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#1 Opry99er OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jul 26, 2016 7:42 PM

I am an avid TI-99/4A collector and enthusiast. I love my TI and will always love it... It will always be my #1.

That said, I am re-arranging my dungeon and I will have a nice big space on my computer desk for a new vintage compy. I have always loved the Apple ][. I have always wanted a PET, but that is WAAAAAY out of my league. Commodore 64 and VIC-20 are very intetrsting machines, but I have ZERO history with them.

I like to program games in BASIC, I like interfacing computers, I like an expandable system with tapes and disk drives... Not looking for anything that can run Windows... I like built-in BASICs as well. :) Aesthetics will play a part in my decision, but is not my #1 priority. Preferably 80s era, or maybe the right 70s system would do.

What kind of suggestions do you guys have?

Edited by Opry99er, Tue Jul 26, 2016 7:43 PM.


#2 ClausB OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jul 26, 2016 8:44 PM

Forget the commodores. Atari 8-bits are way more interesting. Very innovative in their day, full of custom chips with lots of registers to play with, including an actual video coprocessor. And an active community right next door!



#3 Arnuphis OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jul 26, 2016 10:24 PM

If you want something exciting and somewhat uncommon in the USA look into a BBC Micro. Arguably the best BASIC of any 8 bit machine. A great hobby machine and very powerful in it's day. Only challenge will be the power supply since it's 220v and possibly the video output since it had a lot of interesting PAL screen modes. If you want an exciting Retro look then maybe a Sharp MZ-80b. Not so easy to find but looks a lot like a Pet. Good BASIC on that as well.



#4 JamesD OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jul 26, 2016 11:06 PM

What type of games do you want to program?  Any machine without hardware sprites isn't going to be doing much fast animation without some machine language help.

Applesoft II is a pretty decent BASIC to begin with but it lacks sound and music support.  Drawing sprites on a hi-res screen is either done with shape tables or add on utilities.
On the Apple II, there are several utilities by the Beagle Brothers that will help.  Compute has a program that will let you use user definable character sets on a hi-res screen.

The C64 BASIC is pretty stripped down.  You have to POKE for sound and sprites.  It does have user definable character sets.  If you add Simon's BASIC you get a lot of new commands to eliminate the POKEs.  Just be aware of the graphics limitations like color clash, etc... before you decide to go with it.
I see no need for a VIC20 in this case.  Too limited in comparison.
The Plus/4 actually has an extended BASIC to begin with, but the lack of a SID and sprites generally make people criticize it.  It's actually more capable than an Apple II really.  The BASIC also supports the most RAM out of the box.

Atari BASIC is a bit different.  It is an extended BASIC, but look at the string handling.  Also look at the sprite limitations.  Vertical movement for example.  There is no built in support for software sprites.  Good hardware for the most part though and there are assembly language add ons to overcome most of the BASIC's limitations.    

BBC Basic is a bit different than Microsoft or ANSI BASIC, but it's fast and has some unique features.  It doesn't have sprite hardware but the sound chip should look familiar.  But if you want NTSC I think you are out of luck.  

The Tandy CoCo Extended Color BASIC is the best version I've used, and I ported the Fedora drawing code to a bunch of different machines if you remember that thread.
It has built in sound and music commands, but everything grinds to a halt to use them.  Interrupt driven 1 bit music has been done on the machine, but it does slow down BASIC.
Software sprites are also supported but the routines aren't as fast as assembly.  It also has a DRAW command that lets you draw complex shapes, similar to shape tables on the Apple but much easier to do since they are human readable strings.  There is an image of Sylvester the cat floating around somewhere I did with DRAW.  
With double buffering you can draw to one screen while displaying another, and I've done some impressive animation with it.  But two hi-res screens takes up 12K on a machine with something like 24K free to start with on a disk system.  A Dragon 64 or Tano Dragon gives you the option of having more memory available to BASIC, but disk drives?
There are CoCo 3 BASIC add ons that let you use 512K, but it seemed to require a lot of programmer intervention rather than being automatic.
BASIC-09 is a VERY fast compiled BASIC that is similar to Pascal.  It can produce some very good results if you take the time to learn it.  

