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phoenixdownita

Which 8bit micro you wish you tried bitd?

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Some have been through many micros over the years and now that some of us "settled" if one looks back what micro 8 bits that you didn't know or didn't care for you wish you had given a look instead?

 

My first 8bit was a Sega SC3000 (overzealous store clerk pulled a number on my folks here, note it wasn't a bad one, just not what I wanted) fast followed by a C-64 (this is the one I wanted so we traded the SC3000 back), and later on I had at the same time the C-64 and an MSX.

I also had the chance bitd to sample the 800XL and the ZX-Spectrum, and also a C-16, all of them borrowed from friends but I kind of figured C-64 + MSX gave me gaming nirvana (as I always say Konami production on MSX is just something to behold).

Never really saw in real life an Apple II, nor any Acorn (BBC or otherwise), or even a CPC (well to be fair these I saw but turned off on the side of the shop), or even a C-128 (again turned off yes I did see) which I really really wanted ('cause it's the next C-64 right!) but then it was decided that my gift for Xmas should have been a video-camera which "they" [my folks] really wanted ... aaaaaaaargggghhhhh, it's been 35Y and I am still maaaaaaad .... don't do that to your kids, if you want a fancy gadget just buy it for yourself, please!

 

But I think if I knew they were out there I would have given the Jupiter Ace a try (aka the other ZX Spectrum-ish ;-) without color, so like a ZX-81++), because Forth ... so exotic ... I'm sure I would have been somewhat disappointed ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jupiter_Ace ) as I was into playing with "them computers" more than anything, still right now I find it a fascinating choice.

 

BTW my fascination with Forth came about because of:

https://archive.org/details/Input_Vol_4_No_47_1997_Marshall_Cavendish_GB/page/n1/mode/2up
https://archive.org/details/Input_Vol_4_No_48_1997_Marshall_Cavendish_GB/page/n1/mode/2up

https://archive.org/details/Input_Vol_4_No_49_1997_Marshall_Cavendish_GB/page/n1/mode/2up
 

(other convenient links here https://commodore.bombjack.org/generic/magazines/input/input.htm )

and of course in the years since that publication I have never had to code in Forth ;-)

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When I grew up, it was all Commodore for me and to a big part it still is, but thanks to adulthood I have been able to obtain, and sometimes resold, many of the systems I was curious about as a child. That includes the Oric computers (possibly better looking than they perform), the Sord M5 (very nice Z80/VDP system which I strongly think Mattel should've imported to the USA instead of going with the Aquarius), various BBC Micro and Electron (well built, has its strengths but in particular the Beeb was unobtainium expensive back in the days), the infamous COMX-35 (mostly because it is so rare, not because it is particularly good) and so on.

 

I entered the Atari 8-bit scene partially by mistake after obtaining M.U.L.E. for the A8 and had to get a hardware setup to play it. In recent years it has become my most played system. Of course I have a decent sized MSX1/2 collection too etc. I'm getting rid of my last ZX Spectrum this week.

 

I don't think there is any 8-bit system yet for me to desire. Sure there are several I've not owned or used, but it doesn't mean I want them, things like Sharp MZ series, TRS-80 CoCo (I used to own a CoCo 2 for a short while, horrible system), Amstrad CPC, TI-99/4A and all sorts of oddballs. I do own a Basis 108 which is an Apple ][+ clone but rarely use it.

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My first 8-bit micro back in the day was a hand-me-down Atari 600XL from my older brother, and then a C64 a short while later.  Those are both great computers, but as an RPG fan I really would loved the Apple II back then simply for the disk speed!

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How about these things:

Micronique Hector HRX (Forth machine)

https://www.old-computers.com/museum/computer.asp?c=142&st=1

or even:
Micronique Hector MX (Basic + Forth + Logo + Machine Monitor)

https://www.old-computers.com/museum/computer.asp?st=1&c=169

 

never knew they existed until literally 10 minutes ago ... man the 80s were batshit crazy for the amount of oddballs they produced (those French were crazy, who knew!!).

