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About ballyalley

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  1. First off, thanks for posting this video. I have not watched it yet, but I'll watch it soon. The EPROM programmer that I use is the USB version of the Pocket Programmer II. I'm not even sure if it's available anymore, but here is the webpage for it: https://xtronics.com/wiki/Pocket_Programmer.html The programmer doesn't really work with my current computer. Technically, yeah, it works... but it works too fast or something; all EPROMS that I burn or read on modern systems don't work correctly with my EPROM programmer. I keep an old Window XP laptop around and use it only to burn or read EPROMs. That programmer has proved useful a number of times, including semi-recently, when I archived some a rare EPROM from an Atari disk drive. You'll probably a faster results to this question by posting to the Astrocade forum on Groups.io, here: https://groups.io/g/ballyalley You have to join the group to post, but you'll be approved quickly (within a day or two-- faster if you contact me and let me know your waiting for approval). Adam
  2. I added "Program C-13" (Three Letters on a Tape with Video Art and Animation) by Stanley Kendall. This program is written for the Bally Arcade/Astrocade and Blue Ram BASIC. It contains three letters written to Robert Fabris, Don Gladden, Dave Carson and Clyde Perkins on May 30, 1983 and September 25, 1983. Sometimes AtariAge doesn't automatically put in a preview for a link, so here is a direct link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O69C2zjDOkk Here, hopefully, is a YouTube link with a preview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O69C2zjDOkk This video can also be downloaded from archive.org: https://archive.org/details/C-13ThreeLettersStanleyKendallAstrocadeAstroBASIC1983 Enjoy! Adam
  3. I added an overview of "The Collatz Conjecture" by Jim Dunson. This appeared on Astro-Bugs Club Tape #5 in August 1984. This program is a mathematical demonstration. Sometimes AtariAge doesn't automatically put in a preview for a link, so here is a direct link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q0hCmwrAQcY Here, hopefully, is a YouTube link with a preview: Instructions from the program's loading screen: About 30 years ago [1937] a professor named Collatz created this thought provoker. Start with any whole number. If it is odd, triple it +1. If it is even, take half. Repeat. The final result will always be one. Why is that? After all, the odd number is tripled + 1. This more than compensates for the halves??? Send your explanation to me, Jim Dunson. For more information about this, check out the Internet: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collatz_conjecture Sample program run: THE COLLATZ CONJECTURE START WITH ANY WHOLE NUM- BER. IF IT IS ODD, TRIPLE IT +1. IF IT IS EVEN, TAKE HALF. REPEAT. THE FINAL RESULT WILL ALWAYS BE ONE. I WILL COMPUTE FOR YOU. INPUT A NUMBER [The program now will run for a while, printing the results on screen until the answer is one, then it will ask for another number.] This video can also be downloaded from archive.org: https://archive.org/details/collatz-conjecture-the-1984-jim-dunson-ab-overview-astrocade-720p-10-mbps Enjoy! Adam
  4. Thanks for posting this reply about the game. There's plenty of dense information in there. This thread has yielded much more information than I ever expected. Adam
  5. The nuclear weapons in this game are a good indicator that the game was created during the cold-war era in the United States. These were the "ultimate" weapons; there was nothing that they could not accomplish. The game doesn't seem realistic, but that's just the nature of game's theme (which seems loosely based on The Andromeda Strain). The thought of using nukes to knock-out an entire country/continent/world never occurred to me, as the baddies in this game are invisible to the naked eye. Yet, in desperation, would someone ever resort to that tactic? If you had asked me this question a few years ago then I would have thought it idiotic to bring into a conversation, and it is a completely absurd idea-- yet, in this time, during this era, in our world, maybe anything that I thought I was improbable or impossible now seems within the thought-reach of a select few who have trouble determining where reality ends and fantasy begins. Luckily for us, Epidemic! is just a game and isn't striving for realism. Adam
