it was too late that I’d chosen poorly. Easy enough to swap out the graphics library, but it’s time to move on.)

See the Pen Amiga Kickstart vector parser by Toby D (@Fortyseven) on CodePen.

    Inspired by:


const floppy = [
  0xff, 0x01, 0x23, 0x0b, 0x3a, 0x0b, 0x3a, 0x21, 0x71, 0x21, 0x71, 0x0b, 0x7d,
  0x0b, 0x88, 0x16, 0x88, 0x5e, 0x7f, 0x5e, 0x7f, 0x38, 0x40, 0x38, 0x3e, 0x36,
  0x35, 0x36, 0x34, 0x38, 0x2d, 0x38, 0x2d, 0x41, 0x23, 0x48, 0x23, 0x0b, 0xfe,
  0x02, 0x25, 0x45, 0xff, 0x01, 0x21, 0x48, 0x21, 0x0a, 0x7e, 0x0a, 0x8a, 0x16,
  0x8a, 0x5f, 0x56, 0x5f, 0x56, 0x64, 0x52, 0x6c, 0x4e, 0x71, 0x4a, 0x74, 0x44,
  0x7d, 0x3c, 0x81, 0x3c, 0x8c, 0x0a, 0x8c, 0x0a, 0x6d, 0x09, 0x6d, 0x09, 0x51,
  0x0d, 0x4b, 0x14, 0x45, 0x15, 0x41, 0x19, 0x3a, 0x1e, 0x37, 0x21, 0x36, 0x21,
  0x36, 0x1e, 0x38, 0x1a, 0x3a, 0x16, 0x41, 0x15, 0x45, 0x0e, 0x4b, 0x0a, 0x51,
  0x0a, 0x6c, 0x0b, 0x6d, 0x0b, 0x8b, 0x28, 0x8b, 0x28, 0x76, 0x30, 0x76, 0x34,
  0x72, 0x34, 0x5f, 0x32, 0x5c, 0x32, 0x52, 0x41, 0x45, 0x41, 0x39, 0x3e, 0x37,
  0x3b, 0x37, 0x3e, 0x3a, 0x3e, 0x41, 0x3d, 0x42, 0x36, 0x42, 0x33, 0x3f, 0x2a,
  0x46, 0x1e, 0x4c, 0x12, 0x55, 0x12, 0x54, 0x1e, 0x4b, 0x1a, 0x4a, 0x17, 0x47,
  0x1a, 0x49, 0x1e, 0x4a, 0x21, 0x48, 0xff, 0x01, 0x32, 0x3d, 0x34, 0x36, 0x3c,
  0x37, 0x3d, 0x3a, 0x3d, 0x41, 0x36, 0x41, 0x32, 0x3d, 0xff, 0x01, 0x33, 0x5c,
  0x33, 0x52, 0x42, 0x45, 0x42, 0x39, 0x7d, 0x39, 0x7d, 0x5e, 0x34, 0x5e, 0x33,
  0x5a, 0xff, 0x01, 0x3c, 0x0b, 0x6f, 0x0b, 0x6f, 0x20, 0x3c, 0x20, 0x3c, 0x0b,
  0xff, 0x01, 0x60, 0x0e, 0x6b, 0x0e, 0x6b, 0x1c, 0x60, 0x1c, 0x60, 0x0e, 0xfe,
  0x03, 0x3e, 0x1f, 0xff, 0x01, 0x62, 0x0f, 0x69, 0x0f, 0x69, 0x1b, 0x62, 0x1b,
  0x62, 0x0f, 0xfe, 0x02, 0x63, 0x1a, 0xff, 0x01, 0x2f, 0x39, 0x32, 0x39, 0x32,
  0x3b, 0x2f, 0x3f, 0x2f, 0x39, 0xff, 0x01, 0x29, 0x8b, 0x29, 0x77, 0x30, 0x77,
  0x35, 0x72, 0x35, 0x69, 0x39, 0x6b, 0x41, 0x6b, 0x41, 0x6d, 0x45, 0x72, 0x49,
  0x72, 0x49, 0x74, 0x43, 0x7d, 0x3b, 0x80, 0x3b, 0x8b, 0x29, 0x8b, 0xff, 0x01,
  0x35, 0x5f, 0x35, 0x64, 0x3a, 0x61, 0x35, 0x5f, 0xff, 0x01, 0x39, 0x62, 0x35,
  0x64, 0x35, 0x5f, 0x4a, 0x5f, 0x40, 0x69, 0x3f, 0x69, 0x41, 0x67, 0x3c, 0x62,
  0x39, 0x62, 0xff, 0x01, 0x4e, 0x5f, 0x55, 0x5f, 0x55, 0x64, 0x51, 0x6c, 0x4e,
  0x70, 0x49, 0x71, 0x46, 0x71, 0x43, 0x6d, 0x43, 0x6a, 0x4e, 0x5f, 0xff, 0x01,
  0x44, 0x6a, 0x44, 0x6d, 0x46, 0x70, 0x48, 0x70, 0x4c, 0x6f, 0x4d, 0x6c, 0x49,
  0x69, 0x44, 0x6a, 0xff, 0x01, 0x36, 0x68, 0x3e, 0x6a, 0x40, 0x67, 0x3c, 0x63,
  0x39, 0x63, 0x36, 0x65, 0x36, 0x68, 0xff, 0x01, 0x7e, 0x0b, 0x89, 0x16, 0x89,
  0x5e, 0xfe, 0x01, 0x22, 0x0b, 0xfe, 0x01, 0x3b, 0x0b, 0xfe, 0x01, 0x61, 0x0f,
  0xfe, 0x01, 0x6a, 0x1b, 0xfe, 0x01, 0x70, 0x0f, 0xfe, 0x01, 0x7e, 0x5e, 0xfe,
  0x01, 0x4b, 0x60, 0xfe, 0x01, 0x2e, 0x39, 0xff, 0xff,

