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Question about PCjr

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I am considering purchasing an IBM PCjr for gaming, and would want to use it on my CRT television (not a computer monitor).

 

 

I am aware that there is a TV adapter accessory, but looking at the back of the unit, I see what look like seperate RCA audio and video jacks:

 

ibm-pcjr-back.jpg

 

 

I am looking for confirmation from anyone who is familiar with this computer if those "V" and "A" jacks could simply be connected to the standard A/V composite inputs on a (somewhat) modern television?

 

And if anyone is wondering why I want a PCjr for gaming, this is the answer:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fo-r_75pLvs&feature=youtu.be&t=2m40s

 

Mothership at 2:40.

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I don't believe Tandy 1000s will play cartridges.

 

My impression is that Demon Attack is a cartridge, but maybe I am mistaken?

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You either need the PCjr monitor (recommended) or a special adapter to use an IBM CGA monitor (not recommend). The PCjr has some special video modes that require the PCjr monitor. I don't think you can hook a normal composite monitor up to it.

 

Demon Attack is a cartridge, but it's pretty rare. I have them all except for Microsurgeon.

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Demon Attack is a cartridge, but it's pretty rare. I have them all except for Microsurgeon.

 

Do you know where I can find a list of cartridges for the PCjr?

 

I am mostly interested in Imagic and Activision.

 

Also, I am curious if Sirius or Synapse did any releases on cartridge for this platform..?

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The mothership looks a lot like the C64 version.

<edit>

They have different colors

Edited by JamesD

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Yes, you can plug the A and V jacks into a composite monitor or TV. It will work just fine.

 

Here are a couple of Youtube videos I did using the AV output of my PCjr:

 

It won't look as good as using the RGB port. The RGB port has a special connector just for the PCjr monitor, but you can buy an adapter to plug in the more common IBM CGA monitors of the era.

 

Only the PCjr plays PCjr cartridges.

 

Demon Attack is incredibly rare.

 

Except for cartridge games, yes, you might be better off with a Tandy 1000 to play PC/PCjr/Tandy games of that era, because although the PCjr and T1000 have the same audio and graphics enhancements, many games just did a dumb check to see if they were running on a T1000 and just used the regular CGA & beeper on the PCjr. Ultimately the PCjr can do everything a T1000 or PC can do--including impersonate those computers to fool stupid software--it's just more challenging because of needing special adaptations of hardware and software.

 

I recommend you visit http://www.brutman.com/PCjr/pcjr.html

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Yes, you can plug the A and V jacks into a composite monitor or TV. It will work just fine.

 

It won't look as good as using the RGB port. The RGB port has a special connector just for the PCjr monitor, but you can buy an adapter to plug in the more common IBM CGA monitors of the era.

 

Only the PCjr plays PCjr cartridges.

 

Demon Attack is incredibly rare.

 

Except for cartridge games, yes, you might be better off with a Tandy 1000 to play PC/PCjr/Tandy games of that era, because although the PCjr and T1000 have the same audio and graphics enhancements, many games just did a dumb check to see if they were running on a T1000 and just used the regular CGA & beeper on the PCjr. Ultimately the PCjr can do everything a T1000 or PC can do--including impersonate those computers to fool stupid software--it's just more challenging because of needing special adaptations of hardware and software.

 

I recommend you visit http://www.brutman.com/PCjr/pcjr.html

 

Thanks very much for all of the great info. That site looks like a great resource, too.

 

I am really only interested in the cartridge games right now, and primarily Demon Attack (which looks to me like the best version). If I decide to take the plunge on this, it sounds like I should probably first try to acquire the Demon Attack cartridge, then go for a PCjr afterwards.

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U could use dosbox and set it to pcjr mode to try and play demon attack.

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Yes, you can plug the A and V jacks into a composite monitor or TV. It will work just fine.

I never knew that, but then again I've always had the monitor.

 

U could use dosbox and set it to pcjr mode to try and play demon attack.

That's probably the best way to do it. Getting a Demon Attack cartridge isn't easy.

 

The rest of the cartridge games aren't bad, but the best games are on disk. Pitfall II is a very nice version (right up there with the 8-bit version) and Diamond Mine is good fun but there are really no cartridge games worth buying the whole computer for. I hear Microsurgeon is pretty much the same as the TI-99 version.

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U could use dosbox and set it to pcjr mode to try and play demon attack.

