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Source: ANTIC: The Atari 8-Bit Podcast
Interviewer: Kevin Savetz
Jerry Jessop worked at Atari from 1977 through 1985 where he did many jobs including lead a production repair, customer service supervisor for the Atari 400 and 800, and he worked with the secret Skunk Works group that was creating the Amiga when it still could have been an Atari product. In this interview he shares great stories including how he hand assembled Atari 800s on the production floor and fired up the very first 800 XL prototype for the very first time. This interview was conducted March 28, 2015.
Teaser quote: Then I worked on the 1400. I could tell from day one, nobody had their heart into it.
Teaser quote: It was good stuff cutting up 2600s on a Sunday afternoon.
Teaser quote: I shoved 72 810s in a 1979 Dodge Colt one day. I took the seats out so that I could load up as many 810s as I could possibly get in there.
Teaser quote: We had this big inflatable frog that we grabbed from the party and we were walking down the street in Chicago and we ran into a very drunk, on the street, Muhammad Ali.
Kevin: Why don't we start with telling me how you got started at Atari, how you got the job or maybe the first time you saw an Atari machine?
Jerry: Well, I am going to tell you the first time I saw an Atari machine because it might be an interesting story for the youngsters out there. So, it was 1971 and I had just started high school in Hayward, California, not too far from Sunnyvale, maybe 40 miles. I used to go into this bowling alley called Holiday Bowl, which is still there today, abandoned. I used to go in there to play pinball machines because pinball was the big thing back then. We had made a major discovery in high school and that was if you took a penny, and in metal shop you put in on the grinder and you ground the little lip off of it around the penny, it would work as a dime in a pinball machine. I think the Statute of Limitations is up on this. It would work as a dime and pinball games were three games for a quarter, one game per dime, so you could play pinball for a penny, and this was just the greatest thing on earth. So when in Holiday Bowl one day to go play pinball and suddenly there was this completely bizarre looking machine sitting near the pinball machines. It was this fiberglass monstrosity and it had a space thing and as it turns out, it was Computer Space, which was the very first commercial video game that Nolan Bushnell had designed and it was being distributed through Nadine Associates. I remember the first thing that came across me was, "Oh, my God this thing is a quarter, it's not a dime. This is horrific, my world has been turned upside down.”
But I somehow managed to find a quarter and start playing it and I was fascinated by it. That really was a watershed moment in my life where I was thinking that, “It’s really cool auto mechanics and ranching on cars, but you know what? I am fascinated by how this beam is lit up on a television”, because I was torn between electronics and mechanical engineering. Honestly it was right then in there that I said, "I need to go into electronics because this is fascinating". It'll cover this other stuff, I can still do the other things on my own. So, not long after high school, I saw an ad, and this was 1977, for temporary production workers at Atari. I always remembered Atari and I said, “You know what? If I can get my foot in the door there, I can show them that I am a good worker and I'm going to college and they will keep me". And that's exactly what happened. I showed up there in this horrible looking corduroy jeans, early summer of 1977. Looked like a bunch of drug dealers were lined up there looking for a job, and I leveraged the fact that I had a forklift driver's license to really get them to take me seriously. They could use me and I just begged the woman. I said, "You know what? I am going to school for electronics, I am really good at this stuff. Is there any way I could do something that's electronics related?" And I guess they felt pity on me and my bad haircut and I got to work in the production line in the repair area and that was the start.
Kevin: Awesome. So, what were you repairing?
Jerry: I was repairing, the first thing I started working on, and repairing is not the right word. I started off doing rework. I worked with a technician and he would quicly assess what's wrong with the unit and then he would hand it to me and I would get the part, replace the part, so I would do whatever needed to be done and then it would go back onto the assembly line. So, the first product I ever worked on was a horrific, consumer video game called Speedway, and it was actually sold only through Sears. It really wasn't an Atari design. It was just a really rare, and actually very difficult to work on product. I did that for a bit on and off. We would change things up, and then it was pretty much doing video pinball. I spent a lot of time working on video pinball, the consumer version, Super Pong, and then onto Stunt Cycle. All the dedicated games up until the VCS really went into big production, which was later that summer.
Kevin: I just want to clarify. These were things that were being assembled for the first time, but they didn't test right before they were shipped into boxes, so you fixed on and then they went off.
Jerry: Correct. Typically, in those days and again, this doesn't happen today, everything is built in China, everything at the time was built in Sunnyvale. They would hand stuff the boards, well, auto-insert a lot of the components, the resisters and others, but a lot of parts were hand inserted, go through this wave solder machine, and then the PC board at that stage would go through a test process before being put into the cabinet or enclosure. Typically, it wouldn't be unheard of to say that 10, 15% of the products didn't work at that point. It could be Solder Bridge, part backwards, bad parts, it could be anything. You raced as fast as you could to figure out what's wrong and then you pass it to the next guy with a little note on it, a little code. We actually communicated in these very cryptic Atari codes. Typically I would fix, in two hours, 200 units. It was that fast.
Kevin: That's incredible. Were there times when you were like, “This one is just not. . . When something was so wrong you had to give up on it or it took you way longer, a lot of time or was there an accord?
Jerry: No, what you did is you never scrapped anything unless it was physically damaged beyond repair. If there was something you couldn`t figure out, you would spend some time on it then you would set it up on top of the bench. You just go back to it. This was really an important process, and it actually turned out to be valuable later in life, even to this day. Especially when these products are new, nobody knows how to fix them. Nobody knows all the little idiosyncrasies or issues with parts or components. So, there was a lot of value in being able to always fix the board no matter how long it took, and if you had one that was driving you crazy, you'd sit there through lunch and spend an hour. And you do whatever it took to figure it out because then you knew what that problem was and you'd always get it the next time.
Kevin: Nice. So, at what point did you start working on the Atari computers in some fashion?
Jerry: Okay. I had a couple of friends. I started relatively early in the Atari rise. When I started there, there was probably 600 people in the company, and it eventually went to almost 20,000 in the Silicon Valley in 1982, pretty well documented. So, it was a very unique place to work, a very bizarre culture. I've never seen anything like it since. It was the greatest place to work ever. I developed a lot of friendships. People would move around and they would develop friendships with other people and you'd move around the company. So, I ended up being pretty good friends with a lot of the guys in engineering and some of the engineering technicians because they would typically take them out of production and move them over to engineering, which is eventually how I ended up in engineering. Some of the early individuals that went over, I go over and hang out after work in engineering because my shift ended relatively early, like at 3:30, so I'd go over to engineering and hang out until 7, 8 o'clock at night. And I got to play with the early prototypes of the 800/400. I used to take the early prototypes home, the Star Raiders. I can't tell you how many hours I spent in early 1978 playing Star Raiders on a prototype unit at home. That was just the most fascinating thing in the world. But. . .