All of these have decent BASIC compilers to speed up your final program.
 



#5 Opry99er OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jul 26, 2016 11:20 PM

Thank you guys for the excellent opinions.  I am going to look up a few of these.

 

The one computer I've been wanting really badly is the HP-85.  It is a bizarre computer with an unexpectedly rich BASIC.  It has a built in thermal printer and an on-board tape recorder.  It is expandable to operate with disks as well.

 

2a4d98a539bf47c51a6380e917103f02.jpg

 

 

Thing is, they don't come up that often in good shape, and when they DO, they're pretty expensive.

 

I've been looking at the CoCo 3 pretty hard too.  Good suggestion there.



#6 carlsson OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 27, 2016 4:16 AM

BBC Micro [..] the power supply since it's 220v

Actually many (but possibly not all of them) Beebs with Astec power supplies, have a solderable jumper on the PSU board that lets you convert it to 110V input within a few minutes. Of course if you're not in the mood to solder onto power supplies, perhaps find a qualified electrician who can do it for you, but the jumper is clearly marked.

 

The Beeb outputs RGBI which is reasonably close to CGA. It by defaults outputs monochrome video, but can be modded to output PAL composite video instead.



#7 BassGuitari OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 27, 2016 8:44 AM


I've been looking at the CoCo 3 pretty hard too.  Good suggestion there.

That would be my suggestion. Radio Shack systems tend to get overlooked, but they're actually pretty good and surprisingly flexible. The Color Computer 3 is probably going to give you the biggest bang for your buck. The Model I/III systems are great, too, but naturally a little more primitive, if that's a factor.

I've actually been sort of enamored with those HP systems, too, but they're way too rich for my blood.  :)


Edited by BassGuitari, Wed Jul 27, 2016 8:49 AM.


#8 JamesD OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 27, 2016 10:16 AM

I looked for one of those HPs for years.  I think the only good one I saw for auction had some rare extras and the machine sold for well over $500.
And that was over 7 years ago


Edited by JamesD, Wed Jul 27, 2016 10:17 AM.


#9 Opry99er OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 27, 2016 10:51 AM

There are several on eBay now... All over $500

#10 JamesD OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 27, 2016 11:52 AM

There are several on eBay now... All over $500

That's why they are still there.



#11 JamesD OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 27, 2016 12:43 PM

Fully pimped BBC
http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/262548289134
 



#12 phoenixdownita OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 27, 2016 3:20 PM

....

I like to program games in BASIC, I like interfacing computers, I like an expandable system with tapes and disk drives... Not looking for anything that can run Windows... I like built-in BASICs as well. :) Aesthetics will play a part in my decision, but is not my #1 priority. Preferably 80s era, or maybe the right 70s system would do.

What kind of suggestions do you guys have?

Are the likes of Amiga and Atari ST excluded from your quest?

Original Atari 520 ST was released in 1985, same for Amiga 1000, realistically the "mainstream" machines were not released until a couple of years later (earlier for the Atari ST line) but ... they both got STOS/AMOS which is a pretty powerful Basic for games (the original STOS dates 1988 still within your timerange maybe).

 

Just throwing you a bone here, we tend to forget that the mid 80s do see the birth of 68K based machines, I think they are vintage enough but if you want to stick with 8 bits I would understand.



#13 am1933 OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 27, 2016 4:09 PM

Having used most of the 8 and 16 bit systems-it will depend on what you actually want to use them for.

 

An MSX machine could be a good fit, same graphics chip as the 4a and similar sprite handling facilities, the basic is probably a bit better than TI XB in as much as you don't have to resort to a lot of "Call Char" definitions to get any kind of meaningful display.

