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View Full Version : What did the Commodore Vic 20 (or contemporaries) do?


Sampiro
04-05-2011, 05:49 PM
I was watching a Commodore Vic 20 commercial (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PUEI7mm8M7Q) and was curious: what could you do with one? On the commercial they play arcade "Space Invaders" like games. Did it do word processing? And if so, did it have any internal memory or did everything have to be put on a disk? What was probably the most complex feature it had?

Just curious. I was alive and a teenager then but never used a computer until much later. Chime ins on its contemporaries are also welcome.

RealityChuck
04-05-2011, 05:52 PM
They had 20K of memory, which was a lot back then. You could do word processing (saving your files on cassette tapes).

Gangster Octopus
04-05-2011, 05:55 PM
I'm pretty sure you could program it to say "Hello, World!"

Athena
04-05-2011, 06:01 PM
They had 20K of memory, which was a lot back then. You could do word processing (saving your files on cassette tapes).

Maybe total. RAM was only around 5k or so.

My first computer was a Vic 20, and as I recall, the answer to the OP is 'not much'. I played games , and typed more games in. Storage was via cassette tape, though I think a floppy drive was available.

There was a word processor, but it cost extra, and was very, very low featured. I seem to remember something like a max of 4 pages or something.

pulykamell
04-05-2011, 06:01 PM
They had 20K of memory, which was a lot back then. You could do word processing (saving your files on cassette tapes).

No it didn't. It had 5K of RAM (without any expansion), and only about 3.5K was available to the user once it booted up. That was my first computer.

pulykamell
04-05-2011, 06:03 PM
I'm pretty sure you could program it to say "Hello, World!"

10 PRINT "HELLO, WORLD!"

or, for those who like the shortcuts:

10 ? "HELLO, WORLD!"

Of course, these sorts of basic programs pretty much required the follow-up line:

20 GOTO 10

Jophiel
04-05-2011, 06:03 PM
Here's an old magazine article (http://books.google.com/books?id=kawCnk4051wC&lpg=PA71&ots=YVndPtVxaB&dq=bank%20street%20writer%20vic-20&pg=PA54#v=onepage&q=bank%20street%20writer%20vic-20&f=false) about some software available for the Vic-20, Commodore 64 and other contemporaries. You kind of have to scroll around because the opening of the article and the page I linked to are separated by a retro-riffic advertising section.

The C=64 was considerably more powerful but the Vic-20 itself has a word processor (Type Write) that holds 3-5 pages of text, a data manager (Rabbit Base) that holds 600 records and a spreadsheet (Praticalc).

obfusciatrist
04-05-2011, 06:11 PM
I remember playing some games on it. And the joy of tape storage. And typing BASIC programs out of magazines which was mostly an exercise in discovering that I wasn't very good at typing.

Sampiro
04-05-2011, 06:15 PM
What kind of printer was available? Would it print on white paper or just that (sorry, can't remember the name of it though I used enough- the kind with the holes on a perforated strip on each side that you tore off).

johnpost
04-05-2011, 06:17 PM
it had serial interface to peripherals so a number could be easily connected.

johnpost
04-05-2011, 06:22 PM
What kind of printer was available? Would it print on white paper or just that (sorry, can't remember the name of it though I used enough- the kind with the holes on a perforated strip on each side that you tore off).

i think every home computer printer of that era was tractor feed or roll feed. plain white tractor feed paper with sheet perforations was available.

Dewey Finn
04-05-2011, 06:23 PM
You're thinking of a continuous feed, dot-matrix printer. You could use those. My freshman year of college, I had a Commodore 64, while my roommate had an Atari 800 computer. I only had a 300 baud modem, while he had a wicked fast 1200 baud modem. It was so fast that the text scrolled off the screen faster than you could read it. And his printer was a typewriter with a daisy wheel to make the characters. It connected to his computer and could print his papers much nicer looking than the dot matrix printers everyone else used. But it made a horrible racket when it printed.

Jophiel
04-05-2011, 06:28 PM
Here's some game screen shots (http://www.infinite-loop.at/Power20/Screenshots.html) (off an emulator) that give a decent idea of what the graphics were like. Games were mainly simple shoot-em-ups and side scrollers.

Voyager
04-05-2011, 06:29 PM
My father-in-law had one. I taught him how to program in Basic when he was 65, and he used it to implement some ideas he had about anticipating moves in the commodities market. He had been a commodities broker after he retired from teaching, so it wasn't as wacky as it sounds.

He moved to a portable TRS-80 which had more power. I'm pretty.sure Commodore sold a printer for it - I had one from my C64.
You can do a surprisingly large number of things with a tiny bit of memory, if you are careful.

An Gadaí
04-05-2011, 06:32 PM
What kind of printer was available? Would it print on white paper or just that (sorry, can't remember the name of it though I used enough- the kind with the holes on a perforated strip on each side that you tore off).

Its competitor had this kind (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spark_printer).

Anamorphic
04-05-2011, 08:10 PM
We had a Vic-20. I was pretty young, but I remember a few things about it. Mostly playing primitive games on it, and, as has already been mentioned, typing in BASIC games from magazines. I remember one in particular - it was a ripoff of the arcade game Crazy Climber. Hours of fun! After you got it to load from the cassette machine, that is.

I also remember a few of the cartridge games we bought for it. A few text adventure games by Scott Adams, and a clone of the arcade game Rally-X called Radar Rat Race.

I also remember my dad doing the family's finances on a spreadsheet, so I guess those must have existed back then.

Shagnasty
04-05-2011, 08:22 PM
The Commodore 64 was the older brother of the Vic-20 and much more capable and popular. Millions were sold. You could do many things you can do on a current computer except for fancy multimedia in a very primitive way. It had a cartridge slot so you could buy games but you could also type in your own programs from magazines or write them yourself. The Commodore 64 was a little ahead of its time in the way you could write sound and simple graphics through the built in version of BASIC it had. There were word processing programs and printers available as well as some simple office software. The floppy disk drive wasn't included and cost about the same as the computer itself but the whole package was about $700 between the two which was revolutionary at the time and much cheaper than the competitors like the Apple IIE. The sheer numbers sold meant that there was a large amount of commercial software that was developed for it over a few years in the early 1980's.

You could also connect to the early incarnations of the internet with it if you bought a (very slow) modem. Compuserve and AOL plus the bulletin board services offered connectivity at a (steep) price usually billed by the hour.

There is still a hobbyist movement for new Commodore 64 software and a web browser for it as well as at least one Commodore 64 web server. They were cool computers and you can run it as an emulator on a computer today to play around with it like I do.

An Gadaí
04-05-2011, 08:30 PM
The Commodore 64 was the older brother of the Vic-20 and much more capable and popular.

Younger surely? Vic-20 came out a couple of years before the C64. C64 had a really long life, my friends were buying games for theirs in the early 1990s.

twickster
04-05-2011, 08:38 PM
Moved Cafe Society --> GQ.

kunilou
04-05-2011, 09:10 PM
I had an Atari 400, which came out at the same time. The games came on cartridges. I had a word processor, which also came on a cartridge, and some other programs (I remember a checkbook registry), which came on cassette tapes. The printer was more like a typewriter. It used regular paper, but I could actually type faster than the printer could.

did it have any internal memory or did everything have to be put on a disk?
You ARE young, aren't you? You saved everything on a cassette drive. It took several minutes to save anything, and much longer to load it back in.

Derleth
04-05-2011, 09:23 PM
You could do a number of the same things you can do with a modern computer, only a hell of a lot smaller to fit in the RAM constraints. RAM is Random Access Memory. It's the computer's 'scratchpad storage' that is faster than going out to disk or (especially) tape but gets erased every time the computer is turned off. For permanent storage in the home computers of that era you had either big floppy disks or audio cassette tapes.

The tiny amount of RAM really dictated much of what you could do with the system: It had pretty lousy graphics because you need RAM to draw the next video frame in, and with so little RAM you can't fit a lot of detail in. Software has to use RAM for both itself and all of its calculations, meaning that you either create a small, simple program that fits entirely in RAM or you find a way to partition a larger program so it can run with only a section of it in RAM at a time. The sound was primitive partially because the sound hardware was primitive, but also because (you guessed it) you had to fit everything you needed to generate the audio in the same tiny amount of RAM you were using for everything else.

In addition, the processor that actually executed the C64's software was a lot slower than modern processors. I mean, three full orders of magnitude slower: It ran at right around a million instructions per second, whereas modern processors are running at around a billion instructions per second. It's possible to get clever with software and write responsive applications anyway, but you can't hide a difference that big.

Aside from all that, it was a general-purpose computer that could be programmed to do a huge variety of things, and was: In its era, it was a hugely popular system and found its way into homes, hobbyist shacks, businesses, schools, and, most likely, industrial applications as well.

minor7flat5
04-05-2011, 09:59 PM
In Spring of '81, my mom gave me a Vic-20 in exchange for a promise to silence my ham radio—the neighbors had been complaining about the broad black bands my transmitter caused on their television.

I didn't have any games or cartridges with it, but I did have a good time writing BASIC programs, and even getting started in 6502 machine code. I still remember "A9" meant "LDA" (Load the Accumulator) and "8D" meant "STA" (Store the Accumulator).
What a great little machine for a kid to learn to program on.

I would type in those BASIC or machine code programs from the magazines and try to figure out how they did what they did. Usually, the machine code ones were two pages of comma-separated numbers, with little hope of ever finding a mistake should you make one.

Some time later, my folks gave me an 8K expansion cartridge, and cartridge called a "super expander".

The super expander added another 3.5K or so to the computer, but its real claim to fame was that it provided a very primitive library for programming graphics. In other words, you could do things like draw lines from point x,y to x',y'

You couldn't use the cartridges together.

But...
There were always neat hacks in the Commodore magazines, I tried several of them.

The cartridge port was actually a bus kind of interface, so I was able to solder together four edge connecters in parallel and make a "four cartridge extender"

Then I learned that inside the 8K cartridge case was a set of dip switches that allowed you to choose the memory block where the 8K started. I cut a small hole in the case to access these switches.

At that point, I finally found out what use that cartridge was: there was a little machine language app that a friend gave me that would rip the ROM program code from a game cartridge and serialize it to a cassette tape. You could then plug in the 8K expander, set to the correct memory location, and use the same little program to load the cartridge code into the 8K RAM.

A couple of hard switches added to the case, wired to pins on the mother board, finished the package: one for hard reset, the other for soft reset.

After loading the game object code, hit the reset switch and the game would boot.

And no, this wasn't the way the games were meant to work—they were cartridge games, just like for a Nintendo system.

kenobi 65
04-05-2011, 09:59 PM
I had a class in high school (1982-1983) on computer programming. We were using Radio Shack TRS-80s. Among the programs we had to write was one which would slowly "print" Robert Frost's poem Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening on the screen, and then have the screen randomly light up with white dots (simulating snow "falling" on the poem, and slowly covering it up). Like the VIC, we saved our programs on a cassette tape *. I remember spending hours after class typing in the program for an Asteroids-style video game, which I found in the back of a computer magazine. Unfortunately, I probably typed in an error somewhere along the way, as it never worked.

A college friend had a Commodore 64. She had a fairly full-featured (for the era) word-processing program called Paperback Writer -- another friend of ours had written his own fantasy role-playing game rules, and he spent weeks typing up the rules on the C64, and then printing them out on the dot-matrix tractor-drive printer. She also had several primitive video games, and a text-based adventure game based on "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy".

