Teaching kids about computers...

Chris M chrism3667 at yahoo.com
Sun Nov 25 14:06:28 CST 2007

> Ethan Dicks wrote:

> > I built plenty of add-on devices for the User Port
> and the joystick
> > ports when I was a teenager (I got my hands on my
> first C-64 when I was
> > 15, and by 16, I owned one).  How deep do you mean
> here?  It's a little
> > tougher to find a cartridge-port proto board than
> it used to be, so 
> > building your own SCSI or IDE or Ethernet
> interface from scratch
> > might be somewhat advanced, but hanging LEDs or
> switches off of one
> > of the other ports is easy enough, and easy enough
> to control from
> > BASIC.

 The C64 is, probably inarguably, the best (i.e
documented) computer for interfacing to (in the US
anyway). This has a lot to do with it's price and the
30E6 units produced. But regardless it's unparalleled
in that aspect. What I meant by "deep hardware
details" was aspects of the chips themselves. You
could learn anything you wanted possibly about
standard TTL and even the generic stuff that most
8-bitters and peecees consisted of. Or at least it was
far easier to (info more readily available).
> C64 BASIC is V2.0.  There are no disk commands at
> all.  You need to use 
> OPEN and LOAD ,8,1.  There's no CATALOG command,
> etc.  PET - at least 
> the 4032's I used, had BASIC 4.0.  Note that I
> commented only on the 
> BASIC, not the SID, not the sprites, not the
> bitmapped graphics.  
> Obviously a machine with bitmapped graphics,
> sprites, color, and sounds 
> is going to be a lot more interesting. 
> The C128 BASIC's, V7.0 I believe had commands for
> things like graphics 
> and sounds.  The C64 did not, and you could only get
> at those features 
> by poking.  Some things on the PET, you had to poke
> - sound for 
> instance, but at least the disk access stuff had
> built in commands.

 If you have experience coding, a "better" BASIC would
of course be better. But if you're learning, the peeks
and pokes should help facilitate that. 
 I know next to nothing about the C128. I know that 1
of it's 3 modes was essentially a C64. So the other
modes didn't build on that (there were no hardware
sprites in the C128 modes?). 1 of the 3 was intended
for use by cpm, no?

> >> Then again, if you can master the peeks and
> pokes, you're better off 
> >> writing 6502 code.  I'm really partial to the
> C128 which had a built in 
> >> machine language monitor. 

 You always had the option of coding the "front end"
in BASIC, and speeding up the parts that needed it
with a ml portion. As tedious and goofy as that could
have been with pokes and data statement. O come on,
that stuff was joy unparalleled!
> Well, don't confuse BASIC with the monitor.  :-) 
> Not having to load the 
> Monitor from tape made the C128 very useful as
> previously mentioned for 
> cracking C64 software.  You can't quite load a
> monitor into memory and 
> not wipe a chunk of memory.   Worse yet, if you had
> to reset the machine 
> and then load a monitor, you would have lost the
> program you were trying 
> to crack.

 I did have a monitor on cartridge. It must have been
Commodores I'm thinking. A place I used to work had a
whole file cabinet full of C64 software...and the
tools to crack them. I think they got them off a BBS
somewhere. The story was the s/w companies would hire
the crackers to write the schemes and promise to not
release them for a specified amount of time.

> > The ML monitor on PETs was nice to have - better
> IMO than a blue "READY"
> > screen - but anyone who was serious about it gave
> up one of their two or
> > three precious expansion ROM sockets for a better
> monitor.  

 Didn't JiffyDOS come with a monitor? I never
installed that but did make ample use of my OOMPHA
copied Warpspeed cartridge. Those guys were the worst...

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