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#26 Keatah OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jul 28, 2016 12:41 PM

Mmm.. there's this I just now found..

http://www.vintageco.../hp85/prm85.htm



#27 --- Ω --- OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jul 28, 2016 12:49 PM

Mmm.. there's this I just now found..

http://www.vintageco.../hp85/prm85.htm

 

Nice!  Thank you.  I'm going to start hoarding TI 85 & 87 information and data for possible future use.

If there is enough I may go this route.  I'd love to give a BBC B or Master 512K a good home, but sadly that one is out of my price range.



#28 Keatah OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jul 28, 2016 12:53 PM

I always thought of the HP85 as mega monster-sized programmable calculator rather than a computer. However accurate or inacurate that may be. And others seem to agree with me.

 

http://vintagecomput...ite90.net/hp85/


Edited by Keatah, Thu Jul 28, 2016 1:04 PM.


#29 --- Ω --- OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jul 28, 2016 12:57 PM

Probably right....



#30 spacecadet OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jul 28, 2016 12:59 PM

I had experience with most of the 80's computers popular in the US at that time, and I still own a few today.

 

I'm partial to the Apple II because I grew up with it, and it checks off all your boxes. If you get one, you may as well get a IIGS - I'm not aware of anything important that it's not backward-compatible with, it has most of what you would ever want built in but it does still have expansion slots if you ever want more. It also blasts through that 1mhz barrier to run at an eye-popping 2.8mhz!

 

You can also boost its speed up to something like 14mhz with an add-on card if you ever so desire (though that's expensive). It's also really easy to find lots of software for it on the internet and there are various easy ways to transfer from PC to Apple II. I use both ADT Pro, which lets you make actual Apple II disks, as well as a Floppy Emu that I just got that emulates either floppy drives or a hard drive. (Unfortunately not at the same time.) If you have a spare Micro SD card lying around, you can basically fit every Apple II program ever made on like a four dollar 2GB card.

 

I do like the C64 as well and it was a better game player than the Apple II, with almost as much software support but better graphics and sound. It is not as expandable as a IIe or IIGS and is certainly not as powerful as the IIGS in even its stock configuration. But I do have a fascination with computers that are self-contained, and if I was coming in "cold" today, I might prefer a C64 to an Apple II if only because I mainly play games on retro computers these days. It also has cheap and readily available SD storage options.

 

Look into the SX-64 too - this is basically a portable C64 and I've always thought they were really cool. Kind of expensive today, though, to get one in decent shape. Also if any part of it breaks, you're basically screwed - probably need to buy a whole other one to replace that part. But they're just so neat.

 

The Atari XL line was similar to the C64 but had a different kind of software support. Being from Atari it had more real arcade games but less third-party support. It also had more stuff on cartridge from what I remember. I actually wasn't aware of the fixes available for the 1200XL, but just remember that the 800XL actually came out later and already included these fixes. I've not tried the 1200XL keyboard, though, so maybe it would be worth upgrading one to match the 800XL's capabilities. (I do have an 800XL.)

 

16 bit machines other than the IIGS (which is worth it because of backward compatibility) are kind of hit and miss. I feel like while graphical quality increased, the quality of the games themselves actually decreased overall, as did the quantity. By that point most big name developers were working on the NES or Sega Master System, not computers. The Atari ST and Amiga are both fun machines to play around with, and the Amiga actually went on to a lot of professional uses that you can explore if you're interested in that (it will be $$$, though), but I'm not sure how much longevity they'd have for you. Also the original 520ST and 1040ST, at least, had *terrible* keyboards. Really mushy and required a lot of pressure, as I remember. They were very tiring to type on.

 

Don't discount an original IBM PC either. A lot of people don't consider these when talking about classic or retro computers, but they were around at the same time as all these other machines and were kind of a holy grail for many of us (they were VERY expensive so not many normal people had them) and while technically compatible with modern PC's, they are an entirely different experience. DOS based just like every other computer, rudimentary graphics and sound, but a lot of non-gaming software support. Also they did have a lot of early games and many of these are still fun and they often ran best on PC. (For example, the PC version of Burgertime is probably the best home computer port of the era.) I can't remember if early IBM PC's actually came with a CGA card, but I'd recommend buying one if not.



