The Archaic Archives: Archive 1998
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=== The Archaic Archives ===

The Archaic Archives
Archive: 1998

This page was updated: July 1, 2020

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January 1998

Happy New Year!
Archaic Computer
Brian L. Crosthwaite
Where is 1984?

I had written earlier that COMDEX in the early eighties would have been a dream world for me to visit. I recall several reports from varying publications covering the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and the Computer Dealer's Expo (COMDEX) over the years. Commodore and Apple and Atari were the BIG names back then. And there were many software developers supporting just about every computer platform made. I also mentioned that now are really the golden years for us 8-bit users, as now we can get equipment at substantial savings. It seems ironic that we can now afford what we once wanted back then, only now they don't make it any more. It is truly a hit or miss world for many of us.

I heard an update from a person who works at one of those thrift stores! He said they sell a lot of commodores for parts. At least they are in the know of this machine. But what of those not so popular machines?

Tech Tip number 1000.

Ok, now that it is winter, I want to go to the desert and look at the stars! Micro Illusion's Sky Travel, or Planetarium when commodore marketed it, is a portable software solution. If you have either an SX-64 or a laptop or other luggable with C64 emulator you are all set. The original program is still one of the best Astronomy Program for watching the sky there is. It was published for the commodore 64, Apple II and Mac platforms. You can print custom sky charts for any time of year for any location on earth. All you need is a computer, printer and your local Longitude and Latitude. For the journey, you will need an AC adapter (for the SX-64 and luggable options), and your trusty telescope.

Time is yet a factor.

I used to dream of the day (night) when Antony and I would setup my SX64 on the porch and follow the heavens with my telescope. Well, time slipped by and we never did it. That porch is long gone, but we have taken to the sky, with the C128D and an open clear sky. Hale Bop forced our hand -- that, and the fact I was no longer working away from the house. We plotted our charts and did mostly naked eye observing. But during the warm months we were looking, it was hard to keep us both up late. Now, enter a Vanagon. I want to get a DC/AC adapter, and they have dropped substantially in price. Circumstances forced us to get a larger vehicle, and the Vanagon gives us the room to put food, drink, computers and telescopes along with all of us on board. More on this as the story develops.

Sky Travel.

Sky Travel allows you to see some land objects. Sort of a special treat for those who wish to look into it. During a TVBUG demo, we got a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower.

Just a note about the C64 version. If you are only planning to run it on a C64 or C128 with a 1541 the Sky Travel version is fine. However, it incorporates a fast loader that is not present on the original release: Planetarium. This fast load programs the 1541 drive, and it will lockup if it is not a 1541 drive. The older version works well from 1571 as well as CMD's Hard Drive and should work equally well from a 1581 drive. I know of no other difference between the two programs.

Tip number two.

This has come back to haunt us all. Check out the tip located at WebBBS. If you have a tip for this new pseudo-series of computes on the read, why not type it up, and eMail it to me at I would love to hear from writers and programmers and users from all walks of cyber-life.

Atari Eight-bit Cyberlife.

Does it exist? I have yet to log onto the net via an Atari 8-bit. I should have taken advantage of the shell Delphi provided so very long ago. If you live such a life, let us know -- this is the place to share it.

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February 1998

Archaic Computer

Brian L. Crosthwaite

Kids and Computers, a posting on the Mousam River Community WebBBS, reflects the modern day slant on the concept of kids and what computers can and are doing for them.

It seems, however, that what's old has become new again. Recently, my daughter Natasha has gotten the Jump Start Preschool software. Many of the things on it I have out in the far reaches of the Studio. Many I could easily put on my HD and she could play to her hearts content. But during the day, we are usually not near the studio, the process of changing the programs is not always an easy one and is certainly beyond what she can follow through with on her own at her age.

But with Preschool she can access all the programs from inside one shell program. The programs are now activities (what they were originally) and she can pick where she wants to go in the virtual classroom and do what she wants to do on her own.

Of course, not all the activities are identical to the old ones. Certain refinements and improvements exist -- sounds are samples, photos contain full color and lots of detail.

Over all speed, however seems a bit slower. The C64 uses an analogue synthesizer and the photos are lower in resolution and therefore less stuff has to load. Whereas with the PowerMac programs have lots and lots of extra drivers and support software that has to load as well as the sounds and pictures themselves. Perhaps if the commodore didn't have JiffyDOS it might even things out a bit.

You can see the new speeds of computers come into play with games and other programs that have lots and lots of animation (during the run -- not the load). It seems all the things like spread sheets, word processors, and other seemingly mundane programs have no real advantage over things like Steinman's Spread Sheet and The Write Stuff much beyond integration (scrap out from your WP and zap into your paint program -- since they are both open). But then there is GEOS for that.

The bigger, more powerful computers have a definite advantage. More memory, new graphics technology. The C64 has the new graphics modes (none of which have I seen yet, as the people who make these things seem to drag their feet when it comes to sending me these things (IFLI or what ever they are)). There is a lot of talk about them, about how great these new modes are and the problems and how they are over come, but I have yet to SEE any of these. But I digress...

This is not the folly of the C64 or Atari 800 -- I have seen photographic images on both that were simply astounding. But the people who put these pictures into these computers were more into getting the pictures into the computers rather than programming any games that incorporated these pictures.

