Comments and bulletins

We’ve got another question and “answer” session from the comments on author’s blog, this time from the post Was the C64 ever fixed? We’ll pare things down a little for brevity, but a poster called “John” wrote the following:

The Atari computers were technically a little better with their IO that is true but Commodores had a huge hacker following that extended into the BBS realm much better than Atari. On Commodores you could have color BBSs with their own graphic character set. This allowed for very creative BBSs at that time. Atari had crappy ATASCI monocolour which sucked…

And here is some of the author’s reply:

To sum up, I was told that with computers in general people were supposed to learn how to do everything they could in BASIC, before learning how to do the same things in Assembler/Machine Code.

Although John didn’t actually claim this wasn’t the case to begin with, the author has just begun endorsing an online programming course which has a stated aim of teaching beginners assembly language. That’s plain and simple hypocrisy on his part, especially since he was told previously in threads at Atari Age that it was possible to skip over learning BASIC but seemed to just ignore those posts.

Unfortunately, it was virtually impossible to do many things on the Commodore 64 using its built in Commodore BASIC v2, only text based programs.

There are graphical programs out there in BASIC and compiled BASIC for the C64 but the author is ignorant of them. But his not being aware of programs like C*Base, the sprite editor your correspondent used for a few years in the 1980s or games like Pirates!, Q-Billion and more recent efforts like Quod Init Exit (see the video below this paragraph) doesn’t make them magically disappear any more than the author not owning a modem or using a colour television himself negates any of the experiences “John” or millions of others had in the 1980s with a C64.

How would someone become a hacker on the C64?

A lot of teenagers saw the film War Games, decided that it would be cool pastime to replicate and begged their parents for a modem; a smaller percentage of those went on to spend time chatting on bulletin boards where they could bump into existing members of the hacker subculture and, if they could demonstrate at least some of the necessary skills, joined up.

Some of the hackers mentioned in Bruce Sterling’s The Hacker Crackdown and Underground by Suelette Dreyfus and Julian Assange (both of which are good reads and available for free from Project Gutenberg) were C64 users including Assange himself at least to begin with.

I look forward to you explaining how to create some BBS Software using Commodore BASIC V2, then how to convert this into Assembler!

Ignoring this truly cretinous “challenge” from the author, “John” doesn’t have to demonstrate anything because the popular C*Base BBS software was originally written in compiled Commodore BASIC V2 with some assembly language for the most speed-sensitive parts.

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