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Eric Rousseau

Software 80 Columns

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There is an Atari book from back in the day that was archived and put on the Net like the rest of all the Atari books. The author got mad and demanded any place that had it up for download take it down. The author was selling a newly printed version on ebay. It certainly was his right to demand people take down the PDF but I think he made a mistake. It's a book of BASIC applications.

 

In my opinion, if he had not made a stink about the original downloads but had said "Hey guys, I'm the original author. I'm OK with the original version being up on the Net for downloading. And by the way, I have a new printing of the book that I had printed and I will even sign the book for you.", he would have probably sold more (any) copies of the book. I would have bought one. It would have been neat to maybe even add a chapter to the book about an application in BASIC that did something more modern. He could have come on here and answer questions and did a little interaction with us like other Atari alumni have done.

 

But instead he comes off as an angry old man. Again, it was his right to demand take-down of his old book but the effects aren't really good. 

 

You can't defeat the Sea. If you try, you will drown.  But as boat makers learned a long time ago, if you're smart you can make it work to your advantage.

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I have donated more money to several Atari projects (think fjc and SDX team for starters) than I ever paid for legit software back in the day.  Then, along come people like a certain un-named slang for penis declaring we are all pirates, and it's cart only.  Guess who made zero from me and will only ever make zero.  Most all software that is free I'll also pay for.  I get wanting to make some money on hardware.  I don't want to know what I have spent on Atari related hardware in the past 5 years (and I don't mean the piece of shit VCS).  It's definitely in the 4 digit range.

 

But screaming about nasty pirates and being called a thief sure as hell puts a bad taste in my mouth and determines where my next purchase will or will not be.

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3 hours ago, Allan said:

Again, it was his right to demand take-down of his old book but the effects aren't really good.

 

Quite. It's also my right to stop kids from picking daisies on the grass verge in front of my house.  But it's a legal right that only a prat would exercise.

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7 minutes ago, drpeter said:

 

Quite. It's also my right to stop kids from picking daisies on the grass verge in front of my house.  But it's a legal right that only a prat would exercise.

Thanks. I learned a new word today. :)

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The problem with software 80 column's is the fact that they're slow solutions (compared to native 40 column) and the fact that every character becomes 4x8 pixels. You either need Sophia and an LCD monitor with a good dot pitch specification, or a quality monochrome CRT monitor in order to create text that is as legible as possible.

 

Then, as stated earlier in the thread, you need software that supports the function as most software in the day was written with 40 columns in mind. Both the A8 and the C64 lines suffered from this 80 column limitation, although my diabetes and age impaired vision works well with 40 columns. I have a 27" 4k monitor connected to my main KDE Neon PC, but I use 1.5x scaling so I can actually see what's on the screen.

Edited by Mazzspeed

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15 hours ago, Mazzspeed said:

The problem with software 80 column's is the fact that they're slow solutions (compared to native 40 column)...

 

E80 is actually faster than the built-in 40 columns when scrolling, because it moves display list pointers, not the character data.

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16 hours ago, Mazzspeed said:

The problem with software 80 column's is the fact that they're slow solutions (compared to native 40 column) and the fact that every character becomes 4x8 pixels. You either need Sophia and an LCD monitor with a good dot pitch specification, or a quality monochrome CRT monitor in order to create text that is as legible as possible.

 

 

I posted this picture a week ago in the 'VBXE Primer' thread. It's my 800 outputting standard S-video to my LCD screen in full color (yes text is black on grey background, but I've used other colors too and it looks just as good; some color variations aren't good but plenty are good) and it's very clear and sharp. I did just install a Sophia 2 in the same 800 and I'll show a comparison of the same software 80 column screen between this S-video and Sophia to HDMI soon. I'd do it now, but there was an issue and I had to take it apart again before I even saw my Sophia 2 output. 

 

I have no problem whatsoever reading this 4x8 80 column screen even viewing it in this image posted below which is about 1/4 the size of my LCD screen. Perfectly legible right here, and I use reading glasses (most of the time), and I'm not wearing them right now and I can still read every word & letter in the image below right now (just slightly blurry to me without glasses). Also, this is the software 80-column from The Last Word processor and I can type about 30 wpm (not great, but not bad) and it has no trouble what-so-ever keeping up with my typing.

