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A Commodore Guy's Impression of the CoCo 3


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#1 rpiguy9907 OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jun 28, 2018 2:51 PM

Hi all, I've been lurking for a long time and have been a Commodore/Apple guy for many years.

 

I tried to get into the Color Computer scene, but I think because it didn't hit me with same nostalgia as the Commodore/Apple computers that I own, I was unable to get hooked. In fact I am selling the rig I put together (CoCo 3 + dual mini-disk) on the Marketplace.

 

My impression of the platform is really bipolar. It feels like a much more sophisticated computer than a Commodore or an Apple, but this feeling is ruined by some of the decisions made by Tandy.

 

From little things like the hideous font and green screen that you have to learn to change or load another OS to get rid of... to big things like sticking with so many legacy peripherals from the TRS-80 Model I/III/IV line. Sticking with the same basic case design as the Coco2 really did an injustice to the Coco3. Even Commodore finally ditched the breadbin.

 

The Coco 3 in particular feels like it should have shipped with a 3.5 floppy or a hard disk, it is a really powerful machine I was shocked at what it could do.

 

Also, the community is really friendly compared to some others.

 

All together it feels like a missed opportunity for Radio Shack.



#2 eebuckeye ONLINE  

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Posted Thu Jun 28, 2018 7:02 PM

The Coco3 is a great machine. Very powerful and I have barely scratched the surface. I was/am a Commodore guy myself.

#3 AtariLeaf OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jun 28, 2018 7:16 PM

I was a big coco guy for decades but I sold it all last year. Once I took off the nostalgia goggles and really looked at the game library (for me it's all about games, I'm not a hardware guy) the system is sorely lacking, especially as a cart collector, the stuff that Radio Shack released was mostly forgettable to down right horrible with a few notable exceptions.



#4 rpiguy9907 OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jun 28, 2018 8:18 PM

The only cart I have for it is the game Wildcatting. Very interesting economic simulation of oil drilling. Why RadioShack thought would be a good game is beyond me. And the graphics were very simple.

#5 jmdlcar OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jun 28, 2018 10:04 PM

Can I ask how old all you are?



#6 rpiguy9907 OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jun 28, 2018 10:21 PM

According to our profiles all in our 40s.

Edited by rpiguy9907, Thu Jun 28, 2018 10:23 PM.


#7 jmdlcar OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jun 29, 2018 4:03 AM

Why I ask you don't remember what the games look like for the Atari 2600 they were about the same as the Color Computer in the same time 1980. I forgot I own a Commodore Vic 20 and if I remember the games look the same to. I do remember because I am 70 years old and I own all 3 system.

 

And I own a Color Computer 2 before and I bought another one 2 weeks it ago. If you say why it has OS9.



#8 AtariLeaf OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jun 29, 2018 4:55 AM

Why I ask you don't remember what the games look like for the Atari 2600 they were about the same as the Color Computer in the same time 1980. I forgot I own a Commodore Vic 20 and if I remember the games look the same to. I do remember because I am 70 years old and I own all 3 system.

 

And I own a Color Computer 2 before and I bought another one 2 weeks it ago. If you say why it has OS9.

 

Are you a regular in the coco groups and go to the cocofests? The reason I ask is it looks like there's a lot in your age group at the fests. Allen Huffman looks the youngest and he looks like he's about my age (mid to late 40s)



#9 rpiguy9907 OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jun 29, 2018 7:28 AM

I had an Atari 2600 as a kid and the graphics were simpler than even the Color Computer. The VIC 20 may been better for games (more color and sound), but it had a horrible 22 column text display. At least the Color Computer did 32 columns at the time.

 

My comment about the graphics was aimed solely at the game Wildcatting. I know the CoCo 3 is capable of some impressive games, I've seen some of the modern ports that use the RAM expansion on YouTube.

 

 

Why I ask you don't remember what the games look like for the Atari 2600 they were about the same as the Color Computer in the same time 1980. I forgot I own a Commodore Vic 20 and if I remember the games look the same to. I do remember because I am 70 years old and I own all 3 system.

 

And I own a Color Computer 2 before and I bought another one 2 weeks it ago. If you say why it has OS9.



#10 BassGuitari OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jun 29, 2018 9:46 AM

I was a big coco guy for decades but I sold it all last year. Once I took off the nostalgia goggles and really looked at the game library (for me it's all about games, I'm not a hardware guy) the system is sorely lacking, especially as a cart collector, the stuff that Radio Shack released was mostly forgettable to down right horrible with a few notable exceptions.

 

Really? That's surprising and kind of sad to hear.  :(  I've watched most, if not all of your CoCo videos on YouTube and really enjoyed them. You were so enthusiastic about the system!