 

The Atari 8bit line is just great, the sound and colour are great, the Basic is OK-but not that much better than the CBM 64, you would also notice how useless the error messages are when compared to the comparatively friendly TI messages.

 

An extended Tandy CoCo or possibly a Dragon(Tano U.S release) would be a good choice too, some really great facilities available from Basic, you would notice a vast difference in the loss of colour in hi res when compared to the 4a.

 

A BBC Micro would be a great machine too, I don't think there is another 8 bit machine that comes close to it in terms of Basic execution speed, the machine would also cause you to question the sanity of the 4a hardware and software required to get assembly working in any meaningful way. The BBC micro allows you to type in assembly programs with no extra hardware or software, assembly can also be easily inserted into Basic programs. There is a US version of the machine but they are now very rare and are not fully software compatible with the UK version due to the differing resolution between PAL and NTSC, it did however have one additional little bonus that did NOT come as standard on the UK models---hardware speech, provided by (drum roll)..........TEXAS INSTRUMENTS!!!!!

 

Or you could get a Mattel Aquarius--------------------------------------------------------------------------------no, sorry-I could not keep my face straight as I typed that. ;)



#14 --- Ω --- OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 27, 2016 4:14 PM

 

2a4d98a539bf47c51a6380e917103f02.jpg

 

 

Thing is, they don't come up that often in good shape, and when they DO, they're pretty expensive.

 

 

There are a few of those on Ebay right now at varies prices, accessories too.  << CLICK HERE >>



#15 Opry99er OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 27, 2016 10:23 PM

That's why they are still there.



Agreed

#16 Opry99er OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 27, 2016 10:25 PM

Fully pimped BBC
http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/262548289134
 



Beautiful, and desireable. But NTSC is a requirement for me.

Lovely machine though... :)

#17 carlsson OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jul 28, 2016 1:13 AM

IIRC, Opry99er is already into TI-99/4A as well as Intellivision, so he is not shy of 16-bit systems. Personally I've never used the BASIC-like AMOS nor STOS, but I understand those two languages provide rather useful support of the hardware and possibly even can be compiled to run programs standalone.

 

Perhaps over time there will be room for more than one system, so you get more variation. While the CoCo or Dragons never did anything for me (other than leaving me rather unimpressed), everyone's milage may vary and you might find those charming and useful.



#18 Opry99er OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jul 28, 2016 9:05 AM

True... 16 bit systems are cool. I have always been intrigued by the Atari 800 computer. There is a 400 machine at a local shop for sale, but it is in poor shape and does not have appropriate cabling.

The 800 had a built in BASIC, and has some impressing games, including a Vector-based Star Wars game that looked pretty awesome, IIRC.

A fully expanded 800 might not be a bad idea... I like the look of the 800 much more than the XL version though... Need to look up the spec differences.

Edited by Opry99er, Thu Jul 28, 2016 9:08 AM.


#19 Opry99er OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jul 28, 2016 9:19 AM

Correction to the above. The 800 did not.have on-board BASIC, but the XL did.

#20 Opry99er OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jul 28, 2016 9:27 AM

This setup looks nice... Drives, games, etc.

Look at this on eBay http://www.ebay.com/itm/172244138865

Edited by Opry99er, Thu Jul 28, 2016 9:27 AM.


#21 Opry99er OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jul 28, 2016 9:44 AM

Some beauty here...

pinterest://pin/451485931366337884?link_click_id=268551322421998383

#22 scotty OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jul 28, 2016 10:08 AM

In the 80's I owned an Atari 400, 800, 800XL, Commodore 64, Coleco Adam, Atari 520ST, Atari 520STfm, 1040ST, Mega 2 and Amiga 500.  I love the Atari 8-bit line the best, and to this day, it is still my favorite.  There are many, many new hardware devices being sold and developped today.   Check out http://www.atarimax.com and  http://www.lotharek.pl/ for some cool hardware.   I have purchased from both and they are both great people.   

