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potatohead last won the day on April 26 2013

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About potatohead

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    Portland, Oregon
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    If it has bits, I'm up for it!

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  1. Sure glad it got one! One Xmas morning, a good friend (now passed away) called me up and said he got this Atari 400 computer thing... Sparked what was going to be a lot of damn good times. We played it often, one person on keyboard, one on joystick. Amazeballs for the time!
  2. WOW!! I somehow missed this one. Great production!
  3. Top few keyboards: The ones SGI shipped. There is a smaller version too. Typed A LOT on these. Love 'em. I do write on my //e regularly. Platinum. It's a great keyboard. Have known it since I was a kid. IBM clicky keyboards, various models.
  4. Mine begins with a "fast" 300 baud, upgraded from 110 the year prior, acoustic coupler. I was in middle school, and listening to the sounds lit my mind on fire! Hearing the bits made a big impression. It made me think about radio and how far away stations were like bright stars in an evening sky. Here there were wires, but those sounds could travel in many ways. Somewhere there was a big timeshare computer giving me a little of its potential. Basically, magic. And I knew then I was going there. Did not know how, but I did not care, and I thought about all this and what it might mean for many bus rides, my mind filling with crazy visions of a world where this magic gets performed regularly. Soon, I had an Apple computer in my bedroom next to a souped up 48k Atari 400 with better keyboard installed. This was a bog standard Hayes. My Atari lacked the serial needed, but the Apple had it on a card. So, I started BBS'ing on that machine. Later, I got an internet account as part of my work. I used other people's gear too. This was my first real Internet connection. All mine, and paid for too! I got started with an Amstrad PC with CGA graphics and some hard card installed. The PC was a POS, but it had 640k RAM, two floppy drives in addition to a 10MB hard card. YUGE! But slow and ugly graphically. 16 color text was spiffy and made early dial into a UNIX shell account fun to do. I used Procom to dial up and get online. This was all pre web. A short time after that, I got some really cool 9600 baud modem that needed special lines at the ISP to work. They had a couple, which freed two lines for the handful of us at 9600 and above. USENET at 9600 was amazing! And that speed made pulling games off ftp.funet.fi viable too. My ISP also offered disk transfer offline. You asked for a larger storage quota, fetched it onto the UNIX machines there, then a person could swing by to talk shop and get data copied onto a variety of supported devices. I loved that and used it a time or two. Fun. This went on for a while into 1990. In 91, I got online proper using a PPP connection. First real session with no shell and such needed. I was online with my own POS PC. I used the apple very little now. Was good for conversation and email, but that was was it. Did some side gigs on that Amstrad and scored some crap 386 PC with 5Mb RAM. Loaded Win 3.11, winsock and got it online, dialup at 14.4. I do not remember the name of that cheap ass, cpu munching modem, but it worked well enough. USENET continued to be my go to, but I was also exploring lots of stuff. When I could get a browser, 14.4 started to be painful and so I stepped up to a killer external 56k modem. US Robotics. The Amstrad and 9600 baud machine went to someone going to school, and I got better PC machines, build your own style. I used the crap out of that 56k, until DSL. More magic! Suddenly, I could push 100kbytes / second out of my home and get close to a Megabyte coming in. I continued to dial up on the road for quite some time, close to the 00's. Used Juno free and a laptop from Micron featuring a built in 56k CPU munchery, but that laptop was fast enough running win 98 to avoid most worries. Today, I do not have a modem of any kind.
  5. That is how it starts. You can go back and watch older ones and see progress and how the art changes over time too. IMHO, the demo scene is something more people might enjoy given some intro and context. We have a fledgling one in the US now, but the real scene has always been EU centric. I like to watch every party. I manage a lot of them and then catch up as time permits. It is fun to see the various effects, occasional new hardware exploit, and clever ways of presenting the art. Even the clunky old CGA PC saw some NTSC artifact action recently. (8088 MPH) Another favorite is the wild category. People get various gear to do cool stuff, like driving vector displays off a VGA port, or thrashing little micros well beyond expected performance. Check out TITAN and their recent work on the Mega Drive. Nuts good. The cool thing is all the old machines have seen some love. Rivalries are ever present, but not too big of a deal. It can be all about doing that thing not doable (until it is) on "that other computer" as much as it can be pushing it on a favorite one. Have fun! You have decades of killer productions to enjoy. Pace yourself.
