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Debunking 1984

Somebody’s been very busy it seems, but don’t worry dear reader, your correspondent will catch up easily enough. The author has had yet another ridiculous little rant about the C64’s BASIC and, amusingly, lead with a poster from the Orwell book that he borrowed the post name from which bears the slogan “ignorance is strength”. Since the author has repeatedly demonstrated his ignorance, he must presumably be capable of superhuman feats and this error-laden new missive only sees those powers increasing. He’ll be leaping over tall buildings in a single bound by the end of the month.

I don’t care what software was written and what tricks were discovered some years after the Commodore 64 was released or even after I sold it in March or April 1985. I only care about the software available in 1984 and early 1985, as well as the totally inadequate BASIC supplied with the Commodore 64.

The “argument” apparently goes that, because the author gave up at that point, anything afterwards is, somehow, magically invalid as an example of what can be done with the C64. That “logic” is, of course, complete and utter arse gravy but we can lower ourselves for a moment to play this rather sad little game by pointing out that the Abacus 64 Compiler mentioned previously that can deal with Simon’s BASIC and other extended dialects was released in 1984, as was the tape-based assembler your correspondent used from 1985 to 2001. Gamebase 64 lists over 3,000 C64 games released in 1984 alone including some technically impressive titles such as Impossible Mission.

The Hex numbers listed, if used as opcodes are probably  C8 – INY, EA – NOP, 9F – STA-STX, 16 – ASL, D2 – HALT, but it’s far easier to use them on an Atari 8 bit, Apple ][, BBC Micro, or Acorn Electron than on a Commodore 64!

There’s absolutely no difference between using an INY on the C64 or another 6502-based machine; it increases the content of the Y register in both cases.

Whenever I hear about people who can somehow program the Commodore 64, I immediately wonder how they learnt to do this. I suspect it wasn’t actually on the Commodore 64, but on some other kind of computer, such as the Atari 8 bit computers, the Commodore PET, 4000, or 8000 series, the Apple ][, the BBC Micro, Acorn Electron, or Acorn Atom.

And yet there are tens if not hundreds of thousands of people who started out with the C64 (as well as the VIC 20 which, as has been noted, has the same BASIC) and learnt to program there. Just because the author believes that isn’t the case, it doesn’t change the facts of the situation or make all of the programs those people wrote invisible.

Finally, Assembly Language or Machine Code isn’t a language for BEGINNERS! Before learning it, you must learn at least one other programming language, including using all facilities of a particular computer. Commodore 64 BASIC prevented users from doing that!

Your correspondent has taught assembly language to beginners who didn’t previously have BASIC experience  and knows other people who have taken that route in the past as well (the author was also told by some people at Atari Age that they had dived straight in at machine code which he seems to have conveniently “forgotten”). Learning a high level language beforehand can make the process easier in some cases, but that step can and has been skipped over by many people in the past.

Oh, and because the post title is a reasonably obscure reference…

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