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potatohead

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Everything posted by potatohead

  1. Totally. It doesn't totally suck. Yup. It's one of the triggers. "Dad's old computer..." seems to come up a fair amount right now too. Too bad for the Dads tho
  2. Average... What demographic? I think you may find that varies widely too. I've seen younger people do all sorts of stuff. Some of them want to learn as much as play games. Older people? More games than learning, in my experience so far. Nobody is recommending the MC10. But, it definitely comes up in a BASIC discussion. Also, I know I'm not average. So, I tend to attract other non averages. People looking at the roots of computing will find interest in the various nooks and crannies we've had a chat about. Seems to me, retro gaming is a bit different than retro computing. Seeing as how we are in the computing branch of retro here in this sub forum... Just saying! A greater point here is there really aren't wrong answers. Some answers stand a greater average chance of being worthy, and that's as good as this all ever gets. And you might be surprised. A while back, on a family gathering, I had taken the Model 100 along. Was poking at it doing some 8085 assembly. Never programmed the chip before, and saw it had some undocumented instructions. One of the 20 somethings there was well on his way to getting his PE and degree on structural engineering. He had never seen BASIC. Had seen Mathlab. "What is that thing?" "What many may call the first laptop." "What does it do?" "Why do you have it?" Old computer discussion happens. Then: I took one of the equations he wrote out while explaining some structural stuff to me earlier, just as a curio, and wrote a short program to take the inputs, compute and output. A bit later we plotted it and saw the rough curve he put on a piece of paper. Dude asked a few questions and borrowed it for a while making some cool programs. Basically, when he heard when it was made, he said it was easy and useful. There were probably people like him walking around with those things back in the day. We had a good time writing some programs, just dorking around making it plot some stuff, using it like a kick ass calculator. That's the part he liked. Write it up, save it. And then when wanted, call it up, input the stuff, run and get the info. He didn't need much: Plot, math ops, input, print, if/then. Next time we meet up, I'll probably put a BASIC on his phone. On my recommendation he's looking at python. He should be. Anyway, that's the spark right there! Same one many of us had. Same way. Same outcome. Retro cool, in the computing sense. That guy had not seen anything simple, interactive, etc... This is why a bunch of us will put kids in front of machines with BASIC, BTW. Other people do, depending. It all changes when people instruct the computer as opposed to use a computer. So far, in my experience, how this happens, and on what device doesn't seem to impact it much. If it happens, a lot follows. Good stuff follows. Who knew?
  3. Many machines with a simple cassette can be a good experience if they want to program it. Or play a few games. The EU saw a lot of cassette use for economic and some political realities. Seems valid to experience today. Apples have aa audio game server that is cool. Literally call up a page, pick game, plug into Apple, press play, and the game is loaded, ready to go. I used this. Works great. So, the MC10 would fit into that list. A Model 100 would too. Having loaned mine (Model 100) out a time or two for this exact case, I can tell you the people got something out of it. They did stuff like guess my number, or make a program to calculate something, or tell jokes, or draw on a screen. Seems to me the quality of BASIC part of this whole discussion ended up doing an implied MC10 recommendation because it has a good, and fast BASIC. Nothing wrong with that. When games enter the mix, people need carts, or a disk, or looooooong cassette wait times, or, or, or... availability and costs on all that vary somewhat and can vary widely too. One thing I see fall out of this discussion is whether someone has a fellow retro traveler or group in the mix. If that is not in the mix, no brainer easy, popular stuff will make a lot of sense. Where that is in the mix, a whole lot will depend on who has what and knows what. A much wider range of gear will make just as much sense.
  4. That's the part of retro beyond gaming that matters. Solutions like that will be labors of love. We should be aware and seek others who will love that labor.
  5. I just got a FastChip from a2heaven in Bulgaria. They included a nice post card and put a 65816 on it for me so I could have that CPU in my //e. Check one youthful upgrade off the list. I think it tops out at 14, 16Mhz? Will have to check. Part of the fun is doing the upgrade and checking it out with those fave apps and games. (Appleworks at higher speeds is perfectly respectable by modern standards BTW) The other part is supporting the people making new toys! I have had a nice chat about stuff with these people a lot of the time I get something. Too cool. They still feel something and are happy to share more often than not. Next up for me is an Apple mouse card for the //e and a FujiNet for my 800XL. Maybe I can have a //e or GS serve stuff up to the XL. Which means I need either a serial or ethernet for one of the Apples.... and it continues. And that is the last part of the fun. Just doing stuff retro style. The PLATO like system Thomas has been working on might be real fun. Soon Atarians will be playing together online. Spiffy! I am sure there is a lot out there. On the C64 part in all this, are there solid disk drive simulations/emulations one can buy that plug in and really perform like a disk drive does, running code on the drive, etc... I have not kept up with C64 because I do not have hardware. Gaming is fun. Easy, mostly depending on the game. But computing is too. And it's all small scale. This all is a part of Retro I don't want to see die anytime soon. And it is important to show n tell so others who might get the itch jump in. Re: Settled Depends on the conversation, doesn't it? If someone wants to write a "best beginner" piece, games are well trodden ground. Literally all the other retro coolness potential gets left off the table, and frankly that part of the scene is where the new stuff, games included, comes from. New hardware, controls, upgrades, repair, all matter a lot. One day, it will be almost all FPGA and emulation. I feel putting that off as long as possible is good for everyone.