* - Parenthetically, I didn't see an internal hard drive on a personal computer until one of the IBM PCs at my college work-study job got an upgrade with a small hard drive, in about 1986.

elmwood
04-05-2011, 10:11 PM
Seemed like all the hobby PCs from the era had biorhythm programs, simple chess and board games, terminal programs to call into bulletin boards, loan calculators, flashcard-type trainers, and sine wave generators.

Onomatopoeia
04-05-2011, 10:11 PM
I still have my VIC-20! This was my very first computer. I ran down to my basement when I saw this thread and brought it up. :) Haha! "VIC-20, The Friendly Computer with Color and Music!" I haven't looked at this thing in over 20 years. Interesting...the keyboard has both a $ and a ₤ key.

Hah! I still have the tape player/recorder and all my cartridges and tapes.

I have the following games on cartridge: Jupiter Lander (VIC-1907), Mission Impossible (VIC-1916), The Count (VIC-1917), Road Race (VIC-1909), Sargon II Chess (VIC-1919), and Omega Race (VIC-1924). Games I have on cassette are: VIKMAN, Krazy Kong, Alien Blitz, Space Pyramid, Splatman, River Race, Snakman, Amok, 3-D maze, and Reflections (whatever that is).

Non games cassettes I have are: Math Duel, Sky Math, CSA Composer, VIC Word Processor, and Home Inventory.

I also have two expansion cartridges: VIC-1110 8K RAM Cartridge, and VIC-1211A Super Expander with 3K RAM Cartridge.

Heh. I feel like a kid at Christmas again. I was in love with my VIC-20 until the Tandy TRS-80 drew my interest away and I chucked the VIC-20 aside like an old boot.

Now, what can I do with this thing? O_o ...well, back to the basement it goes. :)

Hippy Hollow
04-05-2011, 10:12 PM
I had a Commodore 64 from 1983 until I put it away around in 1990 or so. We used to clown the poor saps that had VIC-20s because... they couldn't do shit. Keep in mind this was in UK, so the players were the Sinclair ZX Spectrum, the BBC Micro, and the Amstrad... and the Commodore 64. Speccys and C64s were the lion's share of all of the games and the scraps were left to the others. The VIC-20 and the TI-994A weren't even in the game, so to speak.

We used to go into the Upper Heyford BX and type the following on the poor VIC on display:

10 ? "I WISH I WAS A COMMODORE 64",
20 GOTO 10
RUN

High point of comedy, I tell you.

The C64 had a Mac-like word processor, GEOS, that I used to write papers in high school.

Evil Captor
04-05-2011, 10:13 PM
there was a program called "Adventure Writer" for the C64 that let you write some nifty text adventure games without a lot of programming skills. OK, you were basically doing database management with it, and setting flags is KINDA programming-ish, but since they called it "Adventure Game WRITING" it was kinda ... sorta ... writing. I mean, you hardly noticed.

I wrote a game based on the Cthulhu Mythos back then for ... oh, this'll date me ... a Quantumlink contest for an original text adventure game. Tied for third place! Ok, there were four contestants ... but damn, that was fun! Still got the T-shirt I won.

CurtC
04-05-2011, 10:19 PM
I had a C64 way back when, then five or six years ago I got one of those games that's just a joystick, with cables that plug the video and audio into your TV. On this joystick game was every game you ever saw on the C64, plus some. The little device had what was essentially a C64 inside it, with all the games on a disk drive emulator.

In fact, when you turn it on, you briefly see the two-tone blue screen and the command
LOAD "*",8,1
(or something like that, it's off the top of my head).

Ah, the memories. It's amazing to think that this little device I bought for $5, we would have paid over $1000 for back in the early 80s.

Hippy Hollow
04-05-2011, 10:34 PM
I had a C64 way back when, then five or six years ago I got one of those games that's just a joystick, with cables that plug the video and audio into your TV. On this joystick game was every game you ever saw on the C64, plus some. The little device had what was essentially a C64 inside it, with all the games on a disk drive emulator.

In fact, when you turn it on, you briefly see the two-tone blue screen and the command
LOAD "*",8,1
(or something like that, it's off the top of my head).

Ah, the memories. It's amazing to think that this little device I bought for $5, we would have paid over $1000 for back in the early 80s.

I have one of these too. It has about 30 games (if your has more, I'd love to know where you got it!) and it was built by a young woman who figured out how to put an entire C64 on one circuit board. I got mine from a guy on a C64 board about a year ago... I planned to give it as a Christmas gift but I kept it for myself. :)

I still play the game Paradroid on it. It was never about the graphics (on early 64 games). All about playability..

engineer_comp_geek
04-05-2011, 10:39 PM
The Vic 20 was at the start of the glory days of the 8 bit computers. The Vic 20 was never all that popular. The Commodore 64 was much more popular.

Commodore had the absolute worst crappy cassette interface out there. They stored every program twice, which was its way of doing error detection. When it read in data, it read both versions and if they disagreed, it considered that a load failure and bailed out. So basically since it was twice as slow and half as reliable as other cassette interfaces out there.

The "vic" in Vic 20 referred to the Video Interface Chip. The C64 also had a vic, and also had a sid (sound interface device). These chips offloaded a lot of the video and sound processing so that the main processor didn't have to worry about it as much. This is why the lowly C64 with its 1 MHz clock and 64k of RAM could run circles around later 5 MHz IBM PCs with 512 MB of RAM when it came to games.

The C64 also had the 1541 disk drive available. This whopping huge 170k disk drive (yes, I said 170k) was a huge improvement over the crappy cassette interface.

The Apple II and the TRS-80 (aka "trash 80") computers were very popular at the time as well. Atari was also popular because they had Atari games available for them, and Atari was the big guy on the block back then as far as computer games went. There were a LOT of 8 bit systems out there. You also had Timex Sinclairs and TI 99/4s, the Tandy CoCo (color computer), and many others.

Aside from games, you had word processors available, programs that would balance your checkbook, and even primitive database programs that you could do all sorts of things with.

Computers back then came with schematic diagrams, memory maps, and opcode lists. If you wanted to do anything other than play games or simple word processing, you needed to be a halfway decent computer hacker. Most users were very technically inclined and knowledgeable people. Easy point and click was still a long way away in the future. The easiest it got for a Commodore was LOAD "*",8,1. If that didn't mean anything to you, then you weren't computer savvy enough to use a computer back then.

With a blazingly fast 300 baud modem (hint - for those of you who don't realize what speed that is, I can type faster than that) you could connect to bulletin boards, which were computer sites that you could connect to via phone line. You could download software, play games, and of course, there was computer porn, even back then. If you had access, you could even dial into primitive mainframe networks that were forming the beginnings of what would later become the internet.

Printers were certainly available. The two most common type were dot matrix and daisy wheel. Dot matrix would print in dots on the page, and they were really hard to read. Daisy wheels were basically like typewriters, so the text was easy to read but they couldn't do graphics at all. The cheaper dot matrix printers printed on thermal paper, which was horrible. For a couple hundred bucks you could get a dot matrix that printed on real paper, which was a big improvement.

Programs, usually written in BASIC, were available in books and magazines, but you had to type them in, and they were hundreds and hundreds of lines long. If you made a typo, the program wouldn't work correctly, and you'd have to debug it (with no real debugging tools available) to figure out exactly where you'd gone wrong. I typed a couple of programs in, but mostly I found it far too tedious.

Programs also came on cartridge ROMs or cassettes or disks, depending on what you had available in your system.

Word processors were generally very primitive, and were not WYSIWYG. On the commodores, you had a 40 column screen (until the C128, which had both 40 and 80 column resolutions available) and printers were typically 80 columns wide, so there was no way to make it look on the screen like it would look on the paper. The Apple II had an 80 column screen, as did the TRS-80, but they both required a special monitor. The commodores could hook up to a standard television, which is why their screen width was more limited.

In addition, the processor that actually executed the C64's software was a lot slower than modern processors. I mean, three full orders of magnitude slower: It ran at right around a million instructions per second, whereas modern processors are running at around a billion instructions per second.

Actually, it was worse than that. The C64's 6510 ran at 1 MHz, but it was nowhere near 1 instruction per clock. I don't remember how many cycles a typical instruction took, but I'm thinking it was more like 0.25 to 0.33 MIPs at best.

Its instruction set was also very limited compared to a modern processor. It could only handle numbers from 0 to 255, so if you needed to handle bigger numbers you had to do it with multiple instructions. The 6510, like most processors of that era, could not multiply or divide, so if you needed to multiply or divide you had to write a subroutine that used adds and shifts or subtracts and shifts to do it (google "Booth's algorithm" if you want to know how you can multiply and divide without multiplying and dividing).

RaftPeople
04-05-2011, 10:39 PM
I used to write and sell video games for the trs-80 color computer back then.

This was the first one I sold through a company called Spectral Associates. It was a copy of the arcade game Xevious, I called my version Devious. I was pretty young when I did this one (high school) and it was my first, it ended up being ok but not great:
http://nitros9.lcurtisboyle.com/devious.html


This one is a copy of QIX which I called Qiks and I was really proud of because it matched the original really well and had a natural feel when you played it. Also, the reviews say it is better then our competitors version, which was kind of fun because when I first sent out copies of my work to various companies to try to sell my stuff, that company rejected me:
http://nitros9.lcurtisboyle.com/qiks.html



I also started another one called Module Man but I'm really confused because I'm pretty sure I abandoned it, but I see it listed on the internet as one of Spectral Associates games - they may have finished it.

Thudlow Boink
04-05-2011, 10:54 PM
For a real education—or, for some of us, a trip down memory lane—take a look at some of the old issues of COMPUTE! GAZETTE magazine archived online (http://www.particles.org/newsite/magazines/gazette/gazette.php). This was a magazine for users of the Commodore VIC-20 and Commodore 64. The articles, the ads, and the programs you could type in will all give you an idea of what people could and did do with these computers.

Sampiro
04-05-2011, 10:59 PM
Was there a monitor available for the Vic 20 or was a TV the only option?

I wonder if it would be possible to connect a Vic 20 to a modern day flatscreen TV. In the early 1980s cable-ready was still a feature you paid extra for; I wonder if there'd be any way to interface one with a modern TV at all.

Shagnasty
04-05-2011, 11:02 PM
there was a program called "Adventure Writer" for the C64 that let you write some nifty text adventure games without a lot of programming skills. OK, you were basically doing database management with it, and setting flags is KINDA programming-ish, but since they called it "Adventure Game WRITING" it was kinda ... sorta ... writing. I mean, you hardly noticed.

I wrote a game based on the Cthulhu Mythos back then for ... oh, this'll date me ... a Quantumlink contest for an original text adventure game. Tied for third place! Ok, there were four contestants ... but damn, that was fun! Still got the T-shirt I won.

I had Adventure Writer too. It had a game prewritten for it that was like some generic Infocom game although not nearly as good but still fun. I wanted to enter that contest but I never finished my game well enough to send it in. Your 4th place counts for more than you think.

Shagnasty
04-05-2011, 11:09 PM
Was there a monitor available for the Vic 20 or was a TV the only option?

I wonder if it would be possible to connect a Vic 20 to a modern day flatscreen TV. In the early 1980s cable-ready was still a feature you paid extra for; I wonder if there'd be any way to interface one with a modern TV at all.

You can do just about anything to go back in time electronically if you have the patience for it to hook the right series of components together. I don't know how easy it is to take an actual VIC-20 and make it work with a new TV but you can just skip that part. I run a Commodore 64 emulator on my PC hooked up to a large LCD TV so the final output is there.