 

 

20210108_132502.thumb.jpg.789f92a6dee00b837124d8fd6aa8e43b.jpg

Edited by Gunstar
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1 hour ago, Gunstar said:

I posted this picture a week ago in the 'VBXE Primer' thread. It's my 800 outputting standard S-video to my LCD screen in full color (yes text is black on grey background, but I've used other colors too and it looks just as good; some color variations aren't good but plenty are good) and it's very clear and sharp. I did just install a Sophia 2 in the same 800 and I'll show a comparison of the same software 80 column screen between this S-video and Sophia to HDMI soon. I'd do it now, but there was an issue and I had to take it apart again before I even saw my Sophia 2 output. 

 

I have no problem whatsoever reading this 4x8 80 column screen even viewing it in this image posted below which is about 1/4 the size of my LCD screen. Perfectly legible right here, and I use reading glasses (most of the time), and I'm not wearing them right now and I can still read every word & letter in the image below right now (just slightly blurry to me without glasses). Also, this is the software 80-column from The Last Word processor and I can type about 30 wpm (not great, but not bad) and it has no trouble what-so-ever keeping up with my typing.

 

 

20210108_132502.thumb.jpg.789f92a6dee00b837124d8fd6aa8e43b.jpg

If you were to put that beside a true 80 column capable system the difference is substantial. If you were to run a CRT the bloom effect would make that image degrade noticeably to the point where eye fatigue would become an issue. Eye fatigue would most likely still be an issue using software 80 columns on an LCD for extended periods.

 

Forgive me, I don't have an A8 yet. But as an example of software 80 columns on a CRT, here's the result on my 1084S via S-video using less than ideal colors (consider that the camera does tend to exaggerate the bloom, but you get the idea). The problem is the 4x8 characters and pixel density, it limits the ability to design characters that are truly clear.

 

Software 80 columns is something I use for limited periods where needed, but in every other situation I use native 40 columns. Can I ask, are you able to provide more specifics regarding your video scaler? Send a PM if it's more appropriate. The result is impressive, I bought a fairly affordable device and it doesn't work at all.

 

RxvoAto.jpg

Edited by Mazzspeed
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32 minutes ago, Mazzspeed said:

If you were to put that beside a true 80 column capable system the difference is substantial. If you were to run a CRT the bloom effect would make that image degrade noticeably to the point where eye fatigue would become an issue. Eye fatigue would most likely still be an issue using software 80 columns on an LCD for extended periods.

 

Forgive me, I don't have an A8 yet. But as an example of software 80 columns on a CRT, here's the result on my 1084S via S-video using less than ideal colors (consider that the camera does tend to exaggerate the bloom, but you get the idea). The problem is the 4x8 characters and pixel density, it limits the ability to design characters that are truly clear.

 

Software 80 columns is something I use for limited periods where needed, but in every other situation I use native 40 columns. Can I ask, are you able to provide more specifics regarding your video scaler? Send a PM if it's more appropriate. The result is impressive.

 

RxvoAto.jpg

I also have a 1084S...I need to fix the PSU board on it though...as to my upscaler/converter, I recommend Ambery products. I've had both S-video and RGB-to-VGA ones for well over ten years and I love them. Of course the picture on my 1200XL which also has an Supervideo 2.1 upgrade is even better (which is why the 800 got the Sophia 2) through the converter.

 

My Ambery video-2-VGA (model AV-8) is the white one in the top left corner here (the one without a description, it looks like they have newer varieties now): http://www.ambery.com/analogvideotovgaconverters.html 

 

It looks like mine was replaced with this model:

http://www.ambery.com/dvh4.html

 

My RGB one IS this white one:

http://www.ambery.com/av-1m.html

 

They have many varieties and all are top-quality. @hueyjones70 has an Ambery that is video-2-HDMI he loves too.

 

80-column, hardware or software will start to hurt my eyes and give me a headache after a couple of hours. When using SpartaDOS and programming languages under it, I actually prefer the 64 column mode as an alternative to 40 or 80 column, and no headache or eye strain after a couple of hours (just like 40 column).

Edited by Gunstar

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The dot pitch and mask on the early commodore 17xx and the later 1084 as well as their small picture size always mad eit look like that, and if you hook your Atari up to it, more than likely it'll look even worse.

I always stuck with larger displays, with a good dot pitch and moderate to slightly faster than moderate phosphors. Too slow in the phosphor department and you get smearing and bloom, too fast and you can get flicker, dot pitch matters to defends against moire and pixel definition as well as a decent mask which also prevented unwanted artifacts. When you are in the Goldilocks zone, you end up with a great display! Some monitor class super video televisions 15 inch and greater provided some excellent displays at 80 columns and you could still enjoy your artifact-ed games in color. Though admittedly, certain 80 column fonts were better than others... some people just turned the color down on the display if a font artifact-ed red or orange because it was more difficult to discern the letters with fatigue setting in if they did not do so.

