Venetian Blinds Demo

Name:
Venetian Blinds Demo
Company: Activision
Model #:
N/A
Programmer:
David Crane
Year: 1982
Released?
No
Notes:
The sunset was later used in Barnstorming

 

As the name implies the Venetian Blinds demo isn't a game, but a short program that simulates a pair of Venetian blinds!  The joystick can be used to raise and lower the blinds by pushing up or down.  When the blinds are raised a nicely done sunset is visible out the window.  

 

The story behind the Venetian Blind demo is rather interesting.  As you may or may not know, Activision was founded by several ex-Atari employees who had left due to Atari's policies on programmer recognition (or the lack thereof).  One of these employees was Bob Whitehead, creator of the "Venetian Blinds" technique, which was first used in Atari's Video Chess to display eight objects in a row instead of the normal six (see Computer Chess for more information).  Even though Activision had never used the Venetian Blinds technique in any of their games, that didn't stop Atari from threatening to sue Activision for "stealing" the technique along with other various proprietary information.

 

Now Activision knew that they hadn't stolen anything from Atari, but rather than get into a nasty legal argument about it they decided to play it smooth.  According to David Crane, when the Atari's lawyers questioned them about the "stolen" Venetian Blinds technique David showed them this demo and said "Is this what you guys are referring to?".  As you can imagine this pissed Atari off to no end and they went through with the lawsuit.  In the end Atari ended up losing the case and Activision went on to become the most successful of the 2600 third party companies.

Although Activision never made a game out of this demo it didn't go completely to waste.  The sunset was later used in the background of Barnstorming.  

 

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