Sound samples can and have been added to the C64 programs (Cave of the Word Wizard, Space Taxi, Digital Nightmare etc.). So, why are these features not as plentiful on these older platforms?

I think it is purely a sign of the times. Programs didn't do things like this in the times the developers were programming these computers -- we were just getting an idea of what to do with computers, how to do what we wanted and, of course, that whole standards thing. During these times, just about every program that did similar things did them differently. Developers were reinventing the wheel every time they started a new project. And sometimes they had to, they were on a different platform (p-code wasn't all it was cracked up to be and C was still stuck on UNIX).

As experience and expectations changed so did the programs. I have before me an 8088 with nothing more than Hercules graphics, but some of the more modern programs work well with it, displaying images in a flash. It was not the PC's lack of graphics, but rather the expectations of what was possible. Coupled with the fact that there were so many different graphics compatibilities from the zillions of different computer manufacturers it was not fully seen in the minds of programmers and public alike what could be done on the PC. But, alas, some standards arose that prevailed.

There were a lot of programs that blew minds back then and you'll find yourself just as astounded as those who saw them 15 years ago did as you find them second hand, given the 8-bit expectations.

Some of my (still) Olde Tyme favourite? Beyond the Forbidden Forest, Super Huey, Captain Blood, Echelon, Omega Race, Test Drive II -- The Dual, to name a few.

If you find yourself not buying something, because you are not interested -- make sure. In this day and age, some of these older titles are hard to come by and you may just be surprised.

Perhaps we all realize, being the informed individuals we are, that the biggest problem of the Year 2000 bugs will be embedded systems that use the date. Things like pump stations along the Alaskan Pipeline, and stuff at electrical plants. It is said that 10 out of 100 will fail, but the real problem is the not knowing which 10. For more info check out the Year 2000 posting in the message base at the WebBBS.

I have a problem here at home. I use R. E. Jansen's Control Panel++ 1.5 and have it auto configured to allow me to set the time and date on my Atari 520ST. I checked it for entering 00 as the year and it would not take it. Not only would it not take it, the only dates it will accept have to be between 88 and 99. In fact, after setting it for 23:59 12/31/98 and letting it turn over then resetting, the date read 2028 for the year! It turned over ok, but lost it's brain after reset. This is, indeed, a bummer.

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March 1998

Archaic Computer

Brian L. Crosthwaite

It was the year I got my REU. I over heard a conversation between a friend of mine and my next door neighbor. She said I was real smart. I did things with my computer and I was a whiz -- words to that effect. I programmed my computer since day one. That's about all you can do with a Timexs/sinclair 1000. It was what you did with computers back then.

I was mystified. I had no idea. I was more into audio, as in stereo and tape and recording my own radio show. The funny thing was, I had gotten one of the best computers for audio around -- the C64. But my interest was in graphics, and when she said those things, I was programming at the time. But I really had no idea.

In fact, I missed the computer revolution. There I said it. Historian? -- blatant fraud. I hated history anyway (as a subject in school) even though I got an A in it at the time. Maybe it was a B. But I had the heart of an early pioneer without the hands on, at the user group, reading everything (I didn't like Compute's Gazette and I thought Uptime was a PC thing).

Ok, I thought I missed it. Even though I was in the heart of it, well, maybe the larynx. I was there as it unfolded. Without a clue, no disk drive, no cassette. But that was not the case, for in my eyes it was only an illusion -- one I apparently believed. I had a tape recorder. That is how I got into my recording thing. I used it with the T/S1000. However, I was hand writing everything I did on the 64. At least for the longest time at the beginning. By the time I got my REU I was using GEOS with a 1541 clone and a joystick.

I didn't miss it at the time. I was busy, I was doing it. I just missed it after it was over. Or after a lot of time had passed -- real time, not PC time. It was 8 years or so. Maybe less. In PC time it would have been a century and the C64 was a dinosaur long since extinct. It was when I saw that the VIC 20 was no longer being made. When she said those words, I thought, "am I?" It was kinda strange.

So what happened? Too much, for time slowed down. It was slow to begin with, then I got married and started a family and time sped up. Or at least there was little of it. Then it hit, so much started to happen that the CR (Computer Revolution) slipped further and further from now. It was now that the true story begins. The story of the computer and where it will go.

Only recently has that Kludge become slightly usable. It has taken 300Mhz to get it started, and tons and tons of crap to make it look and sound good.

I was playing with my COLT (V20 chip -- 80286 related) and found it quite nice. Even with color and sound (photos look like photos, samples don't fill all RAM), but it was an old computer. Like the Xerox 820-II or the Kaypro IV. But the commodore 64, Amiga 1200 and Atari 800 are the computers. They are the hardware machines, something that even the Mac can't really claim. Too many have afforded to use soft architecture on the PC and failed. The multi-processor machines of the past... Well I think it is bed time and I will have to finish another day.

                               .....end of line.

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April 1998

Archaic Computer


Brian L. Crosthwaite

Program portability.

The name of the game. Or at least, it used to be. You may have gotten into languages such as C, because you could easily port your code from one computer (say the commodore 64) to another (like the Atari 800 or the TI99/4A). It was fun. It was practical. It was a royal pain in the rear!