class AmigaVectParser {
  constructor(bytes, elem) {
    this.palette = ["#FFFFFF", "#000000", "#7777CC", "#BBBBBB"];
    this.offset = [0, 0];
    this.prevOffset = [0, 0];
    this.curColor = 0;
    this.isDrawing = false;
    this.buffer = bytes || [0xff, 0xff];
    this.done = false;

    this.two = new Two({ width: 640, height: 400 }).appendTo(elem);

  doCmd(cmd_pair) {
    if (cmd_pair[0] === 0xff) {
      this.isDrawing = false;
      if (cmd_pair[1] === 0xff) {
        // cmd_done
        this.done = true;
      } else {
        // cmd_colorSet
        this.curColor = cmd_pair[1];
    } else if (cmd_pair[0] === 0xfe) {
      // cmd_floodFill
      this.isDrawing = false;
      this.pointer += 2; //TODO FLOOD FILL
    if (!this.isDrawing) {
      // first coordinate in a poly-line
      this.prevOffset[0] = cmd_pair[0];
      this.prevOffset[1] = cmd_pair[1];
      this.isDrawing = true;
    } else {
      // continuing the poly-line
      this.offset[0] = cmd_pair[0];
      this.offset[1] = cmd_pair[1];

      let line = this.two.makeLine(
        this.prevOffset[0] * 2,
        this.prevOffset[1] * 2, // doubling up X/Y to make it easier to see at 640x400
        this.offset[0] * 2,
        this.offset[1] * 2

      line.stroke = this.palette[this.curColor];
      line.linewidth = 1;

      this.prevOffset[0] = this.offset[0];
      this.prevOffset[1] = this.offset[1];

  draw() {
    let cmd = [0, 0];
    let pointer = 0;
    this.done = false;

    while (!this.done) {
      cmd[0] = this.buffer[pointer++];
      cmd[1] = this.buffer[pointer++];

renderer = new AmigaVectParser(floppy, document.getElementById("draw-shapes"));

Datacom 1200


This is a weird post. Another one of those random things I never set out to write. But for some reason I feel the need to document things when there’s little solid information online. Seeing anything go down the memory hole depresses me, so the least I can do is keep something alive with what I find.

A Half-Second Rack Focus Shot

I was surfing some old TV commercials from the 70s and 80s, as one does.

Eventually I came across this old CKCO Canadian TV station promo from 1983 called “We’re Bringing It Home To You” over on the wonderful Retrontario channel on YouTube.

The promo features a quick montage tour of all the hot new technology and crew behind the station you’re currently enjoying.

One of the machines that brings you their quality content has a fancy rack focus effect very early in the clip, at the 3 second mark. It’s on a keyboard with the label “Datacom 1200” across the top:

Once in a while I get mentally snagged by something like this.

I see a technology from the era I don’t recognize and go on a little detour for a half-hour reading about it. (Imagine this behavior spread out over a lifetime and a lot of things about me begin to make a lot of sense.)

Anyway, this time around I couldn’t find… well, anything. The entire search engine bandwidth for “Datacom 1200” in 2020 is devoted to a product from a Brazilian company named “Datacom” that sells a family of network hardware. And one of the lines features “1200” in the name.