#31 Osgeld OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jul 28, 2016 8:13 PM

Here's hat it boils down to

You can get something very popular in your country, assuming the USA apple commie or Atari, and you will get a popular system with lots of support and no challenge to speak

You can get something obscure to your country again from the USA like a Beeb or amstrd which has a lot of software and support but more challenge getting g it up and running and learning the system


Or yo can go direct off the scales with something like the hp85 series and have a box that was used to mostly automate lab and industrial equipment, for max challenge

So what do you want? Same shit in different resolutions and colors? A bit of exotic to you mainstream? Or I'm going to rewrite Oregon Trail using toggle switches and math

#32 Opry99er OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jul 29, 2016 12:06 AM

Interesting way of putting it. :)


I suppose the simple answer is 'I don't really know'... The TI has always been 'my' computer, since I was but a wee lad. Nostalgia plays a large part in my hobbies in general. I fish because I fished with my dad and grand dad. I collect game systems with which I had a connection as a youngster.

Computing for me is a narrative tapestry... It cannot be described in terms of bits or bytes. It is not subject to the same types of criteria that, say, a baseball card collector has for his particular choice of era for his collection. Computing, for me, is a dark basement at 3 AM... Typing random commands into a "BASIC READY" terminal, hoping to coax the computer into doing something. It is the prayer that my parents won't wake up and find out that I am playing Tunnels of Doom 5 hours after my bedtime. It is the silence of a dungeon coupled with the whir of a small fan in the back of my expansion box. It is the click clack of a quality keyboard and the clug clug of dot matrix tractor. It is the emptiness of space and the richness of sound.

I know much of this probably doesn't make sense to everyone... But for me, the tactile feel of the keyboard and the quirkiness of a floppy disk drive are larger factors than onboard RAM or a high res display.

So the short answer, 'I don't know' really means that a computer--from my perspective-- is an extension of me and my desires...

That said, the Apple ][e is looking pretty tempting right now. :)

#33 carlsson ONLINE  

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Posted Fri Jul 29, 2016 1:18 AM

So many choices, so little space? On the other hand it is great that you have a wide scope of interest, as it increases the odds that you'll find something affordable to invest in. I'm afraid we're past the days where you could make bargains, so today I'd settle for affordable.

 

Which computer has the best keyboard is a long ongoing discussion with heated arguments. We all have our favorites, but honestly I must say that for typing I actually prefer modern PC keyboards over any vintage computer, let it be an Acorn, Apple, Atari, Commodore, Tandy, Texas Instruments, one of the MSX brands or even early IBM. I suppose you have been able to sample most keyboards at least once to have an idea what to expect - perhaps at a vintage computer festival or similar - if that is an important factor.



#34 spacecadet OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jul 29, 2016 10:09 AM

The best keyboard in a classic computer is going to be the original IBM PC. In terms of feel, they are probably the best all-around keyboards ever made. (The layout changed for the better on later IBM keyboards, but the feel stayed the same up until the 90's.)

 

The Apple IIe keyboard has a heavy, linear actuation. It makes an audible "clunk" when you bottom out, so it can sound similar to an original IBM but it doesn't feel similar at all. That said, the IIe keyboard is still among the better ones of that era - it's smooth and has a nice heft to it, but can be tiring to type on for long periods.

 

The IIGS keyboard has lighter actuation and a click in the middle of the keypress; it feels like a rubber dome keyboard but it might just be a light keyswitch, I'm not sure. I have a IIc as well and it feels similar and I'm pretty sure it's a mechanical keyboard, but not a buckling spring like the original IBM PC.

 

The Atari 600XL and 800XL have keyboards that feel like they're trying to emulate the Apple IIe but with lighter weight components, so they have kind of an artificially heavy keypress that feels like pushing through molasses or something. I don't like it. The C64 is similar but doesn't require as much effort, or at least feels like it doesn't because the keys are contoured a little more comfortably.

 

The original Atari ST keyboards feel like updated 600/800XL's but with better key contours. I've heard some later ST-based models, like the Falcon, had better keyboards, but they're much more expensive.

 

I had an Amiga, the first Amiga that later became the 1000, and it had a keyboard like a cheap modern PC; rubber dome. Still better than the Atari ST's.

 

If you're interested in a IIe already, I don't think the keyboard would turn you off of it. It's not the absolute best, but it's one of the better ones.



#35 JamesD OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jul 29, 2016 11:06 AM

If you are programming in BASIC, language features should be a key criteria.
Requiring someone to have a cart to run your program is clearly a disadvantage, but with multicarts and such, it's not as big of an obstacle as it used to be.
And remember that some BASIC add ons have odd features or syntax, so look them over completely before you decide they are a viable solution.
If you go with MSX, get a Japanese machine as they use a form of NTSC that is close enough to work in the US.