When I started digitizing thunder strikes, I found I could only get two fairly good ones from 20 minutes of some rather amazing video. It was moving, so to speak. A time exposure would be the way to go, to get more than one strike. You see, when the video is moving, there is a flash, then another, then another. The brain is not done processing the info of the first strike before the second and third strikes occur. The results are spectacular.

But I wanted something a little easier. I don't have time to sit and wait until August, then remember to set up before a storm forms and so on. I was thinking about how lightning travels downward. And outward. How it travels in general, and I thought, "I can do that on the computer!"

I happen to be working on Multiplot, the Amiga version of geoGraghs, so AMOS was up and waiting for me. It took about two one and a half hour morning sessions to pretty much create a finished program -- not polished, but it did the job and it was spectacular. I immediately ported it over to the Atari ST. Soon there was an PC and Apple ][ version. I wrote a GEOS version and am presently working on a C128 specific version. Last night I finished the Epson PX-8 version.

All in rather portable code -- BASIC. Beginner's All Symbolic Instruction Code (or at least, that is what my vintage dictionary and computing hand book calls it -- I learned it as All-purpose, but that may be a topic for next month!).

Between various BASICs, there are subtle differences, some that are annoying, some that are not always convenient, but none, too baffling. DRAW, LINE, PLOT, PSET, all pretty much work the same way. Personally, I like GFA BASIC's use of PLOT. It can be used like LINE or DRAW or PSET. And AMOS is very backwards compatible. I can use line numbers if I feel so inclined. I can leave the I out of NEXT I. I don't need to enter spaces (the much dreaded part of GW and many other incarnations of MS-BASIC).

The biggest difference is how RND(n) works. Many BASICs don't care what n is. Many BASICs use n as a seed, while still others use it as the multiplier or maximizing value. None I have used lately, use RANDOMIZE to actually randomize like ST BASIC and Amiga BASIC. And those that handle it as a seed value handle them differently. The C128 uses n based on it's relative position to zero. If it is zero, or greater than zero, or less than zero.

All in all, the program code has fallen into place rather well. While a major portion of the coding was done originally on the Amiga, a couple of new ideas were coded on the ST. (I just remembered, the Atari has been dug out and the Atari version will soon follow!)

The PC and Apple versions are taking the longest, partly because of lack of access to the machines (the room is full of computers being cleaned up for the Antique Computer Store) and partly due to the color handling on both computers (using GW-BASIC and Apple Integer BASIC respectfully). The Apple will be converted to Super BASIC and compiled and hopefully everything will workout.

The Apple does not always hand color well, the white on black turns either blue, green or yellow -- unless it is next to a pixel (two pixels wide), then the plot will look white. I have a version that doubles up the plots and it works rather well. I will combine the two into one that will run on either composite (NTSC) or CGA (RGBI).

The PC version will need more time for consideration. It can't plot white, so it plots blue. Doesn't look bad, but it is rather strange. There is also an 80 column version that will be combined into one resolution selectable program. When I say combined, it is more of just a matter of including two sets of maximum points and color sets (very little code really) and a way to handle them.

And I guess, now is a good of a time as any to announce the Macintosh version as well. Much like the PX-8, it will be strictly monochrome as I do not have a color Mac and the program, unfortunately will not run on a PowerMac without the 68000 emulator, something that our PowerMac lacks as it was bought used and someone removed it long ago. :(

A Windoze version? Not likely, you'll have to launch it as a DOS file. Although, since it is not timed in anyway, it should really scream on a 200+ Mhz system.

Rending time does take a while. But not because it is in BASIC. It just has to do some serious (or silly) calculating, and as Tigger once said, "That's what BASIC does best!!" I'm sure ML would speed things up a bit, but not enough to go through getting it there. I may compile them, but that will be another day.

In the meantime, the C128 version uses two screens and is waycool if you have two monitors (not required, but real nice). The 80 column is where the menu resides and the 40 column is where the rendering takes place. And yes it does have a screen blanking, "close to" 2 Mhz (after all it does most of it's work in the VIC registers) turbo mode!

The completion date has been set in stone -- "They shall be done when they are finished!"

Most of the higher evolved BASICs have some backward compatibility to them. GFA allows you to use THEN within the IF...ENDIF structure and most all BASICs let you type LET I=1. (Does anybody use LET anymore? I don't think I've used it since my HP3000-T/S1000 daze.)

Some even have the ability to load text into their editors to convert from other forms of BASIC -- remember that many BASICs store tokens on disk rather than simple a text file, commodores for example. You can save your file as a text file from the computer or BASIC it was written on/in and load it into the new editor via load, merge or import. This promotes further port ability.

Some of these, however, will tell you about some error or another when they try to load the stuff in. This is cam be because some editors expect a lack of line numbers (Quick BASIC), while others try to enter the text as a line of code and auto check it (GFA). Both of these try to defeat the cause. But never fear, the text editor is here! You can load the file into a word processor and place in line numbers and change code, delete lines that won't work, etc.

You can also have your file set itself up by stripping line numbers or adding them, by writing a program that resaves your program for you. You may have to do that anyway, as many of the older versions of BASIC may not allow you to save files straight onto disk from BASIC as a text file. If you have to code a saver, might as well have the saver change the stuff for you!

All in all BASIC is a fairly portable code. As with any language, there are different dialects and there will be changes to meet the needs of a given machine. These necessary changes lead to programs customized for that machine allowing for better optimization.

