Archive for January 2013

TMR’s COMMENT ANSWERED   Leave a comment


The Commodore 64 as it should have been, so that people would have known it wasn’t possible for them to program it (pic edited using GrafX2 instead of the nasty Photoshop which costs an extortionate price and is totally user unfriendly, the same as its open source clone, The GIMP. It took me 2-3 hours to doctor the original pic, but still TMR has the cheek to complain!)

The blog was started because I rejected ONE comment from TMR. Here’s a copy of the comment below, which was in reply to my post “Why was the Commodore 64 such crap?” .

Point 1 is wrong: the C64 was developed AT THE SAME TIME as the Max by a different team.

Point 2 is also wrong: 64K CAN BE accessed from machine code and you were TOLD THIS when you made the same mistake over at Atari Age. If you didn’t understand the “gobbledegook excuses” when people explained what was happening it would’ve been better to admit that than trudge on making the same mistakes regardless.

Point 3… Commodore didn’t sell ROM upgrades you say? You might want to check your own blog then because you’ve got a post complaining about Simon’s BASIC, a ROM upgrade for C64 BASIC sold by Commodore.

I will now finally reply to this comment below.

  1. The Commodore Max was a predecessor of the Commodore 64, mentioned in an official Commodore book, which was either the User Guide, or the Programmers’ Reference Guide. It said that the Commodore 64 could use Commodore Max games cartridges. I’d never heard of the Commodore Max before reading about it in one of those books. It was released before the Commodore 64 and it failed. It’s almost totally irrelevant to me and other budding BASIC programmers lumbered with the C64 whether or not the development period for the Commodore 64 started before development of the Commodore Max had finished.

    2. I was SHOCKED to find out that I couldn’t use anything like 64K in my BASIC programs, as well as that the Sinclair Spectrum 48K had more RAM free to BASIC than the Commodore 64! Based on various comments, even software houses programming in Assembly Language/Machine Code didn’t think they could use anything like 64K. At the department store John Lewis, they quite rightly had a sign on display next to the Commodore 64, saying it was a 38K computer.

    3. I was talking about a potential ROM upgrade in the form of a new BASIC ROM which would have been fitted to the C64 motherboard, totally replacing the original C64 BASIC ROM with its “COMMODORE BASIC V2”. This would have sorted out the problem. Before you mention it, I know that the original Atari BASIC for the Atari 400 and 800 computers was supplied on a plug in cartridge, but this was the standard BASIC for those computers. Atari BASIC on all later Atari 8 bit computers was supplied on a ROM chip fitted to the motherboard, though. I think that Commodore should have recalled all Commodore 64 computers to have a BASIC ROM upgrade done. Simons’ BASIC was a commercial package marketed by Commodore on a plug in cartridge, which extended Commodore BASIC V2’_BASIC . Programmer David Simons had also done work on the Commodore PET and Commodore VIC-20, so he wasn’t just thrown into the nightmare which was the Commodore 64, but had some time to get used to crappy Commodore computers. Commodore BASIC V2 was suitable for the Commodore PET range, but NOT for even for the Commodore VIC-20, let alone the Commodore 64. Even so, David Simons had already used Commodore computers over a period of about 3 years, starting at a time when computers didn’t have many facilities. You could say that even I learnt to program on a Commodore 64. However, what I learnt wasn’t much and not really any more use than a Sinclair ZX81. All I wanted was a computer that could be easily programmed, like non Commodore computers on the market at the same time (1984). I often wonder how different things would’ve been if my first computer had been a ZX81, followed up by a Sinclair Spectrum. I remember one heated discussion with my Dad where he said I should “Think yourself lucky” because I didn’t have to make do with a Spectrum. My reply was “The Spectrum wipes the floor with it!” By this comment I meant that the Sinclair Spectrum was supplied with a version of BASIC that was perfectly adequate or even GOOD for controlling the Spectrum hardware.


The C64GS, showing when Commodore finally released the proper version of the Commodore 64, not pretending to be a computer at all

I think this is all I need to say about TMR’s original comment above. I’m already planning my next article, which I’ve titled “The Story of BASIC”. Look forward to that! Meanwhile, here’s a link to a good put down of Commodore BASIC V2 in a review of Simons’ BASIC.

Posted January 14, 2013 by C64hater in Uncategorized




Jack Tramiel, the culprit for the Commodore 64’s antique BASIC, which saved Commodore about US$50,975,000 in royalties to Microsoft

I recently got an annual report from WordPress, telling me how well, or how badly my blog has been doing.

I was surprised to read about how various visitors were finding their way to my blog, under the heading “Referring Sites”. It was only then that I found out about another WordPress blog, called , which is the second most popular referring site after ! I think that blog was probably mentioned on the forums at , but I didn’t notice it all all. The blog is by TMR, a Commodore 64 fanatic who can actually program the Commodore 64 in Assembly Language!


An avatar used by TMR, my PR Manager

I’m not sure what TMR stands for, but it could be something like The Maths Reviser, The Maths Researcher, The Maths Religion, or The Maths Religionist*. Any other suggestions are welcome. I rejected ONE comment from him, because it said something like if he could program the Commodore 64, then anyone could do it. Since then, he’s never attempted to post any more comments on my blog posts. Of course, absolutely anything is possible for some people but wouldn’t be possible for the vast majority. I get the distinct impression that he’s brilliant at maths and can probably do differential calculus and quadratic equations, whatever they are. My Dad used to talk about these things and he wanted me to do them one day. I’m not good at maths and I used to regularly get kept in for half an hour at the beginning of the lunch break at school, by a nasty maths teacher, who was obsessed with geometry. TMR may also have memorised all the logarithmic tables, although my nasty maths teacher said we didn’t have to. It takes a certain type of brain to do that. Some people can memorise phone books. He has admitted to owning an Atari 800XL computer in this post , so I think that’s probably how he learnt 6502 Assembly Language. After this, thanks to the nice, user friendly Atari BASIC easing him into 6502 Assembly Language, he was able to program the Commodore 64 with its 6502 compatible 6510 CPU.


