The Thirteenth Hour Podcast #129: Reading from Chip Mitchell: The Case of the Stolen Computer Brains

Episode #129: Reading from Chip Mitchell: The Case of the Stolen Computer Brains

This week, we are reading from a little blast from the past that I first encountered as a kid.  It’s a little slice of the early 80s called Chip Mitchell: The Case of the Stolen Computer Brains, about a middle school age boy named Chip who uses a personal computer in his bedroom (big deal in 1982) to solve crimes and various other problems in his neighborhood.

It was written by computer educator pioneer Fred D’Ignazio (more here) and illustrated by Larry Pearson.  Although quite difficult to find today (eBay and Amazon have a few used copies sometimes), this book and its sequels (which are even harder to find) are a treat for folks nostalgic for an era of dimly lit arcades when games only cost a quarter, dark skating rinks with flashing multicolored lights and pulsing music, the promise and hope as we looked ahead into what computers would do for us amid the secrecy of the Cold war, and the pixelated graphics of early video games like Pac-Man and Space Invaders.  (Click on the images below for more nostalgia.)

80s arcadeImage result for 80s skating rinkSo tune in this week as Chip, his pals, and his personal computer, Hermes (who can talk, has a robot arm, and a modem – remember, this was 1982) try to out outwit a university supercomputer (that probably took up a whole room at the time) in a test of speed and programming skill akin to something out of War Games or Real Genius

Some images from the book:

This is the computer problem that is referenced in the book – some Cold war era cloak and dagger stuff.

Chip and Legs are on the right, Kate and her gang on the left (these are the characters referenced in this story).

Included this part (from a different part of the book) since I couldn’t resist sticking in the part about the synthesizer (way before the sound card era).

Lastly, speaking of synths and pixels, this podcast now has a new logo for 2018.  I figured that since fantasy, scifi, and electronic music collide so frequently here, why not showcase these things with background art for Long Ago Not So Far Away and the pixelart dragon I made for that vaporware Thirteenth Hour game I worked on when I probably should have been studying for math tests or something 🙂

podcast new logo_edited

Title image courtesy of


Between Two Worlds, the synth EP follow up to Long Ago Not So Far Away is now out for streaming on Bandcamp.  

The bonus track, called “Flight of the Cloudrider” has a 80s movie mashup music video (see if you can identify all the movies!) which is available on youtube.   This app was largely created with the iphone app Auxy.

between 2 worlds EP cover 2

Stay tuned.  Follow along on Spotify!  There is also a growing extended Thirteenth Hour playlist on Spotify with a growing number of retro 80s songs.

Check it out!

As always, thanks for listening!