Hello Universe

I wanted to start my blog with one of my favorite childhood memories. It’s not a story about a specific piece of technology but a miracle of a store that existed during the 90s.

It was the early 90s my father was an early adopter of home computing. We had already owned our first computer a Tandy 1000 he had upgraded a few times but the poor old Tandy was falling behind quickly. I barely remember even using the Tandy but I know I could (with his help) run a few programs from the command prompt and even compile a few lines of code. Wanting to stay current my father some how came up with enough money from his wages as a CNC machinist to purchase a new computer.

Where I grew up in the south Puget Sound in Washington we were lucky enough to have one of the greatest consumer electronics stores ever in history… Incredible Universe.

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Incredible Universe was a massive place packed with all of the latest gear. They had home entertainment, gaming systems, home appliances and countless other early 90s consumer tech products . The place was like Best Buy on steroids.

So we all packed into the Cutlass Supreme station wagon one weekend and made the short trip to Auburn to get a PC that could run the new hot OS Windows 3.1. After about 30 minutes in the car we arrive, I didn’t know it then but this day would shape my future in ways I could not comprehend until years after the eventual collapse of Incredible Universe.

 

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Inside an Incredible Universe, San Diego, CA

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The memories are kind of a blur. The smell of popcorn in the air, the seeming acres of technical wonders, the myriad of sound and colors, this was truly incredible.

My little brother and I soon found our way to the video game area where we found the cutting edge console of the day the coveted 3DO. The graphics were on a whole new level as we tried to play Road Rash we raced and kicked our way into euphoria for a few minutes then went on to play Earthworm Jim on the Snes next to the 3DO display then on to the Genesis for some Sonic. They had every console and hand held of the time out and ready to play, I think we played all of them.

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The cutting edge 3DO

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My mother finally found us glued to some console and had us go to where my father was in the computer section. On the way over I was bombarded with wonders. One of which was an expo of some game where players where having a showdown with what looked like a holographic cowboy(after searching and searching I can’t find any info on this. I’m not talking about Time Traveler the holographic arcade game. This was a game where the player held a gun and shot against a holographic target. Anybody have info on this? Pls comment)! Wow! The line to play looked miles long. The future had truly arrived right in our back yard.

we slowly made our way to where my dad was talking to a sales person about some technical aspect of a few PCs. I swear the computer section was a half acre of the latest and greatest of IBM clones, Software and peripherals. Walking into to depths of the computer sales floor I noticed something running on one of the computers, it was a game showing a screen of some hell scape with various brown haired demons shooting fireballs towards a pistol in some futuristic landscape. It was hard to wrap my brain around what was going on, I grabbed the mouse and shook it, the pistol moved as if I was aiming it, I clicked the mouse Andy the pistol fired. That was it, I was hooked, I needed this in my life. A few minutes later I was dead and the title screen came up Doom II.

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This is still a great game.

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Through the haze of wonder I remember asking my dad if the computer came with games he asked the sales person. Indeed the computer came with a few game demos installed one of which was Doom II. I’m sure I almost pissed my pants.

After a few hours my dad decided to get an Acer with decent graphics and decent sound plus a 486 intel processor. It also had a thing called  CD rom, a new disc format allowing for larger files and less disk swapping when doing installs. Back then they called these mid range computers multimedia PCs.

We stood in line at the checkout, paid and made our way home where my dad set up the new computer in our dining room. I could hardly wait to be able to spend the rest of my life playing Doom II. One thing I didn’t consider however was that we were a family of five all trying to spend all of our time on the computer. Eventually a schedule was made.

I think back on that first trip to IU often in my adult life. I don’t think there has been such an over the top display of consumerism ever since. Good or bad I do wish there was still a store with that kind of entertainment value. It was more than just a store it truly was a universe that was created, an Incredible Universe.

Did you ever go to Incredible Universe? Please comment below…

 

 

 

 

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