Just the signal, not the noise

Hello 8bit'ers,

It is Friday again and the 2 1/2 day tinker season officially started. Or at least nearly. This week we compiled a number of whoaa-that-is-interesting-topics for you. We start off with VirtualKim, an iOS app available since Wednesday night, which allows you to run an Apple 1 and a KIM-1 emulator and tinker with 6502 assembly on the device which is mostly strapped in front of your nose.

There is an interesting update for Commodore fans, some weird and super funny microservices for the win article, a modern but tube based computer and, and, and ...

We trust you, you'll find it out. Guess you can read.

As always, if you want us to stick our noses into a particular topic, let us know. And if you want to support our Pinky & The Brain approach to govern the world, please share the signal with family, friends, your neighbors the beloved burger flipper around the corner. There is an 8-bit heart in the chest of pretty much everyone.

Meanwhile enjoy issue #07.

Don't Miss

Apple 1 on iOS

Source: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/virtualkim/id1548356829

The best time of the year. Holiday season. You are lying in a deck chair on one of the most beautiful beaches ever, enjoy nice company, sip a Piña colada, pull out your iPhone and do some 6502 assembly programming for the Apple 1 or the KIM-1 retro computers. ON YOUR iPHONE! The wet dream of almost all my summer nights of the early 90's finally came true. 🎊

John Kennedy just released VirtualKim, an iOS application for iPAD that also runs properly on an iPhone. Yes, the great-great-great-great-great-[...]-grandfather of the device your are probably reading that email on as well as the KIM-1 were both based on an MOS 6502 CPU. (Hello Inception.) And that is, what this emulator is all about.

You can write and assemble custom 6502 assembly code, load it into either one of the two emulators, access both machines via a virtual terminal and even program the KIM-1 the hardcore way, using a hex keyboard UI.

Both emulators come with a number of loadable programs and games. Yes, finally, Star Trek on iOS. Building Universe...

Thank you John!

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Another World on C64

Another World - C64 Port
Source: https://youtu.be/_6pa43H8bb8

Who does not remember the year 1991? I mean, at least those do, who were born before. You others don't. Sorry. Bryan Adams rocked the single charts with (Everything I Do) I Do It for You and in the cinemas we saw incredible feats of cinematic art like Home Alone, Hot Shots!, Star Trek VI and The silence of the lambs. But I personally could not have cared less.

My world was Another World.

The game Éric Chahi released that year, is probably one of the milestones in gaming history. Not only was the game compelling, beautifully drawn and captivated you immediately and for a long time. From a technical perspective, the game was groundbreaking in terms of several factors. The fast and fluid polygon graphics was new and the whole game did run in kind of a virtual machine, that Chahi built, before he went on with the gameplay itself.

This circumstance - the VM - paved the way for ports of Another World to pretty much every architecture and almost all consoles. Except the Commodore 64! Until Today.

Eric Majikeyric just released a Video on Youtube which seems to show a realtime sequence of Another World's Hammam scene. If it is real, we might finally see an Another World port for the C64 soon. 🏃

I am officially excited. Let's hope for the best.

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Emulation - The next Level?

Emulation - The next Level
Source: https://unsplash.com

Emulation has come a long way. There exists nearly no piece of consumer hardware, that can not be emulated some way or the other on modern architectures. Still David Tyler complains. There is always someone who complains. 🙄

Let me quote him: Unfortunately I’ve become increasingly disillusioned with the lack of ambition shown by those in the emulation community. ... Bring it on Garth! 🤠

In his little literary lesson on the resurrection of quasi-ancient technology based on modern paradigms, David takes us into the infinite reaches of modern day NERD humor.

You made my day David. But I prefer the monolithic approach. 🙈

Read yourself and become enlightened!

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A Chick Heater

Electron Tube New Automated Computer
Source: https://ena.computer/

Unfortunately we have not been able to find out, who the creator of the following project is. So we can not credit this person. Nevertheless we did not want to leave the ENA Computer out of this issue.

What Mrs. or Mr. I-have-too-much-time-and-long-time-therefore-I-just-do-it presents here, is an achievement in a class of its own. Nothing particularly to learn here, but seeing a fully functional, programmable and Turing-complete computer made from old-school tubes on modern day PCBs is not something, you would see every day.

You can read about the project and the technical details here. I personally liked the Nerd-Human <-> Human-Nerd Dictionary ... Should it spark like that? means.. I'm really scared.

Hats off to the creator! Seriously.

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Ahead of the Wave

How do it know?

How do it know
Source: https://hackaday.io/project/176526-but-how-do-it-know-8-bit-cpu-build

Most of us fell in love with breadboards when Ben Eater took the stage of the Youtube world and the availability of SN74xx logic chips swung as much downward, as the manufacturers' profits jumped upward. 📈

Nevertheless there have been plenty of people before Ben, who built 8-bit CPUs and computers from scratch. And on a breadboard. J. Clark Scott for example published his book "But how do it know?" in 2009 and inspired a huge audience to tinker with that seemingly outdated but still relevant technology. Many picked up from there and none other than Patrick LeBoutillier has taken up the baton.