An Apple iMac G3

As I’ve only recently found his blog, I’d like to take this opportunity to clear up a few points. I’m NOT a computer professional and haven’t got all that much money, so this is why the “technical problem” took a couple of months to sort out. In the meantime, I was reduced to using an old Apple iMac G3, which couldn’t cope with certain technologies on various websites. I only bought this iMac G3 (for less than £10 on eBay) to find out more about the Mac, then I found out just how old fashioned this model was. I was only able to view most websites at all, because of a web browser called Classilla, featured on , which often emulates mobile devices to view mobile versions of websites. I could possibly have used it to update my WordPress blog by installing Yellow Dog Linux (for Power PC processors), but I chose to preserve it as a classic Mac instead. My laptop which broke down wasn’t Microsoft powered any more, because I abandoned Windows for Ubuntu Linux . Even if it HAD been using Microsoft Windows, I’m sure it wouldn’t have minded me bashing Commodore 64 BASIC, because if everyone or at least a few more companies apart from Commodore had bought a perpetual licence for an early Microsoft BASIC, then Microsoft would probably have gone bust. Later on, I bought a second hand HP Pavilion laptop with a large screen and a 64 bit processor for £160. This is all you need, in spite of what various manufacturers and software houses tell you. Also, don’t forget , which probably also applies to Windows 8. The only fantasy posts on my blog so far have been “A World without the Commodore 64” and “Shipwrecked with Commodore PETS”. Everything else I’ve posted about actually happened to ME!

So, thanks TMR for helping to make my blog more popular and Happy New Year! 

* I’ve just read that TMR stands for The Magic Roundabout, but I think my own suggestions above were closer to the mark

Posted January 9, 2013 by C64hater in Uncategorized

Down at the Computer Club   Leave a comment


I went along to a local computer club to have a look at various computers being used, even before I’d bought one. During my visits there, I saw various computers, including the Apple ][e, BBC Micro, Sinclair Spectrum, Commodore 64, Sinclair ZX81, Oric 1, and Sinclair QL. After one or two visits, I had bought a Commodore 64.

Later on, I hung round with other Commodore 64 owners at the club and felt we were part of a group. I watched and listened to a kind of tutorial session given to me and another Commodore 64 owner by the group leader. I thought I was getting somewhere. I often stayed up all night after coming back from the club, to practice something I’d learnt, or to try and take it further. I was really keen to learn!


My C64 TARDIS sprite 

One night at the club, I was going over a BASIC listing I had adapted from the Commodore 64 User Guide. This was the listing that displayed a sprite which looked like a hot air balloon and moved it across the screen. You can read about how stressful it was by clicking this link . I had changed the sprite to look like Doctor Who’s TARDIS and managed to display a second sprite identical to the first, then managed to get the two sprites to cross each other’s paths. After this, I asked the Commodore 64 group leader to show me some collision detection. He explained something which sounded too technical for me, then added some more commands to my program and after a little while, there were some numbers being displayed in the top left hand corner, which changed when the two TARDIS shaped sprites collided. I saved this new version of the program to cassette. After this, I asked the group leader the obvious next question, which was how could I make the sprites bounce off each other and head in different directions. His answer was “Oh, that would be VERY complicated!” I realised he must be very knowledgeable about the Commodore 64, otherwise he wouldn’t be the Commodore 64 group leader. He was much older than me, and I thought he might be a proper “Boffin”, meaning one of the people who had used computers before there was such a thing as personal computers or microcomputers at all. I wondered how long he’d owned one and what hope there was for me of ever really getting anywhere on that computer. I think this was the turning point when I lost faith in the Commodore 64, although I still wasn’t sure why. Of course, there were various computers which didn’t have sprites at all, but on those computers you could at least have user defined graphics characters (UDGs), which you could position vertically, as well as horizontally.

Later on, things got to the point where I realised that something was wrong, although I didn’t know what. Eventually, I found out that I’d been burdened with a computer that had no commands for colour, graphics, or sound. After this, I remember that one night I was staring across the room hypnotised by and drooling over a Sinclair QL displaying concentric circles in various colours. The next thing I knew, that Sinclair QL user had changed the size of the concentric circles just by making a small edit to one command. I was totally in awe! At the same time I felt really depressed, because this was something I could only DREAM of doing on my Commodore 64!!!!


A Sinclair QL computer

Sinclair QL SuperBASIC was like a more advanced version of Sinclair BASIC on the Spectrum, but with the addition of procedures, long variable names, and other commands similar to BBC BASIC. Unfortunately, the Sinclair QL sound chip could only produce beeps, it was supposed to be a business machine but wasn’t accepted as one, while it was a bit too expensive for most home users, so not that many Sinclair QL computers were ever sold. One Sinclair QL user was Linus Torvalds, creator of Linux. The design of the case was later adapted for new models of the Sinclair Spectrum computer.

Posted January 1, 2013 by C64hater in Uncategorized