 

I mean this one too:
EACA Colour Genie

https://www.old-computers.com/museum/computer.asp?st=1&c=128

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13 minutes ago, carlsson said:

... used to own a CoCo 2 for a short while, horrible system...

never seen one in person just heard of the OS-9 wonders (as if!!!) ... judging by YT I think I was fine with what I had!

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Yes, in the time frame 1982-84 the market for home computers surely bloomed, which also might explain why ASCII & c:o over in Japan were looking to standardize to MSX to keep the number of incompatible systems at a reasonable level. Back then it seemed no fun to have several manufacturers making more or less the same computer (at least software wise) but nowadays we curse at graphics cards, network cards etc whose drivers are not compatible with the operating system and applications we want to use, and middleware like DirectX have been developed to allow different hardware to run the same software.

 

I've briefly used an Colour Genie. Not sure what it really is capable of, but nothing that I really fancied. One magazine review complained it was very buggy, but other magazines thought it was fine.

 

When it comes to the 6809 based systems, you surely have those Thomson TO/MO series which I know very little of or to which extent they differ from the CoCo and Dragon series. Over in Japan there also was the Fujitsu FM-7 and FM-77 series which have very impressive specs for its time but also a price point to match. Obviously I didn't have a clue about either of those when I was a kid so they barely qualify for my part of the discussion.

 

I've got a little soft spot for the various VTech designs, like Creativision and Laser 2001, Laser 500/700. I'm not thrilled about the Laser 3000/CAT which is an almost Apple ][+, or for that matter the first "legal" clone, the Laser 128. I also find the Laser 1xx/2xx/3xx (VZ series) is for someone else, but it boggles me how many independently different and incompatible series of computers VTech over in Hong Kong produced. Many are clones or adaptions of other brands, but with enough own development to make them unique. I mean they shifted back and forth between 6502 and Z80 designs just as often as I change underwear (i.e. once per year).

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3 hours ago, carlsson said:

When I grew up, it was all Commodore for me and to a big part it still is, but thanks to adulthood I have been able to obtain, and sometimes resold, many of the systems I was curious about as a child. That includes the Oric computers (possibly better looking than they perform), the Sord M5 (very nice Z80/VDP system which I strongly think Mattel should've imported to the USA instead of going with the Aquarius), various BBC Micro and Electron (well built, has its strengths but in particular the Beeb was unobtainium expensive back in the days), the infamous COMX-35 (mostly because it is so rare, not because it is particularly good) and so on.

 

I entered the Atari 8-bit scene partially by mistake after obtaining M.U.L.E. for the A8 and had to get a hardware setup to play it. In recent years it has become my most played system. Of course I have a decent sized MSX1/2 collection too etc. I'm getting rid of my last ZX Spectrum this week.

 

I don't think there is any 8-bit system yet for me to desire. Sure there are several I've not owned or used, but it doesn't mean I want them, things like Sharp MZ series, TRS-80 CoCo (I used to own a CoCo 2 for a short while, horrible system), Amstrad CPC, TI-99/4A and all sorts of oddballs. I do own a Basis 108 which is an Apple ][+ clone but rarely use it.

 

This is kind of where I am but I haven't explored the more obscure micros like you have.  I don't really feel attracted to Atari 8-Bit or Amstrad because I don't think they're offering anything I don't already have a lot better with the C64 and ZX Spectrum.  Acorn was the one area in which I felt I was lacking but I recently branched out to the model B and Master 128 - I did consider the Electron prior to buying them but I felt that I wanted the real deal rather than the low cost derivative.  The Archimedes and RISC OS are areas I may look to explore in the future.  I also backed the ZX Spectrum Next Plus in the recent Kickstarter so I'm looking forward to exploring the Sinclair systems on a whole new level next year.  I've reached a point where I've identified the systems and companies that are important to me and I prefer to focus on those rather than obscure cul-de-sacs like the Oric and so forth.  The more US specific ones like Apple, TRS and TI also seem like they're more trouble than they're worth.

 

The Amiga was a system I was always curious about as a child.  Mainly because I had an Atari ST and the games on the Amiga seemed like they were miles ahead of anything that was happening on the ST.  I finally got an Amiga in 2009 and while I enjoy the system a lot, I found that the system's limitations only deepened my love for the ST.