  6. The ANTIC Interview #387 with Claudia Cohl, Editor-in-Chief of Family Computing Magazine, inspired me to go through my back issues of the magazine. I found a game on page 86-87 of the March 1985 issue called "Epidemic!" by SSI that invokes the idea of the Coronavirus. Has anyone played it before? "Epidemic!" is available on AtariMania: http://www.atarimania.com/game-atari-400-800-xl-xe-epidemic_1859.html Here are a few screenshots of the game: Here is the front and back of the box: As with all SSI games, the manuals is lengthy at 20 pages. Here is the Family Computing review of Epidemic! ---------------------------------------- Epidemic! (Review from "Family Computing" magazine, March 1985) Hardware Requirements: Reviewed on IBM PC. Also for Apple II series. Atari Home Computers, IBM PCjr. Manufacturer: Strategic Simulations Price: S34.95 It's rare to find a strategy game that is easy to play, takes only a short time to finish, and is good enough to demand instant re-starting after a run-through, but Epidemic!, from Strategic Simulations, is just that. You (and as many advisers as you can muster) are the just-appointed international task force assembled to halt, analyze, and hopefully cure a space-borne plague roaring across Earth. Armed with a variety of weapons, you can temporarily arrest it, sometimes slow it, and, under extreme conditions, resort to a nuclear option and destroy entire subcontinents to stop the disease from eradicating the human race. This is a pure strategy game, playable on four different skill levels. Although we preferred to play it with a group of people, it's designed for solitaire gaming and is an excellent way of passing an hour or two. At each turn (a day in computer time) you can take only a limited number of steps towards eliminating the epidemic. Should you shoot down a plague-bearing meteor which your radar says is hurtling towards an unaffected region? Try to cure a barely-hit area? Obliterate a nearly destroyed zone? Or perform any of the other operations which will mean life or death to tens of millions of people? It's actually just like a Grade B science-fiction movie (you know, one of those with actors who speak English without moving their mouths). It's also one heck of a game, suitable for ages 12 and over, a real brain-teaser that play-testers went wild over. (For an added twist, assign each player several countries/areas as his or her "responsibility." They're the only ones who can push the button to kill their own people. This makes the nuclear option all the more realistic and less likely to be used.) ---------------------------------------- Atarimania (and the game manual) claim that "Epidemic!" was released in 1982. I find it strange that it was reviewed in March of 1985. Does anyone have any memories of this game? Has anyone played it? How about recently? It might be one to revisit in this era of Covid-19, if only for a little diversion. I'd love to see a video review of this game given the context of the world right now. Adam
  7. This is Michael Matte's newest hi-res Astrocade update, from June 2020 is called: MCM Design Hi-Res Static Ram Announcement I'm posting the text from his document in-full here, or you can download it as a RTF (Rich Text Format) document and with all the screenshots in one zipped archive from BallyAlley.com, here: https://ballyalley.com/documentation/hi-res_packages/hi-res_packages.html#AstrocadeHi-ResMulti-PagerAnnouncement Sometime this summer, Michael plans to send me a photocopy of Z80 source code for the demo (which is hand-written and hand-assembled). He also plans to make a DVD for me with the demo running, which I'll rip into an MP4 and then upload to YouTube and Archive.org. ---------------------------------------- MCM Design is pleased to announce the completion of its 8KB hi-res Multi-Pager Test Demo package. In September 2019, MCM Design announced a design breakthrough with a new modified for hi-res Astrocade prototype. The prototype's hi-res screen RAM operates using only 4 static RAM (SRAM) chips, instead of the normal 32 DRAM chips. This breakthrough announcement is posted on the Bally Alley website. https://ballyalley.com/documentation/hi-res_packages/hi-res_packages.html Scroll down to "MCM Design Hi-Res Static Ram Announcement". Each SRAM chip stores 32KB, providing a 4 chip total of 128KB of screen RAM. A variation of the Datamax UV-1R multi-pager was added to