Just the signal, not the noise

Hello 8bit'ers,

Bottoms up, it's Friday!

Like every week around the fifth day, we would like to sweeten your weekend with the most beautiful and exciting retrocomputing topics.

This issue features some real gems: a C64 SID composer, the PULP Beta, SNESticle, an Omega MSX home-brew and some of the best videos in our fun section for a long time.

So hop on the couch, buckle up, pop some cardiac pills and ... enjoy. Have fun with Issue #33.


SID Factory II

SID Factory II
Imagesource: https://blog.chordian.net/

SID sound is so distinctive, so C64, so 80's, so great. If I wanted to have an earworm today, I would only have to think of the intro of Gianna Sisters on the C64. But who wants an earworm? (You're welcome 😏).

If you want to compose your own SID tunes, it's already much easier than in the 80s. But the great Jens-Christian Huus and friends added one more on top a few days ago.

SID Factory II is a cross-platform composer for C64 SID files. The software does not only look tidy, it is. After only a short training period, the user interface is intuitively understandable, and the only thing standing in the way of acoustic pleasure is one's own artistic (in)ability.

Remarkable: SID Factory is available for Linux, Windows and MacOS. And even better, the whole project is open source and available on github.

Very well done Christian! Piece of art.

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PlayDate PULP - Beta Release
Imagesource: https://play.date/

In Issue #15 at the beginning of September we already mentioned the PlayDate easy peasy SDK PULP. But at the time the software was still in alpha status and not available to the general public.

Now Panic Inc. is getting serious. The first usable beta is available since a short time, and is really impressive as a browser-only product. Drawing tools, animation, level editor, custom font, chiptune music and sound effects ... similar to the PICO-8 development environment, the SDK allows to work on all aspects of a PlayDate game directly in PULP.

I'm pretty sure we'll be hearing a lot more about PlayDate, especially when the second production batch of the console ships in 2022. Not a real retro topic, but the restrictions of the console are very reminiscent of early 8-bit'ers and make the thing likeable.

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C64 Games Online

C64 Online
Imagesource: https://c64online.com/

C64 Emulation is a solved problem. But the fact that there are always people who still want to solve this problem again is particularly appealing ... 😁

Among other things, we can thank our modern multi-GHz and multi-core architectures, that the specification of 8- and 16-bit CPUs can be emulated in real time without any problems, and thanks to WASM even highly performant in the browser.

The (unfortunately unknown) team behind the platform C64Online thought so too.

Their current claim: more than 7000 C64 games should be playable directly in the browser. A search quickly turned up gems like International Karate and Nebulus - both absolutely playable.

To us it is currently unclear what the copyright situation is, but the titles we played, are also available in the C64 library of archive.org. There you will find currently more than 17000 titles. 😵

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SNESticle is Opensource

SNESticle is Opensource
Imagesource: SNESticle

The story around NESticle reads a bit like a real hacker epic of the 90s. The NES emulator - actually developed by Icer Addis aka Sardu, who worked for Electronic Arts at that time - was the first really working and performing NES emulator of its time (1997 on a DX2-66MHz!).

The source of the emulator was then stolen by Donald Moore via an open Samba share, which caused Addis to stop development thereafter. But that's not the end of the story. In the EA title Fight Night Round 2, the  emulator (now SNESticle) was used commercially, and that in turn prompted Johannes Holmberg to start the SNESticle Liberation Project, in which he successfully attempted to extract the emulator from the game.

Not very direct, that way.

A week ago, Sardu then had a change of heart, and made the source code available on github - almost 25 years after the initial release. Let's see how long it will take until the first binaries become available.

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C64 as Car ECU

Commodore 64 as Car ECU
Imagesource: https://www.valoroso.it/

When a normal person thinks of Italian car, brands like Ferrari, Maserati and Alfa Romeo immediately come to mind. 🏎

When I think of Italian car, it is the Fiat X1/9 ... what a beauty! 

Amedeo Valoroso owns one, which officially makes me jealous. But what's even cooler is the fact that Amedeo installed a C64 as the (probably only) ECU to implement the ignition control in software. Since the software requires a password to be entered on the C64, this Maxi-ECU also serves as an immobilizer.

One of the coolest uses for a C64 I can imagine. Next Step: Commodore Back Seat Entertainment System.🕹

Amedeos page is also a real treasure trove for friends of retro technology. Together with his son, he has written almost 80 articles on all kinds of topics, and there is a Youtube video for almost every article - in Italian, but with English subtitles.

Awesome resource! Have fun browsing.

