Back in the 1980s my brother bought an Apple ][+ from a local computer store called the Byte Shop in Greenfield, Wisconsin. (And yes, there were other stores that used the same name.) I was lucky enough to be able to use the Apple ][+, and learn about computers and programming, and it was the start of my journey of understanding and using technology that has been part of my life for the past 40 years.
My brother recently gave me the receipt for the joystick I purchased in 1982. Yes, this is what 12 year old Petey was saving his money for, an analog joystick made by TG Products from Richardson, Texas. (And you knew it was from there because it was printed right on the top of the enclosure.)
The included “documentation” mentioned a method of removing the springs inside that centered the joystick when released, and I used the “hack” to utilize the joystick as a drawing device (which was quite difficult with the springs in place, and still difficult with the springs removed.)
I remember a lot about this joystick and using it with the Apple ][+ at the time. Computers were so scarce back then, and I don’t think anyone else I knew at school had one at home. I did my best to treat the computer with care, and even to this day, I’m sometimes shocked at the way people treat their technology, as if it’s disposable… but maybe that’s just how it is today, with computing devices being so ubiquitous and easily replaceable.
Above is a great photo of the joystick that I borrowed from the Computer History Museum’s web site. Those buttons are still available, and I’m pretty sure I’ve used them for projects. (I may have even bought some from Radio Shack back in the day.) Also, check out that awesome ribbon cable! (Hey, it was an analog device.)
I did a bit of searching for this old joystick and came across a few links. Here one from a Vintage Apple site. It’s a bit weird because it’s extra long… what’s up with that? Well, see this tweet for some interesting info on that.
And this one is a little weird… It’s a Super Game Stick for Apple II I found on Amazon which is obviously a clone.
The other strange thing for me is that back in 1982 I bought a computer controller (a joystick) and in 2019 I now occasionally build computer controllers, sometimes for work, sometimes for fun, and sometimes it’s a joystick.
Well, you know what they say… you can’t ESC your past.