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awhite2600

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Posts posted by awhite2600


  1. On 3/31/2020 at 5:57 AM, carlsson said:

    I just checked the annual report for fiscal 1984 (i.e. the year starting in July 1983 and ending in June 1984). While it mentions the price cuts in the previous fiscal year (June 1983) and how sales had grown a lot since then, I didn't see any mention of trade in, nor any figures indicating they would have put it towards stock.

    Any costs associated with the promotion such as the $100 discount, storage and disposal fees would likely be rolled up under something like Promotions or Advertising when reporting financials publicly.  I can't see any detail being reported other than internally.  

    • Like 1

  2. My parents bought a Pong clone in the late '70s.  I think my parents played it a few times, but it quickly became the domain of my brother and I.

     

    A few years later I got a VIC-20.  My Dad showed no interest, thinking that games were a waste of time.  He liked pinball, so I convinced him to try a very poorly written pinball game.  Dad would nudge the sides of the machine, not realizing that this bevavior would have no influence on the ball.  At one point the game failed with a BASIC error.  My Dad walked away in disgust, saying that the computer was defective.  I don't think he has ever touched a video game since, other than Windows Solitare, if that counts.  

     

    My mother bought an Intellivision for our family.  We had hoped that my Dad would play Poker / Blackjack as he liked both of those games in real life.  He had no interest.  My mom would sometimes play Triple Action with my brother and I - but she quickly lost interest and the Intellivision became mine and my brother's property.  That said, my Mom is very comfortable with computers.  She's had internet access in about 1996.  She loves her iPad, iPhone and laptop.


  3. 23 hours ago, Allan said:

    Get a Kroflux. We have been using it to archive hundreds of Atari 8-bit disks. The hard part is getting a working  5 1/2 PC drive. I don't know how hard it is to find a working 3 1/2 inch drive. I would imagine it is a lot easier.

     

    The Kroflux works great although there is a little bit of a learning curve.

    Thanks for the reply Allan.  I'll likely go with the Kryoflux.  I still have one or two 5¼" PC drives.  They have been sitting on a shelf for years, so I hope that they still work.  I believe that you need to use a high density drive, even when reading double density disks. 

     

    Do you happen to know if the Kryoflux software can identify the disk format, either before or after it has been copied?  I ask because I have quite a few disks that aren't labeled.  5¼" disks could be Commodore or PC.  3½" disks could be Amiga, PC, Mac or Commodore 1581.


  4. 3 hours ago, Andrew Davie said:

    Also, as a side-note - I was thinking about what if.... would it be possible to run the chess engine on the ARM.  That would be pretty awesome.

     

    That's funny.  I thought the same thing when I read your first post in this thread.  Running the game logic on the ARM would, if nothing else, make the computer "think" faster.

     

    I think that what you're doing here is very cool.  It's certainly an interesting tech demo of making the 2600 do something that it was never intended to do. 

     

    The display reminds me a bit of the HAM mode on the Amiga.  HAM allowed lots of color but with limitations where some colors were based on the colors of the pixels to the left.  This created a similar "blurry" effect that when used creatively could create some amazing images.

     

    Keep up the great work!


  5. 2 hours ago, Dutchman2000 said:

    This game was originally developed on an Atari 800 computer using the Atari Editor Assembler cart.  No cartridge was found but I did find a disk containing the source code.

    I converted the code to compile with DASM, which required a lot of editing.    The resulting code compiled, but the game would not work.  So I turned to my friend Thomas, who knows more about compiling 2600 code then I do.

    He was able to get it to work and I released it for all to enjoy.  

     

    Are there any plans to release the original or "corrected" source code?  They could prove interesting from a historical / preservation perspective.


  6. 19 hours ago, carlsson said:

    Hm, good thought. If the beginning of RAM is bad, perhaps that is why it freezes. I don't know if memory tested chronologically or if the built-in is tested prior to expansion memory.

    Commodore 8-bit computers do perform a simple memory test on startup.  The purpose is to set the memory areas for BASIC.  That is why, for example, a C64 with bad RAM might boot up to something like 24,576 BASIC Bytes Free instead of the usual 38,911.  This test is not an exhaustive diagnostic of every byte.  I recall that the boot sequence checks every 256th byte via a simple read / write.  When an address is found that fails the test that location is used to set the limit for BASIC.

     

    Using different RAM expanders on a VIC do shuffle certain memory areas around.  However the first 1 kilobytes of RAM - used by the kernal and BASIC - is always in the same spot and always uses the on board RAM chips.

     

    If swapping the ROMs for known, good chips doesn't help then you likely have bad on board RAM in the first 1K space.


  7. 20 hours ago, gorf68 said:

    Ah, ok. I

    had it in my head that it banked to use different RAM when in 3, 8 or 16K mode was used.  But it's been a long time since I've used it!

     

    So swapping and socketed ROM and RAM chips, one at a time, from my good VIC may show me what (if any) chip is at fault then?

