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kiwilove

Atari Vs C64 --- 80s Computer scene etc chat...

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I wonder if anyone is interested to chat about this era - so as to know what was going on in this area? Back then???

It was in 1981 that I was looking around for a computer to buy - whether it be in New Zealand, or in England - where I was travelling to, to stay a short? while...

If my date is correct? It was in 1981 in December I was shopping around for a Home Computer to buy - I kinda knew that the Atari400 or Atari800 was the leading computer for graphics - say versus the Apple II, which was the only serious contender at that time. The Vic-20 was hopeless - need I say more? Same for the ZX-81.

In the next few months the C-64 would appear, same for the Spectrum and BBC - if I recall, not in this exact order.

But between the Apple II and the Atari 400/800 - there was only one choice for someone keen on playing lots of arcade games. Star Raiders was the only title that stood out at this time - and maybe perhaps Shamus.

I didn't really check out the Apple II on the gaming front - with it's high price - it kinda was out of my reach. The Atari 800 was dropping in price - and was just affordable. And so I purchased about 4 games - 1 on cartridge Star Raiders, and 3 on cassette - Shamus, MatchRacer and Race in Space. This was my purchase in Hammersmith, London in early December '81. Later got a Pacman cartridge.. Linked up with the Staff family in Hull, drooled over Harry's 810, etc - eventually got an 810 disk drive, before leaving for home... in NZ.

This will do for starters... I'll add more.. as people join in?

Harvey

Edited by kiwilove

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My early experience starts around 1984, when the Tandy Radio shack was the most common. I got my Color Computer with 16K of RAM second-hand from my uncle. after that, Commodore 64 appeared on the scene, and my school had about 8 of them in our class room by 1986.

Big game we played back then was Montezuma's Revenge! (could have been on the commodore 128)

 

I know I missed a few years, but this is what I can remember!

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We did this a couple of weeks ago: First Computer? http://www.atariage.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=123547

 

Just gave my input for that forum. Thanks for the link.

 

My experience goes something like this...

 

The TRS-80 was big in my school. We had a TRS-80 2, 3, and ended with the IVP. My friends had Tandy's. I was Texas, go fig.

 

Later Apple 2 became the school computer.

 

In the BBS world, Commodore 64 was king. Period. Atari users bragged about the amount of Atari BBS's we had while the Commodore users had no idea how many BBS's they had.

 

Had some fun BBS wars between the two factions, and I even have a story we published on the Atari BBS's about the great war between Atari and Commodore.

 

When I got back into the Atari scene in 1999 I longed for more of that rivalry, but in time grew to like the common spirit of tinkering and retro fun that today is. And ultimately, I think today, the here and now, is more fun than all this was back then.

 

I mean world wide ethernet and compact flash storage on your 8-bit computer? That is just too much fun. Not to mention the THOUSANDS of Atari programs you can download now for free.

 

Oh... and get this. :D I download a 160K .atr image now from the internet onto a laptop to use on my Atari computer... the download goes so fast it takes my computer longer to draw the window that a download happened.

 

Back then... I start the download... one hour later while watching television, doing some homework, and getting something to eat I come back and hope my sisters didn't pick up on the phone line and cause me to start the download again.

 

Yeh, these days are a LOT better to be an Atari user. :D

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My early experience starts around 1984, when the Tandy Radio shack was the most common. I got my Color Computer with 16K of RAM second-hand from my uncle. after that, Commodore 64 appeared on the scene, and my school had about 8 of them in our class room by 1986.

Big game we played back then was Montezuma's Revenge! (could have been on the commodore 128)

 

I know I missed a few years, but this is what I can remember!

 

For some reason Commodore 64/128 spread better than Atari 8-bits although most people would agree that the Ataris are and were better machines than C64/128 especially their video features and quality-- the screen appearance, more colors/shades, DLIs, more accurate timers, faster updates (due to faster CPU and variety of graphics modes), etc. This is more significant given that C64 came out later than the 8-bit Ataris. I guess their 80-column mode gave the C64/128s some edge over Atari; commodore already had their Pets and SuperPets with 80-column capability to build on whereas Atari was more of graphics/gaming based.

 

It seems POKEY using the 1.7897Mhz timing not only topped the C64 timers at 1.022Mhz, but the Amiga CIA timers at 715.909Khz and the PC timer at 1.19318Mhz. Does anyone know the Apple Timer frequency (assuming it has user programmable timers)?

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I guess their 80-column mode gave the C64/128s some edge over Atari;

The C64 had no 80 column mode.

 

IMO it were the "free" games which made the C64 that successful. Many people I knew back than already had a C64 and the supply of new games newer stopped. That's why I decided for the C64.

