After seeing yet another topic on AtariAge about why the Commodore 64 (C-64), released in 1982, succeeded in both sales and software support, where the Atari 8-bit series, released in 1979, didn't, I thought I'd offer up my usual thoughts on the matter in a more formal manner. To my mind, it's pretty simple. While the Atari 8-bits had a roughly three year headstart, in those three years, Atari wasn't able to make much headway in the market despite having the best audio-visual potential of the time, bar-none. The missteps with the lovely, but initially flawed, Atari 1200XL, didn't do them any favors, and by the time the C-64 started picking up significant momentum in 1983 when its retail price started dropping to the point where no one was able to compete effectively with its value proposition and still turn a profit, Atari was already done, particularly since they lacked Commodore's supply chain advantages.
Certainly price was a factor in the C-64's success in the US, but in the rest of the world, particularly Europe, price was often the primary driver (e.g., long after the US standardized on reliable, but expensive disks and drives, Europeans were still using unreliable, but cheap cassettes and tape decks), making Atari's inability to produce a low cost 8-bit in a timely manner particularly devastating. The influx of talented European programmers to the C-64's software pool can't be underestimated as the Atari 8-bit line struggled to make it into homes there. It also didn't do Atari any favors that they had multiple models out in the wild with 16K - 64K of memory at that time, making it difficult to target the higher spec. We can't underestimate the value of every Commodore 64 having 64K from its first day on the market to its last, making ports to platforms without a significant user base of guaranteed 64K-spec machines less likely. [Read more]
The classic Tandy Color Computer (CoCo) series of computers featured only RF output right up until the release of the CoCo 3, which features not only RF, but also much needed color composite (mono audio) and RGB outputs. While composite is superior to RF and compatible with legacy software, for optimal use of supported CoCo 3-specific modes and software, you'll obviously want the superior RGB connection, which is incredibly sharp in comparison to the other two options. The catch with the RGB output is that the connector is non-standard and doesn't necessarily work with a wide range of monitors. (read more)
Dug out the old Amiga 1200 and hooked it up for a bit of demo watching and gaming. I have a PCMCIA compact flash adapter installed as well as a compact flash IDE interface booting into a very nice setup of Workbench and WHDLoader that allows me to run a plethora of games and demos. Here I load up one of my favourite demos created by Fairlight, quite a prolific demo-group on the various systems that can be found within the Commodore range of home computers.
This recording is done from the composite video signal. A nicer RGB signal can be taken from the Amiga but I was not able to hook that up properly for the recording of this video.
Demos really show what machines are capable of and the sounds and visuals often are quite artistic and can sometimes compete with the creations of serious graphic design students/professionals.
To this day, demos are being created on various computers and consoles often containing the various elements seen in this wonderful example. Having grown up with these home computer systems and coding myself it is fun to see how the various programmers 'evolved' and learned new techniques often typically absorbed during college computer science and math classes, resulting in even better demos.
Enjoy! And Kudos to the people from Fairlight for making this wonderful demo. I've been enjoying it a long time and will continue to do so for a long time!
A little while ago I got a second VIC-20 which was in a cosmetically almost mint condition. Sadly the motherboard has a fault where it fails to read the joystick and the keyboard correctly resulting in the controls in games not functioning. The VIC-20 I had works great but cosmetically has seen better days. The label has come off and there has been extensive yellowing of its case. One has a serial number only in the ten thousands while the other machine has a serial number well into the hundred thousand. The cosmetically good looking machine being the oldest of the two and the yellowed machine being the younger system. So the younger system works great but looks sh*t and the oldest system looks great but runs sh*t.
Secrets of the Machine - A Roadmap on Paper...
Hello everyone! I hope that your Summer is beginning well, and that nice weather showed up with it for Memorial Day. In this third installment of "The Retro Repair Adventures", we're going to take a closer look at the truly AMAZING documentation which came with the VIC-20 right out of the box. Then I'll take you through some of the other programming books gifted to me on that fateful Christmas, so long ago. I will also explain in further detail how this documentation enabled me to effect a repair for the "glitchy characters" which my ailing VIC-20 displayed in the last episode.
In this video I play quite a few of the classic arcade ports and well known games on the Commodore VIC-20. I grabbed the footage using a Pioneer HD-DVD-Recorder that allows me to grab the footage on the HD or directly on CD-R, DVD-R or DVD-RW. I use the latter so I can reuse the disc after I imported the files off the disc (a simple copy of the mpg stream) into
Okay it turned into an over an hour long extravaganza playing the games until the first game over and me babbling about the gameplay and the technology involved. Read more below...
Hot on the heels of Amiga Forever Essentials for Android, Cloanto has just released the latest "2013" versions of their popular and easy-to-use Amiga Forever and C64 Forever emulators. This is great news for old and new fans of the greatest Commodore platforms, including all versions of the Amiga series (inclusive of the CDTV and CD32), and most of the 8-bit line, including PET, VIC 20, C-64/128, and C-16/Plus4. Around here, it's among our absolute favorite emulation packages and used as pack-ins with various devices, including the MCC, so you know it has to be great.
The full press release details are below, along with all the links to the various packages available:
How to do "The Shatner Rub"...
Hello my fellow Armchair Arcadians! It's good to be back. Didn't mean to be gone so long again, but hey, Life happens. This time, I'm putting on my "Engineer Hat" (with the mandatory pocket-protector), and taking you on a Retro-Repair Adventure. In this first installment, we'll be delving into my own computing, programming, and gaming past. I'll take it easy to begin with, by giving you a close look at my very own, very beloved, and very much malfunctioning Commodore VIC-20. (We'll get to the nitty-gritty details of the electronics repair in my next posting.)
Our friends over at Cloanto have just released Amiga Forever Essentials for Android. It's a tremendous package on the PC and we'll definitely be checking out this interesting new Android version. The press release: