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decle

Intellivision development, back in the day

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I'm thinking the utility would make something that's useable on a cartridge, the same way the intellivoice cartridges have speech on them. Maybe it just used the GI allophones.

 

Do you happen to have a link to the specific scan, or at least the name of the file? I think I've seen this particular memo, but I've spent so much time looking through the PapaIntellivision memos recently that I'd prefer a direct pointer.

 

It wouldn't be that difficult to rewrite the CTS0256 text-to-speech algorithm for CP1600. It's just the US Naval algorithm, IIRC, which isn't terribly difficult. Mockingboard also used this algorithm as I recall.

 

 

I think the voice actor who did the stuff inside the intellivoice also did some of the speech on the space spartans cartridge.

 

That's quite possible. That said, the Intellivoice BSR page doesn't say who did those voices, so we still don't know.

 

 

CREDITS: All Intellivoice games had scripts by the Creative Media Department (Joey Silvian, Brad Geagley, Glenn Stello) to develop distinct personalities for the voices. Voices were recorded at Fred Jones Recording Services in Hollywood, directed by Joey Silvian. International voices were recorded at studios in France and Italy and smuggled back into the U.S. on tapes marked "blank" to avoid paying duty (really). Voice files were digitized, edited and optimized by the Voice Department (Ron Carlson, Patrick Jost, Deidre Cimarusti, Sandy Disner, Lynn [Liliedahl] Fordham, Irene Pfannkuch). All Intellivoice programs included voice routines written by Ron Surratt and Steve Roney.

 

...

 

 

INTELLIVOICE CARTRIDGE [#3416]

Design/Program/Graphics: Bill Fisher & Steve Roney, Mike Minkoff, Brian Dougherty

Sound: Bill Fisher, Bill Goodrich

Voice of the Computer: Keri Tombazian

see also Intellivoice credits

 

...

It's possible that "Mr. Mattel Voice" is one of the people listed in the first set of credits; however, they're not called out explicitly as a voice actor.

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Hi everyone,

 

Just one update today, but it's a really interesting one.  On page 26, Section 5.5 has been expanded to include an overview and pictures of the PlayCable based development system put together by Joe Jacobs and Dennis Clark.  Here you go:

 

intellivisionDevelopmentBackInTheDay-20190727.pdf

 

And a bit of a teaser:

 

playCableDevKit.thumb.jpg.76ec224d5601994ec5c03a7d4bf0641a.jpg

 

 

Enjoy!

 

decle

 

Edited by decle
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That's great, and original photos too!  So they must have used their own personal PDP11 system to develop Bumpnjump.  But it's a 16k cartridge, did they still use their playcable hack.  Did Mattel provide them any software tools, equipment?

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On 11/14/2016 at 1:54 PM, decle said:

Hi all,

For some time, I have had an interest in the methods and tools used by Intellivision developers in the 70s and 80s. As a consequence, the following picture shared by scalpel as part of an interview with Patrick Aubry working on an Intellivision game piqued my interest:

NiceIdeas_1984_programmation_Fireman_Aub

This prompted me to see what else the interwebnets could tell us about how things were done back in the day. The results of this research are summarised in the following document (PDF):

 

intellivisionDevelopmentBackInTheDay-20190727.pdf 1.99 MB · 4 downloads

 

I hope it might be of some interest. If you have any additions or corrections please let me know, either on this thread, or via PM.


Thanks

decle

It's probably been answered but I couldn't find it in this thread: do we know what game is he programming in the background?

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Regarding the PlayCable section, nice work!

 

Some (small) comments are:

  • Might be good to add a photo of the entire top-side of the PlayCable daughter board (more of what is shown in Figure 17).
  • Do we know what the serial parameters are (8N1 9600 baud, etc)?  Maybe that's too technical for this document.
  • Can we say anything about the protocol?  Again, maybe this is too technical for this document.