Kevin: I knew that Star Raiders was an early game, but I didn't realize it was that early, so early that it could be played on a prototype machine.
Jerry: Star Raiders was done, well. . . Star Raiders was, in essence, 90% complete long before production, long before. From my understanding, it was Doug Neubauer who wrote the game and was one of the key principle engineers on the chipset. He really worked on the game as more of a test bed for the chipset. Worked in the GTIA or started the CTIA. Actually GTIA was completed first, but what could that staff do, really, at the silicon level and it was just amazing. People were mesmerized by Star Raiders in early 1978. I can tell you. Every single tech was playing Star Raiders every single day. It was probably interfering with work.
Kevin: So, when you say you brought a prototype of 800 or 400 home, did that look like the 800 that I know or we are talking of wire wrap boards or something like that?
Jerry: Some wire wrap boards. I bring it home with no case and casting. Just the boards slapped together. But I was going to do whatever I could to learn more about this and play Star Raiders, because there was nothing like Star Raiders in the early 1978. It was just phenomenal, as I think any Atari aficionado would agree. So, 1978 was a very interesting year at Atari. It was. . . I really should say 1979. Seventy-eight was really the first year of solid, one year of VCS production. Then as we rolled into 1979, right after Christmas, that was when we first saw the effects of Warner Communications getting their hands on Atari. So, Ray Kassar was put in, Nolan, I think left in 1979, I’m pretty certain it was 1979 or it was very late 1978, but it was about that time Nolan left the company. Again, things changed when Nolan left, even at my level on the production line. I can tell you one Christmas, it was Christmas 1977, and we had a couple of weekends where the factory was open and we were running production Saturday, Sunday and it was, “If you want to come down and work, you come down and work". So, actually one Sunday, Nolan was working on Stunt Cycles all day long, the consumer game, sitting in a bench, testing them, working on them with us.
Kevin: That's crazy.
Jerry: Just a phenomenal guy. I knew that that's the kind of place it was. Every VP was there, everybody was there. If they didn't have technical ability, VPs were pushing power jacks and moving product into trucks. It was incredible. That's the kind of place it was. But that changed in 1979. So, early 1979, and it would have been late January of 1979, I don't think the 2600 did very well at Christmas and there was a lot of inventory they had really pumped it up. And they let go about, I am going to say 95% of everybody in production. They were just let go, whether you were temp, permanent, whatever, go on. They kept the remaining 5%. I knew something was up because I had gotten my review in mid-December and I got this big raise. At the time, a big raise was 50 cents. This was a huge raise, 50 cents an hour. Then the next week I got called back into the head of production's office and he says "you know what? We went back and we really didn't do you right. We need to give you another 50 cent raise". I just thought, "What is going on here? This is crazy." Then literally, the week after Christmas, we came back after New Year and they got rid of everybody but a handful. There was maybe 20 people and I was one of them.
Kevin: One of those who stayed or who went?
Jerry: Who stayed. No no no, I stayed. And it turns out that all the people that they kept, they had done the exact same thing to. In our conversations afterwards, they had all called us in and started bumping up our pay and flattering us because they were going to use the living daylights out of us for the next year. That's exactly what they did, and I have no regrets, they treated me great, but we worked like dogs. Part of that was wrapping production down on the VCS, changing the business and starting to change the facilities and processes in preparation for the 800/400. The 800/400 went into a very, very limited pilot production, I’m going to say August of 1979. The first 400s and 800s that were assembled were all hand assembled on the production floor. Maybe we can talk more about that in a bit, but they were all hand assembled in the production floor and we had to get, I think it was 12 units each, completed, in the final box and out to JCPenney’s four warehouses by, I think it was September, some day in very early September of 1979.
And this was a very critical time because JCPenney's had a requirement. If you weren't in the warehouse on this date, you would not get into the JCPenney catalogue for Christmas. It had to be a production unit. So, we worked, this just came up out of the blue, and I don't think I left the factory for a couple of days. We worked on the production floor, literally day and night, trying to get these 24, 25 units each completed. All hand built, every part stuffed by hand, in a box, tested and out the door. The beauty was, they sat there in the warehouse for a week and then they shipped them right back to us. It was all just to meet this arbitrary deadline of being in the warehouse, being available to be ordered. Then it went into a back order situation, but that allowed them to put it in the Christmas catalogue, which was a big deal back then.
Kevin: Do you have a sense of why they didn't actually want to sell those few units that they had?
Jerry: Because they were a piece of junk. To be quite honest.
Kevin: But they were all handmade.
Jerry: Nobody had any faith that they were going to work for any length of time. And one of the reasons was, we had this big test engineering group and they really went out on a limb and came up with this thing that they called "The Pits Test System". I am sure that people who study Atari computer history maybe have heard about this. It was a system put up to a data general computers and we had these boards and then a subsystem called "The Line Concentrator”, and each system would be interactively tested via a test cartridge designed for this Pits Test System, and then DB9 connectors that went up to all four controller ports and they were configured as IO ports and so, they would be reading data interactively from the computers. This was a scheme that, maybe scheme is not the right word. This was a system that, in principle, meant that you could test these items unattended and then burn them in this way. Well, in reality, I don't think for months we ever got one unit that ever passed. It was just a complete disaster on every level, for the first couple of months. We used to call it the Burn up System.
Kevin: Instead of the Burn In.
Jerry: Instead of the Burn in System. There were a lot of issues. There were issues with the consoles, albeit not that much, but most of the issues were with the test system, it was just flawed and just really needed to be overhauled. I can tell you one of the issues with the consoles that took a little bit of time to figure out, was the CPU, the 65O2 on the 400/800, would run up to 1.8MHz depending on how much time the Antic would steal cycles from the CPU. But the CPUs that were ordered by procurement, were only 1MHz versions. They would kind of work most of the time and if you started pushing the clocks up, because Antic would grab the clock and actually halt it and take the bus, and if Antic wasn't very active, the CPU would crash most of the time because it was running far in excess of its rated speed.
Kevin: So, what's the solution to procure the faster running 65O2s?
