Live and kicking

Debunking I’m still alive!

I’m posting this to let all readers of this blog know that I’m still alive! In this case, thought I should accompany my post with a video of the same title, featuring the amazing Amiga (“Super Atari”) computer, which wasn’t designed by Jack Tramiel or Commodore, but Commodore bought the rights to the Amiga after Jack Tramiel left Commodore.

Referring to the Amiga as a “Super Atari” is misleading since the machine’s designers had all left Atari before starting work on it because the company wasn’t interested in pursuing 16-bit computers at that time; it does share similarities but the same could be said about many computers, with the Atari ST being a “super Amstrad CPC” if we follow the same “logic” further.

It’s also necessary to point out again for the author’s benefit at least that the Amiga had no ROM-based BASIC and different models shipped with incompatible software-based dialects, so no consistent way to draw lines on the screen ot of the box; as we’re about to see, the author erroneously feels that facility to be extremely important (without really offering a valid reason why as such) so showcasing a computer which also lacks said feature is, as we’ve often had to note about the author, very hypocritical.

Oh, and we’ll just have to pause after this C64 rendition of Still Alive to point out that said song is taken from the end of the excellent Valve game Portal where it’s sung by the murderous computer GLaDOS who is possibly not the best “person” for the author to be associating himself with! (The cake is, incidentally, a lie.)

What happened to me as a result of my eviction was quite disastrous and although I’m still alive my whole way of life has been suspended.

We shall, dear reader, once more not comment on this part of the author’s diatribe because it isn’t relevant to his stated topic or indeed any wider discussion about 8-bit computers and programming.

Meanwhile, here’s that video about drawing lines on the C64, which is one of the most basic things. Spectrum, BBC Micro/Acorn Electron, Atari 8 bit, Oric, Dragon/Tandy, and MSX users could have been doing stuff like this on the same day as they got their computers!

So users can draw lines on the screen dear reader, but what practical use do those lines actually have? People wanting to draw pictures aren’t going to do so from BASIC and will instead use dedicated software[1], anybody wanting to write serious programs are always going to be far more concerned about string handling, arrays, mathematics and other features of BASIC for storing and manipulating of data and those wanting to produce games will need to move objects around the screen in a way that makes those line functions unsuitable[2].

The C64 fares well on all three of those fronts; there are several options for graphical tools such as Art Studio, Paint Magic, Koalapainter 2, Vidcom or Amica Paint for regular bitmapped screens alone (along with a remarkable number of tools for character sets, hardware sprites and software-driven bitmap modes) and very good BASIC support for strings, arrays and mathematics that match or in some cases surpass the machines that were in the same market. And, whilst there are no bespoke BASIC commands for the hardware sprites, the C64 ships with a manual documenting their use; most of the machines the author lists don’t have hardware sprites to begin with and offer no software-based equivalent from BASIC either whilst the Atari 8-bit does have hardware sprites but without specific BASIC commands so they’re managed in a similar way to the C64 with POKE commands and no information in the user’s guide shipped with systems even as late as the 800XL.

In fact only the MSX from that list has both hardware sprites and BASIC support for them but that system was released after the C64. Even the author’s own program for the MSX relies on hardware sprites and couldn’t easily be converted to the “Spectrum, BBC Micro/Acorn Electron, Atari 8 bit, Oric [or] Dragon/Tandy” as a BASIC program because of that whilst, ironically, the C64 would be a far easier target platform to work with in that respect.

[1] For example the creator of the video posted by the author is animator Eric W. Schwartz who worked with Amiga tools such as Electronic Arts’ Deluxe Paint rather than drawing his cartoons using commands in AmigaBASIC; the author is once more providing material to debunk his own arguments.

[2] Anybody doubting that statement is welcome to produce an uncomplied action game on any of the systems that the author mentions where objects are drawn with the line command to see how difficult it would actually be for a beginner.

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