One of MY key language features is the ELSE statement.
It leads to fewer GOTOs and more compact code in my experience.
The CoCo 3, Plus/4, and C128 have it out of the box.  I don't know BBC BASIC well enough to know about it but it sounds like you already ruled it out due to no NTSC output.
Beagle Brothers has a utility that will patch Applesoft II BASIC to add ELSE.  You just need to have your startup on the disk load it from disk before executing your program.
OSS BASIC XL/XE and Turbo BASIC add ELSE to the Atari.  
Simon's BASIC adds it to the C64.

If you are going to do any business programming, look for formatted input and output.  PRINT USING is a lot easier to use and is much smaller than having to replace it with your own code.  Formatted input is rare and if you want it you'll probably be doing it yourself.  Since you seen to focus on games I'll just leave it at that.

If you are going to do much with text, string functions are important.  LEFTSTR, RIGHTSTR, MIDSTR, INSTR, etc...  They may be named different is some BASICs but it may be important to you.

Support for integers will make your code faster for a lot of things, but Microsoft SINGLE, DOUBLE, and INTEGER types pretty much ended after supporting the Z80.  Everything is floating point on the 6502, 6809, 6803, etc...
MSX does seem to support these types.

Some sort of support for setting display modes, pixels, drawing lines, and sprite support without using POKEs is probably important for what you want to do.
CoCo 3 has the most features like this out of the box.
Applesoft has most features but the only sprite support is shape tables.  Anything more and you'll need to load a machine language program for that.
Atari is similar.  BASIC XL/XE are very good.
C64 has almost nothing.  You'll need an upgrade for anything approaching the rest.
The Plus/4 and C128 are good.

User definable functions can shrink your code a lot and make it more readable if you reuse some math a lot.  It's slower than inline code but that's the trade off.
I can't tell you which BASICs don't support this off the top of my head.

Newer BASICs and upgrades may include WHILE WEND type loop structures which make code more readable.  I don't know which upgrades support this but the Plus/4 and C128 do out of the box.

DOS/file support.  Lets face it, some are better than other others.  

The CoCo 3 does very well on files with fields and such.  It's also an easy DOS to learn and it's available on powerup.

Applesoft file support is very different, you'll just have to look at it to understand what I mean.  The DOS is good.
The C64 DOS is cryptic and and if you want to type "DIR" or "CATALOG" for a directory of what is on a disk you'll need a DOS wedge.  JiffyDOS or a Fastload Cart are the normal solution.  Just remember, only 1 cart at a time.

I don't remember how programs do file I/O on the C64 but I believe it's similar to how DOS commands work.  It's not difficult, you just have to learn it.
The Plus/4 and C128 simplify using the DOS but I don't remember if they improved file handling. 
I honestly don't know Atari well enough.  I remember it's missing many features in Atari BASIC (File size?  Position?  Seek?) but fixes weren't difficult.  BASIC XL/XE add commands that make that easier.  The DOS is somewhere in the middle if I remember right.

Sprite support.  It's clearly possible on every machine whether through standard BASIC, an add on, or with a utility.  If the BASIC doesn't have support directly, you will need machine language utilities to do it.  It's better to find them now than after you get the machine.  

User definable character sets.  While several machines have it built into hardware, others like the Apple II, CoCo 3, and Plus/4 can implement it in software.  The 64 column text code I've written for 6847 machines on 3 different CPUs pretty much proves that, but you need to see what is already available and if it will work for you.

Other things to look for in the BASIC:
ON ERR GOTO or TRAP, etc...   Being able to send the program to an error handling routine is quite useful.  I'll let you research that.
Commands to read joysticks, buttons, get individual characters from the keyboard without waiting, etc... are all important for games.
A built in command or POKE to disable the BREAK key (or similar) is nice if you want people to stay out of your code.
USR or CALL functions.  Being able to call machine language programs from BASIC.  Coming from the TI where you can't do this I'm sure you understand this one.
 



#36 Keatah OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jul 29, 2016 12:03 PM

16 bit machines other than the IIGS (which is worth it because of backward compatibility) are kind of hit and miss. I feel like while graphical quality increased, the quality of the games themselves actually decreased overall, as did the quantity. By that point most big name developers were working on the NES or Sega Master System, not computers. The Atari ST and Amiga are both fun machines to play around with, and the Amiga actually went on to a lot of professional uses that you can explore if you're interested in that (it will be $$$, though), but I'm not sure how much longevity they'd have for you.