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For some reason Commodore 64/128 spread better than Atari 8-bits although most people would agree that the Ataris are and were better machines than C64/128 especially their video features and quality-- the screen appearance, more colors/shades, DLIs, more accurate timers, faster updates (due to faster CPU and variety of graphics modes), etc.

I too am an Atarian but don't exaggerate.

For example C64 has 8 larger (24x21) hires or multicolor sprites.

It is simpler do program games having more and more colorful hardware sprites (look at Ghostbusters players on Atari and C64).

But, as you said, everyone must agree that Atari is a great machine that come out many years before C64.

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Ghostbusters was a sub-standard effort for the A8.

 

Just look at the samples - they blank part of the screen during the title sequence when the speech comes on.

Totally unnecessary with the right programming techniques.

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Ghostbusters was a sub-standard effort for the A8.

 

Just look at the samples - they blank part of the screen during the title sequence when the speech comes on.

Totally unnecessary with the right programming techniques.

 

All in all Ghostbusters wasn't that bad. Allthough we should be happy to have the speech at least in the game that way better, than to have no speech at all.

Doesn't the C64 version say "it slimed me" aswell?

 

...

 

How many games "from the main 8bit time" do take usage of high level programming on the A8?

 

I'm still counting two: Drop Zone and International Karate.

Also, the better CPU speed mostly was unused by the games.

 

I also want to break arguing of people saying "Lucas Arts made the highest level" games.

They only used the low res GTIA mode and some DLIs, they even didn't use some samples in their games. Looking at the Demoscene you see how much CPU time they have wasted. Being OK for the start of doing those programs, they didn't do any speed optimising for "new" games.... not to mention that they didn't do any ;-)

 

And also, the advantage of having more CPU Cycles per frame on PAL machines, was never really used.

 

Well, it would be interesting to know how much of that "hi achieved" C64 demos simply do not run on NTSC machines due to the low cpu speed.

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Yes, I think the C-64 does have the "He slimed me".

I guess Atari missed out on that due to being a 48K game.

 

In the day, developers would have aimed for the largest market possible. Remembering, that Atari was a poor seller in Europe until late in the XL's life when prices became more reasonable. So, PAL-only games would have drastically cut potential profits.

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"Well, it would be interesting to know how much of that "hi achieved" C64 demos simply do not run on NTSC machines due to the low cpu speed."

 

and how much pal atari demos do not run on NTSC machines ?

 

to start with low cpu speed doesnt makes anything not to run, it only makes stuff slower.

 

just so you know: most c64 games are PAL/NTSC compatible, because the race for the points for making them compatible in the cracker scene made it a default thing that crackers fixed everything they got their hands on to run on both pal/ntsc. so you can stop crying about pal/ntsc.

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1. It was easier to program arcade games on C64 (many sprites and screen colors at the same time) and

I guess Atari missed out on that due to being a 48K game.

In the day, developers would have aimed for the largest market possible.

2. yes, many Atari games were for 16KB instead of 64K.

Edited by Philsan

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For some reason Commodore 64/128 spread better than Atari 8-bits although most people would agree that the Ataris are and were better machines than C64/128 especially their video features and quality-- the screen appearance, more colors/shades, DLIs, more accurate timers, faster updates (due to faster CPU and variety of graphics modes), etc.

I too am an Atarian but don't exaggerate.

For example C64 has 8 larger (24x21) hires or multicolor sprites.

It is simpler do program games having more and more colorful hardware sprites (look at Ghostbusters players on Atari and C64).

But, as you said, everyone must agree that Atari is a great machine that come out many years before C64.

 

I wasn't exaggerating-- just taking it as it is. It may be easier to program sprites on the C64/128 but given the DLIs, more accurate timers, etc. you can generate more sprites on the Atari (like in Joust). I am not familiar with Ghostbusters but from the hardware perspective, I can see clearly Atari can simulate more sprites equivalent to it's built-in hardware sprites and play digitized samples >10Khz. Even the Amiga sprite resolution is 16*n but it has the copper lists to re-use the sprites. Yes, C64/128 has better text mode (whether 40 or 80 column) since it has a separate color memory area, but limited colors and sub-par pixel quality does not render it justice. It's more significant for games involving motion to get the 60fps rate than higher resolution and lower fps. Joust runs better on Atari 8-bit than on Atari ST and I'm sure it won't run at 60fps on a modern WinXP system at 1024*768*32.

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>yes, many Atari games were for 16KB instead of 64K.

 

Joust is a 16K game that looks like uses sprites for all the birds which are multi-colored.

