On this page, you'll learn a little about the people behind the 2600 Connection.
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Al Backiel

Permit me to introduce myself to all you readers out there. I have had previous experience in video game journalism having contributed to several fanzines, magazines and internet websites. I have been on the staff of Digital Press almost since the beginning. I have a regular column in it called the Wacky World of Al. No, I am not crazy - that is just a title that Joe Santulli decided to call my column. I have also been responsible for maintaining certain system sections of the two Digital Press Price Guides. I plan to continue writing for Digital Press while editing and publishing the 2600 Connection. The 2600 Connection will get priority when it comes to any 2600 "stuff" that I may come up with.

I have been collecting video game systems since the early 70s. The Atari 2600 was my personal favorite because of the fun, easy-to-learn games and the biggest software library of its time. I branched out into every other system ever made. I have collected or still collect: Intellivision, Colecovision, Vectrex, Channel F, Emerson Arcadia, and several obscure systems like Coleco Telstar Arcade, Creativision and the APF MP-1000.

When the video game market crashed in 1984, I picked up most of my Atari 2600 games for a few bucks apiece. Sure, I may have paid $30 for a new Pac-Man or E.T. earlier, but that was because I couldn't wait. Kaybee and other retailers were eventually forced to sell a lot of games cheap in order to clear their inventory. Those were the glory days for collecting and the point when I decided to collect every Atari 2600 ever made. It was now a financial possibility. I remember picking up a lot of the rarer games by Panda, Tiger, Mythicon, Fox, U.S. Games and others at this time. I wrote to every major video game manufacturer asking if I could buy any games from them directly. I figured correctly that I might be able to get games that wouldn't make it to stores.

I got Magicard , Video Life, Cakewalk, and Stronghold from Commavid. Talking to Answer Software got me Malagai, Gauntlet and the Personal Game Programmer (PGP-1). River Patrol was bought from Tiger Electronics, Q*bert's Qubes from Parker Brothers, Out of Control from Avalon Hill.

At a flea market I lucked out with a nice Music Machine and manual. Ditto for Halloween and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Bumper Bash was gotten in a trade. I missed out on getting Chase The Chuck Wagon from Purina, but bought it later on by placing an ad for it. I had a dog at the time, but I was feeding it something else. I managed to catch the ad for Tooth Protectors in the coupon section of the Sunday paper. I have never been lucky enough to stumble across any prototypes in flea markets. Believe me, I have sought them out.

A user friend of mine clued me into Video Game Update, a newsletter of that era that contained reviews of new releases and a listing of future releases. It was published monthly by a video game store called Video-Takeout in California and lasted 100 issues. It was there that I found out about Eli's Ladder, Boing!, Color Bar Generator, and Cubicolor. They had several Lab Loaner prototypes for sale in their early catalogs. Best Electronics was another good source as well as another dealer I stumbled across.

Eventually I wound up with the largest collection of Atari 2600 cartridges in the world. I can say that with conviction because I was trading with all the major collectors in the US, South America, Europe, Canada, and Australia. I knew what they had and what they needed and my collection was always larger by comparison. I didn't collect every label variation, although I still managed to accumulate lots of those. Sadly, I had to break up my collection in 2002 due to financial setbacks. The rarities were sold off directly to individuals that I knew and had dealt within the past at fair prices.

As to my personal life, I am married with no children and own my own home. My wife and I are considered world travelers. I am a computer programmer by profession, but was forced into an early retirement due to the outsourcing of jobs overseas. I have worked for Agfa, Minolta, Panasonic, Metromedia and Hudson United Bank in the past. I hope someday to write my own game for the 2600. Most of my work experience was devoted to writing business applications for mainframe computers. I shifted over to PCs and now am proficient in MS-Office, file transfers, and know a few PC languages.

I have known Russ Perry Jr. and Tim Duarte for many years. We were trading and selling games to each other even before there was an Internet.You may have noticed changes in the appearance of this latest issue. I have tried to maintain the look and feel of the original publication. Both Tim Duarte and Russ Perry Jr. were using a Macintosh and its corresponding software (i.e. Quark) for publishing. I am using a Gateway (IBM PC-clone) and running MS-Publisher 2003. We decided early on not to try and convert files or try to swap them back and forth due to likely compatibility issues. As far as MS Publisher is concerned, I am still in the learning-by-doing process. So please bear with me. I took over from Russ on August 20th of this year. Some time was lost due to vacations. So this issue is already several months late. I hope to get future issues out in a timely manner. AB


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