 

I tend to feel that just about everything "16-bit" at the time had worse gameplay than the material which came before. Seems that 16bit machines gave the programmers too many distractions and as result efforts then focused on graphic improvements at expense of gameplay and mechanics.

 

Also, 16bit machines were never pushed to their limit and optimized as much as 8bit stuff - both in hardware design and software. Ohh sure, capabilities increased. No doubt about that. But slop was coming in and it was noticeable.

 

Most people are blind to this because they think it's an attack against their favorite platform. It is not. It was an industry-wide problem that got worse and continues to get worse till this very day.



#37 JamesD OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jul 29, 2016 12:51 PM

 

I tend to feel that just about everything "16-bit" at the time had worse gameplay than the material which came before. Seems that 16bit machines gave the programmers too many distractions and as result efforts then focused on graphic improvements at expense of gameplay and mechanics.

 

Also, 16bit machines were never pushed to their limit and optimized as much as 8bit stuff - both in hardware design and software. Ohh sure, capabilities increased. No doubt about that. But slop was coming in and it was noticeable.

 

Most people are blind to this because they think it's an attack against their favorite platform. It is not. It was an industry-wide problem that got worse and continues to get worse till this very day.

I looked at a lot of disassembled code on the Amiga, and quite a bit of it was heavily optimized.  
There probably wasn't as much loop unrolling, mostly because it wasn't required, but overall there was a lot of really tight code.
It wasn't completely pushed to the limit, but it certainly had a lot of optimizations.
OTOH, there was also a lot of stuff written in C, so it was completely missing certain optimizations.

I myself wrote a library of code for loading IFF pictures, loading and playing sounds, color cycling, etc... for use from BASIC.  
It was a mix of C and assembly and I spent plenty of time optimizing and tuning the assembly code.  
All the 'Designing Minds' educational stuff like "Talking Storybook", "Great States II", and "World Tour" programs were written in BASIC (Absoft BASIC compiler) and they used that library.
 



#38 CatPix OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jul 29, 2016 1:01 PM

If enriching your life is what you seek, maybe something from overseas will tempt you.

 

A ZX Spectrum might be a choice. It's small, use a standard 9V power supply, and since you talk about interfacing, maybe you have knowledge about making expansions, soldering? Because in this case, the Spectrum seems to have YUV video on his edge connector, so you could remove the issue of the pesky PAL I RF output. Tons of expansions were made in the UK and are still made today mostly for SD cards and hard drives.

Or you get a ZX Spectrum 2+ that have a RGB TTL output.

 

zx2.jpg

 

Because of it's cult status in the UK and being well know in other European countries, there are lots of informations about programming it, lots of data; expansions existed then and new ones are made now.

 

The audio and video are a bit limited, but since you talked about PET computer then it shouldn't be a concern.

 

Which make me thing that the previous ZX 81 might interest you. It attract slightly less attention so it's usually cheaper (unlike Spectrums that can reach ridiculous price over 50$) , and his black and white video with solve you lots of trouble for interfacing the video, as long as you own a monitor/TV that accept 50 htz.

 

1920px-Sinclair-ZX81.png

 

Since BASIC is a requirement for you, I have to mention the Amstrad CPC as well. Again, a famous British computer that is still a star in Europe. It's larger, more evolved than a ZX Spectrum; more colors, a classic AY-8910 sound chip, lots of games from European editors that never appeared in the US in any form...

And, a built-in BASIC that was recognized at the time as being one of the best "out-of-the-box" BASIC ever available on a 8 bit computer.

The CPC come with a built-in tape or 3" floppy drive, the latter can be replaced by a Gotek emulator. expansions exist for the CPC too, to add mouses, drives, and other accessories.

 

Amstrad_CPC464.jpg

 

All those computers are powered by a classic Z80 CPU, BTW.

 

Amstrad CPC and his professionnal counterpart, the PCW, were made available in the US, so maybe owning one of those rare models would be convenient for you, and also will fullfill your desire?

 

In more obscure systems, maybe a French--made Thomson computer?

There are quite harder to come by, mostly because they are sold here via ad websites and not eBay or other international selling sites like eBay, but they should be easy enough to find if you ever ask for one on AA, there are some Frenchies like me around.