 

And I have to disagree, at least partially--there are tons of great third-party games for the TRS-80 Color, IMO. I'll grant you some of the Radio Shack cartridge titles were pretty weak, but quite a number of them are also really good, too. If I had one common gripe about the Radio Shack titles, though, it would be that they tended to have really goofy or arbitrarily convoluted control schemes; thankfully this usually seemed to be less of an issue with third-party games.

 

The TRS-80 Color wasn't my first retro computer (that would be the Commodore 64), but I became enough of a fan to have gotten a 16K CoCo 1, a 64K CoCo 2, and a CoCo 3 at various points, and a majority of the cartridge titles that came out (though I'm still missing several). :-D

 

Can I ask how old all you are?

 

33.

 

Somebody mentioned the VIC-20. Great little system. Whether it's better than the TRS-80 Color as a games machine, it's hard to say. The generally more colorful graphics, meatier sound effects, faster gameplay, availability of A-list licensed games, and digital joystick say "yes," but the CoCo's higher graphic resolution (albeit in artifact color graphics modes), much better text resolution, sprite capability, music capability (ex: the organ-like ditties in Temple Of Rom and Clowns & Balloons), and wide availability of quality third-party titles--including some excellent clones of popular arcade games--do the Radio Shack system a lot of credit, as well. (And honestly, in certain and specific applications, the Radio Shack joystick can be pretty nice.)

 

I enjoy both systems very much and I think they complement each other very well. Like vanilla and chocolate ice cream. :-D



#11 rpiguy9907 OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jun 29, 2018 11:35 AM

Color Computer didnt have hardware sprites, right? They were software sprites, which any system could implement.
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#12 MarkO OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jun 29, 2018 5:09 PM

I am an Old Apple ][ guy ( and Commodore SX-64 Guy ), but I have only got into the CoCo's 6 years ago... I got a CoCo 3, NIB with an Apple //e Platinum.. I thought about selling it, but the MC6809 was too cool to not try out.. ( If you find the MC6809 cool, wait until you find out about the HD6309.. ) Since that point, I have added a CoCo 2, another CoCo 2 with a CoCo 1, and another CoCo 2.. Two MPIs, Two CoCoSDCs, Two CoCoPSGs, and Two CoCoGMCs... And a couple FD-500s.. The MC6809 is a way more Capable CPU than the 65xx, even at .89Mhz, and the CoCo 3 you can Double that, and if you swap in the HD6309, you will move it up another notch in performance.. The CoCos have a 6 Bit DAC, that can make pretty nice sounding music, but it is very CPU Intensive... No Sprites, but the Stack Blast trick that can be done on the 65816 can be done on the MC6809/HD6309.. The Nuclear Green Screen is very Off Putting, but I think that was to keep the Casual Users away.... MarkO

#13 Osgeld OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jun 29, 2018 5:27 PM

The only cart I have for it is the game Wildcatting. Very interesting economic simulation of oil drilling. Why RadioShack thought would be a good game is beyond me. And the graphics were very simple.

 

 

wildcatter is an American term for an individual who drills wildcat wells, which are exploration oil wells drilled in areas not known to be oil fields.

 

 

anyway

 

I still have not done much of anything with mine, I just have the console and a cart of microchess, I need to coble a serial cable and an audio cable and blah blah blah, or just start throwing cash at the darn thing. If you cant read my tone I am not doing back flips for it, though it was one of the first "retro" computers I considered when getting back into them several years ago when I saw the NOS dragons 

 

dunno my background is in apple II stuff and its just a bit of a downer whenever I have a question instead of reading "oh yea piggyback a prom bend these 3 legs and jumper them to xyz" I always end up at a webstore asking for 50 bucks, or bootstrap dos from an audio cable every stinking reboot 

 

done being a debbie downer but I know its not a games and demo machine, that's why I have a pal atari. I would like to get into the hardware side but not if I have to constantly vomit cash at it or reinvent the wheel myself ,such as the RGB to svideo adapter I just made, and will post schematics for instead of a dollar amount sometime in the upcoming week since I have most of it off. If I do anything else beyond that, it would be a RGB to HDMI adapter but it better be wowing me by then otherwise its going to hit the road 


Edited by Osgeld, Fri Jun 29, 2018 5:32 PM.


#14 adamantyr ONLINE  

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Posted Mon Jul 9, 2018 10:27 AM

My brother (who apparently has zero nostalgia for vintage computing days) basically gave me his entire Color Computer system. So I have a Coco2 with 16K ram, an Coco3 with 128K ram, the multipak interface, a disk drive, and a ton of cassette, disk, and cartridge software as well as one of the high-end joysticks.

