3-2-1 Contact magazine, June 1988

Lab Notes

3-2-1 Contact magazine, June 1988. They published BASIC type-in programs in a section in the back, including “Where’s the Beef?” by Dan Sanderson, age 9.


Here’s an attempt at playing the Commodore 64 version (the main listing with the described edits). The game is hard! It’s a timed category recognition game, with less time for each match. Line 360 looks broken to me and means you can only match two before ending. L=L-1 is better.

Oh wait! My bad, it’s written as L=L-.3, which is much more sane. It’s the typing it in correctly that’s hard.

Getting published was a confusing experience. Someone at school called me up to tell me they saw it, I hadn’t seen it and I didn’t catch the name of the guy who called, and (as shown here) it was listed as an Apple II program with mods for IBM and C64. I only had a C64.

I had a vague memory of writing a grocery shopping game after a trip to the store, but I submitted a bunch of dumb games months earlier and didn’t quite remember this one. I had wondered if maybe I didn’t write it and it was misattributed. Also I didn’t receive the promised $25.

As my childhood went on, I wondered if I dreamt the whole thing and it didn’t really happen. That’s happened before: I spent early elementary school believing that I lost $300 cash in my closet, even though there was no way I could have had $300 in the first place. I looked.

As an adult it occurred to me to go looking for this to confirm that it exists, but couldn’t find scans of 3-2-1 Contact online. I ended up asking Metafilter, and MeFi having a sizable librarian army someone found it for me. The dream was real. ask.metafilter.com/217127/Where-c…

Of course the Apple II and IBM versions were revisions made by the magazine. The game was certainly on par with my work at age 9. I can only wonder what other edits they made. (Did I really spell “zucchini” correctly? Did I write “canary seed?”)

Of all the things I vaguely remember, I’m certain that I submitted this to the magazine hand-written in pencil on steno paper.

Unless that dude I gave my childhood computer hoard to still has my disks, this is all that remains of my work of that era. (Seriously, guy with the Subaru Outback that picked up C64 and Amiga 500 systems from a Seattle brick apartment building in 1998, DM me.)

(Originally posted to Twitter on February 17, 2020. It received 90 likes and 5 retweets.)