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How the ’90s family computer shaped a generation’s exposure to PC gaming

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In 2009, as a young journalist, I got the opportunity to interview KISS bassist Gene Simmons. As I fretted over my questions ahead of the interview I dug out a yellowing paperback of Berke Breathed’s comic Bloom County that had once belonged to my dad. In the world of Bloom County there’s a fictional computer called the Banana Jr. 6000—a cheeky dig at Apple—and a glorious fake ad in which a cartoon Simmons gives it his full-tongued endorsement. When my interview was over, I timidly asked him to autograph my comic.

Simmons, wearing an unforgettable pair of lurid snakeskin boots, was tickled. “Of course I know about Bloom County,” he smiled while signing the page. “Of course.”

The home computer was a novelty, and an object of extravagance

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