BUYERS’ GUIDE LIARS!!!! (PART 5)   Leave a comment


CoverThe A-Z of Personal Computers, Issue No. 2, which I read in 1984

Don’t forget that Commodore BASIC V2 on the Commodore 64 wasn’t just lacking commands for colour, graphics, and sound, but also popular commands such as CLS to clear the screen, INSTR to search a string for an occurrence of another string, INKEY$ to read the keyboard more easily than GET$, KEY to define its function keys, and PRINT AT x,y/PRINT TAB(x,y). It didn’t have an ELSE option for IF…THEN statements either!

The first edition of “The A-Z of Personal Computers” went to press in August 1983, before that conman Jack Tramiel left the company and the Commodore 64 review in this edition is roughly the same as I remember it in the 2nd edition, or even identical. I wrote letters to this magazine asking for compensation or a refund, but they refused to accept responsibility for what they’d done or to give me my money back, then they had the cheek to send me a Solicitor’s letter saying they weren’t going to do anything about the situation they’d landed me in! If I or my family had had more money then it wouldn’t have mattered so much. I could just have written it off or chalked it up to experience. I would never even have bought a Commodore 64 in the first place, but a BBC Micro Model B, so that I could have taken full advantage of the BBC Computer Literacy Project, based around BBC BASIC. That’s why it did matter. When I heard that people were CELEBRATING the 30th anniversary of the Commodore 64, it was as bad as celebrating the anniversary of a big disaster such as me getting mugged, failing an exam, or being kicked off a training course due to discrimination, so that’s what pushed me into speaking out by starting this blog.

Commodore-64-2Translation: You won’t get massive stress and anguish coming back to haunt you years later if you buy a computer that costs twice as much as the Commodore 64, or a computer not by Commodore! Ask any Apple ][ buyer and they’ll confirm it!!

I eventually lost my copy of the magazine, but managed to get pics of the cover and three pages more recently from a friendly seller on eBay who said she felt sorry for me. Comparing the Commodore 64 page with lists of Standard Package, Options & Expansions, Selected Software, and Star Ratings, these are IDENTICAL in the two editions of this magazine which I’ve read. I can’t find any pics or scans of Issue No. 2 online. I hope some copies appear somewhere soon. There were also pics and reviews of each computer, taking up at least one page, but I haven’t managed to get any copies of these. I assume they’re the same as in the first edition, though. Of course, the Commodore 64 review failed to point out that its built in BASIC was crap, 5 years behind the BBC Micro, Sinclair Spectrum, Acorn Electron, Dragon 32, Oric, Memotech MTX, Camputers Lynx, etc, otherwise I wouldn’t have bought it. They didn’t bother to mention that some so called 48K computers, including the Sinclair Spectrum, had more RAM free to BASIC than the Commodore 64 either. Another thing they covered up was that some computers (e.g. Commodore 64, Sinclair Spectrum, Oric) used a system of attribute modes, dot creep, or colour bleed, which meant that any pixels plotted in the same 8×8 character mapped cell would cause any pixels already plotted in the same cell in a different colour to change colour to the same colour as the latest pixels to be plotted. The Texas Instruments 9918/9928/9929 chip also suffered from this, but only horizontally, not vertically, so only one eighth as much. They didn’t point out that other computers (e.g. BBC Micro, Acorn Electron, Atari) used a different system called “individual pixel clarity”, meaning that in any of their display modes. which had higher resolutions with fewer colours, or lower resolutions with more colours, the user could plot any points or lines in any colours available, followed by some more points or lines in a different colour, but the latest points or lines plotted wouldn’t cause the colours of any points or lines plotted to change, unlike on the Commodore 64! I was shocked to find out about this months later when I first managed to draw some lines and squares on my Commodore 64 using Aztec Software’s Turbo Extended BASIC!!!!

Embroidery2An example of attributes/colour bleed on a Commodore VIC-II video chip

Issue 1 of “The A-Z of Personal Computers” even has a two page interview with the then Marketing Manager of Commodore UK, that probably didn’t appear in Issue 2, which I read in 1984. This interview is spread over two pages, but about 50% of the space is taken up by photos of the Marketing Manager himself, or actually the same photo twice, but with one copy flipped horizontally! I suppose that at least the conned Commodore 64 buyers would have known from the pictures that here was someone partly responsible for their plight, who they could mug for at least £300 if they saw him walking through places where Commodore UK had offices, such as Slough, Maidenhead, Corby, or at a computer show. What’s left of the space is taken up with fairly irrelevant questions for potential C64 buyers, about deficits or profits, vertical integration, advertising, the future of the Commodore 500 and 700 business computer models, the availability and price of the SX-64, domestic and small business markets, and asking him to try and predict the future. Nowhere in this interview is there any mention of the crappy BASIC supplied with Commodore computers, or its lack of hardware support on Commodore 64 in particular, OR any mention of colour bleed/attribute mode either! Of course, the same things also apply to the Commodore SX-64. Imagine how potential buyers could have used the information in this interview. Going into a shop, an assistant offers to help and is faced with the question “I’d like to buy a computer, but I think I need one with vertical integration. Which one would you recommend?” You may have forgotten or never knew that “vertical integration” means the manufacturer makes some or all of the components themselves. This applied to Commodore and Texas Instruments, for example, but is nothing a computer buyer needed to know about. They only needed to worry about the price and if they were getting what they paid for. The term isn’t even explained in the glossary at the back!

That’s all for now! Look forward to the next installment in this series, coming soon!

Posted June 3, 2014 by C64hater in Uncategorized

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