Talk:Eamon dragon

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Research notes

Getting into the background of the Eamon dragon made for some difficult but interesting research. I first became curious about who created the dragon when I noticed that Synergistic Software-founder Robert C. Clardy had used what was clearly the same artwork (with some minor modifications) on the splash screen of his 1980 adventure game Odyssey: The Compleat Apventure. Either Clardy copied the graphic from Eamon, or both Clardy and Brown had gotten their graphic from the same third party. I decided to see what I could find out.

Both in his player's manual and in comments in the main program, Brown said that it was some creative people in Ann Arbor, Michigan — specifically "R. L. Phillips and friends" — who were responsible for the artwork. Finding someone from 30 years ago with a common last name like Phillips, and doing it with only initials and a city to go on, wasn't easy, but after some searching around online I came across a few references to a Dr. Richard L. Phillips who'd worked and taught on the subject of computer graphics at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor in the '70s and '80s. It sounded like a promising lead, so I decided to try to get in touch with him, and after a few emails back and forth with various faculty and staff at the university I finally learned that he'd retired to Santa Fe.

After a little more digging for a mailing address I was finally able to send off a letter to Dr. Phillips asking (firstly) if I'd gotten the right person, and if so if he remembered Eamon, the dragon artwork, or anything else to do with computer graphics and adventure gaming from the late '70s. A week or so later I got an email back, and was pleased to see that Phillips was happy to reminisce. Here's part of his response:

I bought my first Apple ][ in 1977 and explored its graphics capabilities in detail. In fact, I wrote (in 6502 assembly language) a simulator for the Tektronix graphics terminal. I burned that code into a ROM and installed it in the Apple ][ open slot. The program was called TekSim and I used it in a graphics lab with 10 Apple ][s to teach a course in computer graphics. The Apples were in turn connected to the University's Amdahl main-frame via dedicated 1200 baud lines.

Later, in the 80's, I rewrote TekSim for the Macintosh and renamed it Tekalike. It was marketed by a colleague through a firm called Mesa Graphics. See:

Unfortunately, I have no recollection of the Eamon figure or game. I'm probably the R.L. Phillips in the REM statement but I can't verify that. I hope what I could remember is of some interest.

So, not the definitive "yep, that's me" that I was hoping for, but it was still an interesting quest. It's reasonable that someone with a long and varied career in computers might not remember the details of a single item from 30 years earlier, so even though he's only "probably" the one mentioned in the REMs, I'm reasonably satisfied that I found the person Brown was referring to. As for what role he played in making the dragon, or under what circumstances, or what connection he had to Brown, or who the "friends" were... those details may be lost to time, until and unless Brown himself someday decides to provide some clarification.

As for Odyssey, the fact that Clardy's game followed Eamon makes it seem likely to me that Clardy borrowed the artwork from Brown's game — not an improper thing, given the explicitly open and non-commercial nature of Eamon. Maybe I'll try to reach Clardy to see what he recalls about the dear old dragon... ╠╣uw [talk] 11:31, 24 February 2019 (EST)