  6. That's ok. Bigger productions are nice to experience. These demos are pretty great. Always nice to see A8 productions. Killer art in all of these. I actually liked the unsolved one more than I thought I would.
  7. Emkay, let's see something nice, and simple. Breakout, software sprite for paddle, ball. Moving consistently, frame by frame. Each row of bricks 6 or more colors, bonus points for each column seeing six or more colors too. I won't respond to advocacy for that DLI heavy mode again, until I see something in motion. Edit: And I'm asking, because back in the day, when I had an Atari and an Apple, I tinkered with various schemes. When one uses the CPU to dynamically alter the display, that is normally associated with a VBLANK routine to sort what may need to happen, cycles consumed during screen, the screen DMA, and RAM Refresh. All those tend to add up. Here's the thing: Memory back then was basically a couple Mhz. An Apple will fetch, either 40 or 80 bytes per line, without stalling the CPU. That 1mhz clock allows for a simple sharing scheme. Top half of cycle on CPU, bottom half on refresh / video display. Ataris run faster, but do interrupt the CPU for refresh and graphics access. And, BTW, true to the colors = memory cycles required per line, an Apple can do a 16 color display at 140x192, when it's fetching those 80 bytes. Due to how it's clocked and constructed, that happens with no cycle mooching from the CPU. Still a full 1Mhz. But, the trade-off made there was more screen complexity. An unaccelerated Apple can't do much motion on that 16K graphics screen. The 4Mhz ones can, and it's spiffy, but that's wandering way off topic too. Point being: If an Atari is displaying more colors, it's either at a lower resolution (GTIA), or more CPU time will be consumed somehow during graphics display. There is no getting around all of that. This is true again because colors = memory cycles required per line period. One can buffer them, C64 bad line style, or simply mooch them every line, or make two memory busses Apple style, or run with a bit faster RAM, Color Computer 3 style. (That one can actually do a 256 color artifact display without slowing the CPU. Super spiffy, and basically unused, which was sad. But, maybe someone will one day. See my blog for some sample images produced by Jason Law when the two of us were seeking to demonstrate this to the CoCo community some years back.) This particular game is blasting a lot of pixels for animation. That Mechner got it at 1Mhz on an Apple with the frame rate he did is impressive. And one look at the draw code, which is published today, shows it was non trivial. All the cycles are needed. Big sprites in motion are the most taxing thing on 8 bitters that lack sprite systems capable of big objects. All that masking, draw order sorting, etc... simply has to get done, or there is flicker, or the frame rate goes way down. If this display scheme is not too crazy, then a simple, software sprite production should not be difficult, and should leave ample CPU free too. So, let's see it. If what you say is true, maybe there are cycles enough for a PoP type production. Nobody knows. It's real work to find out. So do some, A soft sprite Breakout game, with a reasonable color set, and good motion will tell the tale nicely enough without being a super serious amount of work. And you have been asked this by others. The reason is simple: That real work could be put toward completing a nice PoP port, or it could be put into a dynamic screen display scheme that may or may not (likely not) result in enough cycles left to do the nice PoP port. Our OP wants to complete a nice PoP port, not invest in a dynamic display scheme that is more likely not to lead to a nice PoP port. This is entirely understandable and reasonable. Otherwise, the lack of productions very strongly suggests there simply will be an Achilles Heel in there somewhere. I have my suspicions, but prefer proof be in some pudding. Let's see it. Start a thread. I'll even make sure my Atari is warmed up, and out of storage to evaluate it all too. I stand eager to do that. Now, like I said, I won't respond again. No need to pollute this thread. Honestly, I would strongly advise anyone not to respond, until you put some real skin in the game. Breakout. It's not hard. We all can code it.
  8. BTW, while we wait for great home brewers to do their thing, I've been watching this project: https://www.facebook.com/LawlessLegends/ They made a mini-game, which I played through. Excellent. I'm linking it to show off the killer artifact art. I think LL is very close. Playtesting going on. Fingers crossed. Now, there are two we can look forward to in the future. I am gonna have to score a 128K Atari...
