Just the signal, not the noise

Hello 8bit'ers,

Against all odds of the cold and brittle winter in the northern hemisphere, we spared no expense and effort to make sure that there will be a Friday again this week… 

Well, at least we took care of a new issue of 8bitnews. And this week's edition is quite something. Following we have a whole bunch of really exciting projects that invite you not only to read, but also to participate by wagging your fingers over current or older keyboards.

We won't give anything away just yet, but we hope, you enjoy Issue #36.


Circuit Design Revisited

reso - Bitmap based Circuit Design
Imagesource: https://github.com/lynnpepin/

If you haven't heard of Reso in the last week, now is the time for a click. Literally.

You know circuit simulators like LogiSim and Digital, and you're looking for something different? Lynn Pepin has just that, and he has implemented a completely different approach to digital circuit simulations with Reso.

The thing a circuit simulator whose inputs are bitmap images. The outputs in are also bitmaps. And since these in turn can act as input again, it is possible to realize quite complex circuits with the help of composition.

The project has no UI and seems a bit weird at first. But once you get to grips with the concept, you'll soon start spending your evenings in a different way. It will be interesting to see, where the journey for Reso will lead. 

Cool project!

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C64 Cloud Computing

C64 Cloud Computing
Imagesource: https://unsplash.com/

Admittedly, the title is a bit misleading, but we found it this week exactly like that. The project is no less interesting because of that.

Pawel Kadluczka has connected a stock C64 to the net using an ESP WiFi module. He then built a SignalR client in 6502 assembly, connecting the little Commodore to a service in his Azure cloud setup.

This doesn't sound too exciting at first, because apart from a simple chat client, Pawel didn't implement anything else. However, if you think about it a bit further, a whole range of possible application scenarios emerge, and then the title is not as much clickbait as it looks at first.

Details about the project can be found here, and there is also a link to a short YouTube video in which Pawel demonstrates the setup. 

Very well done Pawel!

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BASIC 10 Liner Competition

BASIC 10 Liner Contest
Imagesource: https://gkanold.server.deerpower.de/

Up for a new challenge? We love challenges. Our biggest one at the moment is to persuade the days to have more than 24 hours... 😏

But if you are lucky enough to have a little more free time, you might enjoy the current BASIC 10 Liner Competition.

Don't panic, the page comes in brittle German at first, but if you carefully and skillfully turn your mouse wheel from north to south, the whole thing comes out in English as well.

Gunnar Kanold from Homeputerium has kindly set up the current challenge. There are 4 categories to choose from, each differing in the maximum line length allowed.

My creativity just strolled past me, waving tiredly with an alcoholic mixed drink, but maybe it looks different for you. Exciting times, exciting times …

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Ample Release

Ample - MAME based Apple Emulator
Imagesource: https://github.com/ksherlock/

Do you know Ample? Actually a mixed-together name consisting of MAME and Apple - and thus pretty much a bull's eye for what this thing does.

And since we can't get enough of emulators, the latest release of Ample was worth at least these lines here. Ample is not an emulator in that sense, this job is done by MAME. But Ample provides an excellent interface for the necessary configuration.

The only few days old release 0.240 can be used for the emulation of an Apple I, Apple ][ and Apple ///, the Macintosh is also available

ksherlock has been maintaining the project regularly for more than 2 years, and the result is seriously worth testing.

MAME can do more than just games! New for us so far, but a really nice revelation. 👌

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Your own Assembler

Build your own Assembler
Imagesource: https://unsplash.com/

Wait, wait! Don't scroll that away, because this thing is really worth the reading time. At least, if you are a friend of LS74 logic chips and self-built 8-bit machines.

Everybody who built a lightweight concept computer, quickly arrives at the design of an own instruction set. Soon after the manual assembling of programs with pencil and paper becomes exhausting quickly. The solution? You build your own assembler of course.

In languages like Python, Ruby, Go and others a 2-pass assembler is not that big of a challenge, but it could  be better. Much better!

What if you had an assembler framework where your ISA's mnemonics could be dynamically translated into machine code just using configuration?


Lorenzi has built exactly that. Boom! After a short learning curve, you quickly knit together your very own assembler for your very own assembly dialect on your very own hardware. 

A project that gets far too little attention, and that far too few people know about.

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BASIC Gorillas

BASIC Gorillas
Imagesource: Microsoft

Benj Edwards should be a household name to pretty much anyone involved in retrocomputing of any form.