 

I recently got one of the cloud-9 RGB cables so I could FINALLY after all these years hook up an RGB monitor to it. (Fortunately I owned such a monitor already, a Magnavox Professional series) and it looks very good indeed. In particular, it's nice to be able to see the 80 column mode.

 

Most of his software is either Tandy/Radio Shack stuff or copies of games we got from his best friend at the time, who had a Coco1 upgraded to 64k and tons of pirated stuff on cassette/disk, including most of the Tom Mix games. I remember having a lot of fun playing them.

 

That said, I'm not sure I'll be getting into it. I'm a TI-99/4a guy myself, and it's tough to find time to even devote to that. I'm considering if I want to sell the whole lot to someone who really wants a complete (fairly) deluxe system and will make good use of it.



#15 rpiguy9907 OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jul 11, 2018 2:47 PM

Just realized you were the Tilting at Windmills guy despite it being right there in your signature. Your work is amazing and will inspire me to explore the TI-99/4 one day, although likely through an emulator as I have zero room left for another system.

 

My brother (who apparently has zero nostalgia for vintage computing days) basically gave me his entire Color Computer system. So I have a Coco2 with 16K ram, an Coco3 with 128K ram, the multipak interface, a disk drive, and a ton of cassette, disk, and cartridge software as well as one of the high-end joysticks.

 

I recently got one of the cloud-9 RGB cables so I could FINALLY after all these years hook up an RGB monitor to it. (Fortunately I owned such a monitor already, a Magnavox Professional series) and it looks very good indeed. In particular, it's nice to be able to see the 80 column mode.

 

Most of his software is either Tandy/Radio Shack stuff or copies of games we got from his best friend at the time, who had a Coco1 upgraded to 64k and tons of pirated stuff on cassette/disk, including most of the Tom Mix games. I remember having a lot of fun playing them.

 

That said, I'm not sure I'll be getting into it. I'm a TI-99/4a guy myself, and it's tough to find time to even devote to that. I'm considering if I want to sell the whole lot to someone who really wants a complete (fairly) deluxe system and will make good use of it.



#16 Nebulon OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jul 12, 2018 11:08 AM

I was a big coco guy for decades but I sold it all last year. Once I took off the nostalgia goggles and really looked at the game library (for me it's all about games, I'm not a hardware guy) the system is sorely lacking, especially as a cart collector, the stuff that Radio Shack released was mostly forgettable to down right horrible with a few notable exceptions.

 

The cartridge games really leave a bad impression for many people (except maybe a few like Downland and Daggorath). 

 

However, the disk library is a different story. Lots of really good titles there, including:

Time Bandit

Lunchtime

Cashman

Cyrstle/Ice Castles

Shock Trooper

Tut's Tomb

Dragon Slayer

Buzzard Bait

Calixto Island

Trekboer

Dallas Quest

Galagon

Rommel 3D

Gantelet 1 and 2

Color Car

Gold Runner (Tom Mix)

Hall of the King series

Speed Racer

Marble Maze

Qiks (Spectral)

Rogue

Phantom Slayer

Sailor Man

Sam Diamond

Varloc

Trapfall

Pooyan

F-16 (Diecom)

Whirlybird Run

Pitstop 2

Lunar-Rover Patrol

Maui Vice

Brew Master

3D Brickaway

 

 

Plus the various Sierra Quest games.

 

Aside from the Sierra stuff (and maybe Carmen Sandiego), the Color Computer's games have a really different 'feel' to them. It doesn't tread on the C64's territory much at all. They're very unique from one-another.

 

http://www.colorcomp...co/Disks/Games/



#17 adamantyr ONLINE  

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Posted Thu Jul 12, 2018 12:05 PM

Don't forget Koronis Rift and Rescue on Fractalus for the Coco3! Arguably, the Coco3 versions were the best produced.



#18 Gamemoose OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Jul 29, 2018 1:11 PM

I agree: tape and disk games are where it's at for CoCo gaming. I tended to drool over the game ads in Rainbow and Hot Coco magazine when I was a kid.

#19 RickR OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Jul 29, 2018 2:49 PM

I did the same as you.  Had a CoCo 2 64K, a bunch of cartridge games, and a set of joysticks.  I sold it all.  None -- not a single one -- of the games I had was fun.  The only good think I can say about it was that it had a very good version of MS Basic installed.  But as you mention...that green bootup screen was just wrong. 