At 80 columns and for vector games a clean screen and proper settings avoided a good deal of bloom as well as haze. Ah the good ole days. There were many monitors and televisions of terrible quality

Edited by _The Doctor__
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10 minutes ago, Gunstar said:

I also have a 1084S...I need to fix the PSU board on it though...as to my upscaler/converter, I recommend Ambery products. I've had both S-video and RGB-to-VGA ones for well over ten years and I love them. Of course the picture on my 1200XL which also has an Supervideo 2.1 upgrade is even better (which is why the 800 got the Sophia 2) through the converter.

 

My Ambery video-2-VGA (model AV-8) is the white one in the top left corner here (the one without a description, it looks like they have newer varieties now): http://www.ambery.com/analogvideotovgaconverters.html

 

My RGB one IS this white one.: http://www.ambery.com/av-1m.html

 

They have many varieties and all are top-quality. @hueyjones70 has an Ambery that is video-2-HDMI he loves too.

Sweet, thank you!

 

I restored that 1084S, I replaced the failed flyback and HOT and replaced all the caps, the PQ is fantastic - There's just something about retro computing via a CRT that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy. However, as your example highlights perfectly, there are times where the bloom of a CRT isn't always desireable.

 

Commodore monitors are worth a fortune here in AU now, that 1084S would be ~$500.00 on Ebay (~$900.00US). With the increase in retro computing popularity all the second hand markets have been picked clean to the point that people can ask a fortune and actually get it as you have no choice. There's one A8 800XL and it's got all sorts of questionable mods with wiring and toggle switches mounted to the casing with missing keys on the keyboard - It's listed as not working and he want's close to $200.00 for it. I get angry when I see people with rooms literally full of 8 bit machines that they don't even use - They're simply hording.

Edited by Mazzspeed
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2 minutes ago, _The Doctor__ said:

The dot pitch and mask on the 1084 as well as it small picture size always mad it look like that, and if you hook your Atari up to it, more than likely it'll look even worse.

I always stuck with larger displays, with a good dot pitch and moderate to slightly faster than moderate phosphors. Too slow in the phosphor department and you get smearing and bloom, too fast and you can get flicker, dot pitch matters to defends against moire and pixel definition as well as a decent mask which also prevented unwanted artifacts. When you are in the Goldilocks zone, you end up with a great display! Some monitor class super video televisions 15 inch and greater provided some excellent displays at 80 columns and you could still enjoy your artifact-ed games in color. Though admittedly, certain 80 column fonts were better than others... some people just turned the color down on the display if a font artifact-ed red or orange because it was more difficult to discern the letters with fatigue setting in if they did not do so.

All very true and agreed 100%.

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Antic-rendered 80cols. (SDX, SDX-app, ACE80, etc) and HW-rendered 80-cols (XEP80, analog), all day-long here, no fatigue, no headaches, no nothing... 

 

I constantly use both modes for ALL my small programming tasks (mostly Atari Macro Assembler), and as long as you have a high-quality video-path and 19" (or better) display-surface, you will do well, and easily on LCDs... If in addition you also have control of sharpening on both mid-and-high spatial frequencies, you can literally shape high-contrast edges of characters in any way you wish or (your older eyes, like mine) may prefer.... (attached pictures still don't match the quality visible to the naked eye...)

 

50FEC89B-10CA-4D39-8B0F-A79A234022D7.thumb.jpeg.c32ed77930a35b0c338242f9db586e1a.jpeg

 

CE43FA41-83C4-4244-BAC9-D2BD3598C3B2.thumb.jpeg.c1410730f1a155d39de28b35adccdc24.jpeg

 

0D206986-A2AB-442E-B459-52A8E9C0C565.thumb.jpeg.f3fc7671085e00a224cc022011dda67e.jpeg

Edited by Faicuai
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1 hour ago, Faicuai said:

Antic-rendered 80cols. (SDX, SDX-app, ACE80, etc) and HW-rendered 80-cols (XEP80, analog), all day-long here, no fatigue, no headaches, no nothing... 

 

I constantly use both modes for ALL my small programming tasks (mostly Atari Macro Assembler), and as long as you have a high-quality video-path and 19" (or better) display-surface, you will do well, and easily on LCDs... If in addition you also have control of sharpening on both mid-and-high spatial frequencies, you can literally shape high-contrast edges of characters in any way you wish or (your older eyes, like mine) may prefer.... (attached pictures still don't match the quality visible to the naked eye...)