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Maybe the Ti99/4a?   I did use it a little bit BITD as a friend had one, but it never seemed that impressive.

 

But when I look now at the quality of some of the game ports it got, it seems more capable than I thought it was.

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Back in the day I always wanted to try the C64. I had a ti99, my friends had C64s. At school we had Atari 800s and 400s.

 

I still have never owned a C64.

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I think I would have loved to have an Atari 800 back in the day. Such a great machine. Rocking one of those in 1981 with that big 810 floppy drive may have changed the course of my computing history. Instead of going for an Amiga, I may have gone for a ST etc. I have one now and I still think it's a tank of a machine.

 

The other one would have been a Camputers Lynx. I remember reading up on them and being very excited but when they launch I had moved on. 

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All I could think of was the Commodore PET.  Man, if I could just have owned that one!  Whew!

 

$3000 was the price tag at that time and my Dad said, "I don't think so!".

 

Settled for the VIC-20 later on with my allowance, but I still dream of learning more about how to program the "PET".

 

I still may, but I just need to find a group or a forum or something that is really PET-centric, maybe on FB?

 

 

JR

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Yes, there are a bunch of decent PET oriented groups on Facebook. There also are some users on the VC Forum as well as mailing lists for technical matters.

 

I don't know much about the Camputers Lynx except that its BASIC supports line numbers with decimals, which is a very unusual feature.

 

10 PRINT"HELLO WORLD"

10.1 GOTO 10

 

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4 hours ago, carlsson said:

Yes, there are a bunch of decent PET oriented groups on Facebook. There also are some users on the VC Forum as well as mailing lists for technical matters.

 

I don't know much about the Camputers Lynx except that its BASIC supports line numbers with decimals, which is a very unusual feature.

 

10 PRINT"HELLO WORLD"

10.1 GOTO 10

 

Well, with decimal line numbers I think they solved the issue of there being only 9 other lines between 10 and 20 to fix your mess (ahem implement what should have been there but you forgot/didn't know).... no more needing to renumber or crazy GOTO back and forth ... just tack in another digit 10<->10.1 can become 10<->10.05<->10.1 et voila' easy peasy, tucked in there!

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Yes exactly, you can cut down quite a lot on the spaghetti code with this approach. I don't know how efficient the interpreter is about those line numbers though.

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Back in the very early day, I would be happy to have literally  any micro. It was several years of reading mags, dry-programming, visiting friends luckier than me, etc, before I managed to get one myself. One that I was really impressed by was Amstrad CPC 6128, because it looked so sleek and had a nice monitor.

 

Later on, when I knew a bit more about what's going on and already had a ZX, I was looking up to a C64+disk drive. This combo had the most of the "big" games I wanted to play, such as complex RPGs, text adventures, strategy, and of course Pirates! Unfortunately, when I eventually upgraded, I could only afford C64+datasette, and that hadn't been the greatest of experiences...

 

Nowadays I absolutely love the more obscure micros, and wouldn't mind acquiring some, but they're a bit pricey compared to the more common Big Four. This is where MiSTer comes in...we even have PDP-1/EDSAC there ;)

Edited by youxia
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Yeah. I'm happy I went into this hobby reasonably early (2006-09) before the market went crazy. Now I consider which of my systems I'd rather have the money they're worth today than the actual hardware.

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On 10/27/2020 at 3:30 AM, phoenixdownita said:

How about these things:

Micronique Hector HRX (Forth machine)

https://www.old-computers.com/museum/computer.asp?c=142&st=1

or even:
Micronique Hector MX (Basic + Forth + Logo + Machine Monitor)

https://www.old-computers.com/museum/computer.asp?st=1&c=169

 

never knew they existed until literally 10 minutes ago ... man the 80s were batshit crazy for the amount of oddballs they produced (those French were crazy, who knew!!).

X2! I didn't find out about that one until @Bill Loguidice shared some info on his Interact on the other thread, but I was impressed by that incarnation of the machine for the same reason - having the ability to write BASIC, Assembly and Forth nevermind Logo would have been awesome.