  6. Of all the machines, the CoCo is best on a medium performance CRT. PVMs are too good for the end of the world zombie green!
  7. Also offers composite so one can run the emulation on a TV or CRT TV and get a great experience. I second that recommendation.
  8. Cool! In the 90's, like 1990 I believe, I worked in a shop still using paper tape to drive machines. Saved "Invaders.com" to tape and loaded it back in. Should have kept that tape! Paper tape is fun and visual, but is a lot like cassette in other ways. Serial load. Slow. Though a good reader will beat a cassette in many cases. Writing a tape is slower than a cassette in many cases. And one gets an actual bit bucket with bits in it! Nice video. I never saw cassette used with a PC.
  9. Except disks and drives are getting hard. Will be much harder in the near future. There is always cassette, which works pretty great with the many media sources we've got today. For gaming, EU style, that makes a ton of sense. But, to explore the later era stuff one needs a disk drive, or reasonable emulation. "Start there and upgrade" is why I've enjoyed my Apple over the last decade or so. Just chipping away at this and that. Today, it's a great machine. It started out simple, though I did start out with a disk drive.
  10. Someone should make a VCS look alike, with the funky keyboard add on. Stuff a Pi in there. Would be an eye catcher.
  11. Interesting observation! It does jump out at you like that. Never thought about it before. Wonder if people using VIC's have a similar response. I like coding on the Tandy CoCo's. Always felt kind of techy and serious... Plus, 6809? Bring it. Love that chip, and James has made me realize I would like the 6803 too.
  12. The other discussion was a lot more interesting, frankly. And it's all good. I could give two shits about the meta. It's all laughs from my point of view. And it led to, "the power of the hairpin" LOL. (reference to the video linked here)
  13. I've only seen an Aquarius in two places: Online, peeps showing them off. And in the pawn shop, next to the TOMY TUTOR, in the "pay what you want" bin.
  14. Still Apple 8 bit for me. Meets all criteria well. And I will just continue talking to people as they get into retro as I always have. Re: Video That woman is great! Totally entertained watching and hearing her do battle to play some games on that C64. Maybe the barrier to entry isn't as high as we might think it is. She was on a mission! Got it done. Nice pick on the Dell monitor. I want one of those. Prefer my CRT, but... That's a handy, dandy screen.
  15. And if one is interested in electronics? Golden times right now. Most things can be sourced for a song. Kits, boards, components. Want to build your own video game system? Now's the time. Hasn't been better. Want to literally build your own retro computer? https://www.youtube.com/user/eaterbc Start here. This guy is taking people through the basics, and you can get kits! Once you get going, you can add your own bits to it and make some of the same choices people made back in the day and learn some useful skills along the way.
  16. All comes down to talking to the people. And it comes down to what we know too, particularly if it's going to be a shared experience. No need to place a bet, given one can get a little info in advance of the decision. "What retro computer would YOU pick?" "Before I just say something, let's talk about what is out there some." "Aren't they all the same these days? Old computers?" "Nope! Things were all over the place. You can get popular game oriented machines with spiffy hardware made today to make things pretty easy and fun. If you are into hardware or programming, some of these older machines can take add on cards, or mods that can be fun to do. Restoring them works like old furniture does too. It's a labor of love there. Ever want to program? Or do you program today? These old environments are lean and mean. And we've got a lot of examples one can work from today. Even game compos where people build and share their game creations and feedback to one another. Some of these machines were quite powerful, others were just a bit more than toys. Many different experiences to be had. It's not like today where most computing related stuff looks and works the same." "That's a bigger scene than I thought." "Here, let me show you some of my stuff and what I'm doing right now." [...] "I just want to play some kick ass old games." "Dude, you want a C64, or ..." "Have always wondered how things work" "Check out this Apple! It's the PC before there was a PC." "Did you know we used to get programs out of magazines at the grocery store, type 'em in, and play games, change 'em?" "Grocery store? "LOL, yeah was a lifeline for many of us learning and gaming." "I remember...." "Oh yeah, that's an Atari. Let's talk about the different ones. And you will want an add on..." "What game do you remember from back then?" "Here, you gotta play this!" Etc...
