THE MACHINE LANGUAGE BOOK OF THE COMMODORE 64 – PART 1   Leave a comment

THE MACHINE LANGUAGE BOOK OF THE COMMODORE 64 – PART 1

The_Machine_Language_Book_for_the_Commodore_64

The book that reveals lots of C64 mysteries

You can download a copy of this book from the page http://www.bombjack.org/commodore/books.htm about two thirds of the way down.

My original version of this post, or even of the whole series of these posts, was lost when my laptop was stolen by a schizophrenic bastard madman who had given me shelter under his roof, but then kicked me out on the street to die after just eight days because of his mad fantasies that I had stolen his rail card and was also trying to set fire to his house. Now I’m starting to write it again from scratch.

This is a truly amazing book by author Lothar Englisch published by Data Becker GmbH and republished by Abacus Software Inc about how people could manage to program the Commodore 64 to do lots of things that users of Atari 400/800/XL/XE computers, Apple ][ computers, Acorn computers, MSX computers, and virtually any non Commodore computer could do in BASIC. By that I mean write programs using colour, graphics, and sound which would run on any other computer of the same model or a compatible model. Of course, owners of the Commodore 16, Commodore Plus/4, Commodore 116, and Commodore 128 computers could do these things using their built in BASIC as well, although only the Commodore 128 has a synthesiser chip, while the others have just a tone generator.

Unfortunately, even in the Preface to this book there’s the statement “Many people try to learn it, but most quickly give it up because it is too complicated. Only a few actually use it”! This preface wasn’t written by the Author himself, but by someone higher up, involved with the Data Becker management, so I must assume from that that it’s very likely they know what they’re talking about. This means that most people attempting to learn 6502 Machine Language for the C64 would fail. After that, they probably have to wait for the Data Becker/Abacus BASIC compiler to be released, be lucky enough to hear that it existed, as well as probably buy a disk drive.

The Table of Contents doesn’t actually list everything in the book, but the back cover states clearly that readers will be able “to program high resolution graphics”! This simple statement would have been enough to persuade me, as well as thousands or millions of other C64 owners to buy the book. It includes a BASIC listing for an Assembler called LEA for Lothar Englisch Assembler, which is used alongside a program called UNTOKEN, that allows the user to type in Assembly Language using the Commodore BASIC V2 editor without the Assembly Language mnemonics being mistaken for short versions of BASIC commands, then tokenised and converted into the long versions of these commands. I typed in the whole Assembler, but then found that it didn’t work, so then I ran UNTOKEN, moved the cursor to some lines causing errors and re entered them, then found they worked. Unfortunately, there was another line causing errors, which I couldn’t really read in the book. I tried altering it, but couldn’t clear the error, so that meant I couldn’t get the Assembler to actually Assemble any code. You’re probably thinking now why not just use another Assembler? The answer to that is it’s not that simple, because some of the Directives and other syntax for this Assembler are slightly different to any other Assembler. This means that I need to make a list of Directives for all 6502 or C64 Assemblers, as well as make notes of what different syntaxes may be used before I understand what changes I need to make to the Assembler listings in this book to get them to Assemble and run on another Assembler. Labels are defined by = signs with a certain number of spaces, code ends with .EN , but I’m not sure what else. There seems to be no disk image anywhere for download with the contents of this book typed in. I eventually lost all my data after putting the disks in a suitcase which I couldn’t carry, so I placed it into Left Luggage at Victoria Coach Station, London at the rate of £10 per day. The suitcase was either dumped after a few hours, or destroyed three months later.

On page 167 this book finally gets down to drawing a diagonal line across the graphics screen, using five SYS calls, and four POKEs! This is obviously something that hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of C64 users had wanted to do ever since geting their C64s, otherwise why would it be in the book? This is followed by how to do that and more in Assembler/Machine Language. Later on, there’s even a section about how to extend the crappy Commodore BASIC V2.

Obviously, Commodore should have published a similar book to this one, at at least recommended it to all C64 owners, but AFAIK they didn’t do either of these things.

That’s all for now! I plan to make another post about this amazing book as soon as I can, but this will involve some more research into Directives on different Assemblers, buying a C128 or even a C64, etc.

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Posted May 21, 2016 by C64hater in Uncategorized

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