the new prototype allowing user selectable access of up to 8 pages of 16KB hi-res screen RAM, mapping 320 x 204 pixels per page. The hi-res map is described in the Nutting Manual system description, pages 85 and 87. This manual is archived on the Bally Alley website. The multi-pager includes a provision for an additional 8 pages (128KB) of screen RAM. The 8KB Multi-Pager Test Demo package is detailed below. Features: The 8KB Test Demo resides as a cartridge ROM program at 2000-3FFFH. All necessary hi-res routines reside within the test demo program package. No user RAM above 8000H is required to run the package. A standard low-res ROM (or custom 8KB ROM at 0000-1FFFH) is required only to jump to the test demo at 2000H. A normal system reset executes in sequence the following: 1. Multi-pager 8 page flip test 2. A program which moves a critter around all 8 pages to erase each page's static graphics 3. Hi-res 7 color Fish Demo This 3 part sequence can repeat nonstop. An optional 4th program is executable by holding down any key in the right-most keypad column, while pressing the system reset button. This program allows a viewer to move a critter, using a hand controller at the #1 controller input, around within 3 connecting scenes (pages). The 3 scenes have simplified static graphics. The hi-res Fish Demo can be run independently on a modified hi-res Astrocade with NO multi-pager by holding down any key in the left-most keypad column, while pressing the system reset button. The hi-res screen map must be compatible as described in the Nutting Manual mentioned above. The vertical blanking line is dropped to the very bottom of the screen RAM area in all 8 pages so the viewer can observe a 98 byte program copied into page 7 plus observe the stack area being worked by the Z80 CPU in all 8 pages. 202 lines of the available 204 horizontal screen lines are utilized for screen graphics in all 8 pages. Multi-Pager 8 Page Flip Test The multi-pager's operation is tested to see if all 8 pages of graphics can be written to perfectly by visually watching for graphic errors while the pages are flipped automatically. All 8 pages are written with static graphics as indicated below. Page Hi-Res Graphics Written 0 text introduction with 17 lines of custom 7 x 9 pixel text characters 1 fill narrow vertical stripes on a split screen 2 end view of aquarium plus 15 magic write variations 3 fill narrow horizontal stripes on a split screen 4 10 color textured graphics pattern 5 fill narrow vertical plus horizontal stripes on a split screen 6 multi-pager title page with custom enlarged text characters 7 custom hi-res screen shot variation of the game Gunfight While the text intro is being displayed, the remaining 7 pages are written with static graphics as described above. The viewer is given nearly 60 seconds to read the 3 paragraph intro. There is an option to skip the intro by holding down any key on the keypad, which reduces the read delay time to about 5 seconds. Seven pages must be written first before the flip to page 1 will occur automatically. There are 5 passes of page flipping. Each pass flips through the 8 pages faster. The 5th pass flips about 3 pages per second. An audio flip sound is output during each page flip. The multi-pager handles (selects) the page to flip by a simple output to the custom port 74H. After the 5 passes are completed, the next program in sequence is executed. Move Critter Within All 8 Pages A 98 byte program is copied from the ROM cartridge program package to page 7 beginning at address 7F20H. This program in page 7 is then executed to move a critter around the screen in all 8 pages, to erase all or most of the static graphics. The program in page 7 utilizes subroutines within the test demo package. This test program was created to see if the multi-pager could function perfectly, loading a machine language program into a specific page, then execute that program moving a graphic pattern around in all 8 pages. Special attention was necessary to point the Z80 CPU to a specific page, for any screen RAM writes or reads, by using the multi-pager's custom output port 75H. This attention included pointing to a specific page to work any Z80 stack areas, variables, flags and data blocks within a page's scratchpad area. The critter's initial appearance location in each page is randomized to appear anywhere along the screen's X axis or Y axis. After the critter is finished with the last page 7, the