 

I think that is probably a good idea for me to try before I buy.. but I am generally not a big fan of emulation (MAME and Pinball games being the exception, because the alternatives aren't very feasible).

 

There just ain't nothing like the real thing..

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The PCJr's a fun little machine. I have one and really like it, even though I don't have any cartridges. It is definitely worth finding a compatible monitor, though. Using the composite output pretty much means you're restricted to 40-column text (80 column is nearly unreadable), although I guess for cartridge games text readabilty isn't really an issue.

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PCjrs aren't very expensive, especially if you find one in the wild. It's been a couple of years now since I've seen one, but each time I've found one, I could have scored a complete setup, including a PCjr monitor, for $50 or less. I passed because I didn't really have the space for yet another computer.

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Yeah, people try to charge a lot for them on eBay, but those rarely ever sell. I got my first PCjr for free, and when it broke, I got my second one for the cost of shipping. I also got my monitor for the cost of shipping. I think I got my spare keyboard for $10 or so, IIRC. There are a lot of people with PCjr stuff they want to get rid of, it's just that most of them don't advertise it.

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Wouldn't a Tandy 1000 be a better choice?

 

Gleaned some info from the thread, but what are the main draws of the Tandy 1000?

 

I see myself getting a PC retrogaming rig soon, and I'd like to figure out what the best approach will be. I would like to get a classic rig doing CGA-VGA but perhaps I should be thinking CGA-EGA. Does the T1000 do that?

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The PCjr definitely outputs a standard composite signal just like the Apple II series to any composite TV or monitor, including modern ones (I too used that mode for some of the screen captures in the book, "Vintage Games"). As was also stated, however, you'll get the best picture using the standard PCjr monitor, which also sends the audio over the same cable. It's not a major deal either way, though, particularly if you're only playing games.

 

I too would love to get my hands on a Demon Attack cartridge, but I really haven't seen any pop up in quite a long time. I also would love to get a Microsurgeon, which is actually different from the unreleased TI-99/4a version and the original Intellivision version. All three are actually slight variations on each other.

 

The Tandy 1000 and its successors prior to Tandy moving to VGA graphics and then getting out of the business completely, were indeed more or less a PCjr-like that didn't have the cartridge ports and had better PC compatibility and internal expandability. Unlike the PCjr, though, the Tandy 1000 was a big success, and its own graphics and sound (again, more or less exactly the same as found on the PCjr) formats became their own standards. It was expectation that most PC DOS games would support Tandy graphics and sound, along with the usual CGA, EGA and various other sound standards of the day. In terms of comparable collectibility, they're really two different things, with each having a far more important place in a collection of early PC DOS machines than most other, more generic, PC clones.

 

To answer that last question, the Tandy 1000, like the PCjr, works fine with CGA graphics, but not EGA. The graphics built into the Tandy 1000 and PCjr are more or less equivalent to EGA in terms of colors, but not directly compatible. To do EGA, unless you're a purist and want the most accurate reproduction, any good VGA card will do. Frankly, though, once you reach a certain point of having a handful of PC systems and you want to play newer vintage games, you're just as well off using DOSBOX. Once you pass a certain point, all of those machines were just dull grey boxes devoid of personality anyway. Platforms like the Tandy 1000 and PCjr certainly were more like the "other" system we can say that had "personality" like the C-64 and Atari ST, which emulation can't really replicate as well.

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I also would love to get a Microsurgeon, which is actually different from the unreleased TI-99/4a version and the original Intellivision version.

The TI-99 version of Microsurgeon was released. From the looks of it, the PCjr version looks more like the Intellivision version with better graphics: http://www.mobygames.com/game/pc-booter/microsurgeon/screenshots

 

Maybe I should sell off my PCjr stuff? I never use it anymore and I have some cool stuff for it (like a hard drive/clock card). Then again, I'd probably miss it if I did.

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The TI-99 version of Microsurgeon was released. From the looks of it, the PCjr version looks more like the Intellivision version with better graphics: http://www.mobygames...eon/screenshots

 

Maybe I should sell off my PCjr stuff? I never use it anymore and I have some cool stuff for it (like a hard drive/clock card). Then again, I'd probably miss it if I did.

 

Doh! My mistake about Microsurgeon. I even have a complete copy! I was actually thinking of Wing War of all things not being released on the TI-99/4a, because both games featured speech absent on other versions.

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Some models of the Tandy 1000 series (the 1000 SL, for example) included a built-in sound card. Unfortunately, much like the graphics modes, it was not widely supported by third-parties. I think that there was some music composition software available.