.....end of line.

Project Tophat is now underway, in fact almost finished. You can tell I am project oriented when I give cleaning the garage a name. Anyway, there is now a big playroom and the dieHards have a new home. I have a few empty boxes to put into storage and some items I am moving (eBay, yardsale, Antique Computer Store, etc) but the furniture is all moved and all major shifting and sorting is done.

I did the garage in 3 days after all the dHs were gone! It took well over two weeks to move the dHs!!

Now the fun begins! I can do the updates to the Gallery and AC! I have two programs in the works that I am just finishing the Amiga versions of for the ST and GEOS (one GEOS version in already done and posted)/ So much has happened during my one week absence!


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May 1998

Archaic Computer
Brian L. Crosthwaite
Ah, java.

I loved my espresso. It was small, but very satisfying. One cup in the morning kept me goin' all day. But everyone else would laugh at my little "coffee" cup. The handle was not as big as those cups used by the others. And now all the coffee drinkers are using big mugs, the kind you can wrap your hand around the handle -- I guess you have to or you might drop the thing -- they looked heavy.

One morning I took my little espresso cup up to the counter and said, "I think I'll trade this in for one of those big cups of coffee."

"Do you want a cup -- or a mug," the man at the counter asked?

"Hmm, I don't have much change on me, better make it a cup."

I didn't get any change back, in fact I had to give the man a thirty-seven cents, but I finely got to try a coffee. I sat down at the table where I had been scanning the classifieds for yardsales. I was a little annoyed at the fact I either had to rearrange the newspaper to get the larger saucer to fit on the table or set it on top of the paper. I chose the latter, which was a big mistake, for with the larger cup I had to hold the saucer a little differently than I'm used to and I hadn't noticed that it was still wet. I guess that coffee cups and mugs are in such demand the poor dishwasher barely has enough time to get them cleaned before they get used again.


Well, the home-brew coffee has been around a while and I just used to have my espresso. I couldn't wait to get some real coffee going at home. My old stove-top espresso maker didn't cost me much when I bought it several years ago, so it wasn't much of a surprise when the lady at the store said it was obsolete and she couldn't take it in trade. The new coffee maker was rather large, but I managed to make room for it on the counter, next to that old, but reliable toaster.

One of the first things I noticed was that coffee takes more water. Hmm, ok. Then I had to get coffee. I couldn't believe it took more coffee per cup than my espresso took.

To top things off, I started to nod off when I was doing some reading -- while I was drinking the coffee, so I had to drink more coffee. My coffee bill was getting higher, along with my water bill. I started to have second thoughts about selling my espresso maker at that last yardsale.

To further my aggravation, the coffee maker made huge spills on the counter, wasting coffee. The maker took even more water to clean it.

I took a big breath, choked it in and bought the mug. No saucer to worry about and more coffee per trip to the pot. Another aggravation: I'd have to stop what I was doing and get up to get more coffee and then try to get back into the groove of what I was doing before, which often took half a mug of coffee, which was better than what it was like with just the cup.

Just like the big boys.

I've made the transformation. I am a coffee drinker. Definitely current on the times. I can get the latest and greatest coffees from any store that sells coffee and after a few adjustments on brewing time, water to coffee ratios, how much to grind it (according to what kind and how old the coffee is) and I can make a close to fairly consistent cup of coffee just about every time.

They were the best of times.

I sometimes miss the old days. I could grind the beans the same every time. Put the same amount of coffee in the small, easy to clean, stove-top, espresso maker. My small cup could fit on my computer bench, right next to my old C64.

Ah, those were the days.

.....end of line.

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June 1998

Archaic Computer

Brian L. Crosthwaite
As The Story Goes....

These are little tidbits of information from the computer annals as I know them. Just off the cuff, so with that in mind:

Epson had made only six thousand PX-8s. It was a follow-up computer to the HX-20, which had half the screen size and twice the price. DAK Industries bought them as Epson had decided to deep six them. I don't know if Epson contacted Drew or if he heard about it through his channels.

His wife, I believe, wrote the code for DAKCOMM the term program that was released on ROM Capsule.

The package deals they put together were hot. 128k RAM units, 64k RAM units with 300 baud modems, Wordstar, a spread sheet, BASIC, a planner, a Seikosha printer, and a slew of other options.

DAK Industries is dearly missed.

The way I heard it through the rumor mill, was that Jack Tramiel, while still at Commodore had convinced Irving Gould to buy the Amiga. Hmm, that must have meant that it was before the Amiga crew knew they were in dire straights.... No wonder he had a cow when he had acquired Atari and Commodore acquired Amiga. He must have thought the Amiga people were working with him -- rather than Commodore. Now this does not fit the time line, as Jack left before the commodore 64 release.

I read on the WebBBS that Jack finally is getting his Amiga. He has recently unloaded the remainder of Atari onto Hasbro (that's just too weird!), remember Atari Home Games went to Midway a few years ago. He has a license to make an Amiga clone. Should be out by mid-November.

The PCjr was only manufactured for one year.

What ever happened to Commodore Semiconductor (MOS Technologies)?

The first issue of The PET Gazette was written before the author even owned a PET. He saw one at a local shop and it was seriously getting ignored. He sat down and started messing with it. A crowd gathered. Store management ask him to stay and come back the next day(s).

