The author’s grip on reality disappears completely

Debunking Debunking TMR’s “The author’s grip on reality slips further”

In his latest pro Jack Tramiel, pro C64 propaganda, TMR on his blog “C64 Crap Debunk” made this post , 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”[1] 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?

[1] 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.


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6 Responses to The author’s grip on reality disappears completely

  1. Hitfan says:

    It’s interesting to read the back and forth comments of these two blogs. I’m obviously on the side of those who say that the C64 was an adequate games development machine.

    Even with it’s “crippled” BASIC, you still had hardware sprites that could be manipulated by POKEing a few registers. And mainstream computer magazines of the time showed beginners how to do embedded ML routines to speed up certain portions of your program.

    LOADSTAR published all kinds of software for the C64 well into the late 2000s. If you had written a decent program, even in BASIC, they would find a spot for your creation in an issue somewhere.

    There were all kinds of outlets for C64 would be programmers to showcase their creations. Even today, you can upload a game to the internet made on the C64 and there will be aeveral blogrolls also reposting your announcement.

    And if anybody made a recent game or made a game back in the day for the C64, there are modern retro publishers like Psytronik and RGCD who will create printed editions with nice artwork, disk labels, documentation and packaging.

    And if you don’t know ML? Everything is documented in the internet. The C64 crap blogger guy can improve his past creations today with ML speedup routines or re-programming them entirely in pure ML.

  2. TMR64 says:

    Personally I’d call the C64 a well rounded games development machine but there aren’t many 8-bit systems I’d actually call BAD in that context, some are just more “interesting” to work with than others shall we say? =-) All of them have their pros and cons really and that’s the point being made at my end; the C64 isn’t perfect but neither are the other machines.

  3. hitfan says:

    I think what would have really made the C64 better would have been a built in assembler or ML monitor. When I was making my own hmebrew games in my bedroom back in the day, I created my own assembler written in BASIC so I could speed up time critical display routines in my BASIC games.

    BASIC on the C64 was fine. Some of it’s greatest games were written in that language: Telengard, Temple of Apshai. I believe even the great Paul Norman wrote games in BASIC that were deceptively fast enough to make others believe they were written in ML.

  4. TMR64 says:

    A monitor would’ve been nice yes, but tools like John Twiddy’s excellent DisMon were readily available quite soon after the C64’s release anyway; I usually recommended would-be programmers get a freezer cartridge because those monitors were excellent and being able to “halt” the system to debug code was incredibly helpful.

    The C64 BASIC can be okay as long as some advance planning is done and compiled BASIC can pass for machine code if the compiler itself is good. And it does force programmers to learn the system in a way that makes the transition to asssembly language easier.

  5. ergoGnomik says:

    This idiot could be funny if he weren’t so obsessed. This way he’s just pathetic.

    Have you asked him how he thinks Simon’s BASIC, released in 1983, was created? Especially since it provides the very same features he lacks form the C=64. Was it brought to Earth by hyper intelligent aliens, or programmed be a British teen?

  6. TMR64 says:

    His “logic” about Simons BASIC doesn’t even stretch that far; he’s previously tried to claim it as irrelevant with a couple of flawed “arguments” about it not being supplied with the machine or needing the cartridge present to run programs written with it. Some of the 8-bits he’s attempted to champion have suffered from the same issues but he “forgets” in those cases.

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