 

Thomson computers make a rather large family of computers, from the TO7 released in 1983 with a crude 8 colors display and a beeper, to the TO9+ in 1986 with 16 colors from a palette of 4096. All of those running a 6809@1MHtz

 

A special feature of those computers was the use of a light pen as the main tool for using some of the software bus this isn't a requirement to boot them.

 

thomson-to7-70-3.jpg

 

TO9.jpg

 

On the TO7 and TO7-70, the BASIC come on external carts (called MEMO7). The BASIC are from Microsoft, they are neither very bad or very good. On those you'll have a choice of the standard BASIC 1, or BASIC 128 if you have a RAM expansion.

 

Latter models have a built-in BASIC, still by Microsoft, that is upped for supporting 512Ko or RAM, and so aptly named BASIC 512.

 

All TO and MO computer support tape, cartridge and floppy as data input, but only the TO8D and TO9 have a built-in floppy drive, the other will need an external floppy drive that is now very expensive. (but there is a cheap way to interface SD cards on all of those computers except the TO9 non + ).

 

All MO and TO output video as RGBi with a SCART cable, either built-in or from a standard SCART socket at the back (hence the TO name, for Télé-Ordinateur "TV Computer" )

Only the MO5 come with a replaceable external power supply, all other Thomson have a built-in power supply, but it conveniently is separated from the mainboard, and feed he computer a classic 12V, +5V and a ground, so replacing it should be easy. Also the TO8 and TO9 use switching power supplies so simply used a step-down transformer should work.

 

About interfacing... The TO and MO were made as part of a plan to introduce computer into French schools and of course to familiarize kids with programming, so there are TONS of expansions. The back of the TO computer is simply BEGGING to be filled with expansions, and from a simple "sound and games" module that added joystick port and a sound chip on the TO7, to video editing modules, to the unfamous but almost impossible to find LEGO Data module (which allowed to drive Lego Technics stuff :-o ), there is TONS of them.

 

to770.jpg

 

Since you mention the TI99, you might be pleased to know that some TI engineers decided that abandonning it was a mistake.

 

So in 1984, 3 enginners from Texas Instruments France decided to leave TI and founded their own company, Exelvision, and released their own computer, mostly based on the TI99, but improving several points of it such as the uber slow BASIC, and adding some odd and today unneeded gimmicks; mostly the use of infrared connection for the joystick and keyboard.

 

This computer is the EXL100 :

exl100config1.jpg

 

It's powered by a TMS7020, a TMS3556 for the video, and a TMS 5220 A for sound and speech synthesis (in French)

 

the BASIC come on an odd memory cart/card like some other software, but most of them came on tape.

There is an expansion port, but it's used mostly to attach printers and a wired keyboard, as the machine had little success on a market that was overencumbered; and the use of TI chips meant that porting software from more successful computers was basically rewritting them, which most editors never bothered to do.

 

wp7ed0a999_0f.jpg

 

Now, last but not least, and probably the most original computer on my list, the Elektronika BK :

132_Elektronika_BK_0010_01.jpg

Which, in short, is a miniaturized PDP-11 clone.

Yep, this 1970 beast, shoehorned into a C64-sized box and made available for anyone at home.

Pdp-11-40.jpg

 

Early BK computer come with FOCAL included, which was DEC's equivalent of BASIC.

Later BK computer have the unfamous (in the Eastern block) Vilnius BASIC included, with FOCAL being available on cartridge (probably the only officially made cart for the system, BTW)

Basic-Vilnus.png

 

Since this is a PDP-11 clone, programming for it can be done using documentation for FOCAL so you won't need to deal with having to translate stuff from Russian forums. the Vilnius BASIC is in english too as you can see in the picture so it's probably about trial and error to program stuff on it.

 

"cottage industry" for computers was trhe main source for accessories and parts in the Soviet Union, so while official or acessories from BITD are virtually impossible to find, Russian and Ukrainian retrogamers are making lots of expansions and crazy stuff for their computers today. But It will be probably easier for you if you are able to make expansions yourself rather than dealing with asking stuff on ZXPK.RU for example.

But owning one of those it probably going to be the most unique piece of any non-Eastern collection.