#20 BassGuitari OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jul 31, 2018 1:48 PM

FWIW, some of the Radio Shack cartridge games I like quite a bit include:

 

Clowns & Balloons

Popcorn

Temple Of Rom

Space Assault (controls take some getting used to, and the sound is obnoxious, but it's still fun IMO)

Galactic Attack (^ ditto)

Doubleback

Project Nebula

Polaris

Canyon Climber

Slay The Nereis

 

:)



#21 Airshack OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Jul 31, 2018 5:28 PM

The only cart I have for it is the game Wildcatting. Very interesting economic simulation of oil drilling. Why RadioShack thought would be a good game is beyond me. And the graphics were very simple.

The Tandy Corporation was headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas. Probably the same reason TI released The Chisholm Trail game. Very Texan.

ef83591bdd188a454d5024df5f0c79cc.jpg

Texans love anything to do with Texas. It’s the only state in the USA where locals visit their own souvenir shops to decorate their homes.




Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro

Edited by Airshack, Tue Jul 31, 2018 5:32 PM.

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#22 Downland1983 ONLINE  

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Posted Thu Oct 25, 2018 10:33 AM

FWIW, some of the Radio Shack cartridge games I like quite a bit include:

 

Clowns & Balloons

Popcorn

Temple Of Rom

Space Assault (controls take some getting used to, and the sound is obnoxious, but it's still fun IMO)

Galactic Attack (^ ditto)

Doubleback

Project Nebula

Polaris

Canyon Climber

Slay The Nereis

 

:)

 

My favorite TRS-80 CoCo cartridge games (now and then):

Downland

Dungeons of Daggorath

Demon Attack

Dragon Fire

Canyon Climber

Stellar Life Line

Chess 

Pinball

Monster Maze

 

I used to greatly enjoy playing Color Baseball with my older brother in the mid-80's.



#23 JamesD OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Oct 26, 2018 3:27 PM

I am an Old Apple ][ guy ( and Commodore SX-64 Guy ), but I have only got into the CoCo's 6 years ago... I got a CoCo 3, NIB with an Apple //e Platinum.. I thought about selling it, but the MC6809 was too cool to not try out.. ( If you find the MC6809 cool, wait until you find out about the HD6309.. ) Since that point, I have added a CoCo 2, another CoCo 2 with a CoCo 1, and another CoCo 2.. Two MPIs, Two CoCoSDCs, Two CoCoPSGs, and Two CoCoGMCs... And a couple FD-500s.. The MC6809 is a way more Capable CPU than the 65xx, even at .89Mhz, and the CoCo 3 you can Double that, and if you swap in the HD6309, you will move it up another notch in performance.. The CoCos have a 6 Bit DAC, that can make pretty nice sounding music, but it is very CPU Intensive... No Sprites, but the Stack Blast trick that can be done on the 65816 can be done on the MC6809/HD6309.. The Nuclear Green Screen is very Off Putting, but I think that was to keep the Casual Users away.... MarkO

Sorry Mark, it's not really stack blasting on the 65816, as it can't load multiple registers from a single instruction like the 6809 or 6309.
You can certainly use the stack pointer as a data source but it's much less efficient.  It's really no better than doing the same thing on a 6803.

The green screen was the popular color for monochrome monitors and it was supposed to be easier on the eyes.
The 6847 was really intended to be used for a cheap video terminal that attached to a TV, so they duplicated the green screen.
The 6845 requires a lot more external hardware, so it wasn't really a low cost option.
Something similar to the 6847 but more capable should have been created for use in personal computers. 

As for the text color, the CoCo 3 can be switched to 40 or 80 column mode where you can set the foreground and background colors.
This can be done with BASIC commands, it just requires learning how to do it. 
Look up the WIDTH and PALETTE commands.  In 80 column mode you can set the the text attributes with the ATTR command.
 



#24 MarkO OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Nov 3, 2018 6:26 PM

Sorry Mark, it's not really stack blasting on the 65816, as it can't load multiple registers from a single instruction like the 6809 or 6309.
You can certainly use the stack pointer as a data source but it's much less efficient.  It's really no better than doing the same thing on a 6803.

<< SNIP >>


The 65816 can has a Stack a big as 64K, and As I Recall, using two Stack Pointers, you can ( relatively ) move Data from One Area of Memory to the Screen Buffer much quicker that with Loading and Storing the Accumulator.


MarkO

#25 JamesD OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Nov 3, 2018 9:36 PM

The 65816 can has a Stack a big as 64K, and As I Recall, using two Stack Pointers, you can ( relatively ) move Data from One Area of Memory to the Screen Buffer much quicker that with Loading and Storing the Accumulator.


MarkO

The 65816 only has one stack pointer. 
https://en.wikipedia...WDC_65816/65802






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