c64_toysrus_1990Where some people got their C64 even before the C64C model came out

TMR has written a series of debunks of my series “BUYERS’ GUIDE LIARS!!!!” on his Jack Tramiel bootlicking blog , so now I’m not writing about “The A-Z of Personal Computers” for at least the moment, I’ve decided to debunk various recent Tramielite comments he’s made.

Just for the people reading this article who have come here from a search engine result, haven’t read any of my previous articles and don’t know, Jack Tramiel was the founder of Commodore Business Machines, who started out by repairing typewriters, but then progressed into making typewriters and other office equipment, such as calculators. He was a survivor of the concentration camp Auschwitz, but that’s certainly no excuse for his later behaviour, namely reusing an antique 1977 version of Microsoft BASIC on computers released years later, including the VIC-20 (1981) and the Commodore 64 (1982). As for me, I grew up in a slum because of my Dad’s unfinished DIY jobs AND he was a hoarder, so I can say what I like, but not try and con anyone!! Jack Tramiel also waged a violent price war against his competitors, including Atari, Texas Instruments, and Timex Sinclair, nearly bankrupting Atari, forcing Texas Instruments out of the home computer market in revenge for them suddenly bringing out cheap calculators instead of just supplying Commodore and other manufacturers with chips, forcing Timex Sinclair out of the market in North America, and scaring off most the MSX computer producers from even entering that market. One of his quotes is “If someone sells a product against me, I want to wipe them out!” What type of attitude is that? Not one in anyone else’s interests, that’s for sure! Jack Tramiel was a schlemiel!!

The Commodore 64 only has 16 colours, compared to the Atari 8 bit range’s 256 colours on upgraded models and later models. Programming tricks can be done to make it appear to have more than 16 colours, as featured in magazines even in 1984. The results of later tricks, involving massive RAM upgrades and interlacing usually aren’t that impressive, because of using the same old 16 colours. These screens, tend to have a lot of blue, yellow, and grey, like in the lizard animation recently posted by TMR.

There wasn’t much of a choice of programming languages on 8 bit “home computers”. This was because a lot of, or even most, users only had cassette storage, often called “data recorders”, or “datasettes”, due to the high prices of disk drives. The popularity of disk drives varied depending on where people lived, though. Disk drives were quite popular in Germany and the USA. Having a disk drive opened the possibility of quickly loading the language of your choice from disk, then it was possible to compile programs in these disk based languages into Machine Code, if a compatible compiler had been released for the language you were using. Sadly, in Britain during 1984, so such replacement language with a compatible compiler was available. If there had been, I’d have found it, because I was driven by desperation and being pushed closer to a nervous breakdown by Commodore BASIC V2 the whole time. Abacus, whose BASIC Compiler TMR often goes on about, had released Ultrabasic, but it was just an extended BASIC, with no mention of any compiler in the magazines I read at the time, or at the dealers I went to, such as “The 64 Software Centre”. Apart from this, there were lots of extended BASIC packages, so there was no particular extended BASIC which magazines could write lots of articles about, because the market was fragmented. There was the PETspeed BASIC compiler, but AFAIK this was just for compiling the PET compatible crappy Commodore BASIC V2. The Abacus 64 Compiler that TMR referred to was Copyright Data Becker 1984. I think this means it may only have been programmed in Germany in 1984, then not even released in Germany until 1985, then later released by Abacus in the USA and other countries. Whenever it was released, by that time I was no longer interested in the Commodore 64, while thousands or millions of other Commodore 64 owners had been brainwashed that they didn’t have the aptitude to program computers at all. Something about this was mentioned somewhere on the forums, where C64 owners with disk drives later wanted games as presents, while Atari owners were more likely to want programming languages and C64 programmers sometimes asked Atari programmers for help with 6502 Assembly Language programming. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find this topic in recent searches, but I know it’s there somewhere.

C64YourPkgThe C64 package I got which didn’t contain any software

The term “user friendliness” can only refer to software actually supplied with computers. My Commodore 64 wasn’t supplied with any software except the built in BASIC, which was how the C64 was usually sold at the time, so this means that’s the only thing the term “user friendliness” could be applied to.

Commodore had the choice of creating a new BASIC or buying a new version from Microsoft before releasing the C64, but they refused to do either of these things. Other companies, such as Acorn, Sinclair, Camputers, and Memotech, put in a lot of work to create new dialects of BASIC for their computers, Tandy, Dragon, and MSX computer manufacturers bought advanced versions of BASIC from Microsoft, but Commodore under Jack Tramiel the schlemiel couldn’t have cared less!

