Graphics the Hard Way
I came across the SMC 70G computer when I was in College in 1993 here in Montreal. The SMC 70G, commonly referred to as "The Genlocker" (the same term was used to describe a person who dared use it -- "Genlocker", "Genlock Guy") was used in the TV studio to do titling, superimpose text, credits and graphics over various productions in news or television.
The two programs mainly used were Video Titler and Sony GrEdit graphics editor. I spent most of my college years designing graphics for these student productions. The titling program allowed for scrolling credits and was fairly easy to use, with 5 fonts and 5 sizes per font.
The GrEdit program for graphics was enough to drive any Photoshop or mouse driven graphic artist up the walls. It offered a strange color pallete with two shades of pink and beige, and though there was a electronic pen available for this machine, it could never really hit a pixel even in its general pointing vicinity.
The Interface of GrEdit was much like the ANSi program "TheDraw" on the PC, allowing you to cycle through a menubar that could display 5 available commands at a time, but I mainly used this to Save or Load graphics. All the commands on this toolbar were truncated to 5 characters, so it was always an exploration to find out what "this one does".
The numbers on the keyboard each corresponded to a color, making some colors available using keyboard letters ("Y"ellow, for instance). There was, of course, a pre-determined color which onced piped through to a video signal would be "transparent", much like specifying the matte color on a transparent GIF. Using the arrow keys, you moved the crosshair cursor to the desired location, then punched a color. Though there were functions for squares and ellipses, these took too long to do/undo until you got the right sizes, so I would do them manually.
I still have some diskettes of several GrEdit files, but since I've graduated from the college, the TV studio is no more, and I've heard that the two SMC 70Gs that were there were simply thrown away, along with countless videotapes of student productions.
Though I grieve the loss of the productions gone to the trash, to this day, I'm still hoping for somekind of emulator to be able to read and convert my GrEdit artwork to a more standard format. All I've got is a viedotape slideshow of a few news corners and production title screens.
Though I do not miss it much, the Genlocker gave me an opportunity to experience what could have been the last of forced-minimalist computer graphics, and I was glad that I could join the ranks of those who struggled on a pixel-by-pixel basis.