Monitor the monitors

Debunking The Commodore 128: the fixed and upgraded Commodore 64!

 Of course, you could draw graphics in a graphics editor or paint program, but first of all you had to buy one of these programs, and secondly, various people didn’t want to just draw graphics like this, but to calculate where the graphics would appear, as well as to produce animation.

And who are these “various people” exactly? All of the artists your correspondent has spoken to over the years used art packages regardless of the platform so the author will need to cite his sources before anybody will even consider believing him.

Unfortunately, there was a lot of brainwashing going on at the time. This brainwashing said something like “Computers?! You don’t want or need to program them! All you should do is use them to play and copy games!” I don’t know where this brainwashing came from.

It didn’t come from anywhere because there was no brainwashing going on; only a subsection of the people purchasing home computers even had an interest in programming and the rest wanted them for games, doing the accounts, word processing and other tasks. This is true of all the 8-bit machines.

Atari started off with arcade machines and games consoles, but were keen to bring out computers and encouraged people to PROGRAM them.

For the first couple of years, Atari didn’t release documentation for a lot of the Atari 8-bit series’ features and third party developers had to rely on either painstakingly disassembling Atari’s products as famed Atari 8-bit coder John Harris did or obtaining dodgy copies of hard to read internal Atari documents. That isn’t the action of a company encouraging people to program their computers and there are stories of Atari discouraging third party publishers from doing non-gaming software for their machines as well.

This makes Jack Tramiel guilty as Hell on TWO counts! Not only did the Commodore 64 have no BASIC commands for colour, graphics, or sound, BUT no Machine Code MONITOR to fall back on either! I’m surprised he didn’t get the electric chair or a lethal injection for the number of lives this has affected. Murderers often only kill one person, though, so fewer people are affected than have been by the lack of a reasonable BASIC and MONITOR on the Commodore 64.

This is another truly pathetic attack from the author which leaves your correspondent not feeling particularly inclined to continue responding in detail; instead dear reader we will skip over much of the remaining idiotic ranting and pause only to point out a couple of particularly glaring issues.

I recently found out that the reason Commodore disk drives are so slow is for the simple reason that they aren’t true disk drives, but serial devices!

The C64’s disk drives are serial devices but so are those handled by the C128 (since it uses the same six pin serial bus) and everything utilising the SIO interface on the Atari 8-bit; having a serial connection from device to computer doesn’t magically turn a disk drive into something else.

People often read or heard the phrase “You really need to learn Machine Code!”, and software houses bragging about their programs being written in 100% Machine Code, but this usually actually meant Assembly Language.

The specific brag tended to be “100% machine code” and this is, of course, true because the assembled version of the program included within the packaging was indeed machine code; the assembly language side of things remained with the developers and in many cases even the publisher didn’t see it.

The decision about whether or not to buy an Assembler, which one, for how much money, or to buy another book about BASIC V2, or another game, meant that only a small minority of C64 owners had an Assembler, but 100% of C128 owners had one at their disposal.

The C128 monitor has a one pass assembler, but that’s not the same thing as the two pass assembler people were buying for the C64 and only somebody who has never properly used either would try to assert otherwise.

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