The following is a repost of a Liza Loop interview conducted by ANTIC, the Atari 8-bit Podcast, a collection of interviews with people from the early era of computing. Reposted with permission. (Thanks.) Click on the POD icon for the audio.
hosts: Randy Kindig, Kevin Savetz, Brad Arnold
Mon, 27 April 2015
Liza Loop,Technical Writer
Liza Loop wrote the first users manuals for the Atari 400 and 800 computers. She was a Consultant/Technical Writer for Atari from June 1979 through April 1980, sometimes writing documentation for interfaces that had not been designed yet — so her description became the de facto interface specification. Liza also worked for Personal Software, where she wrote the reference manual for the original VisiCalc program. And in an interesting Atari-related note, she and her husband Steve Smith were married by Atari 400/800 designer Jay Miner — she talks about that in the interview, too.
This interview was conducted January 28, 2015. As of the day I’m recording this in April 2015, Liza hasn’t been able to find the manuals and newsletters that we discuss to scan them — but she says she’s still on the lookout. When she finds them and we get them scanned, they’ll be added to the show notes atAtariPodcast.com.
“There was no way that this machine [the Atari 800] would be accepted by a touch typist if you had to shift to get lower case.”
“I met Steve Wozniak…I was the first person that he had ever met who was taking computers into schools so he gave me the first Apple… So we have Apple I number 1 and Apple II number 10.”
“One of the things very few people know about Jay [Miner] is that he was interested in nudism. The local nudist group used to have their parties at his house.”
“So I would have to go and stand in the accounting office…and say ‘It’s a week after my pay date and I have not received my check… write me a hand check, and put it in the system later … And I’m going to stand here until you do it.”
“The guys who started Activision were at Atari. … Somebody asked me how much I was being paid. I told them … And they said, ‘$40 an hour! We’re in the wrong business.’ And they all quit, and they said ‘If you want us to work for you, hire us back at consultants for $40 an hour.'”