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Commodore 64 vs Apple II

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Bank Street Writer used graphics for text. It was aimed at more inexperienced users and kids.

There was also a Bank Street Writer 2 but I don't know if there was an Apple II version of it.

 

Applewriter was the most popular word processor on the Apple. Early versions used inverse characters to distinguish between upper and lower case.

Applewriter II (and later versions) supported 80 column cards with upper and lower case.

Applewriter was eventually released as freeware when AppleWorks became popular.

 

80 column cards were fairly common on Apple IIs though. Even the II+ I picked up for $20 had an 80 column card.

All the IIe needed to do 80 column text was a RAM upgrade card.

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The //e had two basic choices of cards for the aux slot. The 80column only version had like 1k or 2k bytes ram, and some logic. The second choice was a full 64k, and typically 2 logic chips. This 2nd option gave 64k upgrade + 80 column display.

 

Later models of the //e (platinum) came with the card, a pipsqueak of a board for sure, already fitted into the slot.

 

Then there was a host of 3rd party clones of the above, and new designs that gave several megabytes of ram.

 

When 80-column cards came out for the II+ weren't they close to $250 at the time? But now, shit, I couldn't give mine away for postage-only.

Edited by Keatah

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Graphics : c64

Sound : C64

Price : C64

Durability : Apple 2

Expandability : Equality (an incredible amount of peripherique exists on both . On C64 netherless most of them are external where the apple 2 has internal cards).

Performance : C64 (more or less the same for both machine, but Video chip of the C64 help a lot on this aspect)

BASIC Programming : Apple 2 (if we consider standard basic) C64 if we consider existing basic extension like Simon's Basic for instance.

Gaming Library : c64

Business Library : Apple 2

Keyboard : Apple 2

Open-Archetecture : Equality . Apple 2 could seems more open , but the C64 user port offert infinite possibility.

Design / Appearance : Apple 2

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When 80-column cards came out for the II+ weren't they close to $250 at the time? But now, shit, I couldn't give mine away for postage-only.

When the first one came out they were something like that. Then a couple more cards came out and the price war was on.

I think shortly after the introduction of additional cards they were around $150 and within a couple years they were around $99 or less in some adds.

The some of the first cards didn't even automatically switch between 80 and 40 column screens, you had to manually flip a switch.

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The C128 improves graphics a little over the C64... if you can find any titles to support it.

...

The C128 was faster than the Apple II, II+, IIe, IIc

 

The C128 has two CPUs, 8502, a variant of the 6510 used in the C64, and a Z80 used for the CP/M mode. The 8502 in the C128 could be clocked at either 1 or 2 mhz. However, the VIC-II graphics chip would only operate properly with the CPU in 1 mhz mode (although one could improve performance by running in 2 mhz mode during blanking and vsync)

 

The C128 also had a second video chip, but it was not suitable for games.

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The 8502 in the C128 could be clocked at either 1 or 2 mhz. However, the VIC-II graphics chip would only operate properly with the CPU in 1 mhz mode (although one could improve performance by running in 2 mhz mode during blanking and vsync)

 

The C128 enhanced version of Elite took this approach and it's a huge improvement. The C64 version is actually choppy compared to the Apple II version, even if the graphics are slightly better. The C128 version blows both out of the water.

 

The C128 also had a second video chip, but it was not suitable for games.

 

Wikipedia says it's not suitable for gaming because "it had no sprites or raster interrupts". IIRC, the Apple II didn't have those either.

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Wikipedia says it's not suitable for gaming because "it had no sprites or raster interrupts". IIRC, the Apple II didn't have those either.

 

There's a bottleneck in the C128 because the memory for the VDC isn't connected to the CPU directly. Everything is handled through a couple of I/O registers at $d600 and $d601 so getting things to and from the VDC screen for things like software sprite masking takes longer even with 2MHz on. It does have lots of fun toys to play with though, so writing a game for that mode isn't impossible as such, just not the same as writing one for the VIC-II side of things.

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In speaking of Z-80's and 6502's, did anyone ever really use both processors in the system simultaneously or alternate back and forth between them fast enough to appear as a 2-core machine? I don't believe so, but then my experiments at trying such a thing also in dismal failures.