Hey, it’s almost 40 years later. Whatchewgonnado?

A Lead!

Actually, it’s only partially true that I didn’t find anything. I fibbed a smidge.

In fact, the first search result for “Datacom 1200” is an empty listing on an printer ink company’s website. Among the various third-party ink replacements they provide, under their “Other” category, is the “Bell DataCom 1200“. 🤔

Ahh! Indeed, searching “Bell DataCom” as a full brand name sent me on a little trip that included this ad from Bell Canada in a mid-October 1974 issue of The Ottawa Journal; presumably* two older models of Datacom, the 500 and 600.

(I say ‘presumably’ because the Amiga 500 came out after the Amiga 1000; numerical superiority is not always an indicator of temporal positioning! 😉)

The Bell Datacom is a line of old school printer terminals from the Bell Canada’s “Computer Communications Group”.

Pretty much what I expected. No real surprise there.

“The Datacom 500 terminal is a compact, self-contained and quiet unit that allows office personnel to send and receive messages from a remote computer. It is ideally suited for consumer-finance applications and such transactions as journal entries, payment inquiries and file up-dating.”

“The Datacom 600 is a buffered keyboard teleprinter. This general purpose unit is useful in a wide variety of applications such as accounting information processing, order entry and invoicing, and inventory control.”

A Quick Zenith 33000 Detour

One interesting, apparently unrelated thing to note: “For more information, just dial Operator and ask for Zenith 33000.”

My first thought: maybe these Bell-branded terminals are actually sourced from a Zenith supplier and rebranded. Zenith, after all, dipped their toe into the computer world for a minute there, around that time.

But here’s the thing: do a search for “Zenith 33000”. You’ll find a lot of old newspapers returning results (from various sites that want you to subscribe to all of them to get access to a single article… good luck on that).

And it’s not limited to Bell, or even this line of terminals:

This, however, is a dead end.

“Zenith 33000” is a Zenith number. Turns out this was a system of toll-free calling prior to modern toll-free numbers.

A fun bit of telephony trivia, to be sure, but it’s completely unrelated to anything here. 😏

Back to the Datacom 1200…

A December 18th issue of Computerworld from 1978 refers to the 1200 model specifically, on it’s introduction:

Computerworld, December ’78

“The Datacom 1200 family of teleprinters has been introduced by the Computer Communications Group (CCG). Available as a receive-only (RO) terminal or equipped with a keyboard, Datacom 1200 prints bidirectionally at a maximum speed of 180 char./sec and produces up to 132 char./line.

Vucom Output

“Supplied by Digital Equipment Corp., the Datacom 1200 receive-only teleprinter can serve as a hard-copy output device for the Vucom 1, 3 and 4 series of CRTs, as a peripheral printer for mini- and microcomputer systems and for remote multicopy printing from a host data base in a stand-alone configuration.

“Rates for the Datacom 1200 in Canada are $2,715 for the RO model, with an additional $150 for the keyboard send-receive version. Filed rental rates, which are subject to regulatory approval, are $146/mo for the RO model, with an additional $7/mo for the KSR unit. Maintenance costs $44/mo.

Supplied by DEC, huh? Now that’s interesting. From 1970 to the 80s, the once mighty Digital offered their famous DecWriter series of line terminals.

And I’m gonna call it now: the Bell Datacom 1200 is probably a rebranded DecWriter III.

I can’t find anything specifically saying so, but I will make my case, and let you decide!

The Evidence

  • The DecWriter III was released in January 1977. The Computerworld article is from December 1976, referring to January ’77 availability for the Datacom 1200.
  • Both have 180 cps printing speeds.
  • Both support 132-characters per line, max
  • The DecWriter III was a 1200 baud terminal; likely where the “Datacom 1200” number comes from.

But here’s my smoking gun…

The keyboard of the DecWriter III compared to the corner of the Datacom 1200 we’re seeing in the promo spot:

  • Same shape Shift and Return key (though these are probably common for the era).
  • Return has a pipe/backslash and a delete key to the right of it.
  • There’s a cluster of at least four keys above the -/+/~/backspace keys.
  • There’s even a bit of space for the custom Datacom 1200 badge.
  • Oh, and they’re basically the same color. 😏

I feel good about this. The evidence is pretty convincing. There’s just not any official word I’m finding. Yet.

If you find anything, or know first-hand, hit me on Twitter and I’ll update this post.

Still Remembered. Sort of.

One super interesting thing about “Bell Datacom” is that it shows up in a LOT of ink supplier listings — the 1200 model, specifically. In fact, ink listings take up most of the “Bell Datacom 1200” search results on Google.