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I am not familiar with Ghostbusters but from the hardware perspective, I can see clearly Atari can simulate more sprites equivalent to it's built-in hardware sprites.

By using interrupts, you could reuse sprites in the C64 too.

 

...and play digitized samples >10Khz.

And how is the C64 limited here?

 

Yes, C64/128 has better text mode (whether 40 or 80 column) since it has a separate color memory area, but limited colors and sub-par pixel quality does not render it justice.

Actually, the text mode was most frequently used C64 for games. Combined with the hardware soft scrolling registers, the CPU could pretty easily soft scroll a whole screen.

 

What do you mean with "sub-par pixel quality"? :?

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I wasn't exaggerating-- just taking it as it is. It may be easier to program sprites on the C64/128 but given the DLIs, more accurate timers, etc. you can generate more sprites on the Atari (like in Joust).

 

Erm... unless i'm missing something Joust isn't exactly busy - got a screenshot of it really going for it with the sprites?

Edited by TMR

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Got my Atari in late 1980. Wanted an Apple ][ but could only afford a 400. Made the right choice, I think.

 

Between '83 and '85 I worked for PDI out east. Came in as an Atari programmer but quickly had to program Apples and C64s too. The Apple ][ was a pleasure because it was so respectable even if its graphics were inferior to Atari's. The C64 was a drag because it was not much better than the Atari (worse in many ways) and by then it was beating Atari in the market, so it was a target of resentment. Plus it had some really bad features, such as the disk I/O commands, IIRC.

 

For a quizzing software project meant for all three platforms, I developed the engine and the Q&A database first on Atari. Then I wrote engines for Apple and C64. I rigged up a serial network between the Atari SIO port and the Apple and C64 serial ports using diode-resistor logic for level conversion, sort of a primitive SIO2PC interface. I used that to transfer the database to the other machines - saved a lot of typing. I also transferred the Atari character set to the Apple to get rid of artifact colors (the Apple characters had one-pixel wide elements which would create spurious colors in hi-res graphics mode). I learned later that that really pissed off some Apple customers!

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emkay... i still stand to my point... I would bet my house on it that Rescue on Fractalus, Eidolon and Koronis Rift use 99% of the CPU power... and if you don't believe... start the monitor and look through the code of f.e. Fractalus... where do you see "cpu time wasted"???

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Yes, C64/128 has better text mode (whether 40 or 80 column) since it has a separate color memory area, but limited colors and sub-par pixel quality does not render it justice.

Actually, the text mode was most frequently used C64 for games. Combined with the hardware soft scrolling registers, the CPU could pretty easily soft scroll a whole screen.

 

What do you mean with "sub-par pixel quality"? :?

 

I have no idea myself but I've been wading through YouTube looking at C-64 and A8 demos. The things I notice over and over again are these:

 

The SID chip seems to have more raw capability than POKEY "timers" or no. There are more registers, more effects, and a flexible design directly modeled after the subtractive Moog and ARP synths of the day. While the C-64 video hardware seems less "diddlible" and plastic than the A8 video hardware, exactly the reverse is true of sound. Don't get me wrong, in the hands of the right deeply knowlegable programmer POKEY can do some amazing things. It can maybe even do a thing or two SID can't but the fact remains that POKEY is basically a set of polycounters connected to a simple DAC. The SID is a true albeit cutdown synth of the Moog/Prophet/ARP design school and I believe the E-Mu synths were a direct outgrowth. I pretty much have to hand the crown to the C-64 in sound.

 

The C-64's video on the other hand doesn't impress me nearly as much. I do notice that the C-64 can do very hi-res looking stills with no flicker and it can do hi-res at 16 colors with no tricks and more like 60 with tricks. But it suffers from a severely limited color pallete, no DMA, and the highest res modes seem to only be efficiently usable as character cells. Those little 8x8 boxes still seem to shine through despite some truly heroic coding. I also notice that even with extreme register diddling, dithering, frame swapping, sprite overlays, and who knows what else that the C-64 has trouble creating even the appearance of more than 60 colors or so. The effects in these demos seem to play to that hi-res strength so we see lots of highly chisled bumpmaps and finely detailed lissajous and so-forth. Less common and probably a lot harder to do are effects like the Rubik's Cube that solves itself in Numen. I do see rotating 3D type effects in the Commodore demos but they are harder to come by and less well developed. In the case of a demo like Drunk Chessboard, you see both high color-depth effects and at least the appearance of translucent 3D objects. I suppose the A8 may have a slight processor edge in addition to more deeply programmable video hardware. A friend of mine who was a big c64 head even said "Things on your Atari just seem to move more fluidly." Ballblazer was big favorite of his.