 

Shit. I had better luck doing animated ASCII art on 6845. I wish I could find the stuff we did. But I fear it may have been lost, because, we'd shuffle disks back and forth all the time. IIRC they were on white disks. White disks to match the white text. And I don't have any white disks in my collection. :?

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motorola_6845

Edited by Keatah

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In speaking of Z-80's and 6502's, did anyone ever really use both processors in the system simultaneously or alternate back and forth between them fast enough to appear as a 2-core machine? I don't believe so, but then my experiments at trying such a thing also in dismal failures.

The Z-80 on the C128 used the same RAM as the 6502 didn't it? That would probably require exclusive access to RAM.

The Z-80 and 6809 cards for the Apple II had their own RAM and should have been able to run independently but I don't know of any apps that took advantage of the ability.

The only dual CPU 8 bit machine that used both CPUs at once that I'm aware of was the BBC Micro with the 2nd processor add on. Then you had two 6502s.

The only thing I know for sure used it was a special version of Elite. I *think* one CPU did 3D calculations while the other drew/erased graphics on the screen.

There is of coarse the bridge cards for the Amiga but that's not an 8 bit system.

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I was looking through the keywords in Microsoft's 6502 BASIC from that page and found that Microsoft didn't support the ELSE or INKEY$ statements at all in spite of supporting them on the Z80.

Here I thought it was Apple and Commodore's choice not to include them.

Microsoft BASIC wasn't even compatible with itself.

I really hated trying to port stuff from my CoCo to my friend's Apple II+ because of those missing instructions.

Without the ELSE statement it requires additional logic and takes more memory.

 

FWIW, Beagle Brothers did have a patch for the Apple that would let you create a version for the language card that supported ELSE.

It's on the Beagle Brothers Software Repository.

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In speaking of Z-80's and 6502's, did anyone ever really use both processors in the system simultaneously or alternate back and forth between them fast enough to appear as a 2-core machine?

 

The C128's CPUs can't run simultaneously, so flipping between them doesn't gain you anything since each finishes what it's doing before the hand over. About the only "multitasking" possible is with the VDC RAM's DMA which can be set to shift a block of memory around whilst the active CPU tootles off to do something else.

 

The C64 and C128 could sort of do multiprocessor, Commodore disk drives have a 6502 as well and there's a bit of RAM to upload code.

Edited by TMR

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The C64 and C128 could sort of do multiprocessor, Commodore disk drives have a 6502 as well and there's a bit of RAM to upload code.

If transfers were faster and DMA driven so you could update the screen or data at the same time data is sent or received you might have something there.

But given the transfer speed and CPU intensive nature I have to think you'd need to search pretty hard to find an application for that.

It would have to require exchanging a small amount of data but really time intensive processing.

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I experimented around with a running program (Apple II+) and accessing the disk at the same time. Or rather the appearance of doing so. Mixed results. The concept worked. But there was a some decrease in performance.

 

I had much better luck making a cache that would store VTOC in the 16k ram card. A Microsoft Ramcard to be sure!!! And I eliminated an entire seek operation. The speed was noticeable with BBS logs.

 

Other variations were caching the user data and posts and activities, and when the user was "dormant", getting a cup of coffee or reading the screen, then log updates and disk activity would happen. To the user, though, they happened instantly.

 

I also experimented around with reading tracks in sequence from where the head was currently positioned. Regardless of where the program was stored the head would make one traverse and not backtrack on itself. The program would then be assembled in the ramcard and moved to main memory. Later I'd just have it be assembled in main memory straight away.

 

Let's say the program was scattered on 10, 12, 4, 14, 11, 3 - In that order. Instead of the head jumping all over town from 10-12-4-14-11-3. I made it read sequentially as it encountered data. Remember one head direction per file read. No backtracking. Placing the tracks into memory where they belonged. The head would just make 1 sweeping motion. Stopping along the way to pick up data. If it was on track 3 to begin with it would start reading at 3-4-10-11-12-14. If it was on track 20 to begin with, then the read order would be 14-12-11-10-4-3.

 

The read order has nothing to do with the actual order of 10,12,4,14,11,3. Once everything was read, the tracks would be shuffled in main memory till the result was the same as if the head jumped all around and presented the data to the computer in order it was originally saved.