Even Staples seems to have an atrophied entry for it in their ink category. Guessing there’s a lot of copy/pasting of “machines that use ink” among companies, and either the 1200 still gets play today (unlikely considering how little direct information there is on it), or it simply never got culled over the years.


This was a hell of thing to write based on a half second blip.

I just wanted this to be little more than an “I SEE YOU, DATACOM 1200” type post for anyone in the future who might look for it, and be confused by the lack of information. I didn’t expect to do a full on bit of research, and even come to a reasonable conclusion about it. Huh.

Until next time. 🍻

The Kansas City Standard


(This is a mirror from [], which itself is a mirror from BYTE Magazine. Minor formatting changes have been introduced.)

BYTE’s Audio Cassette Standards Symposium

Written by Manfred and Virgina Peschke
BYTE, Feb 1976, Pages 72 and 73

BYTE Magazine sponsored a symposium on November 7 and 8, 1975 in Kansas City MO regarding the interchange of data on inexpensive consumer quality audio cassette drives.

These drives may be used as one of the mass storage devices in the first generation of personal computers, and will retain importance for some time to come as a means of interchange of software between computer enthusiasts who purchase products of the small systems industry.

In order to promote the growth of the industry, BYTE sought to achieve an industry standard on audio cassette data interchange through a working conference.

We extend our greatest appreciation to the 18 people who worked very hard until late Friday night and Saturday morning to discuss the multitude of problems and solutions associated with digital recording on auto cassettes. The names of the participants are listed in Table 1.

In spite of the short time available, the participants were able to draft a set of provisional standards which seems to promise great reliability and is rather inexpensive to implement; implementations may be entirely in hardware, or may require a mix of software and some minimal hardware.

Considerations were given to the problems of speed variation among recorders and playback equipment, start and stop delays, recording density (or speed) versus reliability, and recording frequencies to avoid interference with the telephone network in case some users plan to transmit the tones of the cassette over the phone lines.

On Saturday afternoon, Mr. Felsenstein and Mr. Mauch volunteered to write up the consensus among the participants as to a provisional standard which has been reproduced below.

Provisional Audio Cassette Data Interchange Standard
The consensus among the participants of the audio cassette standards symposium at Kansas City MO sponsored by BYTE Magazine is as follows:

  • The proposed standard centers around the use of a frequency shift modulation method from which serial clock data can be extracted at rates of up to 300 baud. The system is intended to be used with low to medium cost cassette recorders incorporating electrical stop and start capability which may be operated under program control.
  • The technique proposed provides for long and short term tape speed variation, limitations in bandwidth due to effects such as tape misalignment, and the necessity to retain low cost and low complexity of the hardware. The technique allows for potential operation at higher tape speed than the nominal 1.875 inch/s (4.75 cm/s).
  • A mark (logical one) bit consists of eight cycles at a frequency of 2400 Hz.
  • A space (logical zero) bit consists of four cycles at a frequency of 1200 Hz.
  • A recorded character consists of a space as a start bit, eight data bits, and two or more marks as stop bits.
  • The interval between characters consists of an unspecified amount of time at the mark frequency. In this respect the data format is similar to that of asynchronous data communication.
  • The eight data bits are organized least significant bit first, most significant bit last, and followed (optionally) by a parity bit. The total number of significant bits and the parity bit cannot exceed 8.
  • Where less than eight data bits are used, the unused bits (following the optional parity bit) at the end of the character are mark bits (2400 Hz).
  • Data will be organized in blocks of arbitrary and optionally variable length, preceded by a minimum of five seconds of marks. To avoid errors due to splice and wrinkle problems common at the beginning of tape, the beginning of the first data block will occur no sooner than 30 seconds from the beginning of clear leader.
  • The contents of the data block are not specified.
  • The data block ends after the stop bits of the final character.
  • Bit clocking information may be extracted from the recorded waveform, which is always an integer multiple of the bit rate, regardless of tape speed. This permits the recovery and retiming of data by means of a UART, which requires a clock of sixteen times the bit rate, although other simple circuitry may be used.
  • A reliable bandwidth of 3000 Hz was assumed in choosing mark and space frequencies due to the head misalignment expected between various cassette recorders. The recording technique is a redundant form of Manchester or bifrequency code which has a long history of reliability in the computer industry. In its present form it was proposed by three independent manufacturers at the conference. One cited reliability rates of one error in 10**7 characters for 200 passes.

Table 1: Participants at Audio Cassette Symposium.