hi-res Fish Demo is then executed. Hi-Res Fish Demo Twelve fish using 5 fish types swim around the screen. One fish likes to linger along the sea bottom. The initial locations of 11 fish are randomized. The fish lingering along the sea bottom likes to appear near the center top of the sea bottom. A ML routine was created to flop left a fish pattern facing right within the same pattern frame by adjusting the pattern frame's X coordinate. In this demo, bit 7 within a magic register value is used as a flag for a custom request to adjust the X coordinate for a flop. Bit 6 is the flag that actually requests a magic flop. Bit 7 in the magic register output port is not utilized by the Astrocade's magic hardware to request any specific magic function, so this bit is available for a programmer to flag the execution of a custom ML routine related to a magic function. Two screen interrupt routines are used to provide 7 different colors. One of the screen interrupt routines also updates a hr:min:sec elapsed time clock (up to 9:59:59). The elapsed time utilizes custom hi-res 7 x 9 pixel digits. A custom display time write subroutine was created to write the time digits (and colons) using an expanded plop with NO shifter byte cleared at the end of each digit line written. This may be the reason why the timer counts up with NO graphics flickering. When the elapsed time reaches 2:00 minutes, the fish demo will execute a restart (jump) to 2000H to start over again the execution of the multi-pager test demo. This restart cycle will repeat nonstop. The fish demo will run nonstop if any key on the keypad is pressed before the 2:00 minute restart time expires. An up arrow will be displayed to the right of the elapsed timer to indicate the fish demo nonstop mode was enabled. The fish demo runs in page 0. This fish demo utilizes an expanded version of Andy Guevara's clever programming technique to move multiple fish around a screen using only one vector block in the RAM scratchpad. MCM Design expanded the same technique to include multiple types of fish. Cycle Time The cycle time from start to finish, executing the multi-pager flip test, moving a critter to erase static graphics in all 8 pages plus the 2:00 minute fish demo, is about 9 minutes. This cycle time includes the text intro 60 second read delay. Final Note Out of curiosity, MCM Design ran the Multi-Pager Test Demo on its original modified hi-res Astrocade, which utilizes the 32 chip DRAM scheme and has no multi-pager. You can view a portion of the Multi-Pager Test Demo on a modified hi-res Astrocade having NO multi-pager. You will briefly see the normal text intro followed quickly by 7 variations of the remaining 7 page writes, ending with the Gunfight screenshot. If you press a key or wait out the 60 second read delay, you will see the Gunfight screenshot going thru multiple color changes and you will hear the flip page sound with each change. The changes along with the flip sound will also speed up. Then the program will crash, sometimes forcing a system reset to occur. You do however get a really long look at the hi-res Gunfight screenshot going through multiple color changes, which is a pretty cool graphics variation. This screenshot has the best graphics of the 8 pages displayed normally. So, whether or not a hi-res Astrocade has a multi-pager, you still get to see some pretty cool hi-res graphics with this 8KB hi-res package. End Of MCM Design Announcement June 2020 ---------------------------------------- Here are additional screenshots for the demo (I'm reposting the two that I posted previously so everything is in one place). ---------------------------------------- I can't wait to see the source code for this demo and also to see it in actions. This sounds like great fun, Michael! Adam
  8. I added an overview of a video art program called "RND Pixel Design" by Dieter Heinermann. This program was published in ARCADIAN 7, no. 3 (Mar. 21, 1986): 47. https://youtu.be/R_emPK2nSp4 Sometimes AtariAge doesn't automatically put in a preview for a link, so here is a direct link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R_emPK2nSp4 This program will run in Bally BASIC, AstroBASIC and Extended BASIC (Blue Ram BASIC or Vipersoft BASIC). There were no instructions in the Arcadian, but the original program submission letter (dated August 9, 1985) included three programs on one tape. The comments about "RND Pixel Design" are: "The third [program] is a short RND pixel program." This program is B&W, but with one change (listed in the program listing), it will run in color in extended BASIC. This video can also be downloaded from archive.org: https://archive.org/details/RND_Pixel_Design_Dieter_Heinermann_Overview_Astrocade_1986 You can also download the program from BallyAlley.com, here: https://ballyalley.com/program_downloads/300_baud_programs/arcadian/programs_q-z/programs_q-z.html#RNDPixelArtBBProgram Enjoy! Adam