As a journalist and tech historian, he's always devoted to various retrocomputing topics, and in January it was all about gorillas. 🦍

So rather less the furry musclemen and rather more one of the most widely used BASIC games of all time. How come? 

GORILLA.BAS was part of QBasic, and has improved / worsened the computer science classes in quite some schools worldwide. Depends on your point of view, I guess. 😁

The story is more a piece of nostalgia and history. But if you can remember two gorillas on top of skyscrapers, flying bananas and the fun that comes with the game, then the reading time is certainly not wasted.

Thanks for the reminder Benj!

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iz-Apple - Emulator
Imagesource: https://github.com/ivanizag/

Last but not least, there must be room for another emulator. If not on your SSD, then at least here in this email, because the following is too good to just disappear into oblivion.

izapple2 is an emulator written in Go - and therefore portable - for the Apple ][+ and Apple //e.

The special thing about it is, that there are no other system-specific dependencies except for SDL, and thus the project can be made to run on Windows, Linux and also on the Mac.

Iván Izaguirre mentioned only the support for Windows and Linux in his documentation, but after a quick `brew upgrade go` the emu could be built and run directly on the Mac without any problems.

Following the docs you can play Karateka immediately. After a 32MB download you get plenty of games in the form of the Total Replay collection. ❤️

Fast, elegant, and opensource. What can you say, except: Be sure, Caps Lock is down. 👹

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Bits and Bytes TVO

Bits and Bytes TVO
Imagesource: https://www.facebook.com/bitsandbytestvo

Peter Metz and his Bits and Bytes TVO is a very special piece of nostalgia cake. With cream. And with a cherry! 🍰

On his YouTube channel, which belongs to the project, you can find a whole collection of historical video material, which you would otherwise have to painstakingly search for as individual parts.

The best thing about it: There is a reunion with Jim Butterfield. 👨‍🦳

The aspect ratio of 4:3 is less suited to modern monitors, but seriously, who cares? Lovely collection of video material regarding all the good stuff.

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C64 Story Remastered

C64 Story Remastered
Imagesource: https://youtu.be/WBqGyf8eQVk

If you haven't seen it yet, Perifractic is right behind it. You may know the original video How Computer Chips are made. The German video, digitized from VHS, tells the story of how chips for the PET and C64 were produced at MOS Technology in 1984.

Since the quality is rather poor, Christian has decided to enhance the material partially with the help of ML. In addition he translated it from German.

The must-see for every Commodore fan can be found here on YouTube.

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Lucas Playthroughs

Lucas Playthroughs
Imagesource: https://retro365.blog/

You know those evenings. There's nothing but junk on the 1729 TV channels and Netflix feels … empty (in so many dimensions). Then how about a little new love for an old love?

To get didactically precise: Love for the entire Lucasgames / Lucasart Adventure Games family.

Ernst Krogtoft has grabbed every single title, and played it through. And along the way he ran a screen recorder. Technology ... magic. Love it.

On his page you can find the links to all the videos, and if you make it to the root directory, you'll find a whole bunch of other retrocomputing gems.

The evening program for today is set: Maniac Mansion longplay. (I just have to convince my significant other… 🤓)

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Apple I - Switched on after 30 Years

Apple I - Switched on after 30 Years
Imagesource: https://youtu.be/W98nDs8BJ7Y

The finale for today is an Apple I. One that has not been switched on for 30 years, but lives in the Heinz Nixdorf Museum in Paderborn.

Putting the thing back into operation after such a long time, without seeing the contents of the ICs rising in small clouds of fume, is quite a serious challenge.

And the colleagues of the Heinz Nixdorf Museum have bravely met this challenge. The result is a quite interesting series consisting of 4 short videos starting with part I

The videos are in German, but the English subtitles are excellent. Exciting story that!

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And every time we think there's nothing new under the retro sun, new projects come around the corner. Not everything is for everyone. That's why we always try to arrange the mix in a way, that at least one or the other project meets your taste. We hope we succeeded in this issue as well.

And if you would put your cross at "yes", why don't you share your joy with ... just everyone you know? We can handle the load, a few stamps more or less ... uh, well. You know what we mean.

Do you have any suggestions or criticism? Just press "Reply" and write to us directly. We read every message and are grateful for feedback.

There is plenty of time until next Friday. Build something. And speak about it.

Take care.

Jan & Bastian

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