 

One interesting area I think C-64 may have some interesting edges in is multiprocessing and modding. Isn't it true that a clever C-64 coder can offload work to the processor in the 1541/1571 drives? The C-64's simpler video system gives it a moddability edge in another area. It seems that things like the SuperCPU (http://www.cmdweb.de/scpu.htm) are a lot harder to do for the A8 since the video timings are so closely tied to both processor and display. The internal design of the C-64 seems more modular and less integrated than the A8 making no end of crazy mods easier. I've seen various 65816 upgrades for the A8 discussed but they seem to have difficulty getting past the prototype stage and the common thread throughout all of them is that it is difficult to pull off without destroying compatibility in the process.

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But it suffers from a severely limited color pallete

 

hires+16 colors comes with a price: no 128 color palette.c)

128 colors comes with a price: with no tricks you can only display 16 colors of the same shade, or 16 shades of the same color, in very lowres. (iirc)

 

its just a different compromise of the technique present at the day. you choose which do u prefer.

 

no DMA

 

what do you call a DMA ? C64's gfx chip uses quite a few hardwired different "direct memory acces" types for sprites, char data, etc, for which it stops the cpu, when its time to read the mem.

 

 

 

Less common and probably a lot harder to do are effects like the Rubik's Cube that solves itself in Numen

 

c64 is almost twice as slow as atari in that gfxmode. run numen at 50% speed in the emu and check that fx again, and you'll know why c64 demos dont do that often :). its simply slow. however there are a few demos which do complicated 3d stuff going as far as phong shading with texturing at the same time. let me know if you want me to list them :) tho prolly you will need emu (most of them are not on youtube).

 

the other reason is the highres mania of most of the c64scene, the 3rd reason is simply that 16 shades of the same color simply look better than 16 dithered shades out of 4 colors, which the c64 can do :) (atleast i think so)

 

I do see rotating 3D type effects in the Commodore demos but they are harder to come by and less well developed

 

again, I can give you a list. you are just lost in the mass of demos :)

 

more deeply programmable video hardware

 

and what does that mean? I think the situation is quite similar: Both on Atari & c64 you usually start with coding your screenmode, when it comes to demos :)

 

 

Isn't it true that a clever C-64 coder can offload work to the processor in the 1541/1571 drives?

 

yes, but you have very little ram, and very slow transfer speed :) a few demos use it mostly to calc 3d coords.

 

It seems that things like the SuperCPU .. are a lot harder to do for the A8 since the video timings are so closely tied to both processor and display.

 

I think the situation is similar. the c64 superCPU to circumvent timing problems has own 64k ram, and it does mirror it with some mechanism to the c64. you can set it up through registers on how to do it, but I have no idea how it works exactly. The 6510 and the VICII chip shares the bus in a hardwired 50%-50% scheme and sometimes the VIC stops the cpu and steales even more time(char pointers, sprites) , which there is no way to change, otherwise the video timings would have to be changed aswell, meaning the entire VICII would have to be redesigned.

 

The internal design of the C-64 seems more modular

 

dont think so, c64 was designed in less than a year including the chips. you can do whatever tho with the usage of the 'cartridge' port, as all important lines are routed out. guess its the same on a8.

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I pretty much have to hand the crown to the C-64 in sound.

 

The really impressive spot here is that the rather good sound of the SID put the rest of the Hardware into coders "pink glasses", let them have ideas for almost doing everything on the C64.

 

The C-64's video on the other hand doesn't impress me nearly as much. I do notice that the C-64 can do very hi-res looking stills with no flicker and it can do hi-res at 16 colors with no tricks and more like 60 with tricks.

The "60" colours are done by interlacing images and external de-interlacers.

 

One interesting area I think C-64 may have some interesting edges in is multiprocessing and modding. Isn't it true that a clever C-64 coder can offload work to the processor in the 1541/1571 drives?

 

Come on.... I had an ST connected to the 800XL back in the 80's . The ST was the "Device" for loading the game (XL-ST Schiffeversenken) and then it switches to a logical Co-Processing machine... Making it possible to play XL vs. ST .

 

http://mitglied.lycos.de/gunnarbusse/bajamar/230703.html

 

The external devices are not really a proof for the machine's capabilites.

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16 color is enough ;)

 

58480.png

 

 

That's why the picture has a 256 colour index? ;-)

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and it would be even more for the atari. 8 bit displays do blur everything together, not to talk about that PAL is averaging UV part of the YUV signal. (afaik) that means on a pal display you can mix out totally new colors. (any HW can do that using a pal crt)

 

"complex" 3d scene, it could be done faster today tho, there was a better method for gouraud invented since then:

Edited by Oswald

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