Jerry: The solution was to procure the faster running in 65O2s and I think they eventually procured 2MHz versions at a cost hit, for certain.
Kevin: Sure. Going back a little bit. You said there was a bizarre culture at Atari and I'm curious if you could talk a little bit more about it. I am sure the culture changed many times as the ownership changed, but can you give me some examples of what was so bizarre about it?
Jerry: Well, the culture didn't really ever change while I was there. Until the Tramiel showed up, it's a different company. Before the Tramiels, in the early days, it was very laid back, very open. You could walk into anybody's office any time, regardless of level. You could wander through the company. Like me. I could hang out in engineering. Pretty well known story about Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. Wozniak never worked at Atari. He hung out there. And that's truly what you could do if you weren't disruptive, if people liked you, if you were maybe adding some value, you could just step in and work on something and have a great time. There was a lot of drug use, not necessarily on the production floor. I'll definitely stand by that. There was a lot of drug use in and around Atari facilities.
The first Christmas party I ever went to at Atari, which was Christmas 1977, and we had it at a place called the Bold Knight in Sunnyvale on Mathilda Avenue. The building is still there, but now I think it is an Indian restaurant. It was a pretty big deal in Sunnyvale in the day and they threw a great Christmas party. We went there and I'll never forget, we had a blood alcohol measuring machine in the lobby with little LED readout and it was 25 cents. This was a bad thing for anybody hosting an Atari party because it suddenly became, “this is a game and the goal is high score". So, it got pretty ugly. I remember seeing my supervisor at the time lying flat on his back in the parking lot, literally vomiting straight up. I got out of there just about the time the police arrived. That was my first Christmas at Atari.
Kevin: Wow. Merry Christmas. Did you partake?
Jerry: I did not in fact. At the time, I was not 21. I couldn't legally drink. That's not to say I didn't drink on occasion at Atari before I was 21 or go every Friday to this place called the Frosted Mug where we would all cash our paychecks and sometimes Nolan would show up and open up the bar. Honestly, at Atari, I didn't do any kind of drugs and it was only much later that I actually started to drink with the gang in excess at times.
Kevin: You said you wanted to get back to something about these hand-assembling machines on the production floor. You kind of implied that there was something more there that you wanted to go back to.
Jerry: It was just really a fascinating time. They never really prepped us for what was going on and frankly, it wasn't because they didn't care, it's just everything was free form. Everybody was scrambling, but everybody worked together. Before we really started setting things up for the 800/400, they would bring Christmas returns in by the pallet. They would bring a 40-foot tractor trailer to the building and they would just light the pallets up. Literally, we were just walled-in by pallets and products and we just worked our way out of the mess. It was just an amazing thing. What a great place to work. I think fondly back to the days, every day I'm at work, today. And that's just up to 1979. Then it gets even better.
Kevin: That's what I was going to say. We were back in 1979, you were building the early 400/800. Then what?
Jerry: So, late 1979, we actually start producing this product. At the time I am now lead of production repair, of the board repair. So, I'm in charge of repairing the motherboards, the 810. Holy smokes, I could write a book on the 810. Just for anybody who is listening’s knowledge, Atari really miscalculated the production of the 400 and 800. The thought was, the 400 was going to sell 10 times what the 800 sold, just because of the cost. Clearly, that wasn't the situation. The 400 was an okay machine, but the 800 was a spectacular machine. That was really the Cadillac. The height of personal computing at its time, and I think for years on. We actually started building the 400 first. It went okay, but then people started to panic a little bit because they weren't really moving out of the warehouse. It was the 800 and I think, for good reason, it was a very substantial machine. At the end of the day, if you were going to spend $700 or $1,000, $700 dollars back in 1979 or 1980 was a lot of money, you might as well spend a little bit more and buy the 800. I think that Atari certainly miscalculated that and that has probably been documented by other people as well. So, it was kind of a scramble to get the parts and get the materials to really kick off the 800 production. The 800 went together pretty well, not a lot of production issues. It was really the 810, which was just a hopeless pile of junk.
Kevin: Yes, you said you could write a book about the 810. So, please give me the summary of that book. What are the chapter titles?
Jerry: Well, interestingly enough, and I know this has probably been documented somewhere, the system firmware of the 810 was all hand assembled. It was done on a KIM-1 board up in engineering by a guy who really did a great job, but they didn't really have much chance to optimize it until later with revisions like the Rev C and then, of course, it certainly performed a lot better. Then floppy disks were very new beasts in that day, and a couple inherent design problems with the 810. They used the 1771 floppy disk controller. The vendor said, “You need to use this data separator circuit with the part. Highly recommended, we don't recommend you use it without it". Of course, Atari didn't use a data separator, and there was no tolerance in any of the reading of the disk. Any jitter in the data, any degradation in the data, it’s going to error out. There were some component issues, they weren’t spec'd properly. They used this MPI 5 1/4 inch mechanism without a home switch. It would just slam its head into the back. On later models, the tandem version with a flip, they would just knock themselves out of alignment all the time. A lot of alignment, a lot of adjustment issues. It's one of those things. The 810 is something I focused on in production and worked on all the original sideboards, Logic boards, analog boards, worked with MPI when they came up and spent weeks trying to figure out how to make this thing more reliable. It was a tough time. It was a lot of work. I know it was a lot more work for the guys in engineering, but it was a lot of work for everybody.
Kevin: Tangent maybe and maybe you don't know anything about this. I've done many of these interviews and I've heard many complaints from insider people about the speed of the SIO that talked to the [inaudible 00:34:51] and everything else and I've heard a couple of reasons why it's so slow. Maybe you have an opinion. One opinion is that the. . .
Jerry: I can tell you factually some of the reasons. Well, go ahead.
Kevin: Ttwo reasons that I can think of that I've heard is, one, the speed was limited by the speed of the test equipment that Atari had and this simply couldn't test signals any faster and number two is that Atari limited it artificially because they were worried about the FCC.
Jerry: Okay. I have some very definitive opinions and facts on this and it's something I deal with in my job today because in my current position, one of the things I do is I'm in charge of product safety and compliance and that involves FCC, UL compliance and that's global compliance. When you look at the 400 and 800, let's go back to 1979. The 400 and 800 were launched, as was the TI-99/4A from Texas Instruments. What a lot of people don't realize is that the original TI-99/4s came with a modified television turned into a monitor, and it was basically hardwired. That was done for a reason and I am going to get to the reason in a second. Then when you look at the Atari 400s and 800s, they had that huge aluminum casting. That wasn't just to give it more road hugging weight. That was to minimize the EMI because the FCC at the time had very restrictive regimented regulations for what’s called a non-intentional radiator, meaning no radio transmitter for spurious EMI. That was the killer for these products. That is certainly one the reasons the SIO was slowed down to 19.6K, I think.