  9. That's basically correct. It all comes down to the way the Apple and Atari generate their color signals. Both computers used a fixed color phase, not alternating and they did per scan line timing so that all the artifacts stay consistent. It was all about avoiding the dot crawl, or shimmer that can be seen on high contrast visuals. Text and computer graphics definitely qualify. Minimizing color fringing artifacts is also why the Atari defaults for text are White on Blue. It's also why text fonts are done with two pixels everywhere possible. The Apple ones are single line, and are a total mess when the color is on. That difference probably boils down to the Apple targeting composite monitors, which were mostly monochrome, and the Atari targeting a TV. In Atari terms, ANTIC E has one pixel per cycle of the color signal. One pixel can be any color, almost entirely artifact free. All the color info is there for the pixel. The Apple artifact colors line up the same way, because it's the same color cycle. The only real difference is 7 pixels per byte (which made things a huge mess regarding color and sprites), and at 40 bytes per line, results in 140 pixels, not 160 like the Atari. And the screen widths show the difference. Apples have a more narrow active graphics window due to that 7 pixels per byte arrangement. On an Apple, even and odd bytes artifact differently too. Pre-shifted sprites either need to account for that difference, or the draw routine needs to handle it. On an Atari, every byte artifacts the same, because 8 bits is even, and 7 bits is odd. I am pretty sure, and should check again this weekend, that means toggling the high bit differently based on byte being even or odd to see the intended color. Because of all that, color positioning is half the resolution = 140 pixels / line. And the PoP internals reflect that. The Apple screen draw routines use a lookup table to get all the Y screen positions. That is due to the crazy memory map. It's linear per line, otherwise, the lines have a more complicated start address. And there are even holes in the screen. Bytes are in the screen memory page, which is fixed, and are not displayed. Woz could save a chip and did, which is why all that is true. This crazy mapping can be seen when a high-resolution image is loaded from disk. One can see the bands of addressing play out as the entire screen fills in narrow horizontal bands. I'm only dropping that info here to highlight how bad ass Mechner was to have produced this title on a 128K Apple. I very strongly agree. It's not much, but will totally make the game pop. Seems like a reasonable expectation too. The other obvious choice is pretty grim, which is to hold a color for the prince and enemies, which would compromise the pretty great playfield art. Anyway, cool beans. Have fun. I am eager to see the final outcome.
  10. Just heard about this. NICE WORK! Love the art. So far, that first level looks spiffy! Re: Use feature [x] because [y] You know the drill rensoup. Even if it's just 4 color for the play area, the art looks really good. It will be fun to play. So, your baseline kicks some ass. Love it. Do what you can / will do. When it's done, and it will be kicking ass at that point, because it has to. Nothing to compare it to. ...when it's at that stage, all those "use feature [x] because [y]" discussions and their advocates have every opportunity to hack away. You know, offer up something to compare to. I like this game. It's fun, and it's historic. Made an impact. Will be good to see it on an Atari machine. Sidebar: Interestingly, 6 colors is enough to do pretty much anything. For the last couple, few years I've been taking a break from Atari 8 bitters, and (love them, and it's just how interests ebb and flow) have been having fun with an Apple //e Platinum. Way back in the day, as a kid, these two machines were basically my roots. We had the Apples at school, and I had an Atari at home. Later on, got an Apple //e at home. Got my first start at 6502 assembly language on an Apple, and later improved on it considerably on my Atari with MAC/65, cartridge version. Today, I have a couple young ones who are going to get that Apple school experience. Should be fun. Then some "Star Raiders" Also fun, but I'm way off topic now. Artifact color is a strange and interesting beast. The Apple could do 6 colors on it's high-res screen, because of artifacts and that high bit pixel