The Commodore 64 and Vic-20 hook up to the auxiliary antenna connections through a little box like you used on video game systems like an Atari 2600. You flipped a switch on the connector box and tuned it in on a channel (usually 3 or 4). There has to be components at Radio shack that you can hook together to make that same connection to a new TV if you could find a working Vic-20 or Commodore 64.

engineer_comp_geek
04-05-2011, 11:12 PM
Was there a monitor available for the Vic 20 or was a TV the only option?

I wonder if it would be possible to connect a Vic 20 to a modern day flatscreen TV. In the early 1980s cable-ready was still a feature you paid extra for; I wonder if there'd be any way to interface one with a modern TV at all.

There were dedicated computer monitors available back then. I don't remember Commodore making one but I remember others being available.

A modern flat screen could connect to a Vic 20 as long as it can handle a plain old fashioned analog TV signal, which most can. Just turn it to channel 3.

Dewey Finn
04-05-2011, 11:16 PM
The Commodore 64 and Vic-20 hook up to the auxiliary antenna connections through a little box like you used on video game systems like an Atari 2600. You flipped a switch on the connector box and tuned it in on a channel (usually 3 or 4). There has to be components at Radio shack that you can hook together to make that same connection to a new TV if you could find a working Vic-20 or Commodore 64.
As I remember, this was called an RF modulator.

RaftPeople
04-05-2011, 11:22 PM
Actually, it was worse than that. The C64's 6510 ran at 1 MHz, but it was nowhere near 1 instruction per clock. I don't remember how many cycles a typical instruction took, but I'm thinking it was more like 0.25 to 0.33 MIPs at best.

Its instruction set was also very limited compared to a modern processor. It could only handle numbers from 0 to 255, so if you needed to handle bigger numbers you had to do it with multiple instructions. The 6510, like most processors of that era, could not multiply or divide, so if you needed to multiply or divide you had to write a subroutine that used adds and shifts or subtracts and shifts to do it (google "Booth's algorithm" if you want to know how you can multiply and divide without multiplying and dividing).

The nice thing about the trash-80 color was that it used the 6809 which had some 16 bit operations, 16 bit addressing and a multiply operation.

It ran at 0.89mhz and, as you say, many if not most of the ops were > 1 cycle (I remember counting cycles in a routine and looking for ways to reduce them).

engineer_comp_geek
04-05-2011, 11:23 PM
Commodore called it an RF modulator, but it really wasn't one. It was just a switch. The actual RF modulator was inside the computer.

Heracles
04-05-2011, 11:28 PM
Commodore called it an RF modulator, but it really wasn't one. It was just a switch. The actual RF modulator was inside the computer.

The Commodore 64 had an internal RF modulator, but the VIC-20's modulator was an external box that hooked onto the composite monitor connector on the back. It was included in the base kit, as TVs didn't have composite connectors back then.

Heracles
04-05-2011, 11:37 PM
A magazine called COMPUTE! (or was it COMPUTE!'s Gazette?) published a capable little word processor called SpeedScript, for the VIC-20 and Commodore 64. This was around 1983 I think. SpeedScript was written in assembly (initially you typed in the program as hex numbers from the magazine pages). Worked like a charm, for the low standards we had back then. Justification, page numbering, I think it even had a word counter. I hacked mine to be able to view and print accented characters, which weren't available natively on those computers.

More advanced word processors became available pretty soon afterwards, but only for the Commodore 64.

pulykamell
04-05-2011, 11:39 PM
The C64 had a Mac-like word processor, GEOS, that I used to write papers in high school.

GEOS wasn't a word processor. GEOS was the Commodore implementation of a GUI-based operating system. geoWrite was the word processor contained within. I remember doing high school papers using geoWrite and geoPaint, as well.

Derleth
04-05-2011, 11:41 PM
engineer_comp_geek, RaftPeople: I was trying to pitch my explanation at a somewhat less technical level than that, but you are certainly more correct than I was on the issue of how many instructions per second the 6510 could execute. Now let's leave the subject be before someone gets the bright idea to attempt to explain how many instructions per second the Core microarchitecture can execute. ;)

RaftPeople
04-05-2011, 11:54 PM
engineer_comp_geek, RaftPeople: I was trying to pitch my explanation at a somewhat less technical level than that, but you are certainly more correct than I was on the issue of how many instructions per second the 6510 could execute. Now let's leave the subject be before someone gets the bright idea to attempt to explain how many instructions per second the Core microarchitecture can execute. ;)

Simpler times back then, you knew exactly what would happen every cycle. That was actually a really good time to learn assembly.

AnalogSignal
04-06-2011, 01:07 AM
The Vic 20 was ridiculously primitive by today's standards but at the time it was great. It was probably the first really affordable home computer in the US. We bought ours at Toys R Us for $300. This is what the Vic 20 looked like when you turned it on:

* * * * CBM BASIC V2 * * * *
3583 BYTES FREE
READY.




The computer was essentially a blank slate, ready for you to type in a BASIC program. If you wanted to load a program from cassette tape, you did this:

LOAD
PRESS PLAY ON TAPE



It took minutes to load a program from cassette tape and sometimes it didn't work and you had to reload the program. As mentioned previously, there were cartridges with games available. I had Jupiter Lander, Omega Race, and Gorf.


For a real education—or, for some of us, a trip down memory lane—take a look at some of the old issues of COMPUTE! GAZETTE magazine archived online (http://www.particles.org/newsite/magazines/gazette/gazette.php).

I had an assembly language program published in this magazine. It was nice to see the magazine again.

johnpost
04-06-2011, 06:42 AM
There were dedicated computer monitors available back then. I don't remember Commodore making one but I remember others being available.

the 1702 was a sweet monitor that Commodore made.

if you had money you went with the 64, that monitor, a 1541 FD or two. schools could go for that.

if you had less money then you went for a Vic 20, 1530 dataset and your tv.

Student Driver
04-06-2011, 07:00 AM
The Vic 20 was very peripheral-compatible with the Commodore 64. The Vic had its own disk drive available (the 1540), and later Commodore disk drives like the 1541, 1571, and 1581 could also be used with it. High-quality printing was available (as several folks have mentioned), though printers were ghastly expensive back in the day. Several companies produced interfaces that allowed the use of IEEE-488 and RS-232 devices giving access to business-class peripherals. Spooling to the printer could be done through a lot of these interfaces; a user might be limited to a few pages in memory, but it was possible to use programs that would serially load word processor files and spool them out so that they all printed in one large batch. It used Atari-compatible joysticks, which meant that the highest quality and greatest variety of controllers until the NES days were compatible with it, and one could even hook up the Commodore 1350 mouse (or use the 1351 if you know how to activate digital mode).

As far as computing capabilities, it was deliberately low-powered compared to its contemporaries (the original Apple II, Atari 400/800, TI-99/4a) because it was meant as an entry-level machine. There was a big push by home computer marketers to try to win over consumers from the video games market, so having a games-playing system priced competitively with game consoles that could *also* introduce computers was the goal; once you got someone used to using computers, you could then entice them into upgrading systems. Commodore performed admirably with the Vic. As cheap as an Atari 2600, with a good keyboard (something amazing at the time, as most cheap systems tended to use chiclet or membrane keyboards), graphics competitive with then-current 2600 titles. It was incredibly popular during its short life, and seemed to work as expected; it caught the eyes of games players who then upgraded en masse to the Commodore 64 once it was released (which was made parts-compatible to the Vic to make sure that the large Vic audience didn't get lured by Atari or Apple).

The Vic/C64 range also turned Commodore into a big player in computer gaming, which was interesting because of their roots as a business-furniture/supplies company (they made swivel chairs, filing cabinets, thermostats, calculators and such) and that their initial moves into computers were as logical outgrowths of their calculator lines-- fusty business machines great for office work and terrible at games-playing. It came to haunt them within just a few years; the stigma of being good games machines meant that folks who wanted to keep upgrading to more powerful computers-- or who needed serious systems for school and office-- ignored the C128, B-series, and the incredible Amigas.

Mangetout
04-06-2011, 07:39 AM
I had a Commodore 64 from 1983 until I put it away around in 1990 or so. We used to clown the poor saps that had VIC-20s because... they couldn't do shit. Keep in mind this was in UK, so the players were the Sinclair ZX Spectrum, the BBC Micro, and the Amstrad... and the Commodore 64.

There were a few other players in the game - the Oric 1 (and later, Oric Atmos), The Dragon 32, a slew of MSX-based compatibles and some weird ones that never really went anywhere, like the Jupiter Ace (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jupiter_Ace)

Bytegeist
04-06-2011, 09:20 AM
The Apple II had an 80 column screen, as did the TRS-80, but they both required a special monitor. The commodores could hook up to a standard television, which is why their screen width was more limited.

The first two models of the Apple II — the original II, and the II Plus — were 40-column, uppercase only. You could buy third-party cards to give you 80 columns and lowercase letters, but that was extra, and non-standard. The IIe, which came out in 1983 (after the limited heyday of the VIC-20, I think) had 80-columns and lowercase as a standard option, and soon after as a built-in feature.

All the Apple II models could also be hooked up to standard television, like the Commodores. They all had composite video output, built in. However, 80-column text mode was pretty much useless on a standard TV. You really needed a dedicated monitor, preferably monochrome, to use 80-column text.


Actually, it was worse than that. The C64's 6510 ran at 1 MHz, but it was nowhere near 1 instruction per clock. I don't remember how many cycles a typical instruction took, but I'm thinking it was more like 0.25 to 0.33 MIPs at best.

About right. The instruction times range from 2 to 7 cycles, with typical instructions lying more in the range of 3 to 5.

Balthisar
04-06-2011, 10:06 AM
I actually got started on a Commodore PET (one of the later ones, with a real keyboard). It belonged to what we in Michigan call the intermediate school district, where I had access via a relative. It had real disk drives; none of that cassette crap. I felt sorry for my cousin who only has a VIC-20 with a cassette at home. Except I was envious that he (you know) had it at home. I had to make due (eventually) with a TRS-80 MC-10. My neighbor and best friend satisfied my more advanced needs with his C=64, until I saved my paper route money and one-upped him with my C=128. Of course all my games were pirated C=64 games, but all my programming was done on the C=128.

Those really were the days. I learned 6502/8502 assembly language so I could write my own BBS (I had to translate Commodore ASCII to standard ASCII and back, and assembly was fast at it). I then used that to write my own text-based windowing system. I think I also was one of the first pre-LGPL users in integrating a SID-player binary with a kick-ass user interface (yeah, it worked with a Commodore analogue mouse!).

Aside from Ahoy! and Compute's Gazette, there was Run magazine. I was published there (only in the Magic Tricks column, though).

Dewey Finn
04-06-2011, 10:13 AM
I used to read Compute! magazine regularly, and I'd visit a local chain computer store called Software City to get programs and to buy special ten-minute audio cassette tapes to use with my Commodore 64. (You could certainly use the regular 90-minute audio cassettes, but short tapes made it easier to store programs.) Later, once I switched to using IBM PC computers, I would visit Egghead Software to buy computer programs.

CurtC
04-06-2011, 10:25 AM
I have one of these too. It has about 30 games (if your has more, I'd love to know where you got it!) and it was built by a young woman who figured out how to put an entire C64 on one circuit board. I got mine from a guy on a C64 board about a year ago

Mine is a real commercial product, and I think it has at least 60 games on it. And I really paid $5.

Note: it has no keyboard interface; the LOAD "*",8,1 just starts up the menu program which lets you select a game and play that. So you couldn't actually program the thing in BASIC, but you can play all those old games.

