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Commodore 64 vs Apple II

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This article says you could buy the II as a kit! Now that would have been something!

http://blog.modernmechanix.com/introducing-apple-ii/1/#mmGal

 

 

I was BIG into text on the II+ back in the day. Text was king! I had all sorts of tiny 50-byte routines that would make the screen explode or shake and shatter. I even had something that dissolved the screen like dripping paint - think matrix screens like from the movie. I had something where you'd use the joystick to move around an infinite amount of lines and columns. Well not infinite, but you get the point. Sort of like going over a big map with a microscope. Spinning cursors for BBS'es.

 

Anyways, it is amusing to note that the II+ was designed with upper/lower case in mind. But, yet, Apple didn't really inform the public how to make it so. The II+ out of the box could only do uppercase as many of us know.

 

If you wanted to do any kind of word processing you need a shift-key mod (no-solder, user installable jumper wire) and lowercase character rom. At the minimum. To get serious you needed a Videx Videoterm 80 column board or a Videx UltraTerm board (136 columns IIRC).

 

I loved using Magic Window and other contemporary word processors of the time. Pushing text was a natural on the II series, once you got the hardware up to spec.

 

I also had what (I liked to think) no other computer in the whole fucking town had. A type-ahead buffer and programmable function keys and lowercase and 80-columns on the II+ !! Bad ass hardware I tell you. BAD ASS!

 

So imagine my euphemistic excursions into nirvana when I discovered MouseText. At the time the BBS got redone and had a look similar to Appleworks. Graphic lines and tabs and everything. New possibilities arose for ASCII art.

 

Remember ProTerm? I ended up using that and Appleworks as my #1 productivity tools in the waning days of operating the //e on a regular basis.

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No home system was really "arcade based".. wtf? The closest thing to arcade architecture at home were the dedicated pong units and vectrex. But home computers and game consoles. No. Absolutely not. The design goals were totally different animals.

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I remember cataloging plant specimens on an Apple III (it was an Apple II program) for the biology department when I was in college and the vet school wanted to hire me under work study to write a program for the Apple II to log and chart data. There were a lot of Apple IIs in use in colleges at that time.

 

In regards to HAM operators, I think the C64 was popular because someone created a really good hardware software solution for the VIC 20 and then ported it to the C64. I think people bought machines just for that software. I can't remember what it was called though.

 

As for TRS-80's being used... a Radio Shack computer in a radio shack. Go figure. I still remember one of the first CoCo articles I read was a program that taught morse code. The code was actually pretty horrible but it did the job.

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You two have the same avatar... Got me confused.

 

Re: GWBASIC

 

Yeah, I liked it too. I thought the CGA running on TV was nice because it basically did what double highres graphics did on the ][. As the PC's got faster, GWBASIC got more fun.

 

Re: Hams and C64 / CoCo

 

I didn't know too many that were C64 users. Where I lived, it was CoCo nearly all the way. Those guys taught me a ton then too. Sheesh. We were running FLEX multi-user on one of those things, and that led me to UNIX a short time later on. The group I hung out with were all electronics geeks, and they dropped old gear on a friend and I. We had scopes, meters and some signal generators to play with. IMHO, the CoCo was fairly fast and it had a powerful BASIC and DOS, right along with fairly quick drives, on par with the Apple ones. The onboard DAC / Cassette port got used for audio things, and modems / disks were used to archive and relay messages with morse code, and binary files. Fun stuff, that I stepped away from. Kind of want to return, but I don't have headspace for radio right now.

 

Both computers were targeted for HAM radio operators, with both hardware and software. I don't remember either.

 

Re: Business.

 

Yeah, Apples got used all over the place. I have nothing to add, but that I would love to see those papers Keatah... :)

 

***********************

 

As for our friend Atarian63, I'll let him off the hook. Clearly he didn't really catch a glimpse of the industry other than gaming. Nothing wrong with gaming. I do it nearly every day, as do most of us. But, there was a lot more out there, and that is what Apple ][ computers were about as much as they were games.

 

To the OP: Great machines man! Don't listen to clowns. If you are intrigued, get yourself a machine, Super Serial card, Disk ][ and a serial cable to run ADT. From there, you can make disks and run a ton of stuff. Game controller recommended too. The //e platinum computers are seen regularly for cheap, and $100-$200 will set you up nicely to enjoy them, depending on what cards you get lucky with early on.

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I did something similar, it was with frog parts and logging in the results of the dissection class. It was on a II+ or //e and I think I used PFS database or something. Later on to my surprise Operation Frog showed up in '84.

 

I loved these early "custom" GUI's, the likes of Pinball Construction set, operation frog, Blazing Paddles (koala micro illustrator). Great stuff. Custom graphics (icons) and custom tools. Each was different in looks but operated the same, drag'n'drop. And I thought the Koala Tablet, a full x,y resistive, low cost, graphics tablet that plugged into the game port. I even tried playing Zaxxon with it. That was so cool. And I was surprisingly lucky to get it after completely annihilated my parents' real Apple Graphics Tablet.