shift option. Probably, that is why the Apple version of this game uses byte boundaries. It only made sense. That's where the color boundaries are. In my opinion, the Apple gets a little more help on this game from how it works in two ways. One is there being no screen DMA. That 1Mhz is a full 1Mhz. No interrupts, no refresh, nothing. Good thing too, because the complicated graphics screen was a PITA to make fast. Despite the low clock, Apples are pretty quick, due to the CPU being uninterrupted. And the other bit of help comes from how artifact color differs from, say ANTIC mode E. If we ignore the 6 color vs 4 color deal, the truth is an artifact color pixel can be half the size of an ANTIC mode E pixel. On the Atari, this can be seen in mode F, by setting the background to 0, and plotting a couple white pixels at even and odd screen locations. What people end up seeing is a red or blue (ish) pixel there. Two of them together will form something that looks a lot like a mode E pixel, but on many TV sets, not quite the same. Those vertical bars can appear, and that's where the actual pixels are, with the circuits of the TV or monitor sort of filling in the rest. In terms of effective resolution, there isn't any real difference. There are only so many X positions a given color object can have on either system. But, when it comes to art, patterns and such, the Apple and it's pretty crude TV signal, could stretch those 6 colors pretty far using patterns, and how many TV sets tend to handle color. It can look like a lot more colors, and it can look like it has a bit more detail than it actually has in terms of gameplay, motion, and all that good stuff. Being able to get a "half pixel" is part of what I mean here, and that can be seen in the Apple PoP art all over the place. I am writing this to communicate the basic difficulty of this port. I'm not writing it to say "X is better because" It's the little things! PoP benefits from all the little things on the Apple and it shows. Another place this happens to show up is the ULTIMA series of games, which put the artifact color and ability to make "pseudo detailed" art to damn good use on the Apple. That goofy 6 color screen is enough to do anything. A 4 color screen just isn't quite the same. And that makes things harder. Nice work man. I like what I see, particularly the playfield art.
  11. For me, it ebbs and flows. Atari machines are the least interesting to me right now. I did a ton of stuff I wanted to do. Some other stuff I wanted to do favored a different machine, and that was the CoCo 3. Right now, and for a little while now, I've been into the Apple //e and have a GS ROM 1 or 0, can't remember right now, sitting there waiting. One day, I'll get off my ass and get a keyboard / mouse for it and have some fun on that 65816, which I've always wanted to program some on. The thing is, someone, somewhere will do something interesting on an Atari, and I'll get it out and have some fun. Or, things will circle back around, and there will be something I want to do that favors a CoCo again... Or, maybe I finally snag a C128. One time, early on, I got rid of gear when that happened. Never again. Got it back before things got out of hand. Whew! I've never collected. I do get enough gear to do stuff I want to do and play some games. That's kind of a "reference" system that can run most things people might create. I really love playing, or otherwise interacting with others retro creations. I will say, now is the time if you want a couple good CRTs. I got a PVM and love it. Amazing how some pro grade circuits make these older machines look so damn good. Most of us were missing out man! I should have gotten one sooner. Well, maybe not. They were a lot of money. But, yeah. If you have any CRT love, now is the time. Score a good one or two. Enjoy the tech. Nothing beats glowing phosphors in a tube. (says this while watching big ass plasma TV) Old games are great on CRTs and that makes sense as that was what they were created on / for. Same goes for a lot of SD programming. The art direction, and lots of little stuff shines on a good to pro grade quality CRT. It's pretty amazing to look at older DVD productions on a CRT intended to display them. I probably won't give that up, until some time from now when the CRTs die and it's super hard to get them going again. Maybe that won't happen for a long time. TL;DR: Yeah. It's happened. No biggie.