Kevin: I think so, 19.2 maybe?
Jerry: 19.2. That is certainly one of the reasons if not the primary reason. Everything was about getting that product to pass FCC. In just a little bit past the introduction of the 400/800, there was a lot of unhappy people that Apple, with the Apple 2, was basically getting away with murder by not adhering to the letter of the FCC regulations. They got around at, I'm basically saying, it wasn't a consumer product.
Kevin: Because it didn't come with the RF much later or something like that.
Jerry: Correct. The minute you put an RF modulator on this device, and clearly you had to have one in those days, there really were no consumer monitors, you basically put yourself out of business at the time. So the one thing that I can certainly thank Apple for is later on, in the Apple 2 years, they very successfully lobbied the FCC to come in, to come up with more reasonable guidelines. Because they were really hampering innovation in the home. The guy, in fact I am in touch with him today, the guy that was in charge of getting all the FCC approval, doing all the testing, was an engineer by the name of Joe Fernandez, a super guy. Just on a side note, he was the designer of Video Music. It was an awesome product.
Kevin: It's a new device. Yes it is.
Jerry: A very cool product.
Kevin: Okay, moving forward. Where are we? It's 1980. You are still working at Atari. And then what happened?
Jerry: It’s 1980, still working at Atari. Then I switch over and become supervisor in Customer Service in the computer side. Because I'm able to now take everything I've learned, fixing these things on the assembling line, and I can fix this things in my sleep. Honestly I am, some days. So I moved over to Customer Service and take over those responsibilities. Then we ran a lab of a group of technicians and it was very interesting, a very cool and different environment because, when you called Atari with some technical issue with your 400, 800, 810, whatever, they actually put you through to us, at the bench. And so, I'd been working on somebody's 800/400 while talking to somebody else on the phone about their problems. It was just a phenomenally great experience in my life. I got to meet a lot of wonderful people. At the time, people who were early enthusiasts with PCs, they were just fantastic people. I didn't have angry customers. Everybody was reasonable and understanding. They just wanted to learn more and we really appreciated them as consumers. We used to do a lot of crazy things. If they were in the Bay Area, anywhere remotely close, we'd drive to their house. We'd look at what's going on in their home. If they mailed it in, many people, if it's on my way home, I would give them a call. “Hey, are you going to be home at 6? I'm coming home from work and I'll be glad to drop it off and set it up for you." That's just the way the company was.
Kevin: Wow. That’s awesome.
Jerry: That was just a phenomenal learning experience. I stayed there a year and a half, maybe or two years doing that and then I moved on to engineering. Just about the time they split the groups, where they split Consumer, there was always Coin-op and then Consumer. There was always a friendly rivalry there. Then they eventually split Consumer and Computers. That was a very strange split at the time.
Jerry: Because they hired a lot of new people in for the Computer section, so a lot of the engineers that worked on the original 800 and 400, most of them stayed on the gaming side, consumer. A big group of them actually left the company and a lot of them actually left and went to Apple. In fact, if you look at the Apple 3, it has some shocking similarities in the way it's assembled and big RF casting with the 800/400. Of course, it didn't do very well. But a group went over there. Very few of them went on the computer side of things. And so, they moved the computer group to San Jose.
Kevin: That includes you, I assume.
Jerry: No, I stayed in the game side.
Kevin: Oh, okay.
Jerry: Later on, we remerged and I worked on the 800 XL, we'll get to that. This was a very strange time. We were collaborating with the guys on the computer side, but they were a very different breed from the other Atarians. The guys that really drove the Atari 1200 and some of those later models, you can see it in the design and I can tell you the individuals were very different. These were guys that came to work wearing ties. Ties were a foreign object to most people who had been at Atari for any length of time, and really anybody who wore a tie was evil and disrespected, not taken seriously. That was pretty universal throughout most of the company and certainly was in the engineering side of things. So, I opted to stay with the cool people, on the gaming side. My heart was with the computer side, I was really fascinated and interested in that, but I just didn't like the dynamics, I didn't have a lot of faith in some of the new people. It was going to be better for me to stay on the consumer side of things.
Kevin: What was your position in engineering on the consumer side?
Jerry: Senior Technical Associate. What did I work on? That was a junior engineer position. I’ll liken it. My wife is a paralegal and it's a very similar situation. The attorneys do the high-level stuff and all the real work is done just below them. So, engineers would come by and we'd talk about some stuff and, “You put a phase lock loop here and we can do this. Okay, good, I am on it, and we'll work on some things, I'll breadboard some stuff and then we’ll take a look at it". So, a lot of the stuff I worked on at that point in time were so many derivative 2600 versions. I pretty much did the Brazilian version of the Atari 2600 which was PAL-M, Argentinian version, PAL-N, slightly different TV standards. There is a lot of prototypes floating around that I worked on. The infamous VAL, which was a 2600, this little blue device with controllers built onto it. I worked a little bit on the 2800, but not much. I did a combo version of the 65O7 and TIA, on one little 40-pin board. They called it the combo hybrid chip. And it was just to reduce the footprint, and in fact it never ended up going into production because it really didn't save any money.
Everything was about trying to pull cost out of the 2600 and in fact, there weren't a lot of places electrically to pull cost out. What am I going to do? Pull a resister out? I can't pull the CPU out. That's where we ended up coming up with the 2600 Junior, where myself and the engineer, a guy by the name of Eric Reese[SP], we sat there on a Sunday afternoon and just said,”What would we do to cut cost out of this thing? We can't take the TIA out, we can't take the 6532 out, the RAM IO timer. What do we do? We have to cut the packaging down, we've got to cut plastic, we've got to cut the footprint of the product out". So we sat there with a band saw and we cut the plastic up as small as we could get it and we kind of shoehorned things in, and we took it to management and said that if we want to cut cost, this was what we had to do, we had to make it small. We got too much plastic, it's too much weight. That’s sort of the stuff we did.
Kevin: Let's get back to the good stuff.
Jerry: It was good stuff cutting up a 2600 on a Sunday afternoon.
Kevin: It sounds like it might be satisfying.
