In his latest pro Jack Tramiel, pro C64 propaganda, TMR on his blog “C64 Crap Debunk” made this post https://c64crapdebunk.wordpress.com/2015/09/17/the-authors-grip-on-reality-slips-further/ , which I’ll now debunk.
Of course the author didn’t actually debunk anything but we’re presumably all expecting that based on his never having managed it previously, eh dear reader? And the author of all people accusing someone else of publishing propaganda is like a priest complaining that somebody is “a bit religious”. Whilst praying.
I had already said lots of times that I was trying to find out how anyone could have learnt to program the C64 in or before 1985. TMR has previously claimed he did this, but had consistently refused to post a little program or source code on his blog.
And, since that wouldn’t prove anything about when your correspondent learnt, it is of course irrelevant. The refusal was because your correspondent wasn’t planning on jumping through any hoops set up by the author and this was very clearly stated so the issue here is the usual failure to comprehend on the author’s part.
The source code appearing now is because the author failed to deliver any posts for an extended period and your correspondent started making his own entertainment.
The maths obsessed, monolingual TMR then claimed that I am “mathematically challenged” because he has only been giving away source code for twenty years, but I’m trying to find out why I couldn’t learn to program the Commodore 64 about 30 years ago.
The author wrote that “although when I was looking round to find out how someone might have been able to learn to actually program the C64 if that was their only computer not long after it was released, I couldn’t find any really useful source code and none by TMR” (your correspondent’s emphasis) so this is where the author is indeed mathematically challenged; a series of articles written nearly twenty years ago very obviously weren’t around “not long after [the C64] was released” because that was over thirty years back.
Your correspondent isn’t sure why being “maths obsessed” would be considered an insult and expects there are a lot of very intelligent people who wouldn’t see it that way either, but being fluent in only one language is quite frankly irrelevant to the ongoing discourse about programming so mentioning it like that was compeltely and childishly pointless.
TMR then goes on to claim that a double sized standard C64 font is somehow graphics. Obviously, text isn’t graphics. I think he should consult a dictionary.
We’ll have to assume dear reader that, despite having tried to lecture people about programming (albeit from a position of ignorance) for over three years, the author has never actually heard of user defined graphics. Those are what the expanded font are built from and, as already noted, the ROM font was chosen because your correspondent was aiming for a specific “look” but the program could just as easily have used a bespoke, 16 by 16 pixel character set instead.
As for using development tools running on Windows, Linux, or Mac OSX, this may be OK just to save time, but if it enables the user to do something not possible on an original C64, then it’s CHEATING!
There are, of course dear reader, no magical cross development tools for the C64 which allow a programmer to do something that wasn’t possible on an original C64 because the resulting code wouldn’t work. Even things like the macros present in some cross assemblers are just doing the donkey work of unrolling loops that would previously have been typed in manually or built by the code itself when initialising and some native tools have similar functionality anyway.
The only sort-of-exception is cross compression tools which can throw more processing grunt and memory at the job, but the final output is still compatible.
Even in 1984-1985 I read about development systems for some popular 8 bit computers running on “business computers” or mainframes, but I didn’t understand the point of them. If programmers preferred to use these systems to create software for the C64, then that might explain why I was having so much trouble on a real C64. I’ll never forget reading that some C64 software was created on the BBC Micro.
A native assembler and the user’s source code both take memory away from the program being written, so coders either had to keep their programs very compact (which is fine to begin with but becomes a pain in the proverbial as bigger projects are taken on) or use an assembler supporting the option of assembling to disk which significantly slows down their build/test cycle. It was a viable, sensible but sometimes expensive option in corporate environments to cross develop and companies like pre-Ocean Imagine were using 68000-based systems for 8-bit development by 1984 (as seen in the documentary Commercial Breaks) whilst slightly cheaper options were employed elsewhere such as Matthew Smith’s customised TRS-80 which was used to cross assemble the seminal Jet Set Willy for the Spectrum
But the majority of bedroom coders worked with just one C64 just like the author had and your correspondent started properly working with 6502 assembly language on a tape-based C64 with an off-the-shelf assembler.
TMR went on to say that he first sat down with an Assembly Language book in 1984, but he doesn’t bother to mention the title of the book, which is the most important thing.
No dear reader, it isn’t “the most important thing” at all because the point was that it was just an off-the-shelf book (and not even a C64-specific one at that) which the teenage version of your correspondent purchased. And there were many other options which were all relatively easy to find and these were used by significant numbers of people to learn their way around the C64 before, during and after the author’s 1984/5 window.
In fact we have to note dear reader that over three years have passed since the author launched his blog and how many people have stepped forward to recount similar stories to his? A computer that sold tens of millions of units apparently has only a mere handful of dissenting voices and none with the author’s level of vitriol.
Apart from this, computer manufacturers themselves are responsible for providing documentation about how to program and use their computers.
The hypocrisy of this statement is quite staggering dear reader; the author has previously championed the Atari 8-bits whose manufacturers refused to provide any proper documentation for their computers until a couple of years after the initial launch because they wanted to keep ahead of third party programmers. So if “manufacturers themselves are responsible for providing documentation” the author should have far more issues with Atari than Commodore.
Obviously, most of the the information in the series “The Hex Files” didn’t come from Commodore, so where did it come from?
Your correspondent learnt to program the C64 in part from Commodore’s C64 Programmer’s Reference Guide so a lot of what is in those artices did indeed come from Commodore at some level and the author is obviously wrong once more.
Finally, the shock news is that on September 19, 2015 I found a routine in a book which draws a line on the C64 screen from corner to corner!
That it apparently took over thirty years to just properly look through some books in order to do this speaks volumes about the author’s previous attempts at “research”, doesn’t it dear reader?
 Calling your correspondent “maths obsessed” is particularly inaccurate but quite amusing when the “insult” comes from someone who is so very obviously obsessed with his own failings some thirty years ago.