  12. What machines are you familiar with? I'm asking that because "learning 6502 assembly" is a two part affair. One part is the CPU and how it works. Frankly, almost any 6502 machine will help you get that done reasonably. Very limited platforms, like the 2600 as an example, are hard largely because getting useful info into and out of the machine can be more difficult and obscure than you probably want to deal with. Ideally, you want one running a BASIC, that has a text display, or serial connection you can use. Having those things helps a lot. You can learn all you need to know about the CPU that way. Topics include: Math (or the lack of it, lol) 6502 CPUs only do 8 bit math. Add, subtract, shift, rotate. There is decimal mode too. It's not much. But, it's fast. In my opinion, this can be one of the harder things. Understanding how to do big numbers, or fixed point numbers, floating point numbers is important. If I had to pick, just being able to do the basics on big (16, 24, 32 bit) integers will get you a long way. Multiply, divide, add, subtract, rotate, shift, signed, unsigned. Bit logic. AND, OR, XOR, and friends. These are very useful. Masks, comparing bits, setting bits, resetting bits. Program flow. Jump, branch on condition. Addressing. Indirect, absolute, (ZP), Y, etc... That Zero Page, and how it can act like a lot of 16 bit registers. 6502 chips are really 8 bit machines. Addresses are 16 bits, and understanding how those work is important. Knowing what to use when and why. Computer math. This one is kind of CPU independent. For example, it all applies to that spiffy 6809 in your Color Computer too, or that Z-80 in some other machine you may bump into one day. On this topic, I suggest learning the first 16 powers of 2. 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64... People will say stuff like "page boundary" and that is actually the upper 8 bits of a given address. Each 8 bits worth of RAM is a page. Zero page is a page. The Stack occupies a page. Some instructions present challenges, or take longer when part of getting the instruction done means crossing a page boundary. Take some time to learn Hexadecimal. So much will be clear once you can start thinking in hex. Little Endian vs Big Endian. Your 6809 is a big endian machine. The 6502 is a little endian machine. What does this mean? It's all about the order 16 bit values appear in memory. Quickie example: LDA $A025 (This copies whatever number is stored at address $A025 into the A register in your 6502) The hex bytes on 6502 are: AD 25 A0 See how the address is "backwards", little portion first, then the bigger portion? That's little endian. On a 6809 that same instruction, for example, has hex bytes: B6 A0 25 See how the address is different, bigger portion, then smaller portion? That's big endian. It's just important to know what that term is early on. Makes looking at listing files and data in memory easier. Once you learn to see it, 6502 little endian is easy. If you've never heard of this, it is possible to be very confused for a while. I was. So, maybe I can do a little good here. LOL Status bits. When a zero happens, an overflow? Bits get set. Decisions can be made based on those bits. I/O -- On the 6502, that is done with the memory mapped model. Read a byte somewhere and the bits in it can tell you what position a game controller is in, or what key was last pressed on the keyboard. Write a byte, depending on where you write it, and stuff can happen, like some character appearing on the text screen, just like if you were to use POKE in BASIC. More on that in just a bit, hold the thought! Anyway, that is the CPU. It is really fun to work directly on the machine. But, few machines offer a great environment to do that. If it were me today? I would get an Apple //e Platinum, or C128. The Platinums are the newest Apple 8 bitters, are not particularly collectable, and are not expensive, and have all the basics in the box. 80 character screen, monitor, line assembler. I do not have an C128 right now, but want one, but also haven't gone looking. I think these are pretty affordable too. Same deal. 80 character screen, monitor, line assembler. Great for starting out learning about the CPU, writing little programs, looking at memory, writing instructions. Both have onboard memory monitor and some basic line assembler capability. This is a lot like having BASIC on board. You can type instructions in and then ask the CPU to run them, and view results. For little, tiny programs, like making a sound by clicking the speaker a lot of times, or writing to the text screen, the on system capabilities are nice. Bonus! You don't really need a disk drive. It's nice if you have one, but honestly, a simple cassette can do the work, if you want to even bother. The main benefit here is the immersive experience, immediate feedback, and some sense of the speed of things. On the Atari, if you can find one, the MAC/65 assembler with DDT cartridge is really good. I wrote some fairly large programs using that tool. Recommended as an "on machine" experience for the Atari machines, but it's best with a disk drive or emulator. I'm rambling... Bottom line, get a machine that has an easy peasy text display or serial connection. (And the serial is mainly referring to a more modern 6502 dev board of some kind really.) The Apple can do serial, but I wouldn't. just use the screen, keyboard, mouse, optional disk or cassette. All that said, emulators are pretty awesome! But, I totally understand wanting to jam right on the