 

Another thing to keep in mind is that the special graphics modes used system RAM (there was no dedicated VRAM). Consequently, the computer had less available memory than an equivalent generic PC. The built-in Deskmate ROM also used some memory space.

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Some models of the Tandy 1000 series (the 1000 SL, for example) included a built-in sound card. Unfortunately, much like the graphics modes, it was not widely supported by third-parties. I think that there was some music composition software available.

 

Another thing to keep in mind is that the special graphics modes used system RAM (there was no dedicated VRAM). Consequently, the computer had less available memory than an equivalent generic PC. The built-in Deskmate ROM also used some memory space.

 

I disagree about the lack of support. For the era's games, again, pre-VGA and Sound Blaster standards, TGA and Tandy Sound were well supported in comparison to almost anything else.

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Some models of the Tandy 1000 series (the 1000 SL, for example) included a built-in sound card. Unfortunately, much like the graphics modes, it was not widely supported by third-parties. I think that there was some music composition software available.

 

Yep, Tandy 3 voice sound. Still a lot better than PC speaker sound, for those games that support it. I only had CGA & PC speaker back in the 80s, it's fun to try out the enhanced capabilities of my favorite games. e.g. Check out 688 Attack Sub in Tandy mode for music by famed C64 composer Rob Hubbard.

 

Another thing to keep in mind is that the special graphics modes used system RAM (there was no dedicated VRAM). Consequently, the computer had less available memory than an equivalent generic PC. The built-in Deskmate ROM also used some memory space.

 

Some Tandy models (e.g. my 1000TX) support 768K of RAM, giving you 128K of video ram, and the full 640K of conventional memory. I believe the TX, TL series, and RL series all support this.

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Some models of the Tandy 1000 series (the 1000 SL, for example) included a built-in sound card. Unfortunately, much like the graphics modes, it was not widely supported by third-parties. I think that there was some music composition software available.

I've found that games through about 92 supported Tandy graphics and sound. After that it dropped off pretty fast and by 94 there were almost none.

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The Tandy 1000 and its successors prior to Tandy moving to VGA graphics and then getting out of the business completely, were indeed more or less a PCjr-like that didn't have the cartridge ports and had better PC compatibility and internal expandability. Unlike the PCjr, though, the Tandy 1000 was a big success, and its own graphics and sound (again, more or less exactly the same as found on the PCjr) formats became their own standards. It was expectation that most PC DOS games would support Tandy graphics and sound, along with the usual CGA, EGA and various other sound standards of the day. In terms of comparable collectibility, they're really two different things, with each having a far more important place in a collection of early PC DOS machines than most other, more generic, PC clones.

 

To answer that last question, the Tandy 1000, like the PCjr, works fine with CGA graphics, but not EGA. The graphics built into the Tandy 1000 and PCjr are more or less equivalent to EGA in terms of colors, but not directly compatible. To do EGA, unless you're a purist and want the most accurate reproduction, any good VGA card will do. Frankly, though, once you reach a certain point of having a handful of PC systems and you want to play newer vintage games, you're just as well off using DOSBOX. Once you pass a certain point, all of those machines were just dull grey boxes devoid of personality anyway. Platforms like the Tandy 1000 and PCjr certainly were more like the "other" system we can say that had "personality" like the C-64 and Atari ST, which emulation can't really replicate as well.

 

Huge thanks for the straightforward explanation about the T1000. My latest interest has been vintage computing in earnest and I just see those systems going for more than I'd expect and this explains it quite nicely. It sounds like a fun system to have for pre-EGA and earlier era computing. It also makes the PC Jr a bit more of a novelty rather than a useful system to get. I want to have a bunch of setups for classic gaming ready to go and it sounds like the Tandy 1000 will fit that better than the PC Jr with all of it's sidecar idiosyncrasies.

 

Could a T1000 take a VGA card? Or a Sound Blaster? I guess it would defeat the idea of gaming using the Tandy standard. Perhaps at the point you reach wanting to do VGA gaming, you'd want a 286 or 386 moving forward anyway.

 

If you are talking about using Dosbox, does it make sense to outfit a modern computer with 5 1/4" and 3 1/2" drives? Or is that the point at which you just go ROM/BIN/DSK?

 

And Bill, you need to sell me some of your old stock Apple II software. I've been bidding and not winning for some time, and often second highest, so you can thank me for that ; ]

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