Monday, March 12, 2018

Fixing My Childhood Trauma With Commodore 64

Holy Belldandy's Eyebrows, Batman!

Yes, I possessed one of these wonderful machines, wayback. I was even interested in programming with them. Unfortunately, very little materials were available, outside a fairly good computer magazine, and my understanding was really quite poor.

At some point in grade school - between age 9 and 12,  I was quite into it - even if I had tried to trade my C64 for an MSX, because it had direct commands for graphics and sound. However, typing in program listings rarely worked and I really couldn't debug the programs - didn't even know how.  I did try to write a trivial pursuit type question-answers game in the fifth grade, but it was just this awful mess of IF-THENs. I think I tried using DATA statements, but I couldn't quite get it to work, so I gave up on that, and the fact I even remember that, should tell you something.

At that age, I didn't have any money. I couldn't buy ANYTHING, although I did get my parents to buy, and later on had a subscription to the C=magazine. I also think I had ONE book (ISBN 951-832-005-5), but it seems to have vanished at some point. :/

So, as a project, I'm doing some C64 programming, with the following constraints:
- All code is written inside the emulator
- No pre-existing applications are allowed. I don't know if I had any
- I will allow for the internet, which is a bit of a cheat, admittedly, but there are chances I could have gleaned the information from a magazine.

My goals are, roughly:
 - A text editor,
 - A hex editor, capable of writing to disk, for some rough machine code working
 - MAYBE a macroassembler.
 - Various audio/video tests
 - The !"#%¤%& game, it's engine and enough demo questions for a proof of concept.

Since I'm bringing in a generation's worth of computer science knowhow, I can say that the quiz program needs to load the questions from a file on a floppy disk (or perhaps a datassette, too) instead of being hardcoded, and the questions need to be editable with (a, the) text editor.

I do hope to document this, since a "How do I Basic to Macroassembler" does not seem to exist in the 'net at this point.

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