Of course, when any device which is difficult to use, such as the Commodore 64, is released, there will always be some people out there who manage to work out how to use it. Alan Turing’s team at Bletchley Park cracked the Nazi Enigma machine’s coded messages during WWII, but that didn’t make the Enigma a “user friendly” device!

According to TMR, Atari released enough documentation about their 400 and 800 computer models to write “Elektra Glide” after “a couple of years”, but that wasn’t too bad because it only takes the story up to about 1981, when not many people had a computer at all.

I’ve noticed that in lots of searches I do for my research on the Commodore 64, some of the results usually include my blog, including the pics on here, so I’m glad these facts about the Commodore 64 are being noticed!

TMR thinks that the Editors and Sub Editors of computer magazines didn’t need to know about computers in order to edit their magazines. Obviously this is ridiculous and resulted in people buying a computer without a version of BASIC which supported its hardware!

Jack Tramiel looking apatheticJack Tramiel looking apathetic

As for the Editors of “The A-Z of Personal Computers” being mugged for a refund and compensation, I think they deserved this for the stress they put me and other budding BASIC programmers through for their failure to warn people about the disgusting, antique BASIC on the C64. I wrote letters to them complaining, but they refused to do anything about it, so that made them even more guilty. TMR says this makes me “pathetic”, because I don’t agree that it’s OK for people like Jack Tramiel and the staff of “The A-Z of Personal Computers” to con me. He probably thinks that people who have suffered injustice, should just “move on” and forget about it, whereas people like Jack Tramiel saddling innocent victims with an antique BASIC was OK. If the alternative is to be like Jack Tramiel, then I’d rather be “pathetic”! The meanings of various words and expressions often change, sometimes becoming the exact opposite of their former meaning. The word “apathetic” means not caring about something, so logically, the word “pathetic” should mean actually caring about something. Based on this, I hereby declare that “pathetic” now means “a person who cares and believes in getting satisfaction, justice or revenge after being conned, harassed or attacked or somehow slighted, who refuses to just forget about the incident and move on. This applies especially in response to provocation such as other people gloating or even celebrating the anniversary of such an incident”. I’m pathetic. It’s cool to be pathetic!

Sinclair Spectrum graphics artist David Thorpe said he was an architect and that he planned his graphics screens first on graph paper, before drawing them in the package Melbourne Draw sometimes creating or manipulating graphics in BASIC. He also said he could only program in BASIC, not Machine Code. I have even read that some screens in games created using Garry Kitchen’s Game Maker had to be drawn using commands within that program, because only two static graphics screens could be loaded.

I don’t think it’s important to talk about how many colours these 8 bit “home computers” could get on screen at once, because most C64 software used the 160×200 mode, with 16 colours, but only 4 colours in each 8×8 pixel square, which isn’t a 1:1 ratio, as if that was relevant! Atari 8 bit computers have so many built in display modes that it’s difficult to recognise or even remember them all, even apart from the custom modes using display lists!

mtx64KA Memotech ad I’ve never seen before emphasises an upgrade from 32K to 64K, but hardly mentions its FOUR built in languages

Of course, I’ve only recently realised or remembered that the Memotech MTX computers had FOUR programming languages built in. Unfortunately, Memotech didn’t promote it with slogans such as “FOUR built in programming languages! That’s three more than most other computers!! FOUR chances to learn programming!! No other computer offers you this without expensive upgrades!!!!” More importantly I don’t think I ever saw a Memotech MTX computer in a shop. If they weren’t available in the shops when other computers were, then people were less likely to buy them. Unfortunately, the C64 was even available in toy shops. This could have given people the impression that computers, or certain computers at least, were just toys, so I can understand lots of manufacturers not wanting to sell any of their computers in toy shops.

When the C64 first came out with 64K on board, this sounded impressive, but Commodore’s competitors soon upgraded their RAM to 48K or even 64K, so that didn’t really matter. Trying to fill 64K was very difficult in those days, unless you wrote a long letter, or created a large database. The easiest way to fill 64K on the C64 was probably to use a “graphics editor” to create, then load a few graphics screens of 8K each, hold them in RAM simultaneously then switch between them. I don’t remember seeing any Commodore advertising explaining in much detail how anyone could fill their 64K RAM. They just seemed to say that the more RAM the better.

That’s about it for this debunk. As for me, I’ve recently been studying some Polish to help me understand Atari demos in Polish, as well as making big progress using my Atari Assembler Editor cartridge. You can look forward to reading more soon about extending or replacing C64 BASIC V2, drawing lines on the C64, and more about “The A-Z of Personal Computers” in the near future!

Posted July 4, 2014 by C64hater in Uncategorized

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