It might have been how they made programmers work a little harder to get something out of them. Maybe it was because when you put a bunch of them together in certain ways, they could turn into things like Asteroids, or Pac-Man, or even a Word Processor. Or maybe it was how, even with their big blocky pixels, they could still make you believe you were fighting dragons, stopping alien invasions, or descending into the depths of Mars.
One thing is clear. If you crank up an old 8-bit machine today and plug in a software cartridge, any old cartridge, it can still bring a ton of joy to the heart.
There was a term once used in software: the “out-of-box experience.” Its idea was simple: What feelings will your programs evoke when people take it out of the box and use it for the first time?
If your software brought a smile, you did pretty well. If it kept people smiling... well then you had something.
That may be the real charm of those old, 8 bits. Despite their small size, they often burst with out-of-box-experience that can still be felt decades later.
It’s this same kind of spirt Durable Brand works to build into the 64 bits of today.