 

50FEC89B-10CA-4D39-8B0F-A79A234022D7.thumb.jpeg.c32ed77930a35b0c338242f9db586e1a.jpeg

 

CE43FA41-83C4-4244-BAC9-D2BD3598C3B2.thumb.jpeg.c1410730f1a155d39de28b35adccdc24.jpeg

 

0D206986-A2AB-442E-B459-52A8E9C0C565.thumb.jpeg.f3fc7671085e00a224cc022011dda67e.jpeg

I will admit, that is impressive. Is your A8 modified for digital output or is that Svideo via a scaler? Obviously that last shot was some form of hardware 80 columns, you can tell via the font used, they're not 4x8 fonts.

 

In comparison (once again, I know it's not Atari, give me time!), my A1200 via DVI using native 80 columns. As you know, the camera doesn't really do any such shot justice...

 

Vw64GXs.jpg

 

IyVB4go.jpg

Edited by Mazzspeed
can't type...

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47 minutes ago, Mazzspeed said:

I will admit, that is impressive. Is your A8 modified for digital output or is that Svideo via a scaler? Obviously that last shot was some form of hardware 80 columns, you can tell via the font used, they're not 4x8 fonts.

 

In comparison (once again, I know it's not Atari, give me time!), my A1200 via DVI using native 80 columns. As you know, the camera doesn't really do any such shot justice...

 

Vw64GXs.jpg

 

IyVB4go.jpg

 

Sweet renderings from the Amiga, for sure. Crisp-and-clear.

 

The 800's first two samples are from stock s-Video (Y/C) output, sampled and upscaled through DVDO iScan / HD+ and delivered to Viewsonic 950B (with a large NTSC color gamut). The third sample is analog output of XEP80 interfaced to iScan's (analog) Component interface.

 

As a little treat, here's stock GFX hardware and composite output, rendered through the same video path, during 60fps playback of video (Antic direct-read of CF-drive @ 500 KB/sec, needing as low as 16KB of RAM for video-player and 6502-driven audio-overhead):

 

28A01B96-FACE-448E-A786-82CB90D8C5D5.thumb.jpeg.0614abbab5ba6d668b91f44c612169fe.jpeg 7A4811C3-F35E-4A38-9FC6-CF77A387C90A.thumb.jpeg.df4b622c0a403e55f4fdbf6a874579e3.jpeg

 

Edited by Faicuai
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59 minutes ago, Mazzspeed said:

Is your A8 modified for digital output or is that Svideo via a scaler? Obviously that last shot was some form of hardware 80 columns, you can tell via the font used, they're not 4x8 fonts.

I'm guessing that's an XEP-80 plugged into joystick port 2.

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1 hour ago, Faicuai said:

 

Sweet renderings from the Amiga, for sure. Crisp-and-clear.

 

The 800's first two samples are from stock s-Video (Y/C) output, sampled and upscaled through DVDO iScan / HD+ and delivered to Viewsonic 950B (with a large NTSC color gamut). The third sample is analog output of XEP80 interfaced to iScan's (analog) Component interface.

 

As a little treat, here's stock GFX hardware and composite output, rendered through the same video path, during 60fps playback of video (Antic direct-read of CF-drive @ 500 KB/sec, needing as low as 16KB of RAM for video-player and 6502-driven audio-overhead):

 

28A01B96-FACE-448E-A786-82CB90D8C5D5.thumb.jpeg.0614abbab5ba6d668b91f44c612169fe.jpeg 7A4811C3-F35E-4A38-9FC6-CF77A387C90A.thumb.jpeg.df4b622c0a403e55f4fdbf6a874579e3.jpeg

 

Yeah, that's awesome! Look at the color! Composite out? Was that a typo?

 

I have to be careful here as I don't want anyone to get the wrong impression and start some Commodore vs Atari flamewar, let it be said that I'm impartial and love all retro machines including the A8 series (I'm trying to get one). I understand that we all have natural biases usually based around what we used as kids and respect that, but all machines have their pro's and con's and I don't believe in limiting myself to any one make as a result. I just love retro discussion.

 

With the advent of the 1541 Ultimate II+, the use of an REU is increasing in the Commodore community and using DMA it can effectively be used as a 16MB blitter for the VIC-II which can be utilized with impressive results - Even more impressive is there's a 16MB ram disk independent of the REU and using the latest 1541 Ultimate II+ firmware and customized C64 kernel there's a new 'hyperspeed' file transfer system via DMA that allows for 200+ blocks per second (not too sure how this compares to KB/sec, I can get ~9000 bytes/sec over IEC serial via my SD2IEC mass storage).