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8080 Assembly Suite

8080 Assembly Suite
Imagesource: https://blog.paoloamoroso.com/

Intel wrote 8-bit history with the 8080 already back in 1974. And even if the systems-of-hearts™ in the following 80s were mostly equipped with CPUs from other manufacturers, the 8080 in a certain way laid the foundation for the following revolution.

Paolo Amoroso is a fan of the CPU. And after being inspired by the great Dr. Brian Robert Callahan, he decided to develop an 8080 assembler and disassembler in Python himself.

Whether it's 8080 or Python, as a friend of at least one of the two topics, Paolo's article is a wonderful read. And if you've ever wanted to develop your own 2-pass assembler, you'll find more than plenty of inspiration in his project.

Great work Paolo!

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Omega MSX

Omega MSX
Imagesource: https://ilike8bits.com/

ILike8Bits is a gentleman or gentlewoman possibly, whose identity we unfortunately could not clarify. Some would rather walk in the shadows of retro technology, unrecognized. And we respect that. 🦸‍♂️

Nevertheless, we have to report here about one of her/his current projects: The Omega MSX Build. The MSX2+ compatible remake has to be ordered in parts from the PCB to all components. But after that, nothing stands in the way of soldering fun. Yeah ... soldering. 🙄

But before you are greeted by the MSX BASIC prompt for the first time, there are still some other adventures to go through. And without wanting to give away too much, the story is well worth the reading time either way.

Happy MSX’ing.

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Faster than Light

Faster Than Light
Imagesource: Jamie Lendino

We haven't had a book in our issues for a long time. And the Atari - especially the ST family - unfortunately always comes a little too short. We're correcting that today!

Jamie Lendino might be a known quality to some. The author is behind well-known book titles like Attract Mode, BREAKOUT and adventure with topics like the old Arcade machines as well as Atari consoles and home computers.

His latest book is Faster Than Light and it's about the Atari ST and the 16-bit revolution. Andrew has read the book, and in his article gives us all the pre-purchase information we need. 

Quite reassuring when black letters on a white background actually have haptics. 🤍

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Mr.SID Interview

Mr.SID Interview
Imagesource: https://youtu.be/l9Ooyeu1P_I

Sonic for the C64 was the game hit of the last year and the release time at Christmas was perfect. If you are not satisfied with the game alone and/or are interested in the technical history of its development, we have a real gem for you.

Retro Enthusiast and welcome contributor Wolfgang Kierdorf asked the creator of the C64 port Mr.SID alias Andreas Varga all relevant and interesting questions in an interview. 

And Mr.SID answered! 😉 50 minutes and 51 seconds with all relevant background information. Absolutely worth seeing this interview.

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10 Print in Assembly

10 Print in Assembly
Imagesource: https://youtu.be/IPP-EMBQPhE

Robin from 8BitShowAndTell is a master. One of his favorite themes is a one-liner called 10 Print. The maze generator is nothing new, but always fun.

This time, however, Robin takes it a step further. One line of Basic? Way too much! That can be optimized in machine code for sure. I love this attitude. 🥰

Find out for yourself whether it can be done, and what that means exactly, in Robin's latest video.

Have fun!

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BBC Micro PC?

BBC Micro PC?
Imagesource: https://youtu.be/hWwRLRQ8NIw

The BBC Micro as a PC? Per my definition, this fabulous device is a personal computer by design in any case. By IBM's definition secondarily, perhaps not, but then what exactly would make the Beeb a PC?

RetroBytes has investigated this question, and the result is as interesting as it is exciting.

DOS on the Beeb? And what does that mean for software? Who am I? And if so, how many? All these fundamental questions are answered by the video on YouTube. 

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Another World on Amiga

Another World on Amiga
Imagesource: https://youtu.be/0iz9PJbs5rE

Another World is a theme that I personally just can't let go of. The number of hours I spent with the game on front of my Amiga 500 back in the 90s, I would almost a criminal offense nowadays. Fascinating aside from the game itself, however, is more the fact of how Eric Chahi built the underlying VM, opening the door for all later ports of the game.

ModenVintageGamer has looked into the genesis of the Amiga version in detail. And his latest video about it is professionally produced as usual.

Oh Nostalgia! I hear you sitting in front of the door crying. 😮‍💨

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What an issue. What great topics. Many thanks to all those who helped us this time with their own content. You are great, and you know who is meant. 😉

We hope that this issue was also a little enrichment for your life. If so, make our world an even more beautiful place, and share this issue with family, friends, acquaintances and enrich their lives as well.

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(And yes dear RSS friend, it is coming ...)

Enjoy the weekend. Build something. And speak about it.

Take care.

Jan & Bastian

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