About Introduction To BASIC – part 6

Debunking An Introduction To BASIC: Tramiel torture – part 5

We are, thankfully, getting to the end of the author’s series on the Introduction To BASIC books, partly because he struggled in vain to keep on topic for most of these five posts but mostly because he rather obviously didn’t learn anything from them.

I was demoralised, because I realised that the built in Commodore BASIC V2 was totally inadequate to produce hires graphics and sound on the Commodore 64, although almost every other “home computer” on the market costing under £500, or even under £300, in 1984 came with a built in BASIC which could do hires graphics and sound using dedicated commands, instead of resorting to PEEK and POKE and trying to memorise a list of numbers that seemed as long as the contents of a phone book! The only exceptions I’m aware of, apart from portable calculator type computers, were the Sinclair ZX81 (no hires graphics or colour), TI99/4A (no hires graphics or sprites using its built in BASIC), the Jupiter Ace (with built in Forth instead of BASIC), and the Sharp MZ80K (BASIC had to be loaded from tape).

There are of course other “exceptions” the author is ignorant of and limitations of use with the computers that can manipulate bitmapped graphics and sound from BASIC as well so the author debunks the first sentence with the latter and saves your correspondent the effort.

On this basis, the Sinclair Spectrum, as well as the Acorn Electron, Dragon, Tandy, Oric, Atari, and Colour Genie computers all wiped the floor with the Commodore 64!

And yet the C64 outsold every single one of these machines – sometimes several times over – so it seems that particular basis is one that wasn’t of interest to the computer buying public, programmer or otherwise.

As for people who managed to learn most of the locations to PEEK and POKE on the C64, these were totally useless on any other computer

The difference between BASIC dialects means that knowledge picked up on one machine doesn’t work on others when it’s bespoke commands as well; the author has apparently forgotten that he demonstrated this point whilst trying to claim that the Spectrum used the PEN command and later had to admit that, as a former Amstrad CPC owner, he was “confused”.

the C128 officially only has the same 16 colours as the C64 and I have yet to see any evidence that it has more than 16 hardware colours

Ignoring the fact that the C128’s VDC display has a different palette and automatically gives it more than the sixteen colours of the C64, there are a handful of demos in the wild that alter the VIC-IIe palette are out there but no real screenshots because the C128 emulators currently don’t support these techniques. There is some discussion and indeed some YouTube videos from real hardware to be found however, so the author not having seen evidence merely demonstrates that he hasn’t done his research yet again.

At the end of the day, the course “An Introduction to BASIC” was published by Commodore, so this was their officially sanctioned way of teaching C64 owners how to use the crappy Commodore BASIC V2 they’d lumbered them with, due to the lack of any warnings to C64 buyers. This makes Andrew Colin’s own music notation the officially approved Commodore way to play 3 note polyphonic music on the C64 in Commodore BASIC V2, even though I never read any articles in other books or magazines using this method. The magazine and book listings I found could only play monophonic music on the C64.

The author simply didn’t look hard enough, your correspondent has already produced polyphonic music examples in BASIC and there are more out there. And even if we take that ridiculous leap of “logic” which makes Andrew Colin’s musical notation the “approved Commodore way” rather than it just being the opinion of a writer working for them, it still doesn’t mean that third parties would actually use it simply because there was never any obligation to.

Programming books shouldn’t be looked at that way generally to be honest, sticking to the rules for 8-bit systems generally would have taken away some of the more inventive programming that has been done over the years.

People in Britain, Ireland, the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and some other countries, could have been programming amazing music on MSX computers with a plug in cartridge containing MSX Audio or MSX Music if not for Commodore’s price war, as well as no Internet and extreme linguistic censorship.

The lack of sales for the MSX in the UK wasn’t down to anything Commodore’s did in the US of course, so the reason those groups of people couldn’t program “amazing music on MSX computers” was because the MSX didn’t sell well in those territories; that lack of popularity could well be partially down to UK industry people like Clive Sinclair saying that the MSX standard was as if “all the car manufacturers had got together and said lets all have the same engine, the same gearbox, the same axle and let’s use the one that was designed five years ago”.

The author has a thing about claiming things like “extreme linguistic censorship” but it would be bizarre if that were the issue between the American co-developer of the MSX and potential customers in the UK. It would also imply a massive sea change in society between the release of the MSX and the arrival of Japanese consoles which were for the most part stunningly popular regardless of territory.

Even MSX1 graphics at 256×192 are better than the C64 and more colourful than the Sinclair Spectrum as well, but this game may be in an MSX2 graphics mode!

In other words the author has absolutely no idea what he’s commenting on since he apparently can’t tell the difference between MSX1 and MSX2 graphics after singing their praises. The probably comes as little surprise to you dear reader as it does to your correspondent.

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