    The VIC did organize the memory map differently between unexpanded, 3K expanded and 8K or more expanded.  That still didn't alter the placement of the built in RAM, especially the fist few kilobytes used by BASIC.

     

    I'd agree with swapping socketed ROMS first as that is pretty simple.  Failing that, you'd need to unsolder and swap RAM chips.


  8. 34 minutes ago, carlsson said:

    Could be a ROM issue but could also be a RAM issue. Ray Carlsen suggests that bad 2114 RAM chips can cause the computer to freeze on power on. I don't know to which extent the cartridge games allocate memory for storage, otherwise you might notice strange things happen there as well.

     

    I too was thinking ROM or RAM.  A bad BASIC or Kernal ROM could cause the normal startup sequence to fail.  Even one bad bit could cause the instructions to go in the wrong direction.  Equally likely is bad RAM used by the initialization routines.  If the startup sequence uses a RAM location for something like a counter, and that location is bad, then the process could get stuck in a loop.

     

    Adding RAM expansion may not help as that increases program RAM.  It does not alter the built in RAM used by BASIC and the Kernal.  

     

    As carlsson mentioned, a game may appear normal if it doesn't use that "bad" bit of RAM.  


  9. 21 hours ago, evildead9000 said:

    Great info! I was on the right track.

    I was concatenating a lot and reusing counter variables. Now I'll truncate some words as well, so instead of "MAGIC", I'll use "MAG", or even just "M".

    I'm also omitting many spaces, so instead of PRINT T$, I have PRINTT$. Definitely in my loops too and every other place possible! 🙂

     

    However, I don't quite follow: " store maps as raw data into memory instead of variables - think POKE/PEEK an area of 40x25 bytes instead of string variables. "

     

    Can you please clarify?

     

    8 hours ago, carlsson said:

    DIM A%(20):FOR I=1 TO 20:A%(I)=0:NEXT would take 56 bytes and allows you to store integers -32768 to +32767 in each cell.

     

    DIM A(20):FOR I=1 TO 20:A(I)=0:NEXT would take 119 bytes and allows you to store floating point numbers in each cell.

     

    Lowering RAMTOP and use 20 bytes for direct access obviously only takes 20 bytes + 7 for the loop counter but those can only hold integers 0 to 255 in each cell.

     

    Ok, it seems that POKE 53,PEEK(53)-1:CLR would lower RAMTOP by 256 bytes on all models except for PET 2001 that uses BASIC 1.

    Wow. This thread has taken me back to Commodore 8-bit BASIC optimization techniques that I haven't thought about in a very long time.

     

    Commodore BASIC limits you to 80 "typeable" characters per line.  (2 x 40 character lines on a 40 column machine.)  One way to increase this is to use shortforms for the BASIC keywords.  PRINT can be abbreviated as ?.  Other commands can be entered by typing their first character followed by a shifted version of their second character, which will appear as a graphics symbol.  As an example, FOR can be entered as F shifted-ONEXT would be N shifted-E.  This will expand to a line larger than 80 characters that will still execute correctly.  The only downside is that you will need to reenter the entire line if you want to change it because the expanded line will be too long to edit.

     

    For variables, Commodore BASIC only cares about the first two characters.  While you can use a variable such as SCORE%, BASIC only cares about the first two characters.  Use SC% to save space.  (If you want to mess with people reading your code you can use things like SCORE%, SCAB% and SCROLL%.  BASIC will consider them all to be the same and the names can be used interchangeably.)

     

    When dimming arrays remember that they start at element 0, not 1.  If memory is tight, creating one less element can help.  So in carlsson's example above you can use DIM A%(19):FOR I=0 TO 19:A%(I)=0:NEXT  I would also remove as many spaces from the code as possible to save bytes.  Unfortunately this can make your code very difficult to read.

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  10. Here's my theory...

     

    Could this have been a quick and dirty hack to assist with porting Pitfall to other systems?  It sounds like the goal of the hack was to just make the game infinitely playable.  The player could progress through the various screens without fear of dying.  They could then compare to a work in progress port to make sure that the screens and other elements appeared in the same sequence and any onscreen elements (treasure, snakes, scorpion) also appeared.


  11. I'm finally considering archiving my floppy disk collection while it is hopefully still readable.  I was inspired by this thread about external 5¼" floppy drives.  

     

    My collection consists of original disks (some copy protected), backups of commercial disks (some nibbled to retain protection) and disks of personal program compilations, data, etc.  I'd estimate that I have at least 500 disks in total.  About 50% are C-64 5¼", 40% Amiga 3½", 9% IBM PC - both 5¼" and 3½" and 1% Mac (variable speed 3½").

     

    I know that the following options are available.  Each seems to have pros and cons.

     

     

    Ideally I'd like a solution that can archive all of the various formats in my collection.  I'd like the archive files to be compatible with PC based emulators as well as solutions like Pi1541, etc.  I don't really care about the ability to write the archives back to floppy disks.  If a disk is copy protected I'd like the archive to still be usable with an emulator or "disk emulator" connected to native hardware.