 

This cut down on track-to-track access times when a file was scattered all over the place and was a hell of a lot easier on the disk surface. Whether it was significantly faster. Probably a little.

 

Best way to think of it is like a train. Picking up members of the orchestra along the way. The whole orchestra is complete when the train pulls into the final station. The train makes all its pickups sequentially, it does not visit the stations out of order. Same thing with an elevator.

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If transfers were faster and DMA driven so you could update the screen or data at the same time data is sent or received you might have something there.

 

Well, i did say "sort of". =-)

 

Anything using an IRQ loader fits into that "sort of" camp (two CPUs handling the transfer between them and one waiting for the other when it's handling an interrupt) and there are a few demos using the drive CPU to help out; Panta Rhei apparently uses the drive CPU to calculate data for the chessboard zoomer effect in the first part.

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We had an Apple ][ in school and my cousin had a C64. As a young fella that was mostly interested in games there was no contest really. I found the Apple boring but was blown away by the C64. My dad finally relented to my nagging and bought me a Commodore +4 :mad:

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Bummer! Funny how that works sometimes isn't it?

 

Well, that happened with a friend and the Color Computer, but we then dug in and found that 6809 and cool audio DAC. Wasn't all bad.

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Well, i did say "sort of". =-)

 

Anything using an IRQ loader fits into that "sort of" camp (two CPUs handling the transfer between them and one waiting for the other when it's handling an interrupt) and there are a few demos using the drive CPU to help out; Panta Rhei apparently uses the drive CPU to calculate data for the chessboard zoomer effect in the first part.

No sort of about it, if the drive calculates while the computer does something else it certainly fits. It is of coarse a very special use but it does fit the question. The main CPU may actually lose more clock cycles than you gain with two CPUs but those clock cycles are dispersed instead of the main CPU having to halt the animation to do the calculations itself.

 

keatah's example is actually something C64's drive could be good at. Modern hard drives have built in cache and have prefetch logic to automatically grab the next sector of a file. If the drive had some code that worked in combination with a disk cache inside the computer, you could transparently fetch the next sectors in files and eliminate a lot of seek times and such. To be really useful it would have been better to have buffered serial ports or DMA to reduce slowdown but it would certainly work. In keatah's example your software could actually tell the RAM drive to prefetch what data it would need next and then it would take place in the background.

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We had an Apple ][ in school and my cousin had a C64. As a young fella that was mostly interested in games there was no contest really. I found the Apple boring but was blown away by the C64. My dad finally relented to my nagging and bought me a Commodore +4 :mad:

From a games standpoint the Plus/4 game library certainly doesn't live up to the C64. No sprites and no SID certainly didn't impress game developers to begin with, and then marketing it as a business machine certainly didn't help either.

 

The Plus/4 definitely isn't all bad though.

I think it's keyboard is equal to the Apple II series and better than the breadbox C64's. Except for the stupid arrow keys anyway. Right idea, wrong approach.

The Plus/4 has the best BASIC on the 6502 except possibly BBC which I haven't used so I really can't tell. Some will argue Simons BASIC is better as well. It also had more RAM available to BASIC than any other version I know of.

Despite the lack of sprites it still beats the standard Apple II in graphics and sound... at least with a good programmer.

It's faster than the regular Apple II series and C64. This is the speed the C64 should have been to begin with.

It looks a lot better than a breadbox C64... maybe better than the Apple II depending on what you like.

It had more colors than the C64 or Apple II but why oh why do they all look pastel?!?!

 

If you were a programmer the machine definitely has potential.

They certainly should have offered the Plus/4 with built in programming tools.

An assembler editor, font/graphics editor, music tracker/composer, etc... would have done the machine more justice than the limited "business" software it came with.

Maybe even a PCode interpreter for Pascal and a Pascal Compiler.

 

In spite of the lack of sprites, programmers have since hacked/ported many C64 games to work on the Plus/4.

Games like Elite, Chessmaster, David's Midnight Magic, Night Mission, Defender of the Crown, Head Over Heals, Spy vs Spy, Stellar 7, Droll, etc... all ported from the C64 versions. Elite actually runs a lot better on the Plus/4 than on the C64 or Apple II and I think Stellar 7 may run better as well. I don't think much time was spent on the sound though and some ports clearly look better than others.