 

If there was one computer I wish I had bitd it was the Altair:

Altair.thumb.jpg.c252133c65c9295ad36b970bca26e1b1.jpg

 

It had switches on the console that you programmed it with, so did the PDP series later but the Altair came first and it was expandable you could add a 4K ROM board with a Cassette interface and even BASIC but that's not the most attractive feature -

 

The system came unexpanded with only 256 bytes of RAM that you program in ASM with a lookup card for the opcode mnemonics with the switches, which was pretty cool and encouraged incredibly efficient code in any language, it's not about BASIC or any other language it's about the memory footprint.

 

The early machines with 4K and BASIC (or 3K and Forth like the oddball Ace) encouraged efficient coding because of the small memory size.

 

I think when the C64 came along and Apple and Atari responded with larger memory footprints for BASIC, this is when we saw spaghetti code and other bad coding habits emerge that were attributed to BASIC but really had only to do with the memory footprint - more than one programmer saw and wrote about this phenomena as machines that previously had 4K were upgraded to 16K and beyond.

 

I started with a 4K TRS-80 and a tape recorder, later in the 80's while I was writing commercial software I took a ZX-81 out of the Library for a short time on loan (you could take them out of the Library like books for a few weeks, the library had several) and found fascinating the memory scheme efficiency that allowed BASIC to run with 1K of RAM and the resulting quality and depth of the algorithms written in both BASIC and Assembly like 1K ZX-81 Chess:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1K_ZX_Chess

 

I acquired a 16K Commodore Pet around the same time but it wasn't as memorable as the ZX-81.

 

I remember seeing ads for a machine like the Jupiter Ace in BYTE magazine that had a Joystick built into the keyboard I was interested in but the machine vanished as quickly as it appeared.

 

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10 minutes ago, Mr SQL said:

X2! I didn't find out about that one until @Bill Loguidice shared some info on his Interact on the other thread, but I was impressed by that incarnation of the machine for the same reason - having the ability to write BASIC, Assembly and Forth nevermind Logo would have been awesome.

 

If there was one computer I wish I had bitd it was the Altair:

Altair.thumb.jpg.c252133c65c9295ad36b970bca26e1b1.jpg

 

It had switches on the console that you programmed it with, so did the PDP series later but the Altair came first and it was expandable you could add a 4K ROM board with a Cassette interface and even BASIC but that's not the most attractive feature -

 

The system came unexpanded with only 256 bytes of RAM that you program in ASM with a lookup card for the opcode mnemonics with the switches, which was pretty cool and encouraged incredibly efficient code in any language, it's not about BASIC or any other language it's about the memory footprint.

 

If you're interested, there's an excellent kit version of the Altair 8800 for sale: 

 

Image

 

I actually got that one pre-built. It's the deluxe model. I have yet to build my standard edition kit. It's not perfect by any means, but is one of the easiest (this one even has a built-in terminal and other modern features) and less pricey ways to experience classic switch-based computing.

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You know, I feel like I was fortunate, so didn't have much envy or "desired" to try something I didn't necessarily have access to beyond the normal interest in the personal computer (and videogame) category. I first owned a VIC-20, then soon sold that for a C-64. I feel like I got the best computer possible at the time for me for a variety of reasons. My friends had other computers I got to experience a bit, like an Apple II+/IIe/IIc, TI-99/4a, Aquarius, Atari 800XL, etc., and this was supplemented by what I had access to eventually in school (TRS-80 Model III/4, and a bit later, Tandy 1000s). Again, I was "jealous" in a way that I too didn't own those computers as well, but it was not realistic at the time to own everything you wanted like it is now so many decades later. I never felt like I was missing out with "just" having a C-64. It was well-supported and easy to "share" stuff within my school.

 

I think I was always about wanting to try as many computers as possible. As I've stated many times before, I was collecting well before collecting was a thing or even realized I was doing it. Putting aside my console collection, once I had a C-64, then a Coleco Adam, then an Amiga 500, then a 386 SX-20, etc., all at the same time, things sort of snow-balled from there into anything and everything from any region (computer shows and flea markets were still viable in the days before eBay). It peaked up to a few years back when I finally sold off quite a bit of it and worked to rebuild my collection under more manageable (and structured) terms these days (though it's all relative, right?).

