Faulty plumbing

Debunking debunking “pipe dream projects” part 2

I’m sorry for not making any posts recently. Unfortunately, I got bogged down with debunking TMR’s debunks of my earlier posts and wondered how to make a particularly scathing de debunk.

And, as we can see dear reader, the author spectacularly failed on that particular quest, so we have to assume that an entire month isn’t long enough to either be scathing or to actually debunk anything written by your correspondent. Perhaps he needs to take more time away?

To keep it short and sweet, I did an article about a version of GW BASIC for the Commodore 64. This version of GW BASIC wasn’t available for the C64 when I owned one

And this point, dear reader, is where we no longer need to pay attention to what was written since the author says that it “wasn’t available” during his self-imposed 1984-1985 in the UK window and it is therefore completely irrelevant to his blog.

Microsoft had versions of their BASIC available for various computers, including computers using the 6502 or compatible processors. They released a BASIC for Atari 8 bit computers called “Atari Microsoft BASIC”, which was available on cartridge as well as disk.

This arrived well after the machine launched and wasn’t particularly popular with Atari users due to compatibility issues. Again, this is your correspondent’s argument against updating BASIC or indeed anything on a released product, it has all manner of potential to break both existing and future software which does nothing helpful whilst frustrating the majority of users.

I eventually decided against having an MSX as my new and only computer, because the sound chip they used was the General Instruments AY-3-8910 instead of the AY-3-8912 or another superior chip. According to my extensive investigations into MSX BASIC, as well as MSX games music, probably written in Z80 Assembler, the 8910 chip could play three notes at a time, but all three notes had to have the same sound, although any of them could be mixed with noise to produce sound effects, including percussion.

It appears that the author’s “extensive investigations” are, as always, severely lacking; what he describes as the “superior” AY-3-8912 is just a 28 pin version of the 40 pin AY-3-8910 so, as far as sound goes at least, the two components work in the same way. This is why music written for the Spectrum or Amstrad CPC with recent cross-platform editors like Arkos Tracker can be converted directly to the MSX and how your correspondent converted music meant for the YM2149F in the Atari ST to work on the AY-3-8910 of the Apple II Mockingboard expansion.

John Lewis department store also saved some people from the fate of buying a Commodore 64 by pointing out that it only had 38K RAM which they could use in BASIC programs. Some more memory was available to Machine Code programmers

With “some more” standing in for the more accurate “almost every byte of the” here. But if the author feels that this “warning” given by John Lewis was valid we have to ask why there wasn’t a similar sign next to the Atari 8-bit as well since it suffers more, being a 64K machine with less available memory for BASIC programs than the C64 and some of that 64K not available even to assembly language programmers.

And does anybody sensible really believe that a retail outlet like John Lewis cared about programmers? Of course not, it’s far more likely that the warning was there so that, when people who weren’t computer literate got the C64 home and saw the 38911 BASIC BYTES FREE message on powering it up, they didn’t return it to the shop thinking there was a problem.

Of course, everyone should be encouraged to PROGRAM computers instead of being brainwashed into avoiding programming them.

There was a lot of encouragement at the time from the BBC’s computer literacy project, the O level, GCSE and A level curriculums and even peer pressure in some environments, but not everybody wanted to program so it’s a moot point. The only time when the majority of computer owners were also programmers is at the birth of the home computer industry (around the time when there was no BASIC in ROM); after that point programmers were always a minority compared to the computer-buying public as a whole. It would be interesting to find out who in the author’s fantasy version of things was responsible for the “brainwashed” computer buyers…

These emulators also include several games consoles, but I’m not concerned with these here, because this blog is about PROGRAMMING!

If only the author was actually a programmer and not just talking rubbish about the subject… and if it really were about programming then the author wouldn’t be as blindly dismissive of your correspondent and other programmers with far more experience than him.

In the near future you can look forward to some posts about two very stressful BASIC programming books published by Commodore which I read in 1984 and how really disappointed I was to find out that, after reading them and doing all the programming exercises, I still couldn’t program music or graphics on my Commodore 64. This was a form of torture!

Other people managed perfectly well with similar books so, when we know which specific titles the author is referring to, we can point out how much of that was a bad workman blaming his tools.

Jack Tramiel is dead now, but I think his sons Leonard Tramiel and Sam Tramiel should be boiled in oil for their conspiracy in the C64 plot to get unsuspecting consumers to buy a computer without a built in language which supported its hardware!

So they should be “boiled in oil” for selling a computer without a built in language to support the hardware… so what about Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak whose Apple I and early model Apple II had no languages in ROM? Or the designers at Texas Instruments whose TI-99/4A who pretty much “forgot” to support the hardware? And how about Atari who left out BASIC support some of the more important hardware features of their 8-bit series like the hardware sprites whilst skimping on others like the display lists? Or even Clive Sinclair for not having a BASIC equivalent of the POKE command used to suppress the Scroll? prompt?

The author may be too hypocritical to understand, but BASIC implementations on the 8-bit systems all forget to cover something in the hardware and, whilst the C64’s BASIC is more sparse than others, it does at least have a means to get at the hardware registers directly, something that isn’t true of other machines the author has tried and failed to champion.

Usually I’m against the death penalty, due to lack of conclusive evidence, but I think that these two have confessed various times and even bragged in public about their crimes. Some examples of this are that Sam Tramiel is quoted on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commodore_64 as saying “When I was at Commodore we were building 400,000 C64s a month for a couple of years.”, which obviously means that they mass produced C64s in advance before luring some more mugs or suckers into their con or racket.

Large company mass produces popular product, film at eleven! It’s far better to meet the demand for your product (which is what that 400,000 C64s a month was doing) rather than taking money from customers before you’re even ready to ship as some of the other companies in the market like MITS or  Sinclair initially did.

And now we’ll just skip over the childish garbage about Jack Tramiel’s sons because it’s barely worth acknowledging and get to…

I refuse to stoop so low and get bogged down by de debunking any debunk of this post by TMR

The author has already stooped to incredibly low levels with his own posts on countless occasions to the point where he’d be winning limbo dancing competitions were he leaning back; to stoop any lower would involve hiring a JCB to enlarge the already deep hole he’s dug himself into.

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