old hardware. It's fun. I still do it. Have fun. If you get stuck, get a good emulator and you can run the very best tools, use PC assemblers, and all sorts of crazy stuff, if you need to. No worries. Don't let anyone give you any worries. That's fun too. Notice how I've not said much about machines? The CPU and that text screen are kind of the core. You can learn a ton right there, and I encourage you to do that. Learn the instructions. Do things like count from 0000000 to 999999 on the text screen. (takes about 2-3 minutes on most 6502 machines, BTW) If you've got a speaker to whomp on, click it a lot and make noises. Make a stupid snake game. All that stuff is great learning the CPU, and it's all pretty easy to do right on the machine, even with the basic + monitor and line assembler. Oh, before I forget! BASIC You probably know what this is. It's the interface to the machine. 10 print "Hello World" type stuff. Cool. Your BASIC is written in 6502 assembly able to take a more simple program you write and execute it. This is really slow because you've got a 6502 assembly program that accepts your BASIC program, figures out what you asked it to do, then it does it, then repeats over and over. Lots of instructions to do even simple things. Monitor This is a machine language program with a much smaller scope! It is your view into the RAM of the computer, ROM too. Monitors are small, and are often the first thing one gets going on a new computer early in it's development. You can view memory, modify memory, copy, and do other things. It is right here that actual machine language can be input. Machine language is the actual bytes in a binary program. Take a look at this video: Assembler These come in a lot of flavors. On most machines that contain one, it's a line, or "mini" assembler. You type a line, such as "LDA ($15), Y" and it translates it into the one, two or three bytes that an instruction can be represented by, and puts them in the memory for you. When doing machine language in your monitor, you do this yourself! Look stuff up on the datasheet, figure out the bytes, and enter them in. Having a line assembler makes learning pretty easy. You are freed from all the tedious detail of hand assembling, but it's still really low level. Big programs are not easily done this way. But little ones are. Another kind of assembler is one that can take a full text file, assemble all of it and make a binary program from it. If you are using emulation, you can use a cross assembler to make 6502 code on your Intel PC, for example. I won't comment on the "best" assembler for a platform. There are assemblers people are using. I suggest getting setup to use one of those. If you are following some tutorials, or books, get the assembler used. Today, you can get basically all of them. Or, you can use the one built in, if there is one, for little programs. (Enhance that //e you are getting. It's a good machine to learn on, and you could do much worse.) Now, the machine! Here's the second part! Assembly language is intimately linked to the machine you are writing it for, or on. Atari computers have a memory map, and lots of custom bits of hardware. All this stuff has locations, and ways it works. The custom bits of hardware are different on a C64 too. One nice thing about the Apple 2 series of computers is the near complete lack of custom hardware. This makes some things easy. And in the case of the Apple 2 computers, also made the add on cards kind of easy too. The result was a lot of them. In my view, each machine has it's killer thing. The Apple 2 was a great workstation. Lots of 6502 code for other machines got made on it because it had fast disks, 80 column display, and add on cards could do a lot, or connect to machines in ways that were harder on other computers. The Atari computers are strong with graphics and a variety of game controllers, and some good I/O. The C64 was similar, not so fast disks, but did have a user I/O port, etc... I would not bother with "best machine" and just pick one you are familiar with, or that you are motivated by somehow. The familiarity helps, because you know a lot about the machine. It may not be at the level of detail you want for assembly language, but it is a lot of hard learning out of the way, already done! That helps, mostly because you may know how the machine works, can skip some basics about it. Motivation is a different thing. Have you ever wanted to see a particular machine do something? That's good. Learning assembly on it is a great way to get at that thing you might want to do. Helps keep you moving. Last thing, and it's important: Assembly language programs --really understanding them, requires understanding the CPU, AND it requires understanding the hardware that CPU is connected to. You gotta have some detail understanding of both. Simpler machines do not do as many spiffy things in hardware, but understanding assembly language on them can be a lot easier too. More is done in software. I really like the Apples for this reason. They are nearly all software machines. On the other extreme, in 8 bit land, the Atari, NES, C64, and friends do a ton in hardware, and you've got to get to know that hardware well to understand assembly language programs on those machines. I happen to like the C128 too, and that's because it's on board tools are pretty good actually. And you can always work on the simple stuff, ignoring a lot of that hardware. And, part of "the hardware" is the ROM in your machine. Often, assembly language programs call