Harmonious Discord
04-06-2011, 10:51 AM
I had an Atari 400, which came out at the same time. The games came on cartridges. I had a word processor, which also came on a cartridge, and some other programs (I remember a checkbook registry), which came on cassette tapes. The printer was more like a typewriter. It used regular paper, but I could actually type faster than the printer could.


You ARE young, aren't you? You saved everything on a cassette drive. It took several minutes to save anything, and much longer to load it back in.

You also saved it twice or trice on different cassettes, because if the tape had any problem including stretching, pinching or being eaten, the data was lost on that tape. You also list the files saved on the tape and used the tape recorder counter so you knew where to start trying to load the data, unless you liked to have the entire side of a tape play trough for 15 to 20 minutes to get to the file you wanted. You also listened to the data on loud speaker until you heard silence, and then you could tell the computer to load the file. You just got an error if you started the player in the middle of the wrong file.

Turble
04-06-2011, 10:57 AM
The Commodore 64 is back: http://www.commodoreusa.net/CUSA_C64.aspx

johnpost
04-06-2011, 11:00 AM
You also saved it twice or trice on different cassettes, because if the tape had any problem including stretching, pinching or being eaten, the data was lost on that tape. You also list the files saved on the tape and used the tape recorder counter so you knew where to start trying to load the data, unless you liked to have the entire side of a tape play trough for 15 to 20 minutes to get to the file you wanted. You also listened to the data on loud speaker until you heard silence, and then you could tell the computer to load the file. You just got an error if you started the player in the middle of the wrong file.

besides a tape counter, which would read different with different recorders, you could also record a voice statement (using a microphone) about what was next.

Harmonious Discord
04-06-2011, 12:31 PM
Watch the Doctor Who's from the 80's with Tom Baker to see what the Dragon computer could do for graphics. Close ups of the monitors in the Tardis where using this computer. The Dragon was the British version of the Tandy Color Computer. Say CoCo for the Tandy if you need a cutsie name.

RaftPeople
04-06-2011, 12:45 PM
I also started another one called Module Man but I'm really confused because I'm pretty sure I abandoned it, but I see it listed on the internet as one of Spectral Associates games - they may have finished it.

I can't believe that I forgot I finished this game. I just found a web page with it and it all came back to me. We tried to sell it to Tandy but they weren't interested.

Here's a link I found of someone porting it to a different platform:
http://www.teampixelboy.com/module_man.htm

Max Torque
04-06-2011, 01:03 PM
Oh, the VIC-20. I had a few cartridges for it, some text adventure games (most of which, as I recall, I never beat, they were very frustrating), and some arcade style ones. I remember Night Driver, Frogman (the closest thing I knew of at the time to Pac-Man in the home), and Omega Race. Also had some games on cassette: a clone of the ever-popular snake game, some sort of "Sub Hunt" game, and a Break-Out clone. Fun times.

Never tried word processing on the 20, but boy was GEOS ever a revelation on the C-64. Did numerous homework assignments on that.

Sampiro
04-06-2011, 01:37 PM
The Commodore 64 is back: http://www.commodoreusa.net/CUSA_C64.aspx

That's cool. I wonder how it's selling. I was in a bar once that had a big plasma TV mounted on the wall inside the screen part of a mural of a '50s era TV with the actual dials and a pair of rabbit ears attached to the wall- similar concept.

Harmonious Discord
04-06-2011, 01:51 PM
Geos was a good OS. It just missed out on expanding instead of Windows when people were leaving the Dos environment.

Sampiro
04-06-2011, 02:02 PM
Pardon a stupid question, but were there chat rooms and emails in the early 1980s? And if so could the Vic 20 participate?

Voyager
04-06-2011, 02:09 PM
the 1702 was a sweet monitor that Commodore made.

if you had money you went with the 64, that monitor, a 1541 FD or two. schools could go for that.

if you had less money then you went for a Vic 20, 1530 dataset and your tv.

I had a 1702, which was much, much better than using a TV. A 1541 also. The C64 was not a bad computer for the time, and I was lucky in getting an early one without the sparkle bug.

Compute! Gazette sold floppies of user programs quite cheaply, so you didn't have to type stuff in. Not bad, and since they were all in BASIC you could hack them if you wished to.

You certainly did not have to be an expert to use one - the primary source after the first ramp up was ToysRUs, but you could program in Microsoft Basic fairly easily, and an assembler was available. Most people just bought games, though.

Balthisar
04-06-2011, 02:21 PM
Pardon a stupid question, but were there chat rooms and emails in the early 1980s? And if so could the Vic 20 participate?
With a modem and a text terminal, there were all sorts of services that the VIC-20 could participate in, including email. Now granted there was no internet (as it is today, that is), but there were newsgroups and mail forwarding services between BBS's. Things started to get graphical with Quantum Link (which became AOL).

johnpost
04-06-2011, 02:41 PM
Pardon a stupid question, but were there chat rooms and emails in the early 1980s? And if so could the Vic 20 participate?

often there would be local bulletin board systems, often platform centered, to exchange email.

in later years there were national services that might appear similar to this forum. either you made a long distance call or called a local access number which billed at some wholesale phone rate, sometimes you needed both if not in a big city.

Voyager
04-06-2011, 03:01 PM
With a modem and a text terminal, there were all sorts of services that the VIC-20 could participate in, including email. Now granted there was no internet (as it is today, that is), but there were newsgroups and mail forwarding services between BBS's. Things started to get graphical with Quantum Link (which became AOL).

In the very early 1980s there was certainly an internet, but it didn't use domain addressing yet, and was mostly used by people from universities and research institutions like Bell Labs. I got a tape of a netnews distribution in 1984 from Illinois, and I put it up on our 3B20 but never connected it to the outside world. Not for the average consumer, though.

Projammer
04-06-2011, 03:19 PM
The VIC had a fairly robust expansion port so it was popular with the hardware hobbiests and hackers.

I know that the tornado warning siren system was controlled by a VIC-20 for about a decade around here.

RaftPeople
04-06-2011, 03:36 PM
Ok, I know this is my third post on this and you are probably getting tired of it, but I can't tell you how excited I am, I didn't realize any of this was on the internet and I never would have even looked if it wasn't for this thread. I don't even have copies of any of it anymore.

Anyway, here's a youtube of one of my games:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A7AyPGWlvMc&feature=related

Bytegeist
04-06-2011, 03:46 PM
I was watching a Commodore Vic 20 commercial (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PUEI7mm8M7Q) and was curious: what could you do with one?

As you can see from the commercial, the VIC-20 had a matter teleportation feature. No one has mentioned it yet for some reason.

And it worked in color too. Much better than the monochrome teleporter of the old Commodore PET.

Strangelove
04-06-2011, 04:04 PM
"

Then I learned that inside the 8K cartridge case was a set of dip switches that allowed you to choose the memory block where the 8K started. I cut a small hole in the case to access these switches.

At that point, I finally found out what use that cartridge was: there was a little machine language app that a friend gave me that would rip the ROM program code from a game cartridge and serialize it to a cassette tape. You could then plug in the 8K expander, set to the correct memory location, and use the same little program to load the cartridge code into the 8K RAM.

A couple of hard switches added to the case, wired to pins on the mother board, finished the package: one for hard reset, the other for soft reset.



Wow, flashback! My dad was the only one I've ever heard of doing this to the C64. I always wondered where he got the idea. I still think all keyboards should have a little red button on them to reset the computer. :D

Heracles
04-06-2011, 05:26 PM
Pardon a stupid question, but were there chat rooms and emails in the early 1980s? And if so could the Vic 20 participate?

But of course! That's how I met my hubby, on a local BBS.

The SysOp (system operator) had altered the BBS program to help with formatting on my 22-column screen, but pretty soon I got a 40-column terminal program for the VIC.

Eventually I even wrote an 80-column terminal program in assembly (it was surprisingly legible, given that those 80 columns of text were squeezed into a screen that was 160 pixels wide).

Sampiro
04-06-2011, 05:29 PM
As you can see from the commercial, the VIC-20 had a matter teleportation feature. No one has mentioned it yet for some reason.



I wondered in that commercial if the reason the teleporter effect wasn't better was to avoid a lawsuit.

pulykamell
04-06-2011, 05:53 PM
But of course! That's how I met my hubby, on a local BBS.

The SysOp (system operator) had altered the BBS program to help with formatting on my 22-column screen, but pretty soon I got a 40-column terminal program for the VIC.

Eventually I even wrote an 80-column terminal program in assembly (it was surprisingly legible, given that those 80 columns of text were squeezed into a screen that was 160 pixels wide).

Whoa. How in the heck did you manage 80 columns on a 160 pixel wide screen? I'm impressed.

Heracles
04-06-2011, 06:14 PM
Whoa. How in the heck did you manage 80 columns on a 160 pixel wide screen? I'm impressed.

You had to squint a little. :)

Every character was 2 pixels wide and 7 tall, and they were all bunched up together (no space/kerning between the characters, except if there was an actual space of course). Most words were recognizable, but numbers mostly weren't.

I had about half the screen scrolling the text slowly in 80 columns, and the other half showing it in normal size (but scrolling at 4 times the speed) in case I really needed to read the details. I was using a 1200-bit-per-second modem, which gave me time to switch my eyes between the two parts if need be.

Bytegeist
04-06-2011, 06:18 PM
Whoa. How in the heck did you manage 80 columns on a 160 pixel wide screen?

Hmmmm. He used Braille?

pulykamell
04-06-2011, 06:47 PM
You had to squint a little. :)

Every character was 2 pixels wide and 7 tall, and they were all bunched up together (no space/kerning between the characters, except if there was an actual space of course). Most words were recognizable, but numbers mostly weren't.

I had about half the screen scrolling the text slowly in 80 columns, and the other half showing it in normal size (but scrolling at 4 times the speed) in case I really needed to read the details. I was using a 1200-bit-per-second modem, which gave me time to switch my eyes between the two parts if need be.

Have you ever checked out the Commodore VIC 20 demo scene? If you go to Youtube and search for "VIC-20 demo" you'll find some interesting stuff. I'm always impressed with what people can do within those tight limitations.

DocCathode
04-06-2011, 06:54 PM
I have a C64 in front of me now. Unfortunately, something happened a few years ago and either all my floppy drives or all my floppy disks stopped working. I can still play cartridge games. I do not have a Vic 20 or a C128. I do have the Plus4 (C64 with preloaded business software), Koala pads, mouse, modems and a bunch of other stuff.

My Commodore monitor is currently hooked up to an NES and a GameCube.

minor7flat5
04-06-2011, 07:02 PM
There was a popular BBS in Ann Arbor called "M-Net" that ran a BBS product called "Picospan" that was written by a local college kid at the U of M. The problem was that Mike (the sysop) only had ten lines and ten modems. That meant that you had to keep redialing over and over until someone hung up, in order to log in.

The discussions there were surprisingly similar to the kinds of things one reads on the Dope, complete with all kinds of inside jokes and trolls and so on.

I had a RS232 adapter for my C-64, so I wrote a small program that would send the "ATDT..." strings to the modem every thirty seconds, and I would hang out somewhere else watching TV until I heard the distinctive whistle of the modem picking up. Then, with a spring in my step, I would go over to the computer, yank the cable off the back, and quickly plug it into the VT-100—which was a much better terminal than the C-64 was.

And what joy it was when my dad brought home a Hayes 1200 baud modem to replace the aging 300 baud acoustic coupler modem.You had to squint a little. :)

Every character was 2 pixels wide and 7 tall, and they were all bunched up together (no space/kerning between the characters, except if there was an actual space of course). Most words were recognizable, but numbers mostly weren't.