#39 am1933 OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jul 29, 2016 1:35 PM

I've seen a few comments on keyboard quality, but I know which one is actually the best and I believe there was this guy who put together some kind of crazy Christmas tape based collection-I'm pretty sure he also knows which one is actually "the best". ;)



#40 JamesD OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jul 29, 2016 2:31 PM

If enriching your life is what you seek, maybe something from overseas will tempt you.

...

Someone missed the whole NTSC thing or is just messing with us.

But since you brought it up...
Speccy BASIC makes Atari BASIC look fast.  It does have some nice features though.
The BASIC keyword entry sucks and the keyboard on the grey model is super springy.  The crowdfunded speccy that is in the works would be my choice though since it has an FPGA and can support multiple machines.
ZedIcks-80 anything... pew. Everything bad about the Speccy and more.  At least the TS-1000 is NTSC. 
Thomson... French Keyboard layout.  Nice machines otherwise.   I had one and the keyboard was pretty nice.  Better models have a 6801/3 dedicated to the keyboard.  Only 1 MHz 6809.
The rest... unobtanium. 

The Oric Atmos is cool in a weird sort of way.  I love the little beast.  But it's not NTSC.  There is an SD drive available but the horrible buss signal quality has made it flaky on many machines.  It's a bit like an Apple II with an single AY chip Mockingboard.  It's video programming is... unique.  The keyboard may be small but it has an excellent feel... much better than the grey +2 Speccy I had.  The BASIC is supposedly by Microsoft and it has ELSE, PEEK, POKE, CALL statement.  Graphics support is good but no sprites.  It has specific commands for sounds like explosions.
I ported a music player to it and that was the basis for the one I wrote for the Mockingboard.  Porting was easy due to the similarity.  The Oric developers kit is pretty decent and there are quite a few examples out there.
 


Edited by JamesD, Fri Jul 29, 2016 2:32 PM.


#41 CatPix OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jul 29, 2016 3:27 PM

RGB doesn't care about NTSC.

 

Black and white video like on the ZX 81 have no color encoding either so it's not concerned.

 

The Amstrad CPC was sold in the US so there should be no probelm with this version, and the PCW have it's own built-in screen.



#42 carlsson ONLINE  

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Posted Fri Jul 29, 2016 3:36 PM

Regarding the BBC BASIC found in the BBC Micro, the following requested features has been around since 1981:

ELSE: IF THEN ELSE, can also be used with ON GOTO ELSE and ON GOSUB ELSE.

There is no PRINT USING per se, but with the syntax @%=&B4B3B2B1, you can control number of decimal places, exponent, fixed or general format etc. For instance @%=&0002030A would set the format to 10 places (0A), three decimal places (03), fixed format (02) and that STR$ should not try to format strings (00) to the current format. There is also a COUNT command which keeps count how many characters you have printed to screen, printer or RS423.

LEFT$, RIGHT$, MID$, INSTR: Yes Sir, all four of these.

SINGLE, DOUBLE, and INTEGER: Sorry, it doesn't seem to support real numbers of varying precision. The built-in floating point variables are 40 bits with a precision from 1.47 * 10^-39 to 1.7 * 10^38 with an accuracy of 9 "sig figs". The integer ones are 32 bits and cover the range -2,147,483,648 to +2,147,483,647. Given that the BASIC is fast enough, reducing accuracy for speed improvement might not be that important? Memory use perhaps, once your 32K is starting to run out.

Setting display modes, pixels, drawing lines, and sprite support without using POKEs: Yep, a whole bunch of commands involving MODE, PLOT, DRAW, COLOUR, GCOL, VDU (multi purpose command) and so on. Nothing really you should be missing there.
 
WHILE WEND: Yes, using the REPEAT UNTIL commands. You can also be structured with PROC and ENDPROC, which is very uncommon for an 8-bit BASIC in 1981/82. Within procedures, you can define variables as LOCAL. It also has the FALSE and TRUE constants to create endless loops or add syntactic sugar to changable expressions. 

 

ON ERR GOTO or TRAP: Yes, we've got ON ERROR GOTO or GOSUB, ERL to find out on which line the last error occurred, ERR to find out the last error code, REPORT to get the error message in clear text and TRACE to print the line number before execution.

A built in command or POKE to disable the BREAK key (or similar): Not entirely sure if the BREAK key can be disabled from BASIC, but some games manage to block it or redirect you elsewhere than you expected, so it surely is changable in the OS, whether via a POKE or other OS call.
 
USR or CALL functions: Yes, both CALL and USR, with rather advanced syntax. Also remember that BBC BASIC allows inline assembly code.