Before the publishers of Compute! took over The PET Gazette, he was shipping over 4000 issues to users at not cost to them, asking only for donations if anyone wanted to send any.

Compute!'s Gazette was soon born. It then vanished for a moment in time when a new publisher bought the company and a few months later reappeared in the October 1990 issue of the new Compute as the Gazette Edition. It then had a couple of forms, one of which was the Multi-User Edition or the Multi-Buyer. It was known as the Multi-User Edition to it's readers and the Multi-Buyer to it's fulfillment agency. Kinda strange.

It then packed it's bags and set out on the magnetic frontier. Ok, that's just a romantic term -- there had already been many, many disk based publications -- it became a disk based magazine. And then it happened. The February issue of 1995 came out and said goodbye.

A couple of other Commodore specific publications were hopefuls in taking over subscriptions, but they fell through. One commodore specific publication, dieHard, the Flyer for commodore 8bitters, did manage to make an agreement with the Editor of the late publication. Meanwhile, the parent company to The Flyer was struggling to stay afloat. When it finally sank, it took The Gazette and the numerous remaining Compute! Books and back issues with it (they hadn't actually taken physical possession of anything).

Microsoft made (or at least sold) a mouse that had a steel ball in it. The TRS-80 mouse, too, had a steel ball.

Maybe we should let Gary Kildall rest in peace. I'm sure CP/M would allow for better tasking, but what's done is done. Go UNIX, go Sun, go Amiga....

The commodore 128 is internally expandable to 512K.

The 286 has protected mode, it's just not very wide. Windows 3.0 will run on a 286 and it has that really cool solitaire with it along with Reversi (Othello). PC/GEOS will run on an 8088.

The 80386 should have been called the 80382.

.....end of line.

If I have erroneous, repeated, of omitted information, you can remind me at -- thanks in advance.

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July 1998

A r c h a i c C o m p u t e r

Brian L. Crosthwaite

The Idiocy of the Media at Large.

Well, as some have heard there are plans for the Amiga to go MS-DOS. You might as well say it like that, as it makes as much sense. You see, Gateway made an announcement at the World Of Amiga in London and many people listened to it all and others, either those of whom have no idea what an Amiga is or those who are so adamant in their hate for the x86 platform, didn't listen.

They did say x86. But it is a bridge, a stepping stone. If you want the new AmigaOS, you would have to wait 2 years. Two more years.

However, I'd say that many Amiga users want a bridge and Gateway seems to think so too.

OS 5 is to be more than a new OS, it will be a new Amiga. Much like the AGA and all that, was so long ago. But it is slated for the end of 1999. So, in the meantime, while the chip set is being designed, there will be 4.0.

Now, they are planning the soft side first, in this case and with reason -- to have something for developers. That way, when the long (and I mean Long) awaited upgrade (I hate that word) Amiga arrives there will be plenty of current support.

This 4.0 sounds like a card to me (and there may well be one), but it must be a computer since they said it would be complete at less than $1000 sans the monitor. The CPU will have an x86 series chip in it, I'm guessing because of cost -- hey, they already have connections for those. But it is only a stepping stone for development. And yes, it will be available to John Q Public. (That's you and me kid.)

5.0 will most likely be the next generation of the E series chip (Power Chip).

I won't smash any kitchens up with a frying pan, but, "any questions?"

.....end of line.

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August 1998

Archaic Computer
Brian L. Crosthwaite

The Dilemma.

I want to make a work bench that will house 12 computers that will fit in an 80 * 36 inch floor space. No problem, just stack them up. These computers are not conventional computers (computers that have everything inside, like drives modem, memory, that sort of thing). Those would stack, keyboards could be cut down in number by using AB boxes, as well as the number of mice and monitors.

What is the problem, is that, as most of you know, computers from the 80s (the real cool ones like Ataris and commodores) are not like that. They are console computers. These are basically a keyboard with the CPU under it and everything plugs in to it. Modems, disk drives, memory expansion, cartridges, plus the normal stuff like mice, monitors and some (extended consoles), like the commodore 128D, have separate keyboards. Add in a hooded console (a console with a built in monitor) like the PET 4032 or the SuperPET and space vanishes fast.

The area a console computer takes up gets nasty rather quickly. The workspace on my workbench is 80 inches by 36 inches. With two 128Ds and their peripherals sprawled throughout most of the space, there is little room for anything else.

I have designed a riser system that could hold all the machines and peripherals, but it is two feet too wide in the present design state!

I'm actually using CADPAK128 for this project and seem to be getting rather accurate results upon printout. In order for geoPaint to give accurate printouts, I have to remove the Epson FX-80 emulation cartridge, and use the HP DeskJet driver. And you know how much I hate to unplug stuff!

The one thing that drives me nuts is the fact that CADPAK has no built in calculator. Never mind the time involved when the positioning phase gets skipped and I have to use the fine positioning to make a large object, never mind the irritation of waiting for my non-JiffyDOS drive to save the 8 or so files for one page as it will not save to 1581 or HD, I want my calculator! (Maybe I should try plugging in Partner.)

Once you get used to CADPAK, it really isn't that bad. The placement mode gets skipped when I am working in the lower left hand part of the drawing. I am presently using the keyboard mode because of other system configurations. While it does a rather good job, it may too tedious for some.

