Zach Townsend

Video Games

Do you remember when Space Invaders, Pac-Man and Donkey Kong were invented? That sure was a long time ago. Well apparently, they were created by none other than our friend, Zach Townsend. Yep, Zach was the driving force behind Atari and Apple in those early days. And ColecoVision, but he said not to mention that.

He left both for a while to start a rival video games outfit with a funny name called Nintendo. While there he was known as Zakashiwa Hoisinsaus and created such iconic legends as Sonic (the cute tubby Italian plumber) and Mario the Hedgehog.

Below is a screen shot of Batman, a 1989 video game produced on the Commodore 64 (C64) and attributed to Zach Townsend. Notice how ahead of their time they were with the 3D effects, only now just being rivalled by films such as Avatar and Jackass 3-D. On this shot, you can see the Batman character cleverly appears to be in front of the large vat of vaseline, when of course we know that this is impossible as all the pixels on the computer screen are in fact unable to move in front of each other.


The video game of 'Batman' was such a success, it spawned an Ocean of followups including a popular television series of the same name starring Adam West who later found fame as Mayor of Quahog in the recent biographical television series, 'Family Guy'.

Zach's game also inspired director Tim Burton to start the phenomenally successful 'Batman' film franchise with oddball comedy genius, Michael Keaton. Zach was originally touted for the lead role in the film, but creative differences between him and Jack Nicholson led to Zach locking himself in a washroom for two days when shooting began. Keaton was the daytime janitor on the set at the time, and well, the rest is history.

But we digress. In these early video games, players would control a computer generated character in the game using something known as a joystick. This was a plastic contraption often held between the players' legs, so maximum grip could be achieved.

The Commodore 64 was was one of the first computers to be widely available for playing games. Here is an early photo of Zach programming a Commodore 64 while his partner in the production of the game, Lisa, the graphic artist, searches for inspiration in the mass of bits and bytes that made up the Commodore's electronic brain. You can only Imagine what fun they must have had!

Commodore 64

Programming computers in those early days was not a glamorous pastime. Geeks had not yet been invented, and the early programmers had to find their way through a combination of genius, guesswork and alcohol. Many programmers burned out early in life and later turned to Linux or Windows Server technology to hide their shame.

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