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decle

PlayCable menu program variants

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Happy New Year everyone,

 

In amongst the files archived by Joe Jacobs and Dennis Clark are some associated with the menu program that subscribers used to choose PlayCable games.  For example, I have previously written about a jukebox program that plays the tunes played by the menu program here:

 

 

These files are interesting because the menu program was broadcast over the PlayCable service, and therefore, is believed to be lost to time.  However, a couple of Joe and Dennis' files are programs that seem to mimic the PlayCable menu, for example DIRTAP is one of the PlayTape titles, that is described as a PlayCable demonstration:

 

 

It's not known quite how close DIRTAP is to the actual menu program used, for example there are differences when comparing the splash screen with the known images of the menu program (see below) and Ride of the Valkyries is not a tune known to be broadcast.

 

image.png.fc08ec7a9dfdaa4c3f3e5f3100b4fb1b.png  image.png.fa92a8b69d6abe1c9b81ee609f707b86.png

 

However, the pages of game selection screens do seem to match the descriptions of the menu quite well.  DIRTAP is designed to work with a PlayCable adapter modified for PlayTape use.  Once a game is selected, DIRTAP hands off to the PlayTape firmware to load the game, and things rapidly come to a grinding halt in JzIntv.  However, given that the PlayTape was modified to make using it without a menu easier, DIRTAP is rather redundant, and perhaps explains its description as a PlayCable demonstration.

 

Joe and Dennis also created a DIRTAP variant called DIRHOM, part of a more complex system called they named PlayComp.  This was designed to work with their PlayCable development kit to create a personal PlayCable system.  This would have been the snappiest version of PlayCable, as in effect you had your own PlayCable server, just sitting, waiting for you to request a game over the development kit serial link.  You can find out more about both PlayTape and PlayComp in the latest update to the PlayCable Technical Summary.

 

Both DIRTAP and DIRHOM use a file containing a list of the games available, called a "map".  There are several of these map files for PlayTape and PlayComp in the Technology Associates archive, dating from 1981 to 1983.  However, one is much older, MAP7.ASM dates from May 1979, and its contents are rather interesting...

 

   TITLE    "MAP7"

PSECT
CREDIT:: DECLE    32,74,101,114,114,111,108,100,32,69,108,101,99,116,114,111,110,105,99,115,0    ; Jerrold Electronics
DIRLST::
    DECLE    "DIR1  ",78,70,76,32,70,79,79,84,66,65,76,76,0,128,18    ;NFL FOOTBALL
    DECLE    "BASKET",78,66,65,32,66,65,83,75,69,84,66,65,76,76,0,80,18    ;NBA BASKETBALL
    DECLE    "DIR1  ",78,72,76,32,72,79,67,75,69,89,0,128,18    ;NHL HOCKEY
    DECLE    "BASBAL",66,65,83,69,66,65,76,76,0,112,18    ;BASEBALL
    DECLE    "CARDS ",66,76,65,67,75,74,65,67,75,47,80,79,75,69,82,0,80,18    ;BLACKJACK/POKER
    DECLE    "CHECKR",67,72,69,67,75,69,82,83,0,80,18    ;CHECKERS
    DECLE    "DIR1  ",67,72,69,83,83,0,128,18    ;CHESS
    DECLE    "DIR1  ",66,65,67,75,71,65,77,77,79,78,0,128,18    ;BACKGAMMON
    DECLE    "MATH  ",69,76,69,67,32,67,79,77,80,65,78,89,32,77,65,84,72,0,80,18    ;ELEC COMPANY MATH
    DECLE    "DIR1  ",80,85,80,80,69,84,32,84,72,69,65,84,69,82,0,128,18    ;PUPPET THEATER
    DECLE    "DIR1  ",67,79,76,79,82,83,32,38,32,83,72,65,80,69,83,0,128,18    ;COLORS & SHAPES
    DECLE    "DIR1  ",83,80,69,69,68,32,82,69,65,68,73,78,71,0,128,18    ;SPEED READING
    DECLE    "DIR1  ",66,65,84,84,76,69,83,84,65,82,32,71,65,76,65,67,84,0,128,18    ;BATTLESTAR GALACT
    DECLE    "DIR1  ",84,65,78,75,32,66,65,84,84,76,69,0,128,18    ;TANK BATTLE
    DECLE    "DIR1  ",83,69,65,32,66,65,84,84,76,69,0,128,18    ;SEA BATTLE
    DECLE    "DIR1  ",65,73,82,32,66,65,84,84,76,69,0,128,18    ;AIR BATTLE
    DECLE    "DIR1  ",83,75,73,73,78,71,0,128,18    ;SKIING
    DECLE    "DIR1  ",84,69,78,78,73,83,0,128,18    ;TENNIS
    DECLE    "DIR1  ",66,79,87,76,73,78,71,0,128,18    ;BOWLING
    DECLE    "DIR1  ",71,79,76,70,0,128,18    ;GOLF
    BIDECLE 0

 

In addition to the familiar early games we see some unreleased titles, Puppet Theater, Colors & Shapes, Speed Reading and Air Battle.  Along with these, Armor Battle and Space Battle are listed with their earlier names Tank Battle and Battlestar Galactica.  Air Battle went on to become Triple Action Biplanes, and mention of Puppet Theatre had previously been found here, however, it looks as though Colors & Shapes and Speed Reading are previously unknown, at least as Master Component titles.  Perhaps something for @cmart604 to be on the lookout for in 2022?

 

Does this mean that Jerrold had access to these prototype games?  Perhaps, although I'm a little suspicious that these games have "DIR1" as their PlayCable stream names, rather than the more specific names like "BASBAL", this might indicate that these entries are just placeholders, and there are no other files related to these games in the archive.

 

Anyway, have a great new year.

 

 

Cheers

 

decle

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You are amazing!  I am really looking forward to you full 2 hour documentary on the history of the Intellivision!

Happy New Year!

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17 hours ago, 1980gamer said:

You are amazing!  I am really looking forward to you full 2 hour documentary on the history of the Intellivision!

Happy New Year!

Or a miniseries produced with Ken Burns.  That would be epic.

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18 hours ago, DZ-Jay said:

Or a miniseries produced with Ken Burns.  That would be epic.

Now we're talking 👍🏻😂

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