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46 minutes ago, Lathe26 said:

It's probably been answered but I couldn't find it in this thread: do we know what game is he programming in the background? 

IIRC, we speculate it's Anteater.

5 minutes ago, Lathe26 said:

 

  • Do we know what the serial parameters are (8N1 9600 baud, etc)?  Maybe that's too technical for this document.
  • Can we say anything about the protocol?  Again, maybe this is too technical for this document.

I'm pretty certain we have answers to these questions.  It's up to decle whether to include it in this document or a separate one (or both).

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Hey all,

 

After a long hiatus I have an update of the development tools doc.  Hopefully it has some new and interesting bits and pieces.

 

teaser.thumb.png.a7e23597a3d44c45bf6550885a27d8b1.png

 

Get it while it's hot:

intellivisionDevelopmentBackInTheDay-20200612.pdf

 

This time the big ticket items are:

  • Lots of Datawidget goodness... (p8-p16)
    • First contemporary image of (half) a Datawidget courtesy of JoeZ and Twitter
    • First modern images of both the exterior and interior of a Datawidget
    • More details of the Datawidget, Dopey and Crosspatch implementation
  • Contemporary picture of the Mattel Graphics Development System and overview (p19)
  • Initial overview of MERT, GERT and MODIT, the tools used to create Keyboard Component tapes (p6-p8)
  • Summary of a previously unknown Magus debugger written by Bijan Jalali in 1982 (p21)
  • More details on the Magus including its origins, the existence of an 8K version and common complaints from 1982 (p23-p25)
  • Addition of a comparison of the Mattel development / debugging systems including notes written by Keith Robinson for an updated YFTE (p30-32)
  • Images and brief comparison of two additional T-Card designs (p33-p35)

 

On 7/28/2019 at 10:51 PM, Lathe26 said:
  • Might be good to add a photo of the entire top-side of the PlayCable daughter board (more of what is shown in Figure 17).

Ask and ye shall receive (after a long wait ;))

 

On 7/28/2019 at 10:51 PM, Lathe26 said:
  • Do we know what the serial parameters are (8N1 9600 baud, etc)?  Maybe that's too technical for this document.
  • Can we say anything about the protocol?  Again, maybe this is too technical for this document.

 

I think that some of this is covered in the latest PlayCable Technical Summary.  It looks as though the communications were run using 8E1 (8 bits, even parity, one stop bit).  From the pictures we have it's hard to tell whether the 13.98KHz baud rate of the PlayCable, which was derived from the Intellivision's 3.58MHz clock, was changed by Joe and Dennis (I carefully glossed over this point in the write up ;)).  Although 13.98KHz might be close enough to the standard 14.4KHz baud rate to work (<3% error), it doesn't seem to be a common speed and I don't think many cards of this era supported it.  Unfortunately, we don't know anything about the software protocol used for communication.  I live in hope that Joe Jacobs might provide us with a dump of the EPROM one day.  It would provide a great reverse engineering project and answer alot of questions. ;-)

 

Anyway, I think that's about it for this one.  As always all feedback and corrections are welcome.

 

 

Cheers

 

decle

 

 

Edited by decle
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22 hours ago, decle said:

After a long hiatus I have an update of the development tools doc.  Hopefully it has some new and interesting bits and pieces.

Having a read through it now.  Lots of good stuff in here.

 

One thing I didn't see highlighted in the text (or if it was, I missed it):  Keith's handwritten description of the downloaders/debuggers currently in use has the only contemporaneous confirmation of the code name Black Whale we've seen, as far as I know, and it was crammed in there as an edit:

image.png.6c9714c5e0e48df53c34148dd3e0ba16.png

 

 

I chuckled at jzIntv showing up in the debugger comparison. :D  FWIW, jzIntv doesn't have "run at address" as a separate command, but you can do "g7 addr" followed by "r" to get the same effect.  Think of it as RISC vs. CISC.  ;-) 

 

From your doc, it sounds like PX1600 Crosspatch allowed source-level debugging.  That's probably worth a row in the debugger comparison table.