  9. I added a video overview of "Unusual Sounds" by Bill Loos from ARCADIAN 3, no. 7 (May 08, 1981): 79. This program creates sound effects for the Bally Arcade/Astrocade and Bally BASIC. https://youtu.be/7zI6MzuXRos Sometimes AtariAge doesn't automatically put in a preview for a link, so here is a direct link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7zI6MzuXRos Arcadian Instructions: "The following program was sent by Bill Loos, which, along with the list of variables, will provide some unusual sound effects. Make direct substitutions of the values of X and Y as recommended, either individually, or by grouping two or more together." "Unusual Sounds" by Bill Loos was archived in February 2019 with the 300-baud tools for Windows. After the conversion, I was able to load "Unusual Sounds" with the 300-baud interface on a real Astrocade and run it without any problems. This video can also be downloaded from archive.org: https://archive.org/details/unusual-sounds-1981-bill-loos-300-baud-overview-astrocade-720p-10-mbps You can also download the program from BallyAlley.com, here: https://ballyalley.com/program_downloads/300_baud_programs/arcadian/programs_q-z/programs_q-z.html#UnusualSoundsBillLoosBBProgram Enjoy! Adam
  10. Today, June 25, 2020, Michael Matte sent me ten pictures of a demo that he has put together for his Hi-Res Astrocade. I've selected two of them to share here. I'll share the rest of them, along with documentation, later next week. Here are brief descriptions of the pictures. You'll see that both screens take advantage of the resolution of the hi-res unit, which is 4x higher than the consumer version of the Astrocade (160x102 pixels vs. 302x204 pixels). 1) Gunfight - This is Michael's modified version of Gunfight. Notice the added details of the fighters. Here is screenshot of the standard version Gunfight in normal (consumer mode) as captured in MAME: Here is screenshot of Gunfight in hi-res (commercial mode) as captured in from Michael's television using his camera: 2) Gold Fish Demo - The picture REALLY shows the differences that an Astrocade upgraded to hi-res mode can show. There are more fish and they look more like, you know, FISH! Here is screenshot of the standard version Gold Fish Demo in normal (consumer mode) as captured in MAME: Here is screenshot of the heavily modified version of Gold Fish demo in hi-res (commercial mode) as captured in from Michael's television using his camera: Nice one, Michael! When I have more time, I'll share the full details of everything that Michael sent to me. Adam
  11. Here are the latest hi-res updates from Michael Matte: ---------------------------------------- From: Michael Matte Sent: Wednesday, June 10, 2020 1:29 AM To: Adam Trionfo Cc: Lance Squire Subject: Hi-Res Multi-Pager Test Demo Hi Adam. As mentioned to you a few days ago, this last week I decided to make a big push to finish my MP Test Demo. Well, I finished the programming late Tuesday evening and it runs really great. This demo has a lot of hi-res graphics. My initial desired demo description emailed to you long ago has been completely realized. I must say, that if MCM Design's hi-res "Pixel Stringer" doesn't entice some Astrocade enthusiasts to desire a modified for hi-res Astrocade, this MP Test Demo should likely stir up a hi-res interest and possibly some envy. I have some related project cleanup tasks to work on it yet. Then I will email you my announcement detailing this 8KB all hi-res package. In case you're wondering, my next project will be to record that hi-res DVD mentioned to you previously. Thanks to Andy Guevara for creating The MLM, which played a major role in the related machine language development tests for MCM Design's hi-res DRAM and SRAM Astrocades. Bye. MCM ---------------------------------------- I can't wait to see Michael's videos. Adam