I have identified 11 base computer types as far as the packages they are put in. I drew them out in red pen, so my scanner can't detect them, to make matters worse, they are on orange/yellow paper! So, rather than a picture, here is a textual rundown. Ok, I also added Palmtop for those of you that would get after me (keep in mind that these are but, basic guidelines for describing computers, and that while a computer may fall into one of these categories it may not fit the profile exactly):

I will have to rethink the present layout-in-the-works to downsize the space involved. It maybe as simple as moving the huge drive from the top and putting on the bottom. There will be a photo when all is said and done, rest assured.

.....end of line.

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September 1998

Real World Applications

  Subject:         What happened to Commodore MOS facility?
     Date:         Mon, 24 Aug 1998 19:40:18 EDT
     From:         VA

I was reading a posting you had asking about MOS Technology. Hate to break it to you...... They're gone.

I worked for a place called Bid Service a few years back. We bought, refurbished, and sold semiconductor process equipment (called "tools" in the industry). Two of our employees were from Commodore, located in Pennsylvania. Both agreed (this is around 1993) that the plant wouldn't last much longer, since mass layoffs had already occurred, and Commodore's facility was no longer manufacturing chips. Around 1994, I had received a flyer advertising a major auction of semiconductor process tools. The facility turned out to be Commodore's, and the auction was one for bankruptcy (I think it was called chapter 13 - liquidation of all assets) and even the building would be sold. As badly as I wanted to go to this auction, the boss turned me down, so that's all I know.

Here's a little trivia for you...... While at Bid Service, I worked on two Benchmark environmental enclosures, or "gloveboxes". Both had dual vacuum ovens controlled by.... C-128's!

The computer systems were "industrialized" C-128 systems with the keyboards removed and relocated. The dual disk drives were 1571's mounted into standard 19" rack configuration, with their faces protruding for access. The game and user ports had edge connectors inserted for digital and analog I/O. Upon program execution, the input oven would pump down, ramp up to the specified temperature, and vent to atmosphere, serving as an "airlock" of sorts. The exit oven would behave similarly for removing the parts. One of these systems also included a seamsealer (attached picture is of this system) for welding the "cans" which held the chips shut.

Nobody (including our "Commodore" facility techs) could make these things work, and avoided them like the plague. Later I discovered that I was the only one in our company that was "enlightened" by owning (in my case several) Commodore computers. Eventually, we got an order in for purchase, and since I recognized the keyboards right off the bat, I volunteered to check them out myself. We had the software, and after listing the directories, it was a simple matter to make them work. The ovens operated in native 128 mode, and I was able to easily modify the disks for autoboot. The seamsealer worked in C-64 mode (Believe it or not!) and was a little trickier, but I was able to make it autoboot as well. Both systems ran extremely well, and the last I heard were still being used by our customers.

I was personally amazed at seeing Commodore computers used in this manner. Analog inputs such as pressure and temperature were sampled continuously, and analog outputs controlled temperature and weld speed (on the seamsealer). Digital I/O controlled the vacuum pumps, pump/vent logic, heat on/off, weld power on, etc.

The attached picture will give you a look at the seamsealer/dual computer unit. Sorry about the quality - I was concerned about bandwidth. If you want a better shot for your website, your own use, whatever, let me know and I'll rescan it.



Benchmark environmental enclosure.

The PX

I have been getting lots of people asking about the PX-8. Where to get batteries is the number one question. Here is an excerpt from an email concerning PX-8 batteries:

Subject: Re: PX-8
   Date: Thu, 3 Sep 1998 13:44:30 -0700 (PDT)
   From: Skip Premo
     To: noesis0

I located the batteries in the catalogue on SANYO's web site through Alta Vista. The main battery pack is a four-cell, shrink wrapped affair which I took the leads and connector off to put on my new soldered-together pack. These "sub-C" cells are Sanyo N-1300SC Cadnicas w/long solder terminals, purchase from Car-Go Battery Co. in Denver (Phone 800/727-4100)- ask for Dan. The Multi-Unit has a side-by-side pack of four AA cells (Sanyo n-500AA w/long solder leads) which I also resoldered and repackaged. The mother board stick similar to Sanyo's NSB-4.

Try Sanyo for more info than you'll ever need on rechargeable batteries.

Replacing all of these batteries cost me about $35, Express Mail included.

Again, thanks so much.


Apple ][ or not To Apple

My Apple support is up in the air. I have not had time to pursue the Apple lately and am pondering weather or not to continue offering support since I haven't really given much support to it. Once in a blue moon I get queries regarding the Apple ][. I will at least post some helpful URLs and FTPs. I do have some softs planned and those will be posted. I hate to neglect such a fine part of history and a fine machine, but right now there are just too many projects.

The Final Sale

Well, the time has come. Doug and Ruth need the space the dieHards are taking up. I have lowered the price to $1 an issue on the web site. Any creative ideas would help. I have 65 or so of about half the available issues on order and was planning to pick-up maybe 50 or so issues to keep for the web site while the rest are to go to recyclers. Bummer!

Back to top.

October 1998

The Locked Door


B. L. Crosthwaite

The clatter of the 1541 pierced the silence like an arrow into my heart. I shot back from the workbench almost falling out of my chair. I had to laugh at myself, I was the one who decided to format the disk, I was the one who issued the command -- what had I expected? It is always the first thing that happens to the drive when you go to format a disk. It must have been the images of The Shining still filling my head.