In his Hackaday project and his Video Series he follows Scott's book and builds everything from scratch.

It is not brand new, but still worth watching if you want to get into a CPUs inner workings and can not follow Ben Eaters pace.

Highly recommended!

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Forth in Space

Forth in Space
Source: https://unsplash.com

If you are as nerdy as us, you know Forth of course. The tiny language coming with compiler and editor and still not only fitting into the limited memory of 8-bit machines, but leaving plenty of room for user land programs. Forth was developed by Charles H. Chuck Moore and and saw the light of the digital world back in 1970.

Still, believe it or not, Forth is in use. Today! And not only, but also especially in space! Forth actually ran for example on the Philae spacecraft 🛰 and was used to create the Electronic Arts best selling game Starflight.

However, Thanassis Tsiodras decided to give it a spin and built a tiny Forth compiler for the Arduino Uno in one week. His post accompanied by a number of videos is well worth the read.


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Computer Scientist in 2 Years

Open Source Society University
Source: https://github.com/ossu/computer-science

If you read this, chances are, you actually studied CS back in the time. Still, how much of what you learned, did you forget already? Wanna get a quick, small effort fresh up? Then this one is not for you.

But if you seriously want to learn about CS or dig deeper into one of the relevant topics, then the curriculum of the Open Source Society University may be for you 👩‍🎓.

Eric Douglas - the founder of OSSU - and companions put together all material you need to wrap your head around, if you want to impress a CS master at your next class reunion. Or for other reasons I can simply not think of.

If you do not want to dedicate 20 hours a week or simply have a life, then you might find particular lessons super interesting. For example you will find NAND to Tetris in here.

Judge yourself.

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Pocket DOOM

Pocket Doom on Nintendo Game & Watch
Source: https://youtu.be/sNg_S9UM5ps

We had stackingsmash aka ghidaninja aka Thomas Roth already in our update last week. You remember? If you don't, head over to our archive and read Issue #06. The follow up video to the last week's one is not fresh as a daisy, but cool. After making a copy of the Super Mario ROM on his 2020 Nintendo Game & Watch he ported a lightweight version of DOOM to it.

Feel it in your fingers? Go ahead and watch it.

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Video RAM

Video Ram Implementation
Source: https://youtu.be/LCPOXZ7zaD0

An implementation of video RAM does not sound exciting, does it? Actually it is a pretty neat challenge on ancient 8-bit hardware due to the fact, that a CPU on the one hand and a kind of video output device on the other hand need to share access to that portion of RAM. That in itself is not too complicated, but implementing it in a way, so the least number of CPU cycles gets lost in the process, is one.

Slu4 implements his own VGA mini interface and connects it to an Arduino. If you followed Ben Eaters VGA project, you will feel at home. Whether or not, does not matter. You will learn a lot in this wonderfully detailed video series.

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Look Ma, I am 40!

TI99 - Happy Birthday
Source: https://youtu.be/usqJGl2s4x4

Do you know Robin from 8-bit Show and Tell? If not, fix that obvious bug in spacetime, head over to his channel and subscribe. Robin regularly comes up with interesting retrocomputing topics and this time he tackles the Texas Instruments TI-99 which happened to become 40 years old last week.

Robin blows the dust from the machine, gives us some insights and plays a round of ... tadaaaaa: Parsec! 🛸

Who needs 3D engine powered multi billion polygon game titles, if you can have Parsec? (Honestly, I do 🤫)

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And another one

Another Breadboard Computer
Source: https://youtu.be/6caLyckwo7U

Lev Kruglyak is one of these young gentlemen, who would be trusted with the secret government agency-driven salvation of the world - should it end. Maybe. Yeah ... probably. At least Lev would be able to build computers from scratch in a post apocalyptic world, where no more complex integrated circuits survived the ... apocalyptic thingy, you know.

His mini series starting here - containing two videos currently - is seriously impressive, and worth your time.

Very well done good Sir!

We'll call you. When it ended. I mean the world.

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Lift the Titanic

Lift the Titanic - Retro Recipes
Source: https://youtu.be/ZGsMnecUTPQ

RetroRecipes is back with a new quick byte and it is time to grab a drink of your choice, hop onto the couch, get something to chew on and start watching. This time it is a dated Amiga which got a repair ... but it is a special one. Very special. Want to find it out? Here you go.

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Let me conclude this issue with the wise words of a Shaolin Monk I once met, when I ended up totally spaced out in the ladies toilet of a Netherlands Coffee Bar: Reality is only for people who are afraid of unicorns my pale friend. he said. 🦄

That had to be said. Now you know and you can finally get your life on the right track. Which means, sharing the signal with family and friends, being a nice person and building something cool while sending electrons around in copper wires and germanium doped silicon.

Take care during the next 7 days, we need you as a diligent reader of issue #08 ... next week.

Enjoy the geekend, go create!

Jan & Bastian

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