Jerry: Yes, it was very satisfying. So, getting back to the 800/400, they merged us all back together as the company hit that terrible late 1982 earnings, and it really didn't affect engineering as much. It affected production. They moved what was left of production overseas to cut cost and they merged us all together in a facility in San Jose, which was the home computing engineering facility. That would have been 1983. Then we were all back together, working together. It was still separated in two different groups, but there was a lot of cross-pollination. I don't even know how I ended up doing this, because Tack was out, I think his wife had a baby, but I ended up putting together and firing up the first 800 XL prototype. So I ended up stuffing it by hand and firing it up. I’ve got to think of the name of the guy that was an engineering manager in charge. Don Lane, who was a super old Atari guy, a fantastic guy. I really loved working for him. I was actually kind of happy that my co-worker was out of the office because it gave me a chance to work with Don and to jump in and somehow save the day by volunteering to throw this 800 XL together, motherboard that we got.
I stuffed everything by hand and went to fire this thing up and nothing, it was not coming up. Thank goodness, I had many years on the production line, so I was digging through things and I can tell that there is some impedance between some of the data and address lines. Back in the day and it wasn't that long ago, PC board production was not nearly the high-tech form it is today. Typically, when we'd get these prototype boards in, they wouldn't be edged all the way, there'd be a lot of over edging and maybe just little strands, literally less than the size of the human hair, that would be touching between the traces in the board. You could dig between these lines with an X-Acto blade all day or, there was a trick that a guy had taught me in the production line and that was that you can blow these little spider webs away with currant. So I popped all the LSI parts out of the socket and then I charged up this big electrolytic capacitor and I just went across the pins that had this impedance between them. I saw this little flash on the board and another little flash, then I put everything back together and fired it right up. It was one of my greatest troubleshooting things ever that I still tell kids to this day that work for me. It was so satisfying to then, “Hey, Don, got it working. Come take a look."And I was pretty excited about the 800 XL because it was a move back in the right direction from the 1400 which I did, I was tech on the 1400.
Kevin: Do you mean the 1200?
Jerry: The 1200 and 1400.
Jerry: The 1400 never came out.
Kevin: Right. Okay. I just thought that that was supposed to come after the 800 XL.
Jerry: The 1400 was actually done before the 800 XL. Yes, the 1400 ended up being a derivative work of the 1200 and you can see that by the case design. A couple of minor changes with the case design. The 1400 really had the modem built in, which was a big deal. They had this really hockey Votrax voice synthesizer, which frankly none of us were very interested in. We thought it was a complete waste of time and money. The modem, and again I am speaking for the techs, we were online a lot. We were fascinated with the ability to get online at 300-Watt. This was the most amazing thing ever. I still find that fascinating that we can get online and communicate with other people. The voice was terrible and I couldn't really see how it was adding any value. And it was a lot of money and a lot of resources. But I worked on the 1400 for a guy by the name of Dave Sovie. He was in charge of that project. It was a very strange project. I could tell from day one that nobody had their heart into it.
Kevin: Why? Because on paper, as the potential buyer it looked good. Why did you not have your heart into it there?
Jerry: Well, it wasn't just me. I didn't think anybody had their heart into it. I felt that everybody involved with it was sort of lackluster. It was, “Man, this thing costs too much money, it's got too many issues. The value add for some of these other parts just aren't there”, and I think that's what really pushed things to the 1450. Let's at least throw things onto this platform that people need, they need storage, they got to have a floppy drive. Because we've got this big footprint, because we've got this big motherboard to house this modem and this voice thing, let's put this realistic to better use. And I think that once the 1450 really started to get some traction as a product or a project, that was really the definite end for the 1400. I can tell you right now. I worked for Dave Sovie for months on the 1400. I didn't see him for three months. Honest to God, I could have not even shown up to work. That was the attitude on the 1400 project. That would have been early 1983 I think? Mid 1983, summer of 1983. I could have taken the whole summer off.
Kevin: But I think the thinking at the time was that you released two computers at a higher end and at a lower end. There is the 400 Entry, there is the 600 XL, there is the 800 XL. This was a continuation, that would have been the same thing with 1400 and 1450, right? You just think that the 1450 just so outshined the 1400 that there was no point in doing that lower version?
Jerry: Well, we didn´t have that much input to marketing.
Kevin: Sure not.
Jerry: No, we had actually. We would talk to them all the time and it was primarily to make fun of them or goof on them. We absolutely did that. That was especially true on the game side of things. Especially true. They didn't necessarily listen because they had Harvard MBAs and they knew about this business which frankly nobody knew. It was a completely new territory. Purely from an engineering standpoint, it just made more sense to have the drives built in, versus this other stuff. And if you were going to pull all this other stuff into the catalogue version, because everybody needs a drive and frankly, if you got two drives, now you are moving the needle because you can copy from one to the other. We felt that that was, or at least I felt that that was a better product. And then the 600 and the 800 were completely different animals on the low end. I understood the 600, my heart was with the 800 XL because I didn't see enough of a differentiation.
We just thought it was better to focus your efforts and energies in a smaller product line and do it right and do it better. And you can then drive the cost down through the volume. Because a lot of us still remembered and again, 600 XL to 800 XL certainly wasn't the same difference as 400 to 800 because it had a membrane keyboard. But we used to tell people that, “If you're not that far off in price, people want this model". Again, there was a lot of factors in the marketplace. Actually, I think that there was something there that bears out what my thought was and that was Commodore, the VIC-20 and the C64. That was the analogy that I would make between the 800 and the 600. Of course, they were much closer together than C64 and the VIC-20. The VIC-20 was popular in its day, but the 64 blew it away. Right?
Kevin: Right. But the 600 XL and 800 XL were basically the same machines.
Jerry: Basically the same machines.
Kevin: I have a 800 XL on my desk right here, but I understand what the hobbyists, the 600 XL is is pretty popular now because they just slam in some extra memory and is good as the 800 XL but it has a smaller footprint and so takes less desk space. And another note apropos of nothing, at the top of these interview episodes of the podcast, I have an electronic voice saying "This is the ANTIC, the Atari 8-bit podcast" and that's the Votrax chip that says that, so. . .
Jerry: It was state-of-the-art technology in its day. But boy, it was expensive. And coming from the consumer side of things, I was really taught that manufacturing cost is critical, it's almost everything and that's kind of the world I came from. What's the value add for this part?
Kevin: Right. And I really see your point about just creating a lot of one machine and then the cost reducing that machine rather than have to split your attention.
