DEBUNKING TMR’S “COMMENTS ON THE CPC”   2 comments

DEBUNKING TMR’S “COMMENTS ON THE CPC”

PCW cover

“Now, you’re sure this is the one?” (my Dad)

TMR on his blog “C64 Crap Debunk” https://c64crapdebunk.wordpress.com/ has had the cheek to debunk a recent reply I made to a comment posted on this blog. You can read his post “Comments on the CPC” on https://c64crapdebunk.wordpress.com/2015/09/29/comments-on-the-cpc/

In his post, TMR surprisingly claims he “rather likes” the CPC! I suspect that TMR totally hates the Amstrad CPC range of computers, because they’re quite different from and superior to his beloved C64. I think this comment is designed to put CPC supporters off guard, to try and brainwash them into the cult of the C64. I should point out that for a start the Amstrad CPC range of computers has individual pixel clarity, meaning that there’s no colour bleed or attributes which you get in both hires and lores modes on the C64, as well as on the Sinclair Spectrum.

TMR also claimed that the Amstrad CPC6128 never became popular in the USA, because it was released in 1985, the same year as the Amiga and the Atari ST. For me, as well as other computer buyers in 1985, the CPC664 and the CPC6128 were excellent and AFFORDABLE computers which had a fantastic version of BASIC and gave users a copy of the semi professional, business like CP/M operating system which was much better than Commodore’s pathetic CP/M cartridge. The C64 couldn’t even display 80 column text without an adaptor (although of course, there were type in listings which could create and display an 80 column font, but in Commodore BASIC V2 and/or 6502 Machine Code, not under CP/M) and it was very, very difficult to transfer CP/M software onto the C64, due to the incompatible disk formats, although the German “64er” magazine managed to transfer software with a serial link from some other computer, which most Commodore 64 owners wouldn’t have had access to. Unfortunately, CP/M had been pretty well abandoned by businesses by 1985, in favour of MS-DOS or IBM PC-DOS, but the Amstrad CPC664 or CPC6128 with Locomotive BASIC, the native AMSDOS, and CP/M was all a lot of people could afford. The CPC6128 became popular in Britain. We heard that in the USA, people had “larger disposable incomes”, but there wasn’t all that much evidence about this and there were some very poor people in the USA. I doubt that people in the USA receiving Food Stamps, or in notorious slum tenements were considering buying an expensive computer, although they might have bought one of the cheapest computers. There were a lot of complaints in the USA that the Apple ][ was too expensive, leading to the rise of the C64. The Texas Instruments TI99/4A also sold a lot of units at knock down prices after production had ceased, to people in the USA who otherwise couldn’t afford a computer. Jack Tramiel even planned the Commodore 16 or Commodore 116 as a cheap, sub US$100, possibly US$49 alternative to the Timex Sinclair and Texas Instruments computers, complete with a rubber calculator or chicklet type keyboard, but the engineers at Commodore expanded it into something more expensive. To prove Jack Tramiel’s original cheap computer concept, they sold like hot cakes when offered at rock bottom prices, following their discontinuation.

Atari ST

Why not buy an Atari ST for £749 instead of a CPC for £450 or £399?

Of course, 1985 was also the year that the Atari ST, as well as the Amiga computer both appeared, but both computers were much more expensive than the Amstrad CPC664, which cost £450 with a colour monitor, or the Amstrad CPC6128, which cost £399 with a colour monitor, so this meant that the Amstrad CPC computers were selling to a different market of people from the ones who could afford an Amiga or an Atari ST. I should just point out that the operating system TOS on the Atari ST was basically CP/M for the 68000 CPU, controlled by the GEM interface, but of course it looked and felt nothing like the text based CP/M for the Z80 and 8086 processors.

Obviously, there was no chance of my miserly Dad agreeing to pay out the extra money for an Amiga or an Atari ST, even if I’d wanted one. The Amiga was owned by Commodore, whose clutches I was escaping, while the Atari ST was designed to a spec laid down by Jack Tramiel, the Commodore 64 conman himself. Another factor in my choice of computer was not to buy a brand new model of computer, which may never have become popular. I knew that after I bought an Amstrad CPC664, I would become part of a large group of Amstrad CPC users, based on the sales of the earlier CPC464, which I read had already captured 16% of the market in Britain, unlike the Camputers Lynx, Memotech MTX computers, the Oric 1/Atmos, or the Colour Genie. This meant that even if the CPC664 didn’t become popular, then it would still be supported by Amstrad CPC peripherals, magazines, books, and software. After it was discontinued, I was still able to buy peripherals, magazines, books, and software compatible with my computer. Unfortunately, some of these, such as a speech synthesiser and 64K RAM upgrade made me perch my CPC664 on top of two paperback books to make them fit, because the back of the CPC464 was much higher than the CPC664. Luckily, I eventually got an extension ribbon cable which solved this problem.