 

Other commands worth mentioning: 

AUTO line numbering and RENUMBER.

EVAL to evaluate a string as an expression e.g. "SIN(X/120)"

LISTO to specifically indicate in the listing where loops like FOR NEXT and REPEAT UNTIL are located

OSCLI which is an operating system command line interpreter which means e.g. you can save a program within the program running, or just issuing OS commands.

 

Also BBC BASIC has been ported to loads of CPU's and architectures. Perhaps not all commands are cross compatible, but I think the gist of them are.


Edited by carlsson, Fri Jul 29, 2016 3:37 PM.


#43 MarkO OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jul 29, 2016 3:42 PM

Interesting way of putting it. :)


I suppose the simple answer is 'I don't really know'... The TI has always been 'my' computer, since I was but a wee lad. Nostalgia plays a large part in my hobbies in general. I fish because I fished with my dad and grand dad. I collect game systems with which I had a connection as a youngster.


I totally understand... The Apple ][ at School was my First, the Sinclair ZX-81 my First at Home, and the Apple ][e my Second at Home...
 

Computing for me is a narrative tapestry... It cannot be described in terms of bits or bytes. It is not subject to the same types of criteria that, say, a baseball card collector has for his particular choice of era for his collection. Computing, for me, is a dark basement at 3 AM... Typing random commands into a "BASIC READY" terminal, hoping to coax the computer into doing something. It is the prayer that my parents won't wake up and find out that I am playing Tunnels of Doom 5 hours after my bedtime. It is the silence of a dungeon coupled with the whir of a small fan in the back of my expansion box. It is the click clack of a quality keyboard and the clug clug of dot matrix tractor. It is the emptiness of space and the richness of sound.

I discovered in the 10th Grade, the Power that Programming a Computer can bring to your "State of Mind"...
 

I know much of this probably doesn't make sense to everyone... But for me, the tactile feel of the keyboard and the quirkiness of a floppy disk drive are larger factors than onboard RAM or a high res display.

There is nothing quite like the feel of original Hardware and how it operates.
 

So the short answer, 'I don't know' really means that a computer--from my perspective-- is an extension of me and my desires...

I like this Statement.
 

That said, the Apple ][e is looking pretty tempting right now. :)


I approve of this Answer.....
http://atariage.com/...1983-1024x1254/


MarkO

#44 JamesD OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jul 29, 2016 4:21 PM

RGB doesn't care about NTSC.

 

Black and white video like on the ZX 81 have no color encoding either so it's not concerned.

 

The Amstrad CPC was sold in the US so there should be no probelm with this version, and the PCW have it's own built-in screen.

People without an RGB monitor might care.
If you want to mess with a ZX-80 in the US, get a TS-1500.  But I had a TS-1500 and the only machines I used less in my collection are a TS-1000, and the Mattel Aquarius.
I have yet to see a single US Amstrad CPC.  They are pretty rare.  I think the PCW was more popular but I've never seen a US one of those either.  Maybe you know a source I don't.
 



#45 carlsson ONLINE  

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Posted Fri Jul 29, 2016 4:36 PM

If lag isn't an issue, a GBS-8xxx board might be the solution to converting RGB from various systems into VGA. Unfortunately the TI-99/4A outputs YPbPr which is different from RGB, otherwise Opry99'er could use the same board with that one too. Now I know the F18A is an option to get native VGA and added graphics capacities from VDP machines but that is another matter.



#46 CatPix OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jul 29, 2016 5:02 PM

People without an RGB monitor might care.
If you want to mess with a ZX-80 in the US, get a TS-1500.  But I had a TS-1500 and the only machines I used less in my collection are a TS-1000, and the Mattel Aquarius.
I have yet to see a single US Amstrad CPC.  They are pretty rare.  I think the PCW was more popular but I've never seen a US one of those either.  Maybe you know a source I don't.
 

I don't know a source, I made suggestions.

Part of the fun in owning a machine is seeking for it too.

And having old computers and not having a RGB monitor around? old VGA monitors up to the mid 90's will be able to sync on RGBi, if convertign the signal from i to HV.



#47 Opry99er OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jul 30, 2016 1:41 AM

I've seen a few comments on keyboard quality, but I know which one is actually the best and I believe there was this guy who put together some kind of crazy Christmas tape based collection-I'm pretty sure he also knows which one is actually "the best". ;)



:)

Christmas stuff... On a data tape??? Dude sounds completely insane!!