I had about half the screen scrolling the text slowly in 80 columns, and the other half showing it in normal size (but scrolling at 4 times the speed) in case I really needed to read the details. I was using a 1200-bit-per-second modem, which gave me time to switch my eyes between the two parts if need be.Sounds painful!

I remember an app I had on my C64 that gave 80 characters across on a 40-character screen by using letters that were three pixels wide, and one sliver for a gap between.
It wasn't that bad, but since I happened to have an honest-to-goodness physical VT-100 terminal that my dad brought home from work, the C64 super-skinny mode wasn't needed.

But 2 pixels per letter? I can imagine an A (a lower-case two-story "a"), and "f" and "p", but how in blazes did you do "m"?

PSXer
04-06-2011, 07:04 PM
could you really save word procssing files on cassette tape? that seems so weird to me (you can tell I'm young)

but if you listen to old tapes the sound is worse. How is the data secure? How does that effect word files?

minor7flat5
04-06-2011, 07:09 PM
could you really save word procssing files on cassette tape? that seems so weird to me (you can tell I'm young)

but if you listen to old tapes the sound is worse. How is the data secure? How does that effect word files?Yes, you could save stuff to tape.

It was very slow, and the sound on the tape was pretty similar to what you used to hear with a 300baud modem on the phone line (though many have never even heard that). I'm not talking about the "wooosshh" sound of 1200, more the "beep bip beep bip bip" sound.

A friend of mine gave me a little machine language app that sped up tape writes and reads by a substantial amount, but I was afraid to use it because I figured it was cutting corners somewhere and the tapes would probably degrade faster.

You got used to writing down tape counter numbers for where a particular file was. Then you would reset the (mechanical) counter after rewinding the tape, fast forward to a little before the number you wrote down, and then load the file.

Kyrie Eleison
04-06-2011, 07:31 PM
Say CoCo for the Tandy if you need a cutsie name.

For Christmas, my father gave me a Tandy Color Computer with 4K RAM when I was in middle school. By the time I was done with it, I had upgraded it to 64K, which required modifying the motherboard. That was my first experience with a soldering iron.

I subscribed to a magazine named "Hot Coco." When the first issue arrived, my mother intercepted it unopened and confronted me, thinking it was porn.

My high school graduation present was a daisy wheel printer with an RS-232 interface. I composed many of my early college papers for English and history classes on that thing, and saved them on the 5.25" external floppy drive I had bought for it.

In addition to BASIC programming, I learned Motorola 6809 assembly and machine language on that beast, and gained an understanding of the basics of computer architecture. But then Intel architectures began to dominate, and my poor CoCo became obsolete.

Today, I have that machine's CPU on my key chain, and I'm employed as an engineer in a computer related field. It's safe to say that I wouldn't be where I am today if my father hadn't given me that machine.

Harmonious Discord
04-06-2011, 07:51 PM
I had the compiler cartridge for the CoCo and did my first Assembly Language on it. I also remember Hot Coco. One of my magazines sent an experimental plastic record with it so you could play it on the phonograph and record it to a tape. The program on the tape worked for some people, but not most. Innovation! I only got rid of those mags in 2008 after the flooding.

Heracles
04-06-2011, 07:57 PM
(...)
But 2 pixels per letter? I can imagine an A (a lower-case two-story "a"), and "f" and "p", but how in blazes did you do "m"?

Well, I had to cheat. Let's just say that the word "mmmmm" would look like one big rectangle. But we've all seen, by now, those texts with the middle letters of each word all mixed up, and our brains can still decode the message. Same idea.


Here, I just did a sample (in MS Paint, in Windows 7, on a 1920-by-1200 LCD screen, on a quad-core Core i7 with HyperThreading and 6 gigabytes of RAM).

The original, 160 pixels wide: click here (http://www.fileden.com/files/2011/4/6/3110628/SDMB/Price.png)

But remember that this was displayed across a black-and-white TV screen, and took up almost all its width. Here's a zoomed version: click here (http://www.fileden.com/files/2011/4/6/3110628/SDMB/Price_480.png)

A zoomed and widened version, because pixels on a VIC-20 were by no means square: click here (http://www.fileden.com/files/2011/4/6/3110628/SDMB/Price_elargi.png)

Remember: squint! :D

H.

RaftPeople
04-06-2011, 08:30 PM
For Christmas, my father gave me a Tandy Color Computer with 4K RAM when I was in middle school. By the time I was done with it, I had upgraded it to 64K, which required modifying the motherboard. That was my first experience with a soldering iron.

Mine too, although some EE friends helped me with this. I remember having 2 sets of RAM chips piggybacked on top of each other and 1 had a pin bent up with a wire soldered to it and the other end to some post on the circuit board.


Today, I have that machine's CPU on my key chain,

That's pretty cool. I don't even remember when I got rid of mine, but I wish I had saved the CPU, I really liked the 6809.

Derleth
04-06-2011, 09:35 PM
Pardon a stupid question, but were there chat rooms and emails in the early 1980s? And if so could the Vic 20 participate?Yes and yes, but not to the level we have now.

Bulletin board systems (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bulletin_board_system) are where you want to look first, but that alone is only part of the story: Bulletin board systems eventually connected to each other in networks, such as FidoNet (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FidoNet), which allowed email to be exchanged between geographically distant systems without anyone getting too hammered by long-distance charges. This also allowed the existence of mailing lists, called echoes on FidoNet, that work about the same way as mailing lists do today.

It should be emphasized that FidoNet was one of many networks of that era, and it wasn't even alone in the home computer BBS world. If you moved up the food chain into minicomputers running Unix, you ran into UUCP and the first incarnation of Usenet, which worked roughly like FidoNet and FidoNet echoes: A store-and-forward message-switched network built around the phone system. On IBM mainframes there was BITNET, ARPANET was running on a variety of systems but mostly DEC PDP-10 mainframes, and there were others besides, all routing email between each other to one degree or another. (It was even possible for a time to read Usenet via FidoNet via some opportune gateways between FidoNet and the UUCP world.) What this did to email addresses was something really quite astounding (http://research.swtch.com/2008/02/hideous-name.html): Each address had to have routing information relevant to each network it would pass through, and there was no rule about how to compose an address for a message that had to pass through multiple networks. All people had were guidelines and empirical test to figure out what would work.

All this died off in the 1990s, when the Internet ate the world. By 1993, a given BBS was either already dead, dying, or in the process of converting itself into a dial-up ISP and dying anyway as far as being a BBS was concerned. These days even CompuServe email addresses look bizarre and FidoNet and BBSes in general have died back to a core of true enthusiasts.

Textfiles.com is the best place to find out about classic BBSes these days. (http://www.textfiles.com/)
There's even a BBS documentary (http://www.bbsdocumentary.com/), which you can also legally download for free. (http://www.archive.org/details/bbs_documentary)

Uncertain
04-06-2011, 09:37 PM
They're still running commercials for these things?

Balthisar
04-06-2011, 09:50 PM
There was a popular BBS in Ann Arbor called "M-Net" that ran a BBS product called "Picospan" that was written by a local college kid at the U of M.
Ann Arbor would have been long distance for me (no PC Pursuit for me) -- was A^2 covered in Horst Man's list? I couldn't wait for the monthly updates to see what new BBSs were in my local calling area!

And what joy it was when my dad brought home a Hayes 1200 baud modem to replace the aging 300 baud acoustic coupler modem.Sounds painful!
Luckily I never had to deal with acoustic couplers, but my first modem was a 300 baud. I think it was free by signing up for Quantum Link. Of course back then, it was billed by the minute. I think it was 6¢ per minute! I saved my allowance pretty damned quickly in order to afford a real Hayes 1200 baud modem. Or maybe even 2400 baud. I don't remember my modem speed progression all that well after 300.

computergeek
04-06-2011, 09:57 PM
Wow, this brings back memories. The Vic20 was the first computer I owned. I bought it while I was in college and mainly used it to access the school's mainframe from my dorm room via the phone (which my roommate didn't always appreciate). I used a little B&W TV as the monitor, so I could also watch TV (which my roommate did appreciate). I had a cassette player so I used it to type in and play games as well. Before college was over, I upgraded to a Commodore 64 and kept that machine for a few years, until I finally started buying and using IBM PCs.

As for the magazines, I very much remember Compute! as well as Ahoy. I would buy them and type in the games.

thelabdude
04-06-2011, 09:57 PM
The Vic 20 and similar machines such as the TRS 80 Color Computer which I had, were mostly games machines. That doesn't you couldn't and people didn't do serious work with them. See http://glensideccc.com/

On of the few pieces of software I ever purchased was Telewriter 64. My mother and my wife's grandfather though it was wonderful. Combined with an Underwood-Oliveti printer that had a large print font in its firmware, I could compose letters their old eyes could read. Later, I was printing out the kids emails and including them, emails I recieved on my 300 baud modem

I also did some serious work. I used it to design a chute for a machine at work. The project involved solving numerous triangles. The union sort of ignored me making cardboard prototypes on my office floor. I would calculate stuff at night at home. Then I would make a cardboard model at work the next day. Eventually I had a design that worked. I sent it out to be fabricated. I knew my people couldn't build it unless I laid stuff out and held the pieces while they welded. I didn't want to push the union that far. Turned out I had to go do it at the the sheet metal shop. I was quite pleased when the guys came to me while waiting for the metal one and asked me to make another cardboard one as the first one wore out.

Remember sirds? The 3-D dot things? I wrote a program to convert Color Computer graphics to sirds. It took a long time to print out 8'' wide ones on my printer. I did the IVCF logo at Carnegie Melon on it. My sons class mates were amazed that somebody could do something like that with a program they wrote themselves. Actually my son and son in law to be both contributed to the program.

I did my income tax on it for years. I input the wages, federal withholding, state, local in data statements.

data 12345, 678. 90, 12

Like most of the serious users, I eventually added a disk drive, a 7 1/2 floppy. I used a third party CDOS more powerful than RSDOS.

My father in law changed how industrial crystalization was done using an even more basic TRS 80 Model 1.

pulykamell
04-07-2011, 12:37 AM
It was very slow, and the sound on the tape was pretty similar to what you used to hear with a 300baud modem on the phone line (though many have never even heard that). I'm not talking about the "wooosshh" sound of 1200, more the "beep bip beep bip bip" sound.

If you scroll down on the Wikipedia page on the Datasette (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Datasette), there's a sound sample of a tape with data recorded on it.

pulykamell
04-07-2011, 12:41 AM
Well, I had to cheat. Let's just say that the word "mmmmm" would look like one big rectangle. But we've all seen, by now, those texts with the middle letters of each word all mixed up, and our brains can still decode the message. Same idea.


Here, I just did a sample (in MS Paint, in Windows 7, on a 1920-by-1200 LCD screen, on a quad-core Core i7 with HyperThreading and 6 gigabytes of RAM).

The original, 160 pixels wide: click here (http://www.fileden.com/files/2011/4/6/3110628/SDMB/Price.png)

But remember that this was displayed across a black-and-white TV screen, and took up almost all its width. Here's a zoomed version: click here (http://www.fileden.com/files/2011/4/6/3110628/SDMB/Price_480.png)

A zoomed and widened version, because pixels on a VIC-20 were by no means square: click here (http://www.fileden.com/files/2011/4/6/3110628/SDMB/Price_elargi.png)

Remember: squint! :D

H.