 

One interface method I did not like was the Gibson LightPen. Oh it worked alright, but nobody ever made any software for it. And my arm hurt from always holding it up to the screen. And not even resting my arms on a Puffs box helped any. If I had a desk like Dillinger it might have been a different story.

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I built a light pen for my Atari, based off some project circuit I saw in Antic, I think. Anyway, I didn't like it either, beyond the "hey! that's cool" factor. Around that time I had obtained a non-working PONG clone. Like a moron, I gutted it to make an Atari cabinet. When working that way, the light pen was much better as it made sense to lean over, rest the arm and move the pen that way.

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Believe it or not, it is with Blazing Paddles / Koala Micro Illustrator that I learned so many fundamentals of Photoshop operations. Even back then, diapers barely taken out to the garbage, I had learned the importance of keeping a backup copy of my "work", and I even learned about versioning. My Elite Skillz then went dormant when I downgraded to the Amiga. And eventually I was "saved" by a real computer with Aldus Photostyler and PaintShop Pro. I still remember version 3.12 from 1991-1995. That was some serious graphic editing. I believe it is the oldest PC application I have running today. I just used it yesterday to illustrate some gameplay graphics. This is 21-yr old Win31 software that is functional today!

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Cool! Build it up, which wasn't much and stuff it into whatever pen you could get the detector to fit in. Apply a blob of epoxy here and there and done! One fairly respectable light pen. Which ended up in a drawer after the fun wore off, like that day.

 

Yeah, me too. The whole package was there on the Apple ][ series. Integrated Office, graphics, programming, games, and all the niches for automation, science, test, development, etc... I picked up most of the same skills, and they had very good applicability too. You know, I always wanted some of the video add-ons, and a digitizer. Jordan Mechner used one to develop PoP animations from video tape, a pioneering effort for sure. Done where? Apple. Why? Capability. (though he did later say the machine was a piece of shit, but by then it had really started to get dated)

 

Would be a total trip to fire that stuff up today. Of course, now it's all cake. Just jack in some USB thing and go.

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I wish there was a Apple ][ site like Atarimania or GB64 though. Apple ][ on the net for a round-up of all 'games' seems to be non-existent. I know GB64 and Atarimania lists half of the amount of the 'games' they feature double (or 200+ times, like Boulder Dash on the GB64 site) but still.....

Edited by high voltage

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I wish there was a Apple ][ site like Atarimania or GB64 though. Apple ][ on the net for a round-up of all 'games' seems to be non-existent. I know GB64 and Atarimania lists half of the amount of the 'games' they feature double (or 200+ times, like Boulder Dash on the GB64 site) but still.....

I know, eh? All this talk and nothing ever gets off the ground. (And I'm not good at designing the type of site it would need to be.) :<

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It doesn't need that much actual design as such, just some reasonably robust hosting, an install of MediaWiki[1] and a metric f**kton of time to populate. That's the biggie, finding a small, dedicated and probably slightly mental team of people to write everything up and upload it.

 

[1] Other CMS solutions are available, shop around because one of them might be better suited.

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Mmm.. I agree there is a need for it. But bringing it all together now would indeed be a monumental undertaking. A team would be needed for sure. And yet you'd still miss a lot of things. Each existing site will always have something new.

 

I work around this state of affairs by having a shortcut that opens up 7 or 8 popular sites at once. I work through them at my leisure without abandon. I consider this "activity" to be convenient and reasonably large enough in scope to cover all my informational needs for the Apple II series. I also even have a script that compares the asimov index text file against older versions, and it highlights and sorts out the changes. So with a click I can see what new stuff asimov is hiding from me.

 

It is people nature to want to categorize and analyze and stuff stuff into cubbyholes. File hierarchies on your disk, web page sections, all that. Well certainly cramming and duplicating all this info into one site is doable. Will it happen? I don't think so. It would be "just another website" to keep track of.

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I tend to l find many websites tedious to work through. Though nice on initial looks and presentation, getting the material is a click-fest.

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What we really need is for these databases to be website independant. What happens when AtariAge or LemonAmiga etc eventually goes down? People will lose interest eventually. All those ratings and reviews and links will be lost. And it's not like you can preseve a dynamic database driven site with wget.

 

What the internet needs is a distributed web like service that can be easily preserved. A really robust way of hosting things would be secure not only against the dust bin of history, but against censorship and DDOS.

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The disk images don't need to be hosted on the site, we got Asimov for that.

 

Then it's more like building a front end to Asimov really. Something like that alone'd work...

 

Edit: or there's the Gamebase Frontend which is designed to support multiple emulators, load all of the Asimov archive into that and make a copy available on teh interwebs like Gamebase64 perhaps?

 

Edit 2: looks like someone's already having a go with the Gamebase Frontend (scroll down a bit) so there's a starting point... =-)

Edited by TMR

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I'm not sure we even need a front end for Asimov. The files are already in reasonable categories. You can open the index file and Alt-E F search it. I rather like it like this. But then I'm old-school - just like the computers' files it hosts.