I love my 4A keyboard... Springy, loud, serene. The faster I type, the louder and springier it gets. I love pounding the keys as hard as my fingers will let me while typing on that board, because it just keeps popping back for more. :)

#48 Opry99er OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jul 30, 2016 1:43 AM

@CatPix

The Speccy is lovely... I especially like the built in tape deck. :)

I dont think it is QUITE for me though.

Some really cool compys you laid out there... Some of which I had never seen before. Thanks!!

#49 Opry99er OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jul 30, 2016 2:03 AM

The best keyboard in a classic computer is going to be the original IBM PC. In terms of feel, they are probably the best all-around keyboards ever made. (The layout changed for the better on later IBM keyboards, but the feel stayed the same up until the 90's.)
 
The Apple IIe keyboard has a heavy, linear actuation. It makes an audible "clunk" when you bottom out, so it can sound similar to an original IBM but it doesn't feel similar at all. That said, the IIe keyboard is still among the better ones of that era - it's smooth and has a nice heft to it, but can be tiring to type on for long periods.
 
The IIGS keyboard has lighter actuation and a click in the middle of the keypress; it feels like a rubber dome keyboard but it might just be a light keyswitch, I'm not sure. I have a IIc as well and it feels similar and I'm pretty sure it's a mechanical keyboard, but not a buckling spring like the original IBM PC.
 
The Atari 600XL and 800XL have keyboards that feel like they're trying to emulate the Apple IIe but with lighter weight components, so they have kind of an artificially heavy keypress that feels like pushing through molasses or something. I don't like it. The C64 is similar but doesn't require as much effort, or at least feels like it doesn't because the keys are contoured a little more comfortably.
 
The original Atari ST keyboards feel like updated 600/800XL's but with better key contours. I've heard some later ST-based models, like the Falcon, had better keyboards, but they're much more expensive.
 
I had an Amiga, the first Amiga that later became the 1000, and it had a keyboard like a cheap modern PC; rubber dome. Still better than the Atari ST's.
 
If you're interested in a IIe already, I don't think the keyboard would turn you off of it. It's not the absolute best, but it's one of the better ones.



Thanks for that thorough breakdown. :) if you've ever typed on a TI-99/4A (not 4) with a mechanical keyboard (not the later Mitsumi membrane type) then you have an idea of what I consider to be near-perfection. Very springy... A nice audible 'CLACK' at the bottom with a slight 'kuh' on return. It invites typing and rewards it at the same time.

Funny story (or maybe not funny)... I started writing a novel a couple of years ago about colonization of the moon... It was all there in my head, and I got the outline down on some notebook paper. About 30 pages in, I started to lose the inspiration for one reason or another, and I stalled out on my writing.

One day, I decided to start up.again, only THIS time, on my TI. Got out my trusty TI WRITER package and went to work. I banged out another 80 pages in just a couple of days and absolutely loved the experience. I transferred over those 80 pages to my PC, then got back to work. Another 20 or so pages in, and the words were flowing... Then, I experienced the first of many brown-outs there... A product of terrible house wiring and an overworked and outdated grid in that part of Denver. My disks, including my novel disk started getting corrupted on reads and writes... Hardware issues started popping up and my whole system (over the next several weeks) started failing me.

I went back and tried to rewrite what I lost on my PC, but it was not the same. My system went into boxes and stayed there for two years until recently when I replaced some faulty components and got my friend up and running again.

I stopped writing that novel and stopped computing for a good while. To this day, I have not returned to my novel... Still have the 130 original pages, but it is only half complete, and the passion was lost.

There is a moral in there somewhere, but it escapes me somehow.

Edited by Opry99er, Sat Jul 30, 2016 2:04 AM.


#50 Tickled_Pink OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jul 30, 2016 3:23 AM

People without an RGB monitor might care.
If you want to mess with a ZX-80 in the US, get a TS-1500.  But I had a TS-1500 and the only machines I used less in my collection are a TS-1000, and the Mattel Aquarius.
I have yet to see a single US Amstrad CPC.  They are pretty rare.  I think the PCW was more popular but I've never seen a US one of those either.  Maybe you know a source I don't.
 

 

Here's the Amstrad. Pretty rich though and untested. Missing its monitor as well, although I'm sure someone could create a cable to connect a TV/monitor to the monitor port.

 

http://www.ebay.com/...xMAAOxykUZTf1I8






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