Honestly, I think my biggest "envy" was not getting an NES or SMS when they were prime systems. My parents had a Telstar Pong system in the 70s, and then I eventually bought my own Atari 2600 around 7 with gift money. I got to try a friend's Intellivision and was able to ask least get a little hands-on time with some other systems like the Odyssey2 in stores. I then got a ColecoVision. So again, much like with getting the right computer at my second try, I lucked out with both the Atari 2600 and ColecoVision in terms of having access to the best console games at the time (I only came to appreciate the Intellivision much later). Although I got to play NES and SMS, I never owned one until much later, basically going from the ColecoVision to the TG-16 and Genesis (and then SNES, etc.). I never truly missed out on a generation since.

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Two machines I wish I had had the chance to try BITD: the Enterprise 64/128 and SAM Coupé.  Quite honestly, I can't remember why I wanted to try them, but strongly suspect it had something to do with their respective aesthetics.  Possibly also the voice of Max Headroom (Matt Frewer) being the spokesvoice for the Enterprise.

 

As a side note, we didn't get a great deal of the machines in Ireland that the UK or rest of Europe did.  Most common to see in use would have been the Vic-20 and C64, with the ZX Spectrum neck-and-neck with them.  But things like the Dragon, Oric, BBC Micro and its relatives, TI-99 series, various Amstrads, Apple ][ variants, and others (including the Enterprise 64/128, Sord M5, and SAM Coupé) either just weren't sold there or barely registered a blip on the radar.

 

Put it this way: as an Atari user in Ireland, you always knew that your machine was #4 in any list of the top three micros (by sales volume) in the country.

Edited by x=usr(1536)
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Now that I see the Altair, yeah.  I wish I had explored the pre Apple, PET, TRS-80 machines.

 

I did, because of work, get good at paper tape and have any of you used a TEK storage tube computer?

 

 

Those were a lot of fun, ran a super cool BASIC on a 6800 processor.  Paper tape and mag tape carts were common storage.

 

Anyway, I got a pass at that era, S100, Altair, others, and would have and still would give it all a go today.

 

 

 

 

Edited by potatohead
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Just the Thomson M05 and M06. I repeatedly saw them when I bought my monthly copy of Micro V.O. in the mid-'80s, and really wanted to try one out. I'd add the Apple IIGS to the list, as I sort-of thought about buying one in 1989, but I didn't like the Apple II family, and even then you could see that that computer was going nowhere fast.

 

Years later, I thought that the Archimedes computers looked pretty interesting, and thought about hunting one down, but cost was (and still is) prohibitive.

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Personally, I think my computing experience growing up would have been different if my parents had gone with a C64 instead of a TI-99/4a.  Still, I was very fortunate to experience console gaming having owned an NES, TurboGrafx-16, and Sega Genesis back in all of their heydays.

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On 10/26/2020 at 10:35 PM, phoenixdownita said:

 

But I think if I knew they were out there I would have given the Jupiter Ace a try (aka the other ZX Spectrum-ish ;-) without color, so like a ZX-81++), because Forth ... so exotic ... I'm sure I would have been somewhat disappointed ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jupiter_Ace ) as I was into playing with "them computers" more than anything, still right now I find it a fascinating choice.

 

I never understood the Jupiter Ace.  Even back in 83 it seemed to me to be a dumb idea.  I get that it ran FORTH, and that was a much better option for serious programmers than BASIC, but the rest of the machine was so utterly limited, that having FORTH as the default interpreter was poor compensation.  If you wanted to learn FORTH, it seemed a better option to buy a FORTH cartridge for a VIC20 and benefit from the superior keyboard, color and sound.  IIRC you got FORTH on tape with the ORIC1 and the Camputers Lynx.

 

BITD I wanted a C64.   It was the machine the cool kids had.  It ran the best games.  Sure, there were other machines I wanted to try; the Aquarius, the Sega SC3000, the Commodore MAX, but the 64 was the real prize.   I finally got one about 15 years ago, as part of a job lot with some color monitors.  Its a great machine but I just can't seem to get into it.  I have the VIC20 and use it often, but the 64 remains a rarely used part of my collection.  A machine I know has great potential that I just cannot seem to fully tap.

 

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