I need to get that jack-o-lantern program I wrote onto floppy so I can go to bed.

I started to load FCOPY, when there was a knock at my door. At first it was a soft knock, almost un-noticeable. I thought, "Who could that be, it's almost midnight?" Then I realized that the door was wide open -- it must have been branch banging the garage in the wind. Then it came again.

Now there is another door, one that leads to the outside, but it is one of those old, long forgotten things that was sealed long ago. There is a bookcase in front of it, so I can't open it. The knock grew persistent. I replied, "Just a minute." I went into the house, out the front door, and around the corner to investigate.

Upon arriving at the door at the outside, I found nothing, but the wind throwing leaves around in the chilled night air. The moon was shining and everything had an eerie glow. The two girls and the blood flowing from the elevator from the movie I had just watched popped back into my mind. Needless to say, it was a short trip back into the house and out to the well lit Studio.

I got the file copied and was ready to feel that pillow hit my head, when I distinctly heard an almost child-like voice, maybe it was a woman's. Now I cannot fully recall, but the voice clearly said, "Help me." Now I knew someone was out there, so this time I went out the back way, careful to be very quite. If there was someone in trouble and there was someone else involved, I wanted to keep my options open. I encircled the house in it's entirety. There was nothing there. I ran and got the flash light from the garage -- again I heard the voice beckoning to me, but what it said that second time, I know not.

I looked in all the bushes, starting at the locked door. I found nothing. I searched the parameter. I then opened and closed the door at the back of the house, making sounds as if returning inside. But instead, I darted into the bushes, my heart pounding, thinking I wouldn't let the courier of this prank go unpunished. I waited there for what must have been only a minute or two, but as you can well guess, felt like an hour. The knock returned!

What I saw was well beyond the scope of an explanation falling into the you- shouldn't- watch- scary- movies- when- you- are- exceptionally- tired category -- I saw what appeared to be a young woman, possibly a teenage girl in a nightgown that was flowing in the wind. Her left hand on the doorknob turning it frantically from side to side, to which the door remain locked, while pounding the door with her right fist. It hadn't occurred to me, at least, not at that moment, that it was dark there by the door and the light there was coming from her. She glanced behind as though she feared some gruesome pursuer.

It was then, I stepped out of the bushes to offer help, when she vanished into the light from a passing car. I asked if anyone was there, knowing well there would be no answer. There was none. The wind had calmed and the moon returned from it's hiding spot behind the clouds. There was no trace of the girl and no evidence that she had ever been there. Perhaps it was all in my over-tired imagination.

Was I over-tired? Or did I witness the return of the apparition of a girl who had been hideously murdered? Before moving here, we had heard, rumors really, of a girl who was fleeing some unknown assailant, killed at a locked door that she must have thought open. We never knew which house, or if the stories were even true.

Then I remembered. I had almost forgot. Last year, about this time, I was working at my computer and had answered a similar knock. I had found no one. I had accredited it to kids and dispatched to bed, not giving it another thought -- until now.

Happy Halloween Everybody!!!!!!!!

Archaic Computer

Brian L. Crosthwaite

Well, the origin of the home computer is often debated and the Altair usually wins. Many of us got our starts on the ZX-80, ZX-81 or the Timex/sinclair 1000. From the annals of computer time come many a machine. The KIM, and the Apple are often forgot as lore. The Apple II seems to be scarce (I have several Apple II computers, but they are IIe, rather than II), but it's family of computers is referred to as the Apple or Apple II.

The C64 has many incarnations. The old brown box we remember it as, the Educator 64, the SX-64, the C128, the 64c, the C128D, the C65. There is, of course, the revisited, or in the case of the Web.It, the reincarnation of the C64 through emulation.

Now emulators are not new. I have been using the 4032 emulator on the 8032 and SuperPET as well as the PET and VIC20 emulators on the C64 (usually the C128D's C64 mode that, since it has no 6510, is often referred to as emulating). These emulators are old hat, in fact, they are old -- period.

I often use A64 on the CDTV. A64 is a commodore 64 emulator that runs on the Amiga family of computers. It came with the adapter necessary for the connection of a 1541 drive. I am using the ROM image option, since I have a real C64 -- only I got the image from my C128D. An emulator, emulating an emulator!?

There are many emulators out there, and if you have looked around the Internet lately you have probably run into a few. You can emulate a Mac and an Amiga on a PC -- those are the amazing ones (cuz we all secretly know what P.C. stands for). C64, TRS-80, Altair, Imsai, VIC20, Atari 8-bit, Atari ST, ZX-81, the list goes on. I have a TRS-80 Model III emulator for my Atari ST and it runs on most all 16/32 bit Ataris as well as MagiC OS on the Mac and GEMulator (as well as others) on the PC -- both emulators!

Emulation gives you the chance to use an old computer you've never seen before. For those with high powered machines (I mean the kind that have to be in order to function like a computer should), you are truly in emulation heaven. While many believe the x86 chip set should have set sail ages ago, it can run emulators like, well, a Mac, Amiga, ST or other 16 or more bit computer (actually, any PC can be set up to fly, you just gotta spend some time reading the manual and setting it up right -- keep in mind fly is a relative term).