 

It won't hurt anybody to learn a simple file tree and basic operations. The FTP directory structure seems to be really good at handling huge amounts of files with no problems. And if it looks crude an unpolished by today's Windows 8 standards. Well, then, go use Metro to navigate it. That'll put your panties in bunch for sure.

 

Gamebase OMG! No frakking way..

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Personally I wouldn't mind screenshots for each game. Usually I can tell if a game is something I'm interested in trying by a screenshot or two.

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This article says you could buy the II as a kit! Now that would have been something!

http://blog.modernme...ple-ii/1/#mmGal

 

 

I was BIG into text on the II+ back in the day. Text was king! I had all sorts of tiny 50-byte routines that would make the screen explode or shake and shatter. I even had something that dissolved the screen like dripping paint - think matrix screens like from the movie. I had something where you'd use the joystick to move around an infinite amount of lines and columns. Well not infinite, but you get the point. Sort of like going over a big map with a microscope. Spinning cursors for BBS'es.

 

Anyways, it is amusing to note that the II+ was designed with upper/lower case in mind. But, yet, Apple didn't really inform the public how to make it so. The II+ out of the box could only do uppercase as many of us know.

 

If you wanted to do any kind of word processing you need a shift-key mod (no-solder, user installable jumper wire) and lowercase character rom. At the minimum. To get serious you needed a Videx Videoterm 80 column board or a Videx UltraTerm board (136 columns IIRC).

 

I loved using Magic Window and other contemporary word processors of the time. Pushing text was a natural on the II series, once you got the hardware up to spec.

 

Keatah,

were there any software based solutions that preempted the need to install extra hardware to get lowercase on the Apple II?

 

The CoCo had the same limitations but word processing packages like Telewriter utilised the powerful processor to create multiple software driven 51, 64 and 85 column text modes graphically with the first two being quite legible.

 

I like all the retro machines but it seems to me the Apple II is better compared to the Commodore PET than the C64; I remember loading Sace Invaders from the built in tape deck on my PET and the sound was quite melodious compared to Apple Invaders.

 

The PET clearly wins on sound but I think the Apple II might edge it out on graphics performance.

 

IMO the C64 and the A8 are such fantastic 8-bit machines you could almost compare them to the Amiga and the ST in terms of what they can do; the stock Apple II is not even close and the trouble with expanding it is that only the stock machine matters as the target platform for the software base.

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were there any software based solutions that preempted the need to install extra hardware to get lowercase on the Apple II?

I suppose Flex Type would count.

 

The CoCo had the same limitations but word processing packages like Telewriter utilised the powerful processor to create multiple software driven 51, 64 and 85 column text modes graphically with the first two being quite legible.

In fact that sounds exactly like what Flex Type does, except it's not a word processor, it's just a replacement for the text firmware.

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Genuine hardware lowercase text on a text screen on an un-modded II or II+, accompanied by all the speed and clarity benefits, no. There was no software to flip a magic bit or call a hidden firmware routine.

 

Simulated text on a hi-res screen, sure! And up to 70 columns too. More or less. You can draw anything on a Hi-Res screen.

 

Beagle Bros. had some things going like Apple Mechanic or Flex-Type. Software like this was typically good for up to 70 columns. If you want to apply the word "good" here. And you got your lowercase too. And of course you could design your own character sets.

 

There were word processors that also made use of this roundabout sham technique. HomeWord and Bank Street Writer. They gave you lowercase on a II+ without a character generator rom. HomeWord seems to use the shift keys without a shift-key-mod-wire. Bank Street Writer uses a funky "^" to toggle cases.

 

Ya'gotta remember that this is a bitmap and you can draw anything on a bitmap. So by appearance yes. And it was slow. And each displayed character took many bytes and many cycles to draw. Shape tables, character maps, all that. All on the graphics screen. All done by the inferior-to-the-6809 6502.

 

With all these graphics simulations of lowercase, you correspondingly got sluggish display updating. There was no crisp snap action of a genuine text mode screen here. And there there could be readability issues too depending on your monitor. But it all worked and we thought it was magic!

 

ftp://ftp.apple.asimov.com/pub/apple_II/images/productivity/word_processing/homeword/

ftp://ftp.apple.asimov.com/pub/apple_II/images/productivity/word_processing/bank_street_writer/

http://beagle.applea...e_bros_softwar/

 

Just try them out in AppleWin set to II+ mode and see for yourself.

Edited by Keatah

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Then it's more like building a front end to Asimov really.

 

Not...entirely.

 

I'm just talking about using Asimov as the means of providing downloads for GB64-like plausible deniability: "we don't host anything here".

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I suppose Flex Type would count. In fact that sounds exactly like what Flex Type does, except it's not a word processor, it's just a replacement for the text firmware.

 

I would not call it a firmware replacement. Flex Type (and other software like it) was a complete simulation of the text page via the hi-res pages. No firmware was remapped. Hit reset and you're back to text. Type HGR (or flip the appropriate softswitch) and you'll see the simulated text screen on graphics page 1 or 2.

 

This same technique of bit-mapping fonts onto graphics page was how we could text above the 4 lines at the bottom of HGR1 - so to speak.

 

Semantics! Semantics!

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