Ouch. :) I can read about two-thirds of it. I could see getting used to it after a little while.

md2000
04-07-2011, 07:08 AM
I had a Commodore PET I bought in 1978(!!). The Commodore 64 came out about 1982 IIRC and the VIC 20 the next year.

The VIC 20 was meant to be a much cheaper intro to computers; IIRC, the price difference was about $600 for the C64 and $320 for the V20. Along with cheap came compromise. The VIC-20 had a 22-char by 23 char screen (What can you do with that?) because TV quality in those days was crap. A C64 with 40x25 was barely readable sometimes. The NTSC colour signal meant that colours smeared horizontally; back then, most TV's were not designed for the sharpness that text on screen required, particularly the colour signal. The C64 and the VIC-20 could put out composite video (the yellow VCR cable) and the C64 could put out channels 3 and 4; however, back in those days TV's lasted 10 or 20 years and VCR's were new, VHS was just beating out Beta, so not a lot of TV's had a video in line; most needed a channel modulator. I recall at one computer show a booth used a C64 monitor to play videotapes - so the picture was far sharper than you would see on a typical TV.

Actually, the tape unit for the PET and C64 was pretty good. While TRS-80's and others were letting you use any old tape deck, and you had to fiddle with things like record level to get the volume right, the Commodores used a dedicated tape drive and interface to ensure correct recording levels. I heard horror stories from VIC-20 users, but the earlier, less cheap C64 and PET tapes worked much better than competitors.

The PET used a parallel bus (IEEE 488?) for peripherals, and the peripherals like disks and printers had to be little computers in their own right, or you had to buy a 488-to-printer adapter for more than the printer itself. For Apple, jobs/Woz's smart move was to design a computer where the processor was also the smarts for the diskette drive; so a generic floppy drive could plug in, they reduced the number of chips needed in a disk controller by a factor of 10. You could find those floppy drives for a few hundred dollars or less, while my dual-disk PET drive cost $1500, even more than the $1200 for the PET itself.

3.5K RAM was pathetic; you could do rudimentary programming. I think the Commodore intent was to have most of the applications (games) come out as cartridges like Atari game consoles. But they were relying on a 3rd-party market to supply a lot of these, and it never really took off. Also, the poor resolution and the general "me too" design meant it never got taken seriously. I think a lot were bought by parents who wanted to satisfy the kids' demand for a computer without spending almost a thousand dollars.

Quality control was foreign to Commodore; I bought some relatives a C64 for Christmas when they first came out, and it died within 2 days. We went to the store for a replacement, and 2 of the 5 they had were already dead. The replacement died in a month, and that replacement died 6 months later. I had 2 given to me as junk about 1990 - they had a habit of blowing the (custom) keyboard chip, meaning a swath of keys would die. Replacing the chip was worth more than the computer. OTOH, my PET was still working pretty good when I trashed it in 2006; I looked on eBay and an original PET 2001 was going for $5; you can't ship one for that price.

Before everything standardized on the IBM PC and its clones, the computer market was pretty lively...

Balthisar
04-07-2011, 08:02 AM
The Commodore 64 came out about 1982 IIRC and the VIC 20 the next year.

The VIC 20 was meant to be a much cheaper intro to computers; IIRC, the price difference was about $600 for the C64 and $320 for the V20. Along with cheap came compromise.
No. The VIC-20 came out in 1980, followed by the C=64. The VIC-20 wasn't a compromise on the C=64; the C=64 was an evolution of the VIC-20.

Onomatopoeia
04-07-2011, 08:58 AM
No. The VIC-20 came out in 1980, followed by the C=64. The VIC-20 wasn't a compromise on the C=64; the C=64 was an evolution of the VIC-20.This is correct. I purchased my VIC-20 sometime in 1981, and remember being upset when I saw the announcement for Commodore 64 the following year.

johnpost
04-07-2011, 08:58 AM
the VIC-20 and the C64 could use an interface adapter to give a IEEE-488 interface and you could hook up to the 4040 dual disk drive used in the PET system.

learning that interface protocol was the earliest computer knowledge for myself that carried through the longest intact. i did learn BASIC in both Apple and Commodore flavors though they had both variations from the rest of the world.

Bytegeist
04-07-2011, 09:22 AM
i did learn BASIC in both Apple and Commodore flavors though they had both variations from the rest of the world.

The rest of the world was no less chaotic. Pretty much every computer BASIC at that time differed from all the others in significant ways. The companies were making it up as they went along, and made their own choices. It's not like there was a BASIC standards committee to appeal to.

In particular, graphics, sound, and file I/O were done in very different and incompatible ways across all the various machines. Your knowledge of these things on one platform wouldn't help you on any of the others.

Kevbo
04-07-2011, 09:23 AM
Before everything standardized on the IBM PC and its clones, the computer market was pretty lively...

I giggled at this. The early "clones" were anything but standardized. Before the time IBM rolled out the AT, it was a good bet that software that would run on a real PC would not run on a clone. Software vendors often had a MSDOS and IBM-DOS version of their wares, and often you had to buy the computer maker's version.

In the late 80 I worked at a place that made a double computer. A customer had standardized on an early clone but also needed something that was available only for a real PC, so we put both in one box sharing a power supply with an KV switch..not a KVM switch, as only apples normally used mice in those days.

I think the non-clone clone was a sony....japanese for sure. By the time I started working there they were out of production and I only saw the bare MBs in the big chassis we moved them to.

The clone I really wanted but couldn't afford ANY computer at all was the Heathkit version that had a breadboarding area on the top. My "rich" college classmates were assembling CPM computers in S-100 crates back then.

You are right though, that small computers were all over the place before the IBM-PC came along. In my university EE classes it was all mainframes and a small computer was a rack with a LSI-11. 8" floppy drives were standard, and each student typically only had one, unless they were taking classes that used non-compatible systems.

As for the OP's question, It wasn't at all certain what we would do with a PC, much less a VIC-20. What people mostly did with them was either play games, or become interested in computers and move on. I knew a ham operator that worked up a logging program for a C64...which worked well if you could keep the RF from the transmitter from crashing the computer, and didn't mind listening to all the hash on the receiver. A couple I knew had an early PC clone, and one of the things they tried to do was to keep all their cooking recipes on it. It proved far less useful than a box of recipe cards.

johnpost
04-07-2011, 10:26 AM
i did learn BASIC in both Apple and Commodore flavors though they had both variations from the rest of the world.

The rest of the world was no less chaotic. Pretty much every computer BASIC at that time differed from all the others in significant ways. The companies were making it up as they went along, and made their own choices. It's not like there was a BASIC standards committee to appeal to.

In particular, graphics, sound, and file I/O were done in very different and incompatible ways across all the various machines. Your knowledge of these things on one platform wouldn't help you on any of the others.

things did rapidly settle down with the IBM PC era. the earlier game featured computers (cartridge slot) and the Apple had a lot of unique hardware which had to be accommodated in BASIC.

thelabdude
04-07-2011, 10:39 AM
Back in the early 80's, I was tediously doing MRP on a TI programable calculator. I knew the color computer I had at home would be a great step up. I also knew I would never get approval to buy such a ''toy'' at work. Perhaps I should have declared myself a professional and bought an Osborne. Instead, I went computer shopping. I talked to an apple dealer. He said he could sell me a $2500 Apple that would do exactly what I needed, about 5 times as much as a Color Computer or Commodore system that would have done the job. He also said I would never get approval for it and what I needed to do was wait until he got his IBM franchise and then I could get approval for a $3500 dollar system. What neither he nor I knew that since I was assigned to a plant and not divisional staff, well, what had to happen first would not be facilitated by global warming. Actually the IBM PC was a great triumph of marketing over capability. it stunk compared to the older color computer. It had a strictly 8 bit chip. The older CC had a Motorola 6809 that used 16 bits in some operations.

Later I was given a terminal to a main frame with some of the worst possible software. It was a vertically integrated outfit. My orders were generated on the same mainframe. Yet, I had to print them out and then key then into my data base. Worse yet, once I shipped something, removing the order and inventory were 2 separate transactions. I could easily do one and not the other. I also could not order any raw materials until I had orders requiring them. I had run for years supplying material with less lead time than my raw material suppliers required. After fighting the system for a couple of months, I went back to the TI.

CurtC
04-07-2011, 10:48 AM
In my university EE classes it was all mainframes and a small computer was a rack with a LSI-11. 8" floppy drives were standard, and each student typically only had one, unless they were taking classes that used non-compatible systems.

You had 8" floppies?!? I would have killed for floppies!

In my EE classes, we just had the mainframe that used reel-to-reel tapes, and programmed on punch cards.

It looked a lot like this. (http://www.craigjensen.com/images/ControlData3600computer.jpg)

kenobi 65
04-07-2011, 10:59 AM
In my EE classes, we just had the mainframe that used reel-to-reel tapes, and programmed on punch cards.

I had to take one semester of Computer Science class (programming in Pascal) at UW-Madison in order to get into the School of Business, in the spring of '85. It was all on mainframe computers, but at least we were able to write the programs directly on terminals, and have them saved remotely (on a disk somewhere, I'm sure), rather than fiddling with punch cards or tapes.

They had just switched away from punch-cards a year or so earlier; as a result, they had thousands of thousands of blank punch cards which they gave away (my roommate used them as flash cards for his Arabic lessons).

Two years later ('87), my girlfriend was taking the same class. By then, they had ditched the mainframes entirely, and students were programming (in Pascal) on Macs, and saving their programs on 3.5" floppies.

Balthisar
04-07-2011, 11:46 AM
The rest of the world was no less chaotic. Pretty much every computer BASIC at that time differed from all the others in significant ways. The companies were making it up as they went along, and made their own choices. It's not like there was a BASIC standards committee to appeal to.

In particular, graphics, sound, and file I/O were done in very different and incompatible ways across all the various machines. Your knowledge of these things on one platform wouldn't help you on any of the others.

And yet, it was all Microsoft BASIC. At least in the Apple and Commodore world.

Bytegeist
04-07-2011, 12:24 PM
And yet, it was all Microsoft BASIC. At least in the Apple and Commodore world.

Mostly.

Apple's first BASIC, Integer BASIC, was created by Steve Wozniak entirely on his own. Their second BASIC, Applesoft, was indeed a Microsoft product, though with a few of Apple's own tweaks. The vocabulary of the first BASIC influenced choices made in the second. (For example, all the low-res graphics commands were kept the same, and the new high-res graphics commands resembled the low-res ones.)

Also, Apple's extensions to the BASIC interpreter to interact with their DOS operating system stayed exactly the same between both versions.

Voyager
04-07-2011, 02:34 PM
Quality control was foreign to Commodore; I bought some relatives a C64 for Christmas when they first came out, and it died within 2 days. We went to the store for a replacement, and 2 of the 5 they had were already dead. The replacement died in a month, and that replacement died 6 months later. I had 2 given to me as junk about 1990 - they had a habit of blowing the (custom) keyboard chip, meaning a swath of keys would die. Replacing the chip was worth more than the computer. OTOH, my PET was still working pretty good when I trashed it in 2006; I looked on eBay and an original PET 2001 was going for $5; you can't ship one for that price.

Not foreign to them - they just looked at the big picture. I was friends with a guy who was a VP at Commodore with the C64 was released. Jack Tramiel let it go with known bugs, deciding it was cheaper for customers to do final test. It worked - Commodore made a fortune and almost drove TI into bankruptcy.

thelabdude
04-07-2011, 02:43 PM
RS Basic originally was MS, the MS software I have used the most extensively.