Jerry: That's one of the things that killed Atari, actually, is that they would never bail out of a bad idea early. They would complete that thing virtually all the way to the end. And then come to the inevitable conclusion, which was made a year ago, that this is a bad product and we don't want to sell it. That was really the shame. It took away very valuable resources, it was not good for morale, and it ended up being little pet projects for people in marketing. Like if this project goes away, maybe my role as product manager on this project goes away. I don't know what the thought was, but it wasn't good for the company as a whole.
Kevin: Okay, so you got that XL machine working, fires up, continue the story please.
Jerry: Let's see. Not long after that, and this will jump pass the 800/400, I get moved to this new group and it's sort of a Skunk Works group and it's a mishmash of game guys, home computer people, not that many actually. They were mainly coin-op guys. It's this project to do this new PC and the code name is Mickey, and it turns out that this is an Atari version of the Amiga. So, I'm excited, but I'm also apprehensive because I don't know most of these people. They are new to me, they are from a different world, but this thing sounds fairly fascinating. Let's jump in and start working on it. That was quite an interesting project and I remember going over to this little tiny office on Scott Boulevard right off the Central Expressway in Sunnyvale, actually Santa Clara. Amiga, at the time, was this little tiny joystick manufacturer. And we went in there to see a demo of their wire-wrap version of this product working.
Went in there, this would have been late 1983 I think, and we walked into this little dimly lit room and we see an early version of that Amiga rotating ball demo bouncing on the screen. And we were like, “Wow, this looks cool". There were a couple of familiar faces. One of the founders was one of the original guys of Amiga, it was Larry Kaplan, who I actually has a pretty good friendship with. We were pretty close for many years. Then, why am I not going to remember his name now? He was from Atari, he worked on the TIA, I remember his dog's name, Miggy. Jay Miner! And then a guy who I didn't know at the time, but I ended up working with many years later and became good friends with was R. J. Michael who did most of the operating systems.
We got to see a demo of the stuff, it was all wire-wrapped, they had no silicon whatsoever. We’re like, “Here’s the plan". We've got an agreement that Atari's funded these guys to complete their project and we had the rights for the first year to use their chipset for a game-only box. It could not have a keyboard. Then after that we could use the product as a personal computer. I forgot the marketing guy that was running the Mickey project. He was actually a pretty decent guy. Sorry, I forgot his name. He was actually a guy I respected and he had some great ideas. He was one of the very few editor marketing that did.
The guy who was running the project from the engineering side was a guy by the name of Tom Hoke [SP]. He was a fantastic guy, great legacy through the coin-op side of things, really good to work with. He just laid out, “Here’s the plan. We’re going to do this box with expansion ports and it’s going to be a stealth product, a Trojan horse. It's going to be a game system year one. Year two, we start slapping in all these memory add-ons, expansion things, keyboard and we blow this out as a computer platform". “Okay, sounds great. I’m in.” I loved the fact that it's grounded on gaming, but yet, we are going to take this thing and not just do an add-on, it will be an add-on for the first year model, but we are really going to actively work on this product as the next generation Atari computer.
So we worked on things through early 1984 up until early summer of 1984 and I believe the contract with Amiga said that they had to deliver working silicon to us. I think it was September 1 of 1984 and it was getting pretty clear come June they were not going to make it. They were never going to meet this commitment. That was a commitment with regard to the upfront money that Atari had given them. It's my understanding. I wasn't involved in the negotiations. I can only tell you what I was told and that I can remember from 35 years ago. We were actually kind of stoked. We didn't want Amiga to fail, but we figured that if Amiga doesn't deliver and they default on the money, we're just going to absorb them. We are all going to get to work together and this is the best possible scenario because those guys were really good, they didn't have the backing to bring this product to market. We could and this was really an exciting prospect because, you know, I'm going to get to work with R.J. Michael, I am going to get to work with Jay Miner. This is fantastic.
Kevin: And it some alternate universe that's exactly what happened.
Jerry: And in some alternate universe that's exactly what happened. I never did work with Jay Miner directly. I did work with R.J. Michael directly in an alternate universe on another game console. Because it's a small world, it turns out. That all kind of came crashing down on a Sunday. I think it was July 1, 1984 when there was an announcement in the San Jose Mercury News that Atari had been sold to the Tramiel family. I knew that night it was over. That was the end of Atari. It was all over and it was very disappointing for a number of reasons, but it was especially disappointing because we had some meetings with Warner Communications people, one of them being Manny Gerrard, who was in charge of the Atari business for Warner, a super nice guy. And then Ray Kassar left and a person by the name of Morgan came in. J.J. Morgan was a very nice man, but he sold cigarettes. He wasn't going to save the company and in fact, he had a meeting and he said, "I know that there’s rumors, they are looking to sell the company, that is absolutely not true. Blah blah blah." Sure enough, they were not telling the truth and they sold the company from out from under us].
I remember having the July 4 off, a couple of days after the sale was made public and it was effective that Monday. We knew it was over, so that Wednesday, July 3, I got called into a meeting with my boss privately and he says, “You know, because I don't know what is going to happen, this isn't the company that we started with anymore. Because I've heard that our team is safe. For some reason, the Tramiels are interested in keeping the team that's working on 68,000 based stuff. So, we're safe. He goes, “But, I just have to ask you, do you have any interest in staying on beyond this Friday?" He says, "Because after this Friday, anything that happens will be under the new owners so there is no guarantee of severance, there is no guarantee of your sabbatical." At Atari, every seven years you got a seven-week sabbatical.
Kevin: Before you go on, did you actually ever get that sabbatical? Because you were there for seven years.
Jerry: I got it when I left.
Kevin: That was a promise that was made to a lot of people and I haven't talked to a lot of people who actually made it that far, so. . .
Jerry: I can tell you right now. I looked at Tom, in the eyes and I said, “Tom, what are you going to do?” He goes, “I'm getting the hell out of here." And I said, "Is that what everybody is going to do? Because I don't think anybody's going to stick around". He goes, "The only guy that's going to stick around", I forgot his name, he was another technician. "He has only been here two years. He's got nothing to lose." And I said, "I got seven years in, I've still got my sabbatical. I think I have like 12 weeks' vacation." I said, "I can't afford to stay. I can't take that risk, Tom." I said, "This isn't the place I want to work with these guys. Put my name on the list for Friday." So that was a tough July 4th. At home, knowing, but not really knowing that the next day was going to be your last day at a place that I honestly thought I was going to retire from. Sure enough, that's what happened and it was absolutely the right decision. i think I ended up at the end of the day walking out of there with 38 weeks of pay. It was fantastic. I knew a lot of the people that stayed. Their life was pretty miserable. Yes, it wasn't a great place to work. It wasn't a fun time. I am glad I got while the getting was good and that I have all the good memories without that transition.