Breathing new life into an old fire? Well, maybe if all you have is a PC. These old computers are still being used by many. While the mainstream hype is aimed at business and at having a computer in your home like the one at work, game machine and Internet only crowd, it is nice to see concrete evidence that some of us still use a computer, simply for the sake of using a computer. Yes, we surf, write, create, and play games, but that is not all. Sometimes I sit down at my computer, simply because I just want to mess around.

...end of line.

Have a Frightful, Delightful Halloween!

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November 1998

Archaic Computer


Brian L. Crosthwaite

Final Cartridge III

The other day I plugged my FC3 into my 128D and did some messing around (something I have had little time to do lately). The DOS" command made navigating my HD rather easy. I went back and forth throughout subpartitions with ease, much like with JiffyDOS. The fastload routines, however are beyond useless with the HD, as it locks everything up. But directories and other DOS stuff worked wonderfully. I did not try the fastload with a 1541 emulating partition since I have none on my HD. What can I say? I'm a GEOS 2.0 user and the partitions are either native mode or 1581!

The standard procedure on the 128D is a little different than on my 128 (flat top). When you power up the 128D it goes into 64 mode -- sometimes. Or it will boot up in 128 mode. On the flat top 128, powerup always brought up the 64 mode, then reset via the 128's reset button brings up the 128 mode.

Now, my 128D is a very, very ingrained creature of habit. It must be powered up CPU 1st, then printer, then buffer (and 4ML), then HD, then FD. Under the normal workings I can power off the CPU if I need to do a major reset, and it will power up just fine as long as I powered everything up in order prior to the need to reset. Not so, with the FC3, the entire boot sequence needs to be performed again to get the CPU back online. However, since the FC3 also has a reset, I have not come across any need to power down the CPU (yet!) in order to reset. It is a rather stable system and if I do have to reset it, it is usually game related -- like those Atari games that take over the reset vector.

Ever play one of those? You can play PACMAN, reset into 128 mode, write a paper, make a card, play a 128 game, type go64 and voila! -- PACMAN is still there! 2cool! and yet somehow annoying.

My biggest complaint about the FC3 still holds. There is no copy feature. It would be really nice to copy files from drive to drive with the ease of the FC3's point and click atmosphere. My next gripe is the fact that the clock always disappears when you do anything and it zeroes itself. I have been waiting but there does not seem to be a Final Cartridge IV coming -- I'd get it!

This cart would be a cool one to have working with the CMD devices. For those who have not seen FC3, it looks very much like the old 1.3 intuition on the Amiga. It is packed with lots of goodies, like a note writer, ability to edit disk directories and more.

...end of line.

We had some kids over playing with our hoard. I was cleaning some computer and the kids were playing, coming out to the playroom (garage) and going back into the house -- you know kids, I'd like to say they were walking. Anyway, I asked them after I got what ever it was put back together, if I should fire it up. Natasha yelled, "yeah!" Lestle, less than a year younger than Natasha, got this real worried look on her face and started to back up. Later when she came out she said, "don't burn it up!"

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December 1998

Archaic Computer


Brian L. Crosthwaite

Let's look back at some way cool computers from my favorite computer manufacturer, you know, Radio Shack -- just kidding! We all know I mean the late great Commodore Business Machines. CBM was 40 years old when it let go of it's last dying breath. A 40 year old computer company may sound strange, but remember Big Blue is over 100 years old.

Lets look at the change in terms first. Today, when we enter something into the computer like ?2+7, we call it using direct mode. It used to be called calculator mode. The B128 shows this well with the [?] key on the numeric keypad. You can easily do calculations right on the screen while your brain stays in 10key mode. With any other commodore, you have to move over to the [?] key to do that. Well, most any, there are those even more elusive B256 machines.

The CPU or Central Processing Unit is just what it sounds like, it is the Unit that is central to all the processing done by a microcomputer. SPU or Secondary Processing Unit or perhaps PPU Peripheral Processing Unit could be applied to the VIC II of the C64, as well as the C128 as many things have to go through the VIC chip. Perhaps if the original VIC wasn't so exciting at the time, Commodore could have (or should have) named the C64 the VIC, as any programmer will tell you it is darn hard to avoid the VIC when programming the 64, well, ok it's hard on the VIC as well.

The VIC64 is often forgot. The VIC64 was the media- at- large's name for the 64 -- for a while at least. PET64 stuck, but was there ever a PET20? The funny thing is many of the registers in the 20 are similar to the PET's.

Here is a list of features of many commodore computers. Let me know if I spaced any or got some stuff wrong, and I'll update the info.

.....end of line.

Archaics List
If you are a developer or store owner or anyone who supports older computers and would like to be a part of the Archaics List send me an email with phone numbers, address, hours open, products (short synopsis), etc. Locals (shops that don't do mail order) are invited to participate too, just be sure to call yourself that and you will be listed as such so people in your area can get to you. Your info will be put in a list that will be posted on AC's Q & A

H noesis0 12-31-1997
hy dro gen n. Symbol H A colorless, highly flammable gaseous element, the lightest of all gases and the most abundant element in the universe, that when given enough time, makes humans. Atomic number 1, atomic weight 1.00797, melting point -259.14 deg C, boiling point -252.5 deg C, density 0.08988 gram per liter, valence 1. [French hydrogene, "water generating" (it forms water when oxidized): HYDRO- + -GEN.]
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