Debian, Ice Weasel, and Open Office forever.

Sampiro
04-07-2011, 03:08 PM
I've helped several students find research for papers on Commodore and Tramiels an example of bad marketing and management. They were apparently notorious for bad customer support and hidden glitches.

Balthisar
04-07-2011, 03:30 PM
I've helped several students find research for papers on Commodore and Tramiels an example of bad marketing and management. They were apparently notorious for bad customer support and hidden glitches.

Ah, yes, the PET killer POKE (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Killer_poke).

Sampiro
04-07-2011, 03:42 PM
A friend of mine said she hooks her's up at Christmas (it was a hand me down from her brother, she didn't use it when it was new) because about once a year she has to play Raid Over Moscow again.

Bytegeist
04-07-2011, 03:56 PM
I've helped several students find research for papers on Commodore and Tramiels an example of bad marketing and management. They were apparently notorious for bad customer support and hidden glitches.

Here's a somewhat amusing 1985 interview (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NImJFV3wH88&playnext=1&list=PLEA1F6243492F3210) with Jack Tramiel. He seems bored by his own product line, and then leaves the set rather abruptly when the interview is done.

Also — and I should have thought of this already, since I'm a fan of the show — here's a 1988 episode (http://www.archive.org/details/CC517_commodore_64) of the Computer Chronicles showing off the Commodore 64 and some of the things people were doing with them.

Of course the VIC-20 fell far short of all that. It was pretty much dead and buried by then.

Heracles
04-07-2011, 04:53 PM
Recommended reading: On The Edge: the spectacular rise and fall of Commodore (http://www.amazon.com/Edge-Spectacular-Rise-Fall-Commodore/dp/0973864907). Not a Pulitzer Prize candidate, but it has lots of testimony from the people who worked there.

(Not from Jack Tramiel himself, though, if I remember correctly.)

Voyager
04-07-2011, 06:36 PM
I've helped several students find research for papers on Commodore and Tramiels an example of bad marketing and management. They were apparently notorious for bad customer support and hidden glitches.

Jack knew he was selling a consumer product and not a traditional computer. I don't know how one could call the C64 an example of bad management and marketing when it trounced the competition - and I am certainly not denying the bugs and customer support issues. (Actually, what customer support? You had a problem in the warranty period, you returned it for a new one. Outside the warranty period? You bought a new one.)

The big competition as the time was the TI machine. It's design didn't seem nearly as good to me, though I assume it was of better quality. It also had higher manufacturing costs. When TI tried to beat the C64 on price, they nearly went bankrupt. TI had Bill Cosby, but Commodore still sold more.

Vinyl Turnip
04-07-2011, 07:06 PM
Pardon a stupid question, but were there chat rooms and emails in the early 1980s? And if so could the Vic 20 participate?

I had moved on to the C-64 by the time I discovered modems (with my 1702 monitor and 1541 floppy drive--- no more pokey Datasette! I thought I was bad-ass...) but the VIC-20 could've been used as well. The limited number of columns made it kind of crappy--- the C-64 at least had 40 columns, and I had a terminal program that performed an eye-straining simulation of an 80-column display.

In addition to the BBSes, I spent a lot of time on a pre-Internet dial-up chat system... six lines, local phone number, and when it was full you'd get a busy signal waiting for someone to log off. Some of the people I met on it are my good friends to this day. When IRC, and then Internet chatrooms came around, I'd already had my fill.

I have fond memories of painstakingly typing dozens of lines of BASIC code from a magazine into my VIC-20... then enjoying the resulting game for as long as I could. Before I sprang for the cassette drive, powering the computer off meant goodbye to whatever you were working on, unless you wanted to type it all in again.

Evil Captor
04-07-2011, 08:06 PM
You guys had punch tape to write programs on? I would have KILLED for punch tape! I had to write my programs using CUNEIFORM TABLETS! No changing those babies once they were baked, nosirree! (Granted, they archive data pretty well ... not lossy at all)

Balthisar
04-07-2011, 10:30 PM
A friend of mine said she hooks her's up at Christmas (it was a hand me down from her brother, she didn't use it when it was new) because about once a year she has to play Raid Over Moscow again.
Raid Over Moscow is literally the first real C=64 game, and the first pirated C=64 game, that I was ever exposed to. Coming from my MC-10 background, it was a good game. My friend who had the game had told me that he wrote it over the weekend. I almost believed him.

AnalogSignal
04-08-2011, 11:53 PM
C-64 Pop Quiz!

What does this code do?

POKE 53280,1
POKE 53281, PEEK (53280)

Googling is not allowed. Please try to answer from memory as best as you can.

johnpost
04-09-2011, 09:01 AM
well spin my propeller.

Commodore USA is/will have new models of the VIC, 64 and Amiga.

intel inside. comes with linux.

Shagnasty
04-09-2011, 10:19 AM
C-64 Pop Quiz!

What does this code do?



Googling is not allowed. Please try to answer from memory as best as you can.

The gears in my brain are grinding hard. It has something to do with changing the screen. I think it is the background and font color.

robcaro
04-09-2011, 10:56 AM
I haven't seen the TI994A mentioned here. It was a very good computer also. I brought it with me when I came to Colombia in 1985. It was confiscated by the customs officials. They said it was contraband. I had it equipped with an expansion box and color monitor.

http://oldcomputers.net/ti994a.html

AnalogSignal
04-09-2011, 11:33 AM
The gears in my brain are grinding hard. It has something to do with changing the screen. I think it is the background and font color.

Very good. Just the part in red is incorrect.

pulykamell
04-09-2011, 11:37 AM
C-64 Pop Quiz!

What does this code do?



Googling is not allowed. Please try to answer from memory as best as you can.

Well, it sets the screen to a solid color (those are border and background POKEs.) However, I don't remember what color. I'd guess "1" is black. Or possibly white.

thelabdude
04-09-2011, 11:48 AM
Ah, the color codes. I forget what the Color computer used. I do remember being disappointed they didn't use the resistor color codes that everybody knew. 1 = brown

Much of the serious use of those early computers was done by technically oriented people.

AnalogSignal
04-09-2011, 12:05 PM
Well, it sets the screen to a solid color (those are border and background POKEs.) However, I don't remember what color. I'd guess "1" is black. Or possibly white.

Winner!

POKE 53280,1 = set the screen border to white

POKE 53281, PEEK (53280) = read the value of the screen border and set the screen background to the same value. So both the screen background and border are set to white.

Which reminds me, we don't have screen borders on modern computers.

AnalogSignal
04-09-2011, 12:12 PM
well spin my propeller.

Commodore USA is/will have new models of the VIC, 64 and Amiga.

intel inside. comes with linux.

Meh. It's just a Linux box in the shape of a C64 running an emulator. If you can't plug in your 1541 drive, load Jumpman off a 5.25" floppy disk and hear the 1541 banging when it hits bad sectors (used for copy protection), then it's not the real thing.

http://www.commodoreusa.net/CUSA_C64.aspx

RaftPeople
04-09-2011, 12:23 PM
Does anyone know how many units shipped for the trs-80 color computer? I can easily find info on the commodore and others, but for some reason I am really having trouble finding the number of units shipped for the trash-80 color.

Hippy Hollow
04-09-2011, 01:23 PM
The only POKE command I remember was 53280 and 53281. The Atari fanboys used to give us grief because they had like a million colors compared to our 16. They had the nifty SETCOLOR command.

And to hell with "LOAD." Any 64 power user would do L-shift O. :)

jayjay
04-09-2011, 02:31 PM
1541 floppy drive--- no more pokey Datasette!


Hah! I had one game that had a loading screen that said, "Patience is a 1541 disc drive"...because it was. I can still remember waiting 3 minutes for the next section of "Bard's Tale" or "Pool of Radiance" to load up.

Balthisar
04-09-2011, 03:25 PM
The only POKE command I remember was 53280 and 53281. The Atari fanboys used to give us grief because they had like a million colors compared to our 16. They had the nifty SETCOLOR command.
But the Commodore came first. And they wouldn't have millions of colors... maybe 256. It was the Amiga that finally made things almost photo-realistic with 4096 colors.

Hippy Hollow
04-09-2011, 04:01 PM
But the Commodore came first. And they wouldn't have millions of colors... maybe 256. It was the Amiga that finally made things almost photo-realistic with 4096 colors.

You're right on the color, but wrong about the C64 being first. Atari 8-bits were launched in 1979. C64s were launched in 1982. We had Atari 800s in my middle school computer class in 1981.

Superfluous Parentheses
04-09-2011, 06:22 PM
You're right on the color, but wrong about the C64 being first. Atari 8-bits were launched in 1979. C64s were launched in 1982. We had Atari 800s in my middle school computer class in 1981.

But the C 64 wasn't nearly the first commodore. The first personal computer produced by CBM was the Commodore PET (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commodore_PET) - in 1977.

By the way, the PET 2001 (the first model) looks amazingly like Darth Vader in a storm trooper color scheme (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Commodore_PET2001.jpg).

pulykamell
04-09-2011, 06:31 PM
Winner!

POKE 53280,1 = set the screen border to white

POKE 53281, PEEK (53280) = read the value of the screen border and set the screen background to the same value. So both the screen background and border are set to white.

Which reminds me, we don't have screen borders on modern computers.

And, for extra credit, in assembly (and machine hex):

LDA #$01 (A9 01)
STA $D020 (8D 20 D0)
LDA $D020 (A9 20 D0)
STA $D021 (8D 21 D0)
RTS (60)

thelabdude
04-09-2011, 06:40 PM
Does anyone know how many units shipped for the trs-80 color computer? I can easily find info on the commodore and others, but for some reason I am really having trouble finding the number of units shipped for the trash-80 color.

See if you can contact http://glensideccc.com/ Hey go to the ChicagoCocoFest. Somebody there will know.

TBG
04-09-2011, 07:10 PM
10 PRINT "HELLO, WORLD!"

or, for those who like the shortcuts:

10 ? "HELLO, WORLD!"

Of course, these sorts of basic programs pretty much required the follow-up line:

20 GOTO 10


Or, for those who like the shortcuts:

10 ? "HELLO, WORLD!":GOTO 10

:D

johnpost
04-09-2011, 07:16 PM
But the C 64 wasn't nearly the first commodore. The first personal computer produced by CBM was the Commodore PET- in 1977.

the Commodore KIM-1 was out in 76. they acquired that and it was the start of their computer developments.

pulykamell
04-09-2011, 07:23 PM
Or, for those who like the shortcuts:

10 ? "HELLO, WORLD!":GOTO 10

:D

Few keystrokes fewer:

1?"HELLO, WORLD!":G{shift-O}1

Superfluous Parentheses
04-09-2011, 07:28 PM
the Commodore KIM-1 was out in 76. they acquired that and it was the start of their computer developments.

That's interesting. I never knew CBM sold computers before the PET.

johnpost
04-09-2011, 07:48 PM
the Commodore KIM-1 was out in 76. they acquired that and it was the start of their computer developments.

That's interesting. I never knew CBM sold computers before the PET.

it was a computer with 7 segment LEDs for readout and a small keypad. it was the type of computer where you had to remember what just happened and what you just did in order to use it.

you could hook it up to a teletype terminal and have a paper record.

Derleth
04-09-2011, 07:50 PM
Hey, hey, the geeks' all here!

