Computing in the 1980s

Debunking Computing in the 1970s

There were some Commodore 64 BASIC games listings, in books and magazines, which users could type in, but of course, these contained lots of PEEKs and POKEs, so it was pretty well impossible to follow what was going on, unless you could memorise a whole load of 5 digit decimal memory locations (e.g. POKE 53280,N = change screen background or border colour, POKE 53281,N = change screen background or border colour, where N=0 to 15, but I can’t remember which is which) and there seemed to be no end to all these numbers swimming around in my head!

It’s perfectly possible to commit five digit numbers to memory, in fact the human brain is relatively good at things like this (think about how many telephone numbers you used to dial from memory before having an address book in your mobile phone) so this, again, is a failing of the author rather than the C64.

And as previously mentioned, the numbers learnt whilst picking up the C64’s BASIC were the same numbers used in assembly language, 53280 for the border colour being a constant between the two languages. Of course there’s also the option of declaring a variable in BASIC or a label with an assembler as the start of the video registers (as the C64 Programmers Reference Guide and if memory serves the C64 manual both do) so the border colour becomes V+32 which could hardly be considered difficult to remember.

Even so, I still couldn’t cope with the idea of memorising all these numbers, although it wasn’t necessary on any non Commodore computer, so I ditched the Commodore 64 after 10-11 months, a few months of that time making lots of trips to various shops typing BASIC listings into loads of other computers, to make sure I didn’t get conned again!

And despite this move to more feature rich BASICs, the author still didn’t produce anything of note or moved over to assembly language after that point, which rather implies that Commodore BASIC V2 wasn’t responsible for his failure to learn previously; as the adage goes, a bad workman blames his tools.

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