Just the signal, not the noise

Hello 8bit'ers,

It is Friday and it is the 13th! What does it mean? Of course, it is 8bittime! 🤩

The western world still seems to be in holidays - I mean everyone and all together - because there were not so many things going on this week. Chances are, we just missed all those juicy 8-bit updates, but we rather believe in our long time elaborately developed theory regarding … the vacation. However, some things still happened. And exiting ones other than the IBM PC celebrating his 41st birthday.

In our - a little bit shorter than usual - issue #12 we inform you about an exciting release in 2022, a really cool home-brew computer that will make you want to learn soldering, the really, really, really first personal computer and additional things that will help you spending time in a meaningful way during the weekend ⌨️.

Should you be willing to help us out for the next issue, or if you are working on some 8-bit related project, please let us know. You can suggest new topics anonymously via the suggest box on our site.

In the meantime enjoy the read!

Don't Miss

Amiga 500 Mini

RetroGames has already made headlines some time ago when they announced the C64 Mini. And since this is our cover story today, you guessed it. Or you have seen it yourself. They did it again, but this time targeting the Amiga 500!

Yes! 🎉

The ladies and gentlemen behind RetroGames announced that the A500 Mini will be released in early 2022 and will cost $139.99 / €129.99 / £119.99 respectively. After the package leaves the sweaty hands of the delivery guy, your heart rate will have a significant increase. The console will include Worms, The Chaos Engine, Another World, Simon the Sorcerer and all in all 25 games.

What is special, is, that the machine not only emulates the A500’s OCS chip set, but also the enhanced ECS chip set of the A500+ and the Advanced Graphics Architecture (AGA) of the A1200. So you can insert an USB stick with your own Amiga 500 and Amiga 1200 ROMs and play those with full WHDLoad support. You will get a mouse and a gamepad, the non-functional keyboard can be replaced by a standard PC keyboard and the console - of course - comes with a CRT filter for the 8-Bit-Times-Real-Deal-Feel™.

You can get a glimpse in this video should you want to.

The only remaining question is: How do we speed up time now?

Share the signal:

The Really First Personal Computer

Wanna trigger a serious discussion with your friends and co-geeks? Ask for the very first personal computer and see them all … failing.

No Commodore, Apple or other known brand here. The price for this device actually goes to Mr. John Blankenbaker. When attending the University of Oregon in 1949 he started working on a personal computing device, but soon realized, that this would be too expensive for a single person to build.

However, in 1971 he finally did it, and created the KENBAK-1. The machine was an 8-bit system with 256 Bytes of RAM built from individual TTL logic chips - microprocessors were not available yet.

Thanks to Chris from Adwater & Stir you can build one on your own. According to Chris the original design comes from Mark Wilson, but Chris offers a full package of the machine dubbed µKENBAK-1 on Tindie.

The cool thing is, you can enter machine code directly using the switches, or connect the machine to your computer and simply upload any program. The build is pretty straight forward and the whole project not only teaches you a lot. You will end up with a unique piece of hardware that many of your friends and co-geeks will envy you for.

I mean programming a computer with front panel switches! There is only one thing, that is cooler: a 2% keyboard with just two keys, 0 and 1.

Share the signal:

Ahead of the Wave

RC 2014 Homebrew

There are numerous fantastic home-brew computers to be found out there. Some of them you can simply buy. Some have to be put together on breadboards. And others will finally make you wanna learn soldering. The RC2014 belongs to the damned learn soldering fraction.

What a machine! The project started out as a simple Z80 based computer to run Microsoft BASIC. It comes with 8kB of ROM, 32kB of RAM, races away at whopping 7.3728MHz and communicates over serial at 115,200 baud.

But here is the thing: The initial design can be extended by a huge number of additional modules, which are available in kit form as well. You can connect a monitor via HDMI, build digital input modules, add a simple keyboard and build yourself a fully functional computer that can be programmed in either Microsoft BASIC or Z80 assembly.

We have not been able to identify the unknown creator, but we highly recommend to check out the RC2014 Specs.

Should you want to up your home-brew computer game, consider this fantastic machine.