 

Using Nuvieplayer and the 16MB REU built into the 1541 UII+ you can playback 'Nuvie' movie files in full VIC-II high resolution, the result is quite impressive - Certainly something I never thought I'd see on an 8bit machine. Talking about 80 column support, the REU can be used to allow for 80 column scrolling that's just as fast as native 40 column as far as I can tell.

 

Imagine if we had all these awesome and somewhat affordable enhancements when we were kids? I remember when the 'smart' floppy drives for our A8 and Commodore machines were worth more than the computer itself!

 

Talking about awesome enhancements, may I ask what cart you use as CF storage? I'm trying to get an idea in relation to A8 products.

 

 

Edited by Mazzspeed
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I think the majority of us retro-naughts appreciate more machines than just what we owned as a kid/young adult these days. I'm in the opposite boat to you @Mazzspeed , wanting to get a C64. As well one or two other classic 8-bits. I skipped the 16-bit generation back in the day, going from my Atari 8-bit to PC's. When I finally got around to owning a Mega STE and Amiga 2000 earlier this century, with Commodore and Atari both dust in the wind, I had no prejudices anymore and I preferred the Amiga to the STE. I've owned a C64 before, and really liked it, but the winner in the 8-bit category for me is the Atari. I guess I became a Jay Miner fan over the years rather than based around a company. I'm surprised that there aren't more C64 fans that prefer the Atari ST line since they were made by some of the same engineers too. To me, the Atari 8-bit is an Amiga jr. and the C64 is an ST jr. In a more spiritual sense, as  the ST has no custom SID or VIC II type IC's. The Amiga and Atari 800 are definitely more closely related technically.

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2 minutes ago, Gunstar said:

I think the majority of us retro-naughts appreciate more machines than just what we owned as a kid/young adult these days. I'm in the opposite boat to you @Mazzspeed , wanting to get a C64. As well one or two other classic 8-bits. I skipped the 16-bit generation back in the day, going from my Atari 8-bit to PC's. When I finally got around to owning a Mega STE and Amiga 2000 earlier this century, with Commodore and Atari both dust in the wind, I had no prejudices anymore and I preferred the Amiga to the STE. I've owned a C64 before, and really liked it, but the winner in the 8-bit category for me is the Atari. I guess I became a Jay Miner fan over the years rather than based around a company. I'm surprised that there aren't more C64 fans that prefer the Atari ST line since they were made by some of the same engineers too. To me, the Atari 8-bit is an Amiga jr. and the C64 is an ST jr. In a more spiritual sense, as  the ST has no custom SID or VIC II type IC's. The Amiga and Atari 800 are definitely more closely related technically.

Considering the exact same engineers designed the Amiga, the A8 line literally 'is' the baby Amiga precursor.

 

How ironic that we both want opposite products to tinker with!

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7 hours ago, Mazzspeed said:

In comparison (once again, I know it's not Atari, give me time!), my A1200 via DVI using native 80 columns. As you know, the camera doesn't really do any such shot justice...

That looks pretty good. What solution do you use for getting DVI output from an Amiga 1200?

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20 minutes ago, Dinadan67 said:

That looks pretty good. What solution do you use for getting DVI output from an Amiga 1200?

The Indivision AGA MkII Cr coupled with the fact that particular 17" Dell monitor is really clear, the best I've used on a retro machine.

 

The device itself is awesome, the configuration software is bloody horrible - Powerful, but not even the slightest bit intuitive. Oddly enough the configuration software for the Indivision OCS/ECS is vastly better and using two Indivision OCS/ECS's you can run dual monitor on an Amiga 500.

 

But, I don't have the room for two Amiga's out at once, and the A1200 is the more capable machine and the more compatible machine with all software titles running WHDload. Does anyone else run out of room for their retro gear?

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I don't have room to set all of mine up, and that's after selling off 75% about 15 years ago and losing half of what I had left in a storage unit robbery. I even built a room especially for it all in the house I've been building over the last 5 years (DIY). I have to add on to my house still and have a second man-cave.

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Well, I think I need to eat humble pie...

 

Even on a 1084S it looks like 80 columns is totally doable. You guys have got me mucking about with 80 col software now, I need an A8 to play with...

 

0ySI7V8.jpg

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Yup - and you would not believe the difference in quality between that 1084S monitor and a Sony PVM.  Makes the 1084S look pale and fuzzy in comparison.

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