     

    While the Zoom Floppy is inexpensive, it is limited to Commodore 8-bit formats.  The FC5025 is also inexpensive but is limited to 5¼ disks.  Due to these facts I'm thinking that both solutions are out of the running.

     

    The KryoFlux is only a bit more expensive than the SuperCard Pro.  The KryoFlux is considered the "gold standard" for archiving floppies.  The SuperCard Pro is similar to the KryoFlux and may eventually have emulation capability.

     

    I have one or two 5¼" HD floppy drives and several 3½" drives.  I also have a couple of Commodore 1541s, a 1581 and Amiga 3½" and 5¼" external drives.

     

    I'm looking for feedback from the community.  What are your experiences (good and bad) with any of the above solutions?  What is the software for each solution like?  What is involved in archiving a disk and then making the results usable for emulation?

     


  12. 41 minutes ago, JayAre said:

    Been meaning to get my hands on one of those fancy, new personal computers everyone's talking about.

     

    I was in a local computer store one day in the late '80s.  Some redneck looking guy walks in and says to a salesman, "I'm interested in buying one of those new HOME computers."  I kept my mouth shut and walked away, controlling my laughter.

    • Haha 1

  13. 2 hours ago, Andrew Davie said:

     

    Thanks for the feedback. The code does not require an ARM processor - it's just stock 6507, but with RAM of course, for the bitmap.

    I have suggested in the OP that images could be saved on SaveKey, so I've thought of that :)

     

    Thanks for the additional info.  I'm impressed that you can render these images with a stock 6507.  You mention needed RAM - which makes sense for a paint program.  Could a completed image be rendered from ROM, or is on-the-fly "manipulation" of the data required?

     

    I now see that you had mentioned SaveKey and other details.  Sorry that I missed that.


  14. While there may be a limited audience I must admit that the idea is very cool.  I too am impressed with the sample images.  Can these images be generated with normal 6507 code or is an ARM processor required?

     

    A way to increase the value of a paint program beyond a novelty would be a way to either save the images (on cart or to some sort of external device) or allow the image to be exported for use as a title screen for a game.


  15. On 7/31/2019 at 12:37 PM, jhd said:

    Was there a separate, independent corporate body created to legally own the items donated to the museum, or was everything considered Syd's personal property? 

     

    If his widow now has custody and control over the collection, I would assume that it was the latter situation, and that she now has sole legal title to the property. 

     

    With all due respect to Syd's widow, she too will eventually die. Whomever inherits legal title to the "museum" from her may not feel the same obligation to store and preserve this collection indefinitely -- especially if there is an associated cost for a storage facility.  

     

    This is a tragic and unfortunate situation, but it is also a lesson for future donors. Be aware if it is going to a public repository or just a private collection. 

     

    The museum was supposed to be a non-profit corporation.  I don't believe that it was.  While I am guessing based on information from others involved with the museum, I think that Syd did not have his affairs in order prior to his death.  I have not been part of any discussion about the legal ownership of the museum assets.  It sounds like either the collection is now owned by Syd's widow or that she has legal authority to control it.  The museum was supposed to have a board of directors.  If the appropriate legal status of the museum was not up to date then that board may be meaningless.  

     

    I am told that the items are in storage. I have no further details - where they are stored, how items were packaged, what costs may be needed to pay for ongoing storage.  

     

    The museum volunteers are completely in the dark at this time.  We have all accepted the fact that we do not have any further involvement or control of what happens to the items.  All we can wish is that the items eventually find a good home at another museum or perhaps a university. Hopefully then the items of historical value can be made available for archiving, study and even enjoyment.

     

     

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  16. I was a volunteer at the PC Museum for a number of years.  

     

    The current status of the museum and it's collection seems to be unknown - even to many of us that volunteered and were longtime friends of the curator, Syd Bolton.  Two museums and a university looked at the collection shortly after Syd's death.  I believe that one offer was made, but was deemed to be unacceptable.  

     

    Information is very incomplete.  Most of us that were volunteers are no longer involved.  The last I heard was that Syd's widow was placing the collection in storage as the museum building needed to be sold.  There does not seem to be any other news.

     

    All that said, I don't think that there are plans to break up the collection or sell off individual items.  There are many, many one of a kind and extremely rare items.  My hope is that they eventually find an appropriate and caring home.


  17. Best Buy Canada had the PlayStation Classic for $29.99 CDN for one day only last Thursday. They are now back up to $49.99.

     

    For $29.99, I couldn't say no. I reserved online and picked it up later in the day. I didn't see any out on display - but might have missed them.

     

    I'll probably mod the PSC for giggles. I have plenty of other systems that I can use for retrogaming already - RPi 3, modded Wii, modded PSP not to mention a modchipped PS1 from back in the day. It might make a good "impulse play" system to keep hooked up in my home office.

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