Ray Borrill1218 Prairie Dr, Bloomington IN
Hal ChamberlinThe Computer Hobbyist, P 0 Box 5985, Raleigh NC 27607
Tom DurstonMITS, 6328 Linn NE, Albuquerque NM
Lee FelsensteinLGC Engineering, 1807 Delaware St, Berkeley CA 94703
Joe FrappierMikra-D, 32 Maple St, Bellingham MA
Bill GatesMITS
Gary KaySouthwest Technical Products Corp, 219 W Rhapsody, San Antonio TX 78216
Bob MarshProcessor Technology, 2465 Fourth St, Berkeley CA 94710
Harold A MauchPronetics, 4021 Windsor, Garland TX 75042
Bob NelsonPCM, San Ramon CA
George PerrineHAL Communications Corp, Box 365, Urbana IL 61801
Ed RobertsMITS
Richard SmithThe Computer Hobbyist, P 0 Box 5882, Raleigh NC 27607
Les SolomonPopular Electronics, 1 Park Av, New York NY 10016
Michael StolowitzGodbout Electronics, Box 2355, Oakland Airport CA 94614
Paul TuckerHAL Communications Corp
Mike WiseSphere, 791 S 500 W, Bountiful UT 84010
Bob ZallerMITS

Ring, ring… Terebikko calling!


So, a couple weeks ago I was watching this video tribute to Super Mario World‘s 30th anniversary.

At around the 17:20 mark, in the middle of talking about various tie-in products to promote the game, it brings up Mario & Yoshi’s Adventure Land. A one-episode animated movie that follows Mario and Luigi through, essentially, the events of Super Mario World.

What makes it unique is that it this is a “VCR game” of sorts that uses the Terebikko: an interactive ‘quiz’ device that mimics a telephone. Mario calls you. The phone rings. You pick it up. He asks you a question that needs a 1, 2, 3, or 4 response. (Or red, green, yellow, blue.)

You press the answer within the allotted time, and you get a response. (Near I can tell, it mutes the phone for the inappropriate response, but that’s something we’re going to find out definitively.)

And it’s more than just Mario. There’s a whole catalog of videos made for it in Japan, including Dragon Ball Z and Sailor Moon.

I found it all oddly fascinating. And my curiosity started to kick in. It seemed so simple, but it was a clever idea. I loaded the audio into Audacity and realized I could make out binary… uh oh.

See, one of the things I’ve always had an interest in, but never got a chance to try was demodulation of a digital signal from an audio file. Like the screeching of a modem, or a game loaded off an audio tape into a ZX Spectrum. That kind of thing. This seemed like the perfect on-ramp for it.

With very little actual information online, this also seemed like a perfect reverse engineering project in general.

I found out they released a version of this in the United States in 1989 under the Mattel label, a year after it’s debut in Japan from Bandai, and… I found one on eBay for under $20 shipped. 😎

So now I’m, seemingly, irrevocably committed to this project, now that money is involved. 😏

Here’s what I’m planning. I’ve already spent a couple days dicking around and have a stack of notes. I’m hoping to get at least several decent blog posts out of this adventure:

My Goals for this Project!


  • Reverse engineer the digital protocol used, as much as possible
  • Create a real time decoder for it
  • Create a tool to generate the codes, so people can create their own, new videos


  • Do a complete tear-down of the actual device with high res screencaps of the internals (I believe both US and JP versions are identical — the case and operation certainly is, and the videos are all compatible with each other’s versions). Just totally document the hell out of it. Get it all onto Github and for safe keeping.

Nice to Have

  • Possibly integrate the decoder into a software emulator/video player as an all-in-one playback app. (How hard are VLC plugins to write…? 🤔)

That last one is unlikely, but hey, if I haven’t burned myself out on the entire thing by that point, who knows?

UPDATE (2021-03-10): I’ve finally setup a site wiki for content like this. Here’s the entry for the Terebikko:

Gangster Computer God Worldwide Secret Containment Policy


I didn’t go over every word of this, but I’m fairly sure these are the reenacted insane ramblings of Francis E. Dec. Besides, the phrase “Gangster Computer God” is pretty much his THING. 😉

Francis E. Dec (January 6, 1926 – January 21, 1996) was an American lawyer and outsider writer who was best known for his typewritten diatribes that he independently mailed and published from the late 1960s onward. His works are characterized by highly accusatory and vulgar attacks on various subjects, often making use of phrases like “Mad Deadly Worldwide Communist Gangster Computer God” to slander hierarchies that he believed were engaging in electronic harassment against him.

Here’s a sample of his… work… 🤯