  17. I have both an //e and GS. Have had the GS for years and just recently picked up a keyboard and mouse for it. Always wanted to explore the GS some. An unexpanded GS, or one that is lightly expanded like mine is, does not run all the latest stuff. Will run a fair number of games. I think I can run GS OS 4.x tops, due to only having 640K of total RAM. The machine will expand to 1Mb with the boards it has in there right now, but man! I don't know whether I want to source a pile of old RAM chips. Not sure I want to buy an accelerator card either. Right now, if I had to pick? I would keep the //e Platinum. The GS stuff is spiffy, and the mouse can get used a lot. I like it, and it's fun to see how all that was shaping up. Nice system. But for me, the fun is the older games, and the //e is a simpler system overall. And I got an accelerator for it that wasn't expensive. I have a CFFA, misc cards, serial, disk, etc... Maybe look at what you like to do the most, pack the best cards into the one you want to keep and run with it. I'll keep both for now, but the //e will be the daily driver for various retro fun in my case. Maybe I'll run into some GS goodies and change up.
  18. Today, Javascript and Python are for everyone. Both can offer an interactive environment too. It's a whole lot like BASIC and the early 8 bit scene in many respects. Point a little kid at one of the browser JS dev toy pages and interesting things can happen. Same as it did back then. Put a kid in front of something that let them interact with the TV, and they could just start like so many of us did.
  19. The one person I know who got started on one of these is an embedded software / hardware engineer today. Earlier, I wrote about modest capability sometimes being a good thing. Batari Basic is an example of how that all works. When there isn't much, in a way the path forward to some goal is more clear. People took the little bit the VCS offered and did something. Machines like that Interact are kind of the same way. They self-select for the people who get it and are looking to learn. Others will move on pretty quick. The one nice thing about that machine is the display is a simple bitmap. So it doesn't do much, and text density is terrible, but it does do graphics too. The minimum is there! LOL, bare minimum, IMHO.
  20. BASIC is also for people to get good use out of the computer. Most things don't need to be fast. Games are the hard case, obviously. I know a guy who made a lot of money writing business apps in the Basic that came with most PC's. I made a little windowing system for him. One could be looking at reports, or inputting data, and it would pop up and display something and or take input and go away. The whole works was text, monochrome display. Those programs saved people a lot of time. Was enlightening to see at the time when I was still beginning. Having seen that, I came to realize BASIC is good for capturing knowledge and or automating some things. One of the first things I did in BASIC that I went on to use over and over was sheet metal layout calculations. One could measure a little, input some numbers and get back exactly what was needed to make the part, given material, tooling and other variables. Did it on my Apple, then ported it to a little pocket computer I had. The folding one. Used it for years. On my Atari, I produced a basic inventory system for a guy down the road. Was simple, but saved him a ton of time. Everything fit on one floppy disk. He could just copy for the month, file it away and continue... Right now, if I were working in a shop, my Model 100 would be killer! Lasts forever on a set of batteries, has graphics, a respectable Basic, and it would not take long to go through and put programs together to get whatever it is done, quick, old school, right. That little pocket computer ended up making me a ton of money. Later on, I wrote those same utilities inside a CAD system. Not only would it do the math, but it would generate the entities needed for CNC processing. Sold a bunch of those for a couple hundred a pop. Got my first 386 that way. Basic mapped right over to the simple language built into the CAD software. All the skills mapped over, leaving me with some math to sort out. Late 80's, early 90's. That "Cosmic Aliens" effort is respectable! That's using GET AND PUT, isn't it? I always thought that functionality was pretty great. A lot can be done with it.
  21. This too, right? Credit always given. That's how I play it. When someone gets after it, however ugly, yeah. I'm down to help, if I can. Worth it.
  22. LOL That still bothers me. I am not a professional programmer, though I have written a lot of programs on a wide variety of systems. Just took a software project, because Covid and work remote and keep options open... It's nice to have friends. They will tell me, "write something" and then call me. Perfect. Making sure I continue in the same spirit. Good. But yes, given time the learn how to learn dynamic will pay off. Just keep after it! And it's not just programming! That whole era, cars, computers, electronics... If a person wants to, they can just jump in and go. Very high value. I wouldn't trade it for anything.
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