The Akron Beacon Journal from Akron, Ohio on February 26, 1982 · Page 13
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The Akron Beacon Journal from Akron, Ohio · Page 13

Akron, Ohio
Issue Date:
Friday, February 26, 1982
Page 13
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Akhon Bi;u Joi . i .! t" 1 Polly Paffilas Ann Landors Movies TV Ex-Akronites have a hot By Mark Faris Beacon Journal staff writer For the last couple of years, Pae-Man fever has been an ailment that's been confined primarily to bars, arcades and assorted other game rooms that feature the addicting little quar-ter-a-throw computerized video game. Now, however, thanks to Atlanta-based Akron natives Jerry Buckner and Gary Garcia, you can experience a new strain of the malady in the privacy of your own home. It comes in the form of an LP entitled Pac-Man Fever that weaves the blips and beeps of the audio portion of the phenomenally popular game into a synthesized disco beat to which you can dance, if so inclined. THE ALBUM includes six similar tunes based on the sound effects of other popular video games, such as Asteroids, Centipede, Donkey Kong, Froggy, Defender, Berzerk and Mousetrap. And at the rate it's been selling, it may eventually even challenge the popularity of the games from which it's derived. At last count, Buckner and Garcia estimate some 800,000 copies of the album have been sold, and they've projected sales through next Christmas at $32 million. The alburn has also earned the two men appearances on forthcoming editions of such TV shows as Solid Gold, American Bandstand, Merv Griffin, Today and P.M. Magazine as well as a spread in a future issue of People magazine. THINKS, HOWEVER, weren't always so lucrative for Buckner and Garcia. The road to success has been a By James I. Sterba New York Times Time seems to be running out on the tick. Mechanical watches, those technological masterpieces first built in the late 15th century, ticked off 400 years without challenge.. But last year, according to a recent report done for the watch industry, two out of three watches sold in the United States were tickless. By 1990, watchmakers predict, 90 percent will not tick. With or without hands, watches these days are more likely to beep, chime, buzz or blink. A few talk: "Wake up. It is 8:05 a.m. Please hurry." Some sound out 16 bars of a Boccherini minuet while others whistle Dixie. On one watch, a rocket ship zooms to the moon on the wearer's command. Out pops Dick Tracy to plant an American flag while America the Beautiful plays in the background. (It's made in Hong Kong.) BEHIND THIS facade, the venerable sound of a jeweled escapement checking the power of a mainspring has given way to the silent frenzy of an electrically stimulated slice of synthetic quartz quivering exactly 32,768 times per second. This crystalline busybody, and its silent partners, the battery and the integrated circuit, have conspired to push the watch far beyond the time " The ticking of time long one, one that started back in the '60s, back when they were classmates at Simon Perkins Junior High and later at Buchtel High. Even then, Buckner and Garcia coveted a career in music, hoping . like millions of other teenagers to become rock 'n' roll stars. For a while, it looked like they might even make it before graduation in 1966. A year earlier, in 1965, they teamed with Akron's "Singing Policeman," Harvey Russell, and a local band called the Rogues to record a regional hit called Shake Sherry, written by Motown Records founder Berry Gordy. The tune eventually "bubbled under" at the 101st position on the Billboard magazine charts and reality as it so often has a way of doing soon set in. Pac-Man's By Joe Urschel Knieht-Ridder Newspapers There exists in this world a bizarre yellow ball that eats white dots and wants to move into your house. It has great references, a financial future brighter than a newly discovered silver vein, hypnotic powers to rival Rasputin, more fans than Elvis, sex appeal, and four ghosts chasing it. To get things off on the right foot, its parent company is throwing a coming-out party of the kind usually reserved for epic motion picture premieres. It's the Pac-Man cartridge designed for use in the Atari home video player, keeping perfection envisioned by the old master craftsmen who thought a pig's whisker was the perfect hairspring. Miniaturized, these components have allowed the watch to reach a technological watershed: It is now so accurate, portable and available that improvements would be difficult for non-specialists to notice. The price of accuracy has plummeted with the price of electronic chips. For less than $30, anyone can buy a quartz watch more accurate and compact than virtually any timepiece that has ever ticked, of whatever cost. A QUARTZ WATCH is powered by a battery supplying direct-current electricity, which is eventually used either to power a tiny motor that turns the hands or to code and decode an electronic circuit that displays digits. To be usable, the direct current must be transformed into alternating current by an oscillator circuit. To achieve accuracy, the current must alternate at a precise frequency. Pierre Curie, the French physicist, discovered in 1880 that when quartz is subjected to pressure or electric cur u THE HITS just didn't keep on coming. By 1967, although Buckner, along with the Rogues, and Garcia, with another local group called the Outlaws, continued playing at teen spots like the Castle on Crystal Lake Road in Bath and the Outer Limits in Kent, they had i lost their celebrity status and at least some of their illusions