 

Something that's probably worth adding to the "Y adaptor" section:  There was an external power supply that goes with that to boost power to the unit when using the Y adaptor.  I don't know that all Y adaptors had one, but the one I had the opportunity to document did:

image.thumb.png.16537d14fb8f2df08632b563e6f2d09c.png

 

image.thumb.png.16e045108bab4e14afa62993f3656688.png

 

image.thumb.png.12c01a4beddf0b005c94ed8d6fdf3b7d.png

 

 

In case you're wondering about the Prio Mail box... I was using that as a "camera stand" for my phone in some of the shots.

 

Quote

Later, having moved offices to Los Gatos, Imagic migrated development from the PDP-11/23 to a DEC VAX-11/750 running BSD 4.1. It might also be inferred from Gary’s comments that Imagic had a bespoke hardware solution for testing.

 

There's a relevant blurb about Imagic's development environment on Intellivision Rocks! that I discovered the other day, while researching Keith's photo of the "momentum" lucite block.  (This hobby takes us strange directions sometimes, eh?)

 

Quote

Pat Ransil, Brian P. Dougherty and Gary Kato were all friends at the University of California at Berkeley. A few years after graduation, Pat was working at Intel when he received a call from Brian, who was then working at Mattel Electronics and putting together a new company to produce Intellivision games. He wanted Pat and Gary (then at Versatec) to be part of it. They agreed, becoming founders of Imagic.


The first task was building the needed Intellivision development tools. Pat programmed a graphics editor and software that controlled the development hardware.


Although Brian and fellow founder Dave Durran had worked at Mattel and knew the Intellivision operating system intimately, Imagic had to have independent technicians reverse engineer it. Only by carefully documenting the fact that its programmers could develop Intellivision games without using what Brian and Dave learned at Mattel would Imagic be able to fight legal accusations of stealing trade secrets.


After completing the development software, Pat tackled the game Atlantis.

 

The "graphics editor" and "software that controlled the development hardware" caught my eye.  Sounds like they did have some custom equipment of their own.  (Not surprising, really.)

 

And a side note:  The EXEC routine names decle uses in his document are names I picked for the EXEC routines when I wrote dis1600.  These are not the same as the names that appear in Your Friend The EXEC.  I am happy to provide the official EXEC names to replace my made-up names in a future revision.

 

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On 11/15/2016 at 2:02 AM, decle said:

 

Starting to follow the BLISS thread provided by Joe I found this message from way back when:

 

https://beta.groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/intvprog/conversations/messages/984

 

[snip]

 

I tried to get at the intvprog stuff via archive.org and that page was not archived. Does anyone have anything saved from it?

https://web.archive.org/web/*/https://beta.groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/intvprog/conversations/messages/984

 

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Hey all,

 

2022 brings a new version of the Intellivision development overview, you can download it here:

 

intellivisionDevelopmentBackInTheDay-20220101.pdf

 

This update focuses on two topics:

  • The Magus, or should that be MEGAS.

image.png.53dc3c960fa98202adb360236933019a.png

  • The tools put together by Joe Jacobs and Dennis Clark.

image.png.69ff0605ea85effe50d3be9aedcdae36.png

 

The details of the changes are...

  • Magus / MEGAS information (p23-p27)
    • First images of a MEGAS board
    • Lots of technical details
    • Full circuit diagram of a 16K MEGAS
  • More information on Joe Jacobs and Dennis Clarke's development tools (p42-p49)
    • PlayCable development kit and Vector board
    • Details of their software tools such as Foreground, Pick-A-Doodle and DISLX
    • Information regarding a cartridge reader created by Joe Jacobs

If you're interested in the work done by Joe and Dennis at Technology Associates, you might also want to have a look at both the write up of their story and the PlayCable Technical Summary.

 


Cheers

 

decle
 

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