 

The Atari 1200XL had the absolute BEST keyboard of any computer ever made, BAR NONE!  However, there were problems with the keyboard (mylar over time), and the OS had a compatibility bug, that did not allow some games to run.  However in this day and age, there are fixes for both, making the 1200XL the ULTIMATE Atari 8-bit.  Best Electronics sells the replacement mylar for the 1200XL to take care of the problem.  There is also a board you can put in the 1200XL and run multiple roms, making your 1200XL run the roms from the 800, 800XL, XE, and XE Game System making the comparability a non issue.  I have used Apple II, TI, Tandy (Model X and CoCos) and others pretty extensively both back in the day, and in modern times, and I always have, and always will recommend the Atari 8-bit line.  There are plenty of other basic's out there besides standard Atari Basic.  Basic XL, Basic XE, Turbo Basic just to name a few that blew Atari Basic out of the water.   Also languages like Action are a favorite among programmers, and it has been used to make several commercial games.  Mac/65 is a 6502 assember, and considered to be the best.   From what I hear, 6502 machine language is pretty easy, and a lot of fun to program compared to most other CPU's.  I would love to learn it, I have the books, but I just do not have the time.   :(

 

AtariMax sells a TRICKED OUT 1200XL at an amazing price.  with the mylar fixed, selectable 32-in-1 OS roms for compatibility and a 256K RAM upgrade at a GREAT price!    http://www.atarimax....sale/index.html  This is NOT your father's 1200XL!  :D


Edited by scotty, Thu Jul 28, 2016 10:14 AM.


#23 Keatah OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jul 28, 2016 10:39 AM

I like to program games in BASIC, I like interfacing computers, I like an expandable system with tapes and disk drives... Not looking for anything that can run Windows... I like built-in BASICs as well. :) Aesthetics will play a part in my decision, but is not my #1 priority. Preferably 80s era, or maybe the right 70s system would do.

What kind of suggestions do you guys have?

 

Well, naturally, I'm going to say the Apple II.

It has:

onboard rudimentary A/D converter

8 expansion slots with complete access to the bus

a large selection of cards (perhaps the most except for the IBM PC)

extraordinarily complete documentation, no hidden secrets anywhere

is a 1970's single-board computer that was popular with hobbyists

peripheral cards typically come with a small EEPROM firmware program

as bare metal as you can get in a computer that retains retail-consumer style usability

has one of the fastest and most elegant floppy drives and interfaces ever made

Z-80 & CP/M was popular on the Apple II

durable construction

built-in basic, Applesoft or Integer, also ram-loadable

BeagleBasic, Pilot, Pascal, Fortran, Logo, and other languages also loadable into ram

multiple versions and variants of DOS

 

Disadvantages are:

no custom chips and slow 1MHz speed

not the first choice in demoscene programming

ebay prices are high "because apple"

quirky graphics addressing scheme from assembly or machine language

monochrome text which is generally configured for productivity

sound and graphics fall behind the likes of the C64 or Atari 400/800



#24 --- Ω --- OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jul 28, 2016 10:49 AM

The HP 85 interests me as a possible avenue for future activities, but I have to know ahead of time, are their any modifications or hacks for this thing?  I'd be interested in things like RAM memory enhancements, SD card storage upgrades, external VGA video, Internet connectivity, etc.  Most importantly, if any of the before mentioned items exist, where to the hobbyists for this machine hang out?

 

Oh yeah, one more thing... does it have a good keyboard that holds up?



#25 Keatah OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jul 28, 2016 12:35 PM

The HP 85 interests me as a possible avenue for future activities, but I have to know ahead of time, are their any modifications or hacks for this thing?

 

I always rather thought of this as a niche market product, used in engineering and the sciences. Thus the userbase is all "sciency" and practical - I don't see that class of users getting into modding, then or now.  It's from an era where a lot of parts made up professional computer and thus mods would need expert installation. I can't imagine it comparing favorably to a VCS when it comes to video modding.

 

Having said that, the field is wide open for someone to design mods. Get in on the ground floor you know..






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