5.02.2010

Moonbase IO audio discovery

This weekend while working on my cassette import project (which is finally winding down), I discovered an unexpected gem from my Atari 800 computer days! Back when all we had was a cassette drive (Dad hadn't bought our incredibly high tech 5.25-inch floppy drive yet!), the worst part about playing a game was waiting for it to load, which could take as long as 15 minutes depending on the program. One of my favorite games of that era was called Moonbase IO (released in 1982), and the developers figured out a clever way to do something with that boring loading time. Since the Atari cassette drive used only one stereo channel for the program signal, Moonbase IO filled the second channel with introductory music and narration to set the mood of the game! In between levels (different moons of Jupiter), the cassette would spin up again to play additional sound effects and continue the story of the game (loading more data in the process). It sounds so archaic today, but it was totally amazing at the time, and really makes Moonbase IO stand out in my early computer memories!

For some reason, I made a dub of the Moonbase IO cassette way back in the 80s, and it was incredible to listen to it again! I wanted to hear the cool audio by itself, so after importing the tape, I muted the data channel, then took out a few frequencies in the remaining sound to reduce the high-pitched bleed over as much as I could. You can still hear some data noise, but I got rid of enough of it (as well as removing tape hiss) to make a pretty nice "historical" recording! I'm totally impressed with the quality of the music, sound effects, and even the voice acting, and hearing the sped-up robot voice say "Docking successful!" brings back a lot of memories. There are two versions for your listening pleasure: one includes the complete game loading sequence (which has more instrumental score at the beginning), and the other is the game-only effects. If you are an Atari computer enthusiast, please! enjoy this nostalgic discovery!

Watch video: Moonbase IO Game Audio
Play Moonbase IO long audio (Less filtering)
Play Moonbase IO short audio (Less filtering)
View site: Ekranownia Atari (Moonbase IO screen shots way down on the page)
Visit site: Atari Mania (Moonbase IO instructions and advertisements)