Kevin: It sounds like nobody trusted the Tramiels just out the gate. It's just like their reputation preceded them?
Jerry: Their reputation preceded them. Yes. I've met a lot of the Tramiels. I've talked to Gary and Sam at length. They are great people. Wonderful people. It's not necessarily anti-Tramiel. It's that this was not going to be Atari anymore. It was not going to be the old Atari. It was going to be a family run company by the matriarch of Commodore, who I have the greatest respect for, especially when you consider what he went through in life and where he got, but that wasn't going to be Atari. I needed to get out with those Atari memories and move on.
Kevin: How did you leave? Was it a quit, a layoff, was it a firing?
Jerry: It was a layoff, but I got paid through to the next year.
Jerry: It was fantastc.
Jerry: If you didn't take that last Warner package, it was gone. I know guys, and this is absolute truth. I know guys that were laid off two weeks later and they got nothing. I don't know that they would have done that to me, but they could have.
Kevin: Did you take some time off or did you jump straight into your next job?
Jerry: I took literally two years off and went back to school, and enjoyed my life. Part of that was because, well, for a couple of reasons and it actually might be an interesting story for this podcast. I made a fortune with Atari, with the Tramiels after I left the company.
Jerry: I still had a lot of contacts in the company and I didn't leave on bad terms, not at all. The Tramiels were just liquidating stuff non-stop. And there was a plenty of stuff to liquidate. They were doing the right thing. So, I would go down there and I would buy literally hundreds of returned 810s, for example. In the box, returned from stores. I would literally buy those for $10 a piece. I'd take them home, I'd fix them, I'd clean them up and I'd sell them for $100. I’ll tell you what. I made a pretty good living off of Atari for a couple of years, doing stuff like that. They had so much stuff and they just needed to get rid of it. I shoved 72 810s in a 1979 Dodge Colt one day. I took the seats out so that I could load up as many 810s as I could possibly get in there. I took them without the boxes. I don't want the box, I don't want the packaging, it’s too much. I've got no space. I piled these things in. I couldn't see out the back window. It was a good time. Then I made a lot of money working on 520 STs doing 512 MB updates and fixing problems with the glue chip not seeded and just doing other repairs and stuff. It was a good thing to do because when you were out of work and you had Atari on your résumé in 1984, 1985, nobody wanted to talk to you at the Valley.
Kevin: Really? Why is that?
Jerry: I think that was an attitude of "these punks got what was coming". It was pretty well known the place was a little bit out of control. I was guilt by association. I was a long time Atari guy, so that meant I was probably snorting coke, partying all the time, which was absolutely not the situation.
Kevin: Just another overpaid prima donna, right?
Jerry: i was just another overpaid prima donna and frankly, I was an overpaid prima donna, I will admit to that. For a short period of time I was an overpaid prima donna, but I wouldn't trade one minute of my time at Atari for anything. It was the greatest experience ever. I treasure the time I spent there. Now I own the first computer space ever made. I took it. It was just a GDC. I do whatever I can to. . . I have a Pong number 47 and then a computer space. The first one Nolan built. A beautiful yellow one that's completely in absolutely mint condition. Nolan's looked at it. Nolan's borrowed it from me for events. I go out to events with Al Alcorn and bring my machines. I would do anything for those guys. Anything I can do to help promote the legacy of Atari because Atari gets a bad rap. Almost everything that we are doing today, high-tech-wise, that stuff started spinning out of Atari. Atari had a telephone group that did video phones. They did products for the deaf in 1976 and 1977. They had Atari professional products group. They were the largest user of microprocessors in the world for many years. The Silicon Valley needs to thank Atari. There is a little bit of Atari in every consumer product today, I feel. Apple really spun out of Atari. Atari should be what Apple is today, but unfortunately, they didn't do the right things. I think it's a great lesson to learn and to not forget.
Kevin: If you could send a message to the Atari 8-bit computer users that still exist, and you can right now, what would you tell them?
Jerry: I'm going to tell them that they were some of the greatest people I ever met. The experience I had working on the 800 and then working with the community that developed around computers. The interesting thing with computers and especially in those days, I don't think it's really true today, is that you had user groups. Like enthusiasts with cars. I used to go to a lot of the user group meetings and these were just fascinating, passionate people who loved our products. You don't see that with products today. You don't see that with smartphones. You don't see that with current generation video game consoles or PCs. You just don't see that level of engagement. You see people that stand in line at an Apple store to buy the latest. That's not the same thing. The people that put up those original Bulletin Board Systems. What a fantastic community that was, and everybody that was an original 8-bit user and got on those bulletin boards with their 300-Watt modems. Maybe even with that lousy acoustic CAT modem. That was the start of the Internet. I'm very proud to have been associated with people that were enthusiasts of the 800 Atari. I'm just very appreciative that I have had this opportunity to just either talk to, or work with, or talk with consumers on the phone about the products.
Kevin: Great. Great answer. Thank you. Do you still have any Atari machines?
Jerry: I do. I did get rid of a lot of stuff. I got rid of some prototype stuff. I tried to make sure they went to good homes. I really want to make certain things go somewhere where it's either going to be put on display, or treated with respect. I have a lot of stuff here. In fact, I am looking at it right now in my closet. That's some of my test cartridges from the production line. I've actually got the worksheets that we filled out every two hours with what part we changed on each unit. Stupid little things like that, but I look at that every once in a while and I just think "wow" and I go back to 1977. It was a great time. I'll never forget it and I just love talking about it. I just don't have a negative thing to say about Atari or anybody that I worked with there.
Kevin: That's great. I am glad it was such a happy time in your life because it was a happy time in mine, on the user side.
Jerry: It was happy and sad. I do not want to talk about my current job, but I will say this. I have worked with a lot of people in the modern games industry and computer industry and at a very high level, we've had some fascinating discussions about Atari. It's amazed me at their depth of knowledge and respect for Atari. I was having a conversation with the chief technical officer for PlayStation. His name was Masa Ukitchatani [SP]. He is no longer with PlayStation. This was before PS2 was launched. So, we are talking of 1999. He said, "You know, PS2 is going to be the first game console with backwards compatibility" and I said, "Masa, I hate to break the news to you, but I don't think that's accurate" and he stopped for a second and he goes, "Oh, Jerry-san, you are correct". He goes, "Atari 7800" and I just said, "My goodness, I can't believe that you know that" and he said, "Oh, yes, yes". So, globally it's amazing. I go to Japan quite a bit and people are fascinated and really interested in hearing about Atari. That makes me feel very good. The chief architect of a very recent product that's on the market, PlayStation 4, that's an old Atari guy.