Share the signal:

How To Manage Memory

How To Manage Memory
Source: https://unsplash.com/

Whether or not you are building your own computer, there are some interesting challenges that are transparent to users, but whose actual implementation seems like a stroke of genius or even magic. One of those challenges is memory management. Sounds boring? Far from it!

In modern day operating systems you barely have to deal with garbage collection, things became so easy for the kids. But a language with garbage collection is kind of luxury already, if you compare it to memory management back in the 8-bit days.

To be fair, there are only few multithreading implementations for 8-bit hardware (but there are) and most programs at the time could simply do with RAM whatever they wanted. But the next logical step was memory management.

Think about it for a moment. It is definitely no easy task, but you can also take a shortcut. Gustavo Duarte dealt with that problem already long time ago. His article about memory management is part of a series and so old, one could nearly call it 'retro'.  Nevertheless, it is a refreshing read and even though most images fall victim to a 404, you can learn a thing. Or two. Or eighthundredsixtythree.

Decide for yourself.

Share the signal:

The 100 Doors Problem

The 100 Doors Problem
Source: https://unsplash.com/

Imagine you stand in front of a mirror, and for a funny reason the universe decides to respond with a pixelated version of yourself, rendered in a reduced 8-bit color palette of the Commodore 64. Then you should either talk to your friends and ask, what they put into your drink, or you are Michael Doornbos.

You might know Michael from his twitter account already. If not, he is one of the constants in 8-bit space and we can always count on him, when it comes to really meaty stuff. 🥩

When Michael does not break things (👈 his own claim) or pilots an airplane, he does cool things with Commodore hardware. This time he solves the 100 Doors Problem on a whole bunch of machines. Just, for, fun … I mean, why not 👹.

His latest article is a worthy addendum to his blog and I am sure, you will enjoy all other articles of him as well. But the 100 doors is an interesting and counterintuitive one, give it a read!

Share the signal:


VIC-20 Clone

I see you in tears. 😪 You don't get over the fact, that the Amiga Mini will not be released before 2022. Got it, but what about a very similar pastime? Noel Llopis aka NoelsRetroLab helps dry your tears better than any granny-made handkerchief. In his latest video he presents a fully fledged introduction to The VIC-20 - also from RetroGames.

And since your government already tolerates all the other hardware in the house, one box more or less doesn't matter, does it? 😈

Share the signal:

4 Byte C64 Demo

If I do not find out, where Robin from 8BitShowAndTell is getting his inspiration from, chances are, I will end up in a psychiatric institution. 🤪

This time he found a C64 demo, which has a size of 6 bytes, but the actual code is just 4 bytes long. I personally doubt, it gets any smaller, but see for yourself and learn new things in Robins latest addition. Like always, a pleasure to watch.

Share the signal:

8-Bit Battle Royale

Not the least bit sorry, but we have to bring Matt Heffernan back into this issue as well. Don’t know how Matt is able to pump out quality content like that at such a frequency, but he does. This time he exercises an in-depth comparison between three 8-bit machines: the Commander X16, the Commodore 64 and the ZX Spectrum.

First he implements a Mandelbrot renderer in Basic and then … but see for yourself, you will not regret it.

Share the signal:

C128 Restoration

Are you also a fan of things that are just satisfactory to watch? Then you will like the last one for today. Christian Simpson - better known as Perifractic - restores a terrible looking Commodore 128 with the help of his two 'underdogs' 🐕.

The result is astounding and this video is the perfect watch when your loved ones are already asleep. Enjoy.

Share the signal:

Did you know, that there are several million people who share your and our interest in retrocomputing? We did actually not know when we started 8bitnews. But that means at least two things. First: you are not alone 🤘. Second: there are plenty of friends, that you can share a link to 8bitnews.io with, and improve their retro lives. Trust us, you make the world a better place if you do 😌.

Other than that: Feel free to contact us any time. Criticism, improvements, your grandmas apple pie recipe … everything in a written form is welcome. As always we will respond to every single message!

In the meantime enjoy the next two days. Look, that is 48+ hours from now, which can be filled with super cool retro activity. Do it. Just do it!

And don’t forget to speak about it.

Jan & Bastian

This email was forwarded to you? You can sign up here to receive it directly.

View our privacy policy here.

Made with 🍉 in Berlin

More content like that - only for subscribers. Free of charge. Free of SPAM. Rich in retro.