routines in this ROM. You need to know about that so you can call them, or understand what another program does. For any machine you pick, get the hardware books that describe the machine in detail, and the "learning 6502 on" books. All that info is still as valid today as it was back then. Plus, you've got all the crazy good online info and people to talk to. It's easier now than it was back in 1983 when I started! My lifeline was the magazines in the grocery store! Good times that. And you've got those too, if you want to go looking at the Internet Archive for type ins! I lied. One last, last thing! Right now, getting a real machine isn't too terribly expensive. So pick one. Get a basic setup going and get into it. Type some stuff in and watch it go. Don't break the bank. Get a working machine, maybe a disk emulator of some sort, and maybe a cassette for that authentic experience once or twice... (then no more, because cassette is a slow PITA), and go! If you find you want a different machine, you can get that one too, or trade, or whatever. Once you learn 6502 assembly, each of the classic machines has it's charm. It's fun to program on or for any of them. I am sure many of us had our machine, back in the day. For me, that was Apples at school, Atari 8 bit at home to start. Learning 6502 got me going on both of them. Started on the Apple, because it actually had some tools on board. In the box, so people, me, just used 'em. Once I understood enough to want more, I mowed lawns to get my MAC/65 cart for the Atari. Wrote a lot of programs for that Atari, and years pass. Now, I'm having fun with an Apple and a CoCo 3. (Just like the 6809) Over the years, I've given many different machines a go. trying this and that. It's been fun, and today, that's what this is all about. Having fun matters. Just make sure you do that. And if your machine isn't fun, go and get another one. Some people have asked, "why bother?" And the answer is generally these older machines are simple. One person can get their head wrapped around one and do some stuff. Modern hardware is so much more complex and powerful. It's not so much fun, IMHO. Well, it can be, but it takes real work well beyond what one can get with some work on an older 8 bit machine. The computer math skills, and general understanding of assembly language is useful in a more modern context too. There is a progression. At first, one learns AN assembly language, or particular CPU, if you want to think about it that way. Then, learning a second one changes things! It's sort of like learning Microsoft Word, then Word Perfect, and suddenly the idea of word processing itself is a thing that isn't just using Microsoft Word all the time. It's that thing, that grokking what CPU's do which is fun for me. It's been a life long hobby. I like computing at this level. It's where the bits are. And these classic computers just don't have all that much in the way of you getting to those bits too. Beyond that? Who knows. That's your call. Just figured I would share what it all means to me. Best setups are those that allow you to use a modern storage, such as SD card, or a serial connection, or something to get bigger programs, save your programs, or load tools onto your machine with low hassle. This also sets you up to use all the stuff online with ease. Most machines have some reasonably inexpensive option for doing this. Some have very expensive ones with all kinds of crazy features too. You don't need one of those, unless you get serious about all this. Hopefully, the topics I've put in here will lead you to do some searching. Lots of good YouTube videos out there on this stuff. Search on machine name, plus topic, and or "assembly programming" and you can see it done, on a machine you plan to get, or have. This is also a big help early on. Just seeing the process beats out what we all had back in the day, unless we had a guru to watch. Many of us didn't, or became that guru...
  13. Don't get rid of your gear. I was forced to do that some years back. Basically, things were stolen from me during a forced move. Was an ugly time. Fortunately, I was able to source new items from e-bay at the time, and the prices were not bad at all. I got in just before the sharp increases really started to ramp up. My //e Platinum was $50, for example. A 6 switcher VCS was $20. Atari 400, 800XL were both in the $30 range. Color Computer 3 was the most money, $80. That's the part of my former collection I enjoy the most, so I'm happy, but for one little thing: I plan on making some cards for the Apple, and don't want to blow a perfectly fine running //e Platinum, so I need a mainboard. More $$$ today. Also, scored a GS, and need a keyboard and mouse. Getting that one up and running might suffice for my hardware activities too. Point being, it's a pain in the arse, and I get the distinct feeling from here on out it's never going to be as easy nor cheap as it was the first go around. And you never know... For years, I jammed on Atari 8 bit machines hard. Then, suddenly I just sort of stopped and the Apple 8 bit machines caught my attention. I like them for different reasons. And the CoCo comes and goes. Love programming for the 6809. There were other things too. My scope, various electronics bits and bobs. Took quite a while to get setup again, and I still need a good bench power supply. You just never know where this all goes. And when it goes somewhere that you used to have covered? Painful. That's my 0.02
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