Kevin: Awesome. I love that I've interviewed people, I just love hearing that people are still in the business after all these years. A guy was a programmer for the Atari 400 and he is still working in mobile games or the PlayStation or whatever it is.
Jerry: There is still a handful. I wish it were more. To be honest with you, there is kind of a secret sauce to the guys that are still doing something today, versus ones that aren't. I think a lot of people had difficulty in letting go of Atari. I don't let go of Atari, I remember it very fondly, but nothing that I did at Atari should be done again today, from a technical standpoint, okay? Some people had the ability to move on and take some of the business learnings and the experience learnings. Leave some of the technical stuff behind and move forward in life. A lot of people have been really successful with that. Some of the game programmers I know had a tough transition. Writing a game for the 2600, 128 Bytes of RAM, it was 2 and 4K games. One guy did everything. You don't see 2 and 4K mobile apps done without a team of people. It's just a whole different world. And if you try and reproduce that world, moving forward, you are going to fail.
Kevin: Great. Good to go. Is there anything else I should have asked you that I haven't?
Jerry: You didn't ask me anything too titillating. That's probably okay. That way I can really get into trouble. Probably too much.
Kevin: Claimed you didn't partake in the giant balls of cocaine and things and so. . .
Jerry: I did not. And that's the God’s Almighty truth. I will gladly admit to being the guy that bought the helium tank and sent away for the hot air balloon, the weather balloon that we tethered. We had this guy that we, maybe despised is not the right word, we didn't respect him. His name was Francis Michelle. He was a very tall, French gentleman who was in charge of consumer engineering for a period of time. He was in charge of consumer engineering during the Atari 5200 design, what I called debacle. He wouldn't listen to any of our complaints about the design and especially about the controllers and what a horrible mistake was being made moving forward with these controllers and by the way we can make this backwards compatible with the 2600. We were told absolutely not until the design was done and in production. Then they said, "Oh, my God, we need a way to make this backwards compatible." We had no respect for some of these people. That's how I turned onto marketing people, too.
At summer CIS 1982, in Chicago, we were pretty drunk and we had come from the Activision Rumble in the Jungle Party for the launch of Pitfall! We were all pretty good buddies with the Activision guys because we worked with them. They would come over to our building, we'd fix all their equipment, and we'd give them tubes of GTIAs. That was a little underground world of collaboration. We had this big inflatable frog that we grabbed from the party and we were walking down the street in Chicago and we ran into a very drunk on the street Muhammad Ali. We sat there and talked to him for a while. This was at 4 o'clock in the morning. We deflated this frog because we used to call this guy, Francis, the Frog because he was French. Please nobody sue me for this. I'm just passing on something that happened in my youth. What we did, when we got back, we got this weather balloon, we inflated it, and we flew this frog at like 300 feet above the building off the roof. You could see this thing from miles. The software guys went crazy. The guys in the next building, Howard Warshaw who did the E.T. and Todd Fry and all these guys [inaudible 01:33:33] who did the 400/800 Missile Commands. These guys went crazy. Some of us got into a little bit of trouble. That's about the extent of my mischief.
Kevin: It's great. The flying frog of Sunnyvale.
Jerry: The flying frog. Howard Warshaw did a documentary called "Once Upon Atari”, and they talk about flying the frog. If you go back and watch this. . .
Kevin: I need to see it. I own the disks, I haven't actually watched it yet, but it's in my. . .
Jerry: Please watch it. They actually go back and talk about flying the frog and actually, I can take most of the credit for flying it. I am not credited, I think the software guys are pseudo taking credit for it, but that's okay. I'll take credit for the first time publically here on your podcast. I indeed bought the helium tank which I got yelled at for, lost a $150 deposit as they hauled it off and a guy by the name of Mario Bolona lost his lead position for being the other ringleader.
Kevin: All you lost was a $150.
Jerry: All I lost was a $150, but you know what? For the memory, it's worth it. It got me a lot of good street creds with people I liked, like Howard and Sidibble [SP]. I flew out to Albuquerque and drove down to Alamogordo to be at the Atari dig with Howard.
Kevin: That's right. I saw your name in some of the coverage for that.
Jerry: Yes. I was one of three Atarians there. I had my Atari badge and I brought down some E.T. memorabilia, including a brand new folded up box from Japan of E.T., Japanese version. One of the other people that showed up, unbeknownst to me who I hadn't seen in a billion years, was the guy that gave me the two 50 cent raises and then laid everybody off. Jim Heller. It was really a very emotional time for all of us.
Kevin: It sounds like. . . Was it just a hot day of sitting around at the sun waiting or was it just wonderful?
Jerry: No. It was a brutal day that started early. Then the sandstorm kicked in. I had to be a little bit careful because this was an Xbox event, filmed by Xbox so I had to give my permission to be on this Xbox video. So I was trying to stay out of camera and stay away from everybody even though I had clearance to be there. I was told by my company just "don't do anything stupid" and I said "what could be stupider that flying Albuquerque and driving to Alamogordo in New Mexico?" It was just a fantastic time and there was a brutal sandstorm that developed and I ended up driving back to Albuquerque that night. So, I was there from about nine in the morning till six in the evening. I drove back to Albuquerque, which was a three and a half hour drive, and I looked in the mirror and I couldn't believe. I literally threw away the clothes that I was wearing. I looked like I came out of the Raiders of the Lost Ark. It was the stupidest, greatest thing I've ever done in my life. I would go back and do it again tomorrow.
Kevin: Nice. It was the title of the episode right there, "It was the stupidest, greatest thing I've ever done".
Jerry: It was absolutely.
Kevin: Well, on that note, I think that is what I need from you.
Jerry: Thanks, Kevin. I hope I gave you some good stuff for people.
Kevin: You did. That was fantastic and people will enjoy this.
Jerry: Hey, thanks, Kevin. I'm glad I can help and I'm glad we got to finally hook up.
Kevin: Have a good weekend.
Jerry: Okay. Take care.
Jerry: Thanks. Bye.