I have to refer you fine nerds to Pagetable.com (http://www.pagetable.com/), which is one of the most densely geeky blogs out there and it is full of 6502 and Commodore 64 stuff. For example, here's an article about an easter egg hidden in Microsoft BASIC (http://www.pagetable.com/?p=43) and you'll never guess where Bill hid it. Here's another post on how the 6502's illegal opcodes work on the hardware level (http://www.pagetable.com/?p=39), complete with cycle-by-cycle opcode analysis. In fact, the whole 'computer archaeology' section has a ton of relevant stuff. (http://www.pagetable.com/?cat=8)

AnalogSignal
04-09-2011, 09:14 PM
And, for extra credit, in assembly (and machine hex):


Excellent! This brings back a lot of memories when computers were simple and fun.

Floater
04-10-2011, 01:35 AM
This thread brings up so many fond memories, like the week I stayed in this hotel in London (http://maps.google.se/maps?client=firefox-a&hl=sv&ie=UTF8&ll=51.511854,-0.180598&spn=0.003312,0.009645&z=17&layer=c&cbll=51.511967,-0.180649&panoid=RzE-jOM3VLfKs76bsIyN9A&cbp=12,235.47,,0,-6.11).

johnpost
04-10-2011, 08:46 AM
This thread brings up so many fond memories, like the week I stayed in this hotel in London[/URL].

that is a htel.

funny artifact.

thelabdude
04-10-2011, 12:29 PM
So how much could you cobble up with the VIC and others? You could actually control things with a Color Computer. It had 4 analog to digital converters, 2 switch readers, and a switch that could programed to switch small loads. You could connect thermistors, pressure transducers, mechanically operated potentiometers, or any resistive signal you could dream up, plus detecting switch closures. You could then program it to use the incoming data to make and break one set of contacts. I know I fooled around using it to control my furnace. I read about many other projects in Rainbow. Some people were very creative. I think one application was detecting which Pine Wood Derby car broke the light beam first.

johnpost
04-10-2011, 12:45 PM
the Apple had analog game controllers so you could do similar.

Atari joysticks were digital.

Heracles
04-10-2011, 03:06 PM
the Apple had analog game controllers so you could do similar.

Atari joysticks were digital.

Well, yes, the joysticks were digital (as in: four leaf switches for directions, plus the trigger). But each Atari / Commodore joystick connector also included inputs for two paddles. So you had two analog-to-digital converters on the VIC-20, and four on the Commodore 64.

There was no relay, but the "user" connector on the back gave access to several lines (http://www.allpinouts.org/index.php/Commodore_C64_User_Port) that could be used for modem/RS232 control, parallel printer support or for explicit control of individual input/output lines (and you could attach a relay to those, of course). I think the joystick lines could also be reconfigured for output.

DocCathode
04-10-2011, 04:00 PM
I do have something to contribute to this thread!

About 10 years ago, I worked for FutureHealth, a small business selling medical sensors and software. The sensors (thermistors, photoplathysmagraph, gavlanic skin response, pneumatrodes, etc) were the same regardless which system you bought. However, the PC systems were thousands of dollars. For under a grand, you could buy a full Commodore 64 system with printer and 1541 for storing patient files. Besides being cheaper, the C 64 had no known viruses, no Y2K bug problem, and several other advantages.

Derleth
04-10-2011, 04:36 PM
no Y2K bug problemThis depends more on application software than anything else. In one sense, it's true that what little the C=64 has for an OS doesn't care about the date, but if your application software stores dates as six digits for DD/MM/YY you might have a problem representing dates after 12/31/99.

Cheshire Human
04-10-2011, 06:27 PM
And, for extra credit, in assembly (and machine hex):

LDA #$01 (A9 01)
STA $D020 (8D 20 D0)
LDA $D020 (A9 20 D0)
STA $D021 (8D 21 D0)
RTS (60)

And you could just skip the 2nd LDA, achieve the same result, and save 3 bytes plus it's machine cycles. You never would have done well on a Sinclair ZX81, with only 1k of memory, like I had.

So how much could you cobble up with the VIC and others? You could actually control things with a Color Computer. It had 4 analog to digital converters, 2 switch readers, and a switch that could programed to switch small loads. You could connect thermistors, pressure transducers, mechanically operated potentiometers, or any resistive signal you could dream up, plus detecting switch closures. You could then program it to use the incoming data to make and break one set of contacts. I know I fooled around using it to control my furnace. I read about many other projects in Rainbow. Some people were very creative. I think one application was detecting which Pine Wood Derby car broke the light beam first.

The Apple II had expansion slots for which you could build any kind of board your electronics wizardry could dream up, including every one of the applications you named.

pulykamell
04-10-2011, 08:20 PM
And you could just skip the 2nd LDA, achieve the same result, and save 3 bytes plus it's machine cycles.

Well, yeah, of course. But I was translating the exact BASIC statements to the machine language equivalents. I did actually think about whether to put the second LDA in there or not. Obviously, it's not necessary. But neither is a POKE 53281, PEEK (53280), when a POKE 53281, 1 will do and save you a bunch of bytes in your BASIC program. So I went the literal route. If you want to save BASIC program memory, you'd do A=53280:POKEA,1:POKEA+1,1

pulykamell
04-10-2011, 08:26 PM
Missed edit. Actually, a simple:
POKE53280,1:POKE53281,1

will do even better.

Cheshire Human
04-10-2011, 10:28 PM
Well, yeah, of course. But I was translating the exact BASIC statements to the machine language equivalents. I did actually think about whether to put the second LDA in there or not. Obviously, it's not necessary. But neither is a POKE 53281, PEEK (53280), when a POKE 53281, 1 will do and save you a bunch of bytes in your BASIC program. So I went the literal route. If you want to save BASIC program memory, you'd do A=53280:POKEA,1:POKEA+1,1

I figured as much, but I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to rag on ya... :D

jghyers
09-17-2011, 08:03 AM
I was hoping someone could help me remember what game I used to play on my Vic 20 as a child .. since it was almost 30 years ago, my memory is very vague. :confused:

All I can remember is that I think it was just a text game where you entered rooms or buildings (maybe castles) & that the instructions said that you could not win! :(

Does anyone remember a game like this?

Thanks in advance!

:D

Baron Greenback
09-17-2011, 08:32 AM
Does anyone remember a game like this?



One of the Scott Adams ones, maybe?

I must say that the wave of nostalgia reading this thread has somewhat overwhelmed me. I was fucking ace at Omega Race though.

dropzone
09-17-2011, 03:25 PM
See if you can contact http://glensideccc.com/ Hey go to the ChicagoCocoFest. Somebody there will know.My boys! I stopped going to the endless series of "Last" Chicago CoCoFests when I got unemployed AND realized I still had stuff in my trunk from the previous ones. One year I cleared out my CoCo stuff with a donation to the auction. Somebody got a sweet 512k CoCo3 modified to run the accompanying Sony RGB monitor, based on emails with Marty Goodman and my pretending I knew something about electronics. You never saw a better picture out of a CoCo.

As for the Vic, didn't some kid hack into the Department of Defense with one, inspiring the movie "Wargames?"

dropzone
09-17-2011, 03:31 PM
Missed edit. Actually, a simple:
POKE53280,1:POKE53281,1

will do even better.Y'know, it isn't a high level language if you can't do anything without most of the instructions being PEEKs and POKEs. Just sayin' that it was what turned me off to the C=64, though that Linux box is looking retro-iffic.

Jaledin
09-17-2011, 03:43 PM
Forgot about the V-20 -- thought it was another name for the C64. Wow, that brought back some memories of using cassettes to load software and writing BASIC and playing text games like those where you have to find some hidden shit in some old haunted spooky house (not racist or anti-CIA -- it *was* a spooky old house!).

Bytegeist
09-17-2011, 04:09 PM
Y'know, it isn't a high level language if you can't do anything without most of the instructions being PEEKs and POKEs. Just sayin' that it was what turned me off to the C=64 ...

That was a general affliction of most BASICs for 8-bit computers — except perhaps the IBM PC, where I don't remember so much of it.

But the Apple IIs, the Commodore machines, the TI-99/4, the Ataris, the Sinclair ZXs — they all had a lot of PEEKs and POKEs to control things (usually video features) that they ran out of space to implement with BASIC commands.

psychonaut
09-17-2011, 04:34 PM
But the Commodore came first. And they wouldn't have millions of colors... maybe 256. It was the Amiga that finally made things almost photo-realistic with 4096 colors.Yes, but you couldn't display all 4096 colours on the screen at once, except when using a special and highly restrictive video mode (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amiga_Hold-and-Modify).

dropzone
09-17-2011, 04:37 PM
That was a general affliction of most BASICs for 8-bit computers — except perhaps the IBM PC, where I don't remember so much of it.Not so much for the CoCo. Its Extended Color BASIC was pretty close to GW-BASIC on the PC.

BigT
09-18-2011, 06:55 AM
Watch the Doctor Who's from the 80's with Tom Baker to see what the Dragon computer could do for graphics. Close ups of the monitors in the Tardis where using this computer. The Dragon was the British version of the Tandy Color Computer. Say CoCo for the Tandy if you need a cutsie name.

Just don't look at The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy TV Show (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hitchhiker%27s_Guide_to_the_Galaxy_%28TV_series%29)--all those graphics were done with stop animation, using what essentially amounts to a light, black paper, and colored transparency sheets.

Also, to be more relevant to the the thread: my school has a color monitor that could handle 80 characters per line, and it was hooked up to our Apple//c. Unfortunately, being at school, I never learned to do much with it. The best I could do was hiding in the Library on the AppleIIe with a monochrome screen, and I was mostly interested in copying the one program everyone loved, a game called Driver, so we didn't have to keep taking it back and forth.

And, what the heck, I'll describe the game. It was a I BASIC game, whatever that meant, and it used /|\ to draw a winding path on the screen, and a car made up of reversed spaces and reversed /\. You would drive using 1, 2, and 3. It had three different difficulties that you would select at the part of the program, with each being progressively thinner.

I downloaded all 2 Gigs of known Apple II software from an archive 8 years ago, but I never found this game. I one time tried to print off the source code to take it home, but, while I could get it to switch to the printer, it would switch back when it displayed source.

Bytegeist
09-18-2011, 12:45 PM
And, what the heck, I'll describe the game. It was a I BASIC game, whatever that meant, ...

That means it was an Integer BASIC program, as opposed to one in Applesoft BASIC — in case you were curious.

Lynn Bodoni
09-18-2011, 01:31 PM
Forgot about the V-20 -- thought it was another name for the C64. Wow, that brought back some memories of using cassettes to load software and writing BASIC and playing text games like those where you have to find some hidden shit in some old haunted spooky house (not racist or anti-CIA -- it *was* a spooky old house!). The C64 was much, much more advanced than the Vic 20. I can't tell you the specs on either of them, but the C64 could do a heck of a lot more. I don't think that the V20 had anything more than cassette storage, for instance, while the C64 did have the capability of having an external floppy disk drive...a slow and primitive disk drive, true, but it had one.

jayjay
09-18-2011, 01:35 PM
The C64 was much, much more advanced than the Vic 20. I can't tell you the specs on either of them, but the C64 could do a heck of a lot more. I don't think that the V20 had anything more than cassette storage, for instance, while the C64 did have the capability of having an external floppy disk drive...a slow and primitive disk drive, true, but it had one.

Oh, yeah...the good old 1541. I had a game for C64 whose loading screen was "Patience is a 1541 disk drive".

dropzone
09-18-2011, 11:02 PM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PhfuSPg3kXQ&feature=related

1 mHz. 3.5k RAM. And kids these days don't understand why guys my age are completely unimpressed by what can be done with gigahertz and gigabytes. You need that much? It's sloppy code.