  12. I'm so glad that there are people like Allan in the Atari community who put so much of their own time and effort into making sure that programs and documents are saved. The archival work allows people to examine and pick through what has been saved and put it in a fresh light. It's inspiring to see that the Atari 8-bit computers are about 40 years old and that there is still a thriving community out there. Mostly I have been able to contribute to the community by donating materials, but I've thought of making a short Atari podcast that would cover type-in programs from the magazines and books. I'm surprised no one else has taken this idea and run with it. Adam
  13. The original method to load Bally programs from tapes with the original Bally BASIC was via an external hardware interface that plugged into hand controller port 3 and the "lite pen" port. Here are pictures of the 300-baud interface: https://ballyalley.com/pics/hardware_pics/audio_interface/audio_interface.html In 1981, a faster (2000-baud) method to load tapes was introduced: the tape interface was included in the Bally BASIC cartridge. I cover that here: The Astrocade has a palette of 256 colors (32 colors, each with 8 intensities), but only 8 colors can easily be displayed on the screen at once. Even then, the 8 colors are limited to 4 colors per side of the screen. It's true that more colors could be displayed using machine language "tricks," but this was mostly done for still screens. Adam
  14. Here are the latest hi-res updates from Michael Matte: ---------------------------------------- From: Michael Matte Sent: Tuesday, June 2, 2020 5:16 PM To: Adam Trionfo Cc: Lance Squire Subject: Hi-Res Multi-Pager Demo Update The following has been added to my hi-res Fish Demo: A hr/min/sec elapsed timer at the bottom of the screen. An auto restart (jump) to 2000H when the Fish Demo reaches 2:00 minutes. An optional nonstop Fish Demo mode, which is enabled when any key on the keypad is pressed. And "up" arrow is displayed, just to the right of the elapsed timer, when the nonstop mode is enabled. Additional Comments The cycle time from start to finish, executing the multi-pager demo, moving a critter to erase static graphics in all 8 pages plus the 2:00 minute fish demo, is about 9 minutes. The elapsed time utilizes custom hi-res 7 x 9 pixel digits. A custom display time write subroutine was created to write the time digits (and colons) using an expanded plop with NO shifter byte cleared at the end of each digit line written. This may be the reason why the timer counts up with NO graphics flickering. Nice. All that's left to do now on this project is detail the sea bottom. One sea bottom fish will be added, possibly moving along the sea bottom dips and inclines, instead of just moving within a narrow long move zone, IF there are still ROM bytes available for that task. I'm hoping to finish this 8KB project in 2 to 3 weeks. Bye. MCM ---------------------------------------- When Michael is done with his project, I think he is going to make a video of it using a DVD recorder. He'll send the DVD to me and then I'll make the video available on YouTube and Archive.org. Adam
  15. I have finished and uploaded Bally Alley Astrocast: Episode 16 - Interview with Andy Guevara of Bit Fiddlers. You can listen to the podcast here: https://ballyalleyastrocast.libsyn.com/podcast/bally-alley-astrocast-episode-16-interview-with-andy-guevara-of-bit-fiddlers In episode #16 of the Bally Alley Astrocast, Kevin Bunch interviews Andy Guevara. The interview took place Saturday, May 16, 2020. Andy wrote three programs that were released on cartridge for the Bally Arcade/Astrocade. The first cartridge was Machine Language Manager (MLM), released by The Bit Fiddlers in 1982. L&M Software approached Andy due to his machine language skills and a collaboration got underway that produced Ms. Candyman and Sea Devil, which were both released on cartridge in 1983. Andy also wrote some additional software: Chicken and the Goldfish Demo were released on tape, while a few others were released as type-in programs. Mr. Guevara's used an Apple II Plus with a Z80 card which ran the CP/M operating system to write most of his software for the Bally Arcade/Astrocade. Thanks to Kevin and Andy for allowing the Astrocast to use the interview. Thanks to Chris for editing the podcast. Thanks for the astrocade community for listening to it. Adam (Oh, and yeah, as always, the html links do work, but they're not blue in my webpage on my computer, so may be hard to see.)
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