I apparently have Spacewar for Unix?

John Foust jfoust at threedee.com
Wed Oct 16 13:15:56 CDT 2019

At 07:33 AM 10/16/2019, John Foust via cctalk wrote:
>At 07:00 AM 10/16/2019, you wrote:
>>Perhaps someone on the TUHS list[1] can shed more light on it?
>I emailed Bane last night at the addresses I found, and they did not 
>immediately bounce, FWIW.

From: Bob Bane <jbane at gst.com>
To: John Foust <jfoust at threedee.com>
Subject: Re: I apparently have Spacewar for Unix?
Date: Wed, 16 Oct 2019 18:09:23 +0000
 <MN2PR19MB2960AD756F4BD0C3522FCAF4B7920 at MN2PR19MB2960.namprd19.prod.outlook.com>
 <bea063e4-553e-4535-8bfd-82d9ce0e95db at BY2NAM05FT027.eop-nam05.prod.protection.outlook.com>
 <bea063e4-553e-4535-8bfd-82d9ce0e95db at BY2NAM05FT027.eop-nam05.prod.protection.outlook.com>

Yep, that's mine.  There was a tradition in the Maryland CS department at the time that right after your thesis topic was approved, you would go off and do something completely unrelated for a bit, before going into dissertation coding mode.

We had just gotten several new Sun workstations - 68000 CPU, monochrome display with bitblt hardware.  I spent the summer writing a 4-player spacewar game for it.

The program did all sorts of unportable horrible things in the name of speed: 
    * Ships could point in 256 directions - each ship had 256 pre-computed rotated pictures, one for each angle 
    * There were also 256 entry tables for ship thrust and bomb velocity change 
    * Orbital calculations were done in assembler, to force single precision floating point 
All the controls were on the keyboard; it was barely possible to get four people's hands on at a time.  There was no published interface to get keyrise/keyfall, but the ring buffer for key events was readable, so the program monitored its contents and swiped the key codes as they appeared.

Ships could be user-created - each ship design was a file of 31 lines, of 31 characters where '*' was a lit pixel and '.' was a thruster pixel (lit when the engine was running).  A program read the ship design files and pre-computed the rotated ship pictures.

Stuff like the strength of gravity, power of ship engines, speed of repeat firing for bombs, etc. were all set in a parameter file, so you could have slow, majestic orbits, or fast ones, or no gravity at all.

Thanks for letting me know this was found - I might still have a copy in my ancient archives, but this is a welcome refresh.

    - Bob

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