My first computer was the Radio Shack TRS-80. Ultimately it would be renamed the "Model 1" when later versions were released. BASIC was the first language I used, but I really wanted to learn assembly language to get the best game graphics possible.
"Meteor Mission" was my first assembly language creation, but it was never commercially produced or released. "Super Nova" is the game that really got the company started. We placed small ads in computer magazines with a picture of Jeff Konyu playing the game. The orders started to flow in. Jeff and I appeared on ABC's Good Morning America in 1982 and were interviewed by David Hartman!
Click to See Bill and Jeff on Good Morning America:
That trip to GMA was pretty fun for both Jeff and I. ABC flew us to New York and there was a limo waiting to take us to a really nice downtown hotel. After talking with a show coordinator I ended up working most of the night to put a demo together. In the video it looks like we have a design, coding, and testing package that we use on the TRS-80 but it was just something I threw together for the TV show. In fact we had to stop off at a local Radio Shack so I could buy some programming packages to put it together. Too bad I didn't stop and buy some nice dress socks to match my cool suit.
|I was still living at my parent's house at the time. Our sales success allowed me to rent a townhouse to live in and to also lease office space on Victory Blvd. in Van Nuys:|
|We had the leftmost office as visible in the picture. There's a narrow driveway that leads to the back parking lot. I know it's narrow because I once scraped the front of my Mustang driving through it! A county supervisor occupied the other downstairs office. As the company grew we leased additional office space on the second floor.|
|Ultimately we needed even more space and moved to another location on Keswick Street in Van Nuys. This time we had the whole building and parking area to ourselves. We had a reception area in the front. The middle of the building was used for manufacturing and shipping. In the back area were our programming offices.|
||Our success allowed us to have plenty of fun. Jeff, Curtis, and myself took helicopter lessons! The movie Blue Thunder was out at the time and we flew helicopters from JetCopters, which is the company that did all of the flying work for the film. That looks like me getting ready to hover in that Hughes 300 at Van Nuys airport!|
||Here is Jeff Konyu posing with his charcoal Trans-Am! That year's model was the last of that style before the next generation of smaller Camaros and Trans-Ams were produced.|
Here's the convention booth that Curtis and his brother built. We used it in Orlando and also in San Francisco. It featured windows with slide projectors showing random space-related photos!
||There's me counting the loot after a good day of sales at the convention! I still have that carved, wooden Big Five sign which is visible hanging over my head. A bunch of TRS-80 games are hanging from the wall. It looks like the sign is announcing the new release of our latest game, Defense Command.|
||Hey it's Gizmo doing a little game testing. But he was never allowed to test after midnight!|
One of our dedicated programmers, Jeff Zinn, takes a break from writing code to help out by applying labels to the cartridges.
Piles and piles of our "Trissticks" await shipment. These were Atari joysticks that were connected to a small board I designed to allow their use on TRS-80 computers.
We really started getting into the big money when Miner 2049er was released! Here's proof:
(Yes I did cash it already!)
Ultimately I made Big Five Software a division of a newly formed corporation called "S. Bigfoot, Inc." Here's some of the now worthless stock...
Of course Jeff and I probably owe all of our success to the National Enquirer because they did a story about us very early on...
The game market started to collapse for us after the release of Bounty Bob Strikes Back. We started scaling back our company operations as the orders slowly stopped coming in. Our office lease ran out and we decided just to run the company out of my house. Ultimately everyone moved on to other things and I closed the company down. It's somewhat amusing for me to observe that there seems to be more interest in my games today than there was fifteen years ago!