TMR also dared to criticise a video I posted a link to of an Amstrad CPC displaying web pages as text only. This was done in a program only a few lines long. His excuse for this is that the program used OUT commands, which he claims are similar to PEEK and POKE on the C64. During my time as an Amstrad CPC664 user, I hardly ever typed any OUT commands, so this means these commands weren’t often necessary, although PEEK and POKE commands were required to use graphics, and sound on the Commodore 64. The only time I remember typing any OUT commands was in a magazine type in listing to produce some amazing interference or effects on the 6845 video chip.

Of course, another reason why not many books were written about the Amstrad CPC is that Commodore 64 owners needed people writing lots of books to explain how to do simple things, such as drawing graphics, or playing a little tune, but the Amstrad CPC had commands such as DRAW, PLOT, SOUND, ENT and ENV to do those things.

That’s all for now! In the next few days you can expect finally to read the next post in the series “Oh, That Would Be VERY Difficult!”, about detecting and reacting to sprite collisions, on the amazing MSX computers with advanced BASIC, complete with pics I’ve already taken of the program listing and a video taken on my new phone!

This blog has no means of funding, I’m actually quite skint or broke, and my life is in danger from eviction by a property speculator, probably taking place in January 2016. If you’d like to make a donation, please send me an email on paul.londoner@gmail.com , then I’ll tell you how to do that.

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Posted October 24, 2015 by C64hater in Uncategorized

2 responses to “DEBUNKING TMR’S “COMMENTS ON THE CPC”

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  1. Someone calling themselves “Fungus” and with an obviously false email address posted the following comment in reply to the section “About”, so I’ve decided to repost it here and reply.

    “As an American, and an accomplished programmer on many platforms that never involved basic in any way because no serious programmer would ever use BEGINNERS ALL-PURPOSE SYMBOLIC INSTRUCTION CODE. What the fuck is a CPC (seriously)”. (Personal attack and name calling deleted)

    -Fungus

  2. This blog is talking about my horrendous experiences with the Commodore 64 during the time period 1984-1985 and what led to this situation. Almost all “home computers” of that time period came with the language BASIC built in and this was the language that people were encouraged to learn, because it was for beginners and in most cases started up immediately when anyone turned on their “home micro”. This was because most users didn’t have disk drives and were stuck using tape cassette drives or “datasettes” as Commodore called them. After several months I realised that there was something seriously wrong with the Commodore 64 compared with the Sinclair Spectrum, BBC Micro, Acorn Electron, Sinclair QL, Tandy, and Dragon computers. BBC BASIC and QL SuperBASIC had procedures, long variable names, and REPEAT UNTIL loops, like PASCAL. What I found out was that the C64 had no commands in its built in BASIC to do things such as plot points, draw lines, and play music. I can imagine that if I was living on a farm or a small town in the USA, somewhere west of Detroit and east of California, then I may never have found this out. I might have bought a C64 from the local General Store or by mail order and never found out there was anything better, which didn’t require a PEEK and POKE-athon to plot points, draw lines, or play music. The authors of Commodore BASIC V2 on the C64 even required users to type LOAD”filename”,8 instead of LOAD”filename” to load programs from disk, because they were convinced that most C64 users wouldn’t have a disk drive, but then most C64 users in the USA bought a disk drive, often because of special deals not available in other countries. It’s a pity you don’t bother to mention which other platforms you’ve programmed for or in which languages. Of course, the Amstrad CPC was a range of computers which all had an advanced BASIC by Locomotive Software, a Z80 CPU, the same 6845 graphics chip as the BBC Micro and Commodore Super PET, but managed to have a 27 colour palette, and the General Instruments AY-3-8912 sound chip. The CPC664 and CPC6128, as well as the add on disk drive for the CPC464 all came with CP/M 2.2, including the language LOGO, which gave users a taste of what it was like to load another language from disk, instead of being stuck with BASIC on ROM.

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