about overnight rock stardom. Buckner was working full time at Kratz Piano on South Main Street and Garcia was studying business administration at the University of Akron. Although they kept in touch and, with friend John Mondl, managed a few "homemade" studio recordings and a radio commercial for Nelson's Stag Shop, it wasn't until the early 1970s that they scored again musical- WITH ANOTHER friend, Jim Rich invasion draws near an adaptation of the popular arcade game in which a munching yellow sphere speeds through a maze consuming pellets while being pursued by a variety of killer goblins. It is the latest and largest in a round of Pac-Man manifestations that have swept the country like nothing since Beatlemania and, before the year is over, industry analysts say it will be in nearly one of every 10 American homes. ATARI THINKS it has a best seller coming, and when Atari talks best seller, everyone from 10-year-old paperboys to wing-tipped Wall Street ana rent, it bends. This phenomenon is called the piezoelectric effect, and it works both ways: If such a crystal is mechanically deformed, it emits electric current. Piezoelectric crystals that emit current have been widely used in phonograph pickups. UNDER AN alternating current, the quartz in a watch bends back and forth, or oscillates, at a specific and stable frequency. Most importantly, it also causes the stimulating current to conform exactly to that frequency, much as a clarinet compels its reed to vibrate at a frequency determined by the ail- column defined by whatever holes are opened by the player. A piece of manmade quartz can be cut and shaped to oscillate at whatever frequency is required. It is aged by making it vibrate for several months before it is put into a watch. After years of experimentation, MClnV' to jina 1 little ditty going ard, they formed a trio called Warm Butter and cut a record called Gotta Hear the Beat. Later, as a duo they followed with another single, Roxanna. Neither tune; however, did much outside Northeast Ohio. By 1973, Buckner had had enough and set course for Atlanta with his wife, Terrie, to join a band headed by former Akronite Edgel Groves. Meanwhile, Garcia had dropped out of Akron U and taken a job as an artist with Goodyear and, with his wife the former Linda Eritano was building a family that now includes six children. Although Buckner still hadn't found the promised land in Atlanta, in 1976 he made it sound promising enough at least to convince Garcia to give up nine years' service at Goodyear, pack lysts get goose bumps of anticipation. "Without a doubt, it will be our best-selling cartridge," says Jeff Hoff, media spokesman for Atari. "I won't give any numbers, but I'll go as far as to say it could account for up to 25 percent Of everything done in the home game industry this year." You could break a calculator trying to determine the correct number of zeros behind the Pac-Man's potential income for Atari. Anthony Hoffman, a stock analyst who watches the telecommunications industry for the Wall Street firm of See THE PAC-MAN, page B3 watchmakers have generally settled on a frequency of 32,708 hertz (cycles per second) as offering the best combination for accuracy and efficiency. Large crystals oscillate more slowly, which reduces accuracy. Smaller ones oscillate much faster, but it takes more battery energy to slow the resulting frequency down for use. THE ALTERNATING current at 32,768 hertz then moves into an integrated circuit, where it is divided in half 15 times. The result is an electrical current alternating, with marvelous precision, once each second. In the case of a quartz watch with hands, this stepped-down current r V? fBff ff..!V floury 26 1932 Beacon Journal graphic Dennis Earlenbaugh f ! If up the wife and kids and head for the peach capital. THINGS WEREN'T exactly rotten there, but as they both admit, it was a struggle. Playing rock 'n' roll in local bars at night, they spent their days creating and recording demo tapes of radio ads and peddling them at local ad agencies. "The idea," says Garcia, "was to establish ourselves in radio commercials so we'd have the time and money to spend on producing records." In '79 they finally accomplished their goal with a one-minute spot for a local restaurant called Joe Rigatoni's. It became and remains one of the most successful commercials in the Atlanta area and had ad agencies beating a path to Buckner-Garcia Productions. According to plan, they began producing records. They hit the charts with a tune called Merry Christmas in the NFL, portraying sportscaster Howard Cosell as Santa Claus, and followed it with two even more successful efforts. The first became the theme song for the hit TV series WKRP in Cincinnati and the second, an inspirational message called Footprints in the Sands of Time. is still selling. THE CONCEPT for their new LP came to them during one of their frequent sessions as Pac-Man players. "We were really hooked on video games," says Garcia. "We played just about every spare minute we had. "One day it hit us that it might be a good basis for an album. But we never expected that it'd turn out this good." spurts into a tiny electric motor once a second, causing it to turn the gears that move the hands on the face of the watch. In a quartz digital watch, the current is fed into a decoder circuit that causes liquid crystals to align themselves in the form of digits that show up on the face of the watch. The components of this system are not new. A quartz clock was built in Sec A TICK, page B2 I 3 h H ?! u H n li n M M t

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