You probably still aren't impressed. :)

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i wanted to program on the plus 4 because it wasfast and had good color options. never thought about it until now, but porting apple 2 games might make sense.

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i wanted to program on the plus 4 because it wasfast and had good color options. never thought about it until now, but porting apple 2 games might make sense.

The Apple II offered more on screen colors at a time in hi-res and the resolution is a bit higher, while the Plus/4 offers more onscreen colors in text mode and a bigger palette. You have to dither colors in hi-res on the Plus/4, change the palette during screen refresh, reduce the number of colors, or rewrite the graphics in text mode.

You can also dump the speaker clicking and use the sound chip to save clock cycles.

 

Some of the static images people have drawn or converted to the Plus/4 are pretty impressive. (links are to Plus 4 World)

dino_shock_main.giflazur_vs_boris_main.gif

 

<edit>BTW, with the larger number of font characters than the Atari and more onscreen colors than the C64 it actually beats those machines in this category.

 

Porting from the C64 is easy unless there are too many on screen sprites for the Plus/4 CPU to keep up with. Any program that didn't use sprites was relatively easy to convert. The text and graphics modes are pretty similar except for sprites and since sprites just set hardware registers it's easy to locate those locations and patch the code with software sprite routines. Games like Elite and Stellar 7 depended on number crunching and drawing lines so the Plus/4 does well there. 3D isometric games like Head over Heals need all the CPU speed you can get for rendering and are monochrome so they also come across well. The one gotcha is probably sound which has to be redone completely

 

To be honest, it surprises me less what games have been ported to the Plus/4 than games that haven't been ported. Archon, M.U.L.E., etc... don't depend on a lot of sprites and should transfer pretty well.

 

A port of the Asteroids Arcade emulator from the Atari might work well on the Plus/4.

 

For all things Plus/4 visit Plus 4 World.

Edited by JamesD
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<edit>BTW, with the larger number of font characters than the Atari and more onscreen colors than the C64 it actually beats those machines in this category.

I meant to say palette but with the ability to change the palette in software as the screen is redrawn certainly does mean more onscreen colors.

 

While I'm slightly off the original topic...

 

These are work in progress demos of a game called XeO3 that is under development. Perhaps I should say sporadic development since I don't think I've seen an update since 2008. These are listed from most finished to least.

Plus/4

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y27tpOod364

 

C64

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lb1qFjR-Q-0

 

Amstrad CPC scrolling test

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uVSjRVXRGx8

 

 

The apple isn't very good scrolling a full screen at a time.

 

Phantoms 5 was one of the few screen scrollers I remember and it only scrolls vertically.

This is clearly not the Apple II's strong point.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=NnThjBcOuSE

 

Captain Goodnight scrolls horizontally but only objects or part of the screen.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hapg2Y1KplU

 

On the other hand, games like Conan: Hall of Volta were pretty fun (even if the sound sucks vs the Atari version)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0GTkRXKPXq4

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Without hijacking the current thread direction, I found the original box for my Videx 80-column card (slot 3 for the II+). It has a price tag of 379.95 on it.

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Without hijacking the current thread direction, I found the original box for my Videx 80-column card (slot 3 for the II+). It has a price tag of 379.95 on it.

Ouch! Suggested retail was probably higher.

Maybe it took longer to drop to $99 than I thought. Perhaps that happened when the IIe came out.

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I wasn't trying to imply that Phantoms 5 or Captain Goodnight on the Apple II weren't fun games.

I just meant to say that non-scrollers like Conan were more suited to the Apple.

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One advantage the Apple II had over the C-64 was that it supported two disk drives (well the C64 does as well, but almost no games used a second drive). Almost every Apple II game that came on more than one disk supported two drives. This made playing RPGs and other complex games much more enjoyable. The Apple II also had a MUCH faster read rate for disks (not sure how it compared to a C64 with a fast loader though).

 

While the C64 was probably a better game machine over all, I think the Apple II wins when it came to RPGs and some of the more advanced adventure games (such as the Sierra games). Having double the memory available made more complex games possible, and helped keep the Apple II going even into the early 90's.

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