Just the signal, not the noise

Hello 8bit'ers,

Yes, it is Friday. And a cloudy one. ☁️ Even though you might have the impression, that we ignore, what’s currently going on in the world, that’s not the case. We just decided not to speak about it, because it’s spoken about it everywhere else by the experts. 

In that fashion we hope, that our issue this week brightens up your day at least a bit and that the one or the other topic is exactly, what you’ve been looking for.

Let’s stay positive and enjoy Issue #38!



BASIC in Javascript
Imagesource: https://joystickandcursorkeys.github.io/

BASIC might well be one of the most important languages ever. Not that it was the first or best higher level language - by far not.

But BASIC was an integral part of most home computers in the 80's, abstracting away some of the difficulties that came with assembly and machine language. Thus the language opened the door to not only playing with a computer, but actually becoming creative and productive, and implementing one's own ideas.

Today it's hard to imagine, but at that time it was something special to get your own creation - of any kind - onto a monitor or TV ... today literally child's play.

Dusty Wilhelm Murray is definitely a friend of the language and especially of the C64 version. And even if it looks different at first sight, his project is not a C64 emulator. 

Basic64.JS is a BASIC implementation directly in Javascript. And a more than successful one.

If you start the interpreter, you feel at home quickly. 🏡 The first BASIC programs are written in no time, and the emulator feels pretty damn fast - unlike some fully fledged machine emulators. Extended commands do exactly what their name promises, and the documentation is excellent.

You can save your own creations in the browser's LocalStorage and load them later on to continue.

It’s time for the BASICs!

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KIM-1 SIM v1.1.1

KIM-1 SIM v1.1.1 Release
Imagesource: http://retro.hansotten.nl/

Whoever knows the KIM-1 also knows Hans Otten. And who knows Hans Otten, also knows his KIM-1 simulator.

Last fall we already reported about the first release, now the software is preparing to conquer the rest of the world with release 1.1.1. 💪

What makes the original KIM-1 so special, is its simplicity. A MOS6502 or 65C02, a hexadecimal micro keyboard for input and six 7-segment displays for output. That’s it. 

Not enough? Then you can load programs from tape and save them back to it as well. If you've always had your eye on 6502 assembly, the simulator is an excellent choice. 

Especially because it comes with a debugger, and the state of the machine is visible and traceable in every single step.

Great, great project!

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KIMdle - Wordle for the KIM-1
Imagesource: http://oldvcr.blogspot.com/

Last week we already had a Wordle version for the C64 in our program. (By the way: certainly neither the first, nor the only one). This week we go one step further. Or to be more precise, we go one step back.

Our companion on the journey backwards is ClassicHasClass and maybe it is this person here @mpc7500v2 on Twitter - no guarantee.

What's it about? Wordle for the KIM-1! 😵

If you know the hardware, you know what this means. The original was equipped with just a cute 1024 bytes of RAM, not only the game mechanics but especially the dictionary is a serious challenge here.

Therefore, according to the author, KIMdle is more of a "sorta wordle", but that doesn't diminish its success. Details on the implementation and quite a bit of the history can be found in this article.

Decide yourself. 🕐

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Nintendo Family Home

Nintendo Family Home
Imagesource: https://y-n10.com/

Someone once said, that we humans are like plastic bags full of emotions. And no matter how bad a day may be, when the eyes, the ears, the nose or the tongue perceive something extraordinarily beautiful, you can feel how the endorphin rain creates inner rainbows ... huh nice. 😴

That's what happened this week when we opened the Nintendo family homepage for the first time.

Pro Tip: Do it on a mobile device. Otherwise on a desktop turn the sound off and on again in the menu on the left hand side. Here is the link:


Quite apart from the controversy that can be spun around Nintendo, the site is not only a fine example of unusual design. Anyone who doesn't immediately get into a better mood with the acoustic background music can hardly be helped 😉🔫.

Well done, and even if without a direct retro reference worth the short trip.

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emuStudio - Emulation Platform Framework
Imagesource: https://www.emustudio.net/

emuStudio is one of the most extraordinary projects of this year so far. Not that the software is brand new, actual initiation was back in 2006. But the thing flew so far under the radar, that we are really grateful to Paolo Amoroso for bringing it to our attention.

emuStudio is a universal emulation platform and framework created by Peter Jakubčo and is an excellent learning tool for anyone who wants to understand processor design and system architecture.

The software can emulate a whole range of systems. In addition to these emulation plugins, there is also a source code editor as well as corresponding compilers for the respective target architecture.

Based on the Intel 8080 as well as the Z80 a whole range of systems can be emulated. And thanks to the design self-written programs can be tested directly from the command line.

Almost passed by us, but actually a great project for every retrocomputing enthusiast.

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ByteCode Interpreters

Bytecode interpreters are so interesting because they are so low level and therefore so powerful. An example that probably everyone knows is Steve Wozniak’s SWEET16 - an interpreter that enabled 16-bit operations on 8-bit CPUs.

Yet a bytecode interpreter is just a set of additional instructions on top of an existing instruction set. But the space of possibilities on machine code level is extended almost arbitrarily. On limited CPUs you can easily create your own ISA extensions, use memory as additional registers, implement preemptive scheduling with a simple switch after each instruction or realize any other form of magic. 🧙

Curious? Then you should definitely take a look at this article

What Kragen Javier Sitaker has put together here is definitely a long read.

But the content is as good and compressed as the bytecode that will come out of your brain afterwards. I feel ideas coming …

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Retrostyle Livestreaming

Retrostyle Livestreaming
Imagesource: https://unsplash.com/

Imagine you own an old Macintosh Plus, and you want to create screen videos or even a lifestream with the box.

Nothing easier than that, right? Take an ATEM Mini Pro, a set of HDMI cables, an appropriate video adapter and off you go! 🎬

If you've done the math briefly, you'll arrive at a whopping €1000, and certainly like to take a look at … options. So did Joshua Stein.

His recent article is about exactly this topic. After some experimentation with websockets and real time decoding in the browser, Joshua ended up with ffmpeg and h264. His journey towards these two is more than interesting, and of course the target system doesn't have to be exclusively the Mac Plus.

Worth reading if you plan to release something sometime soon.

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Imagesource: https://unsplash.com/

Those who know us, know that games in the sense of games are rather less on our agenda. But emulators for old systems (albeit game consoles) are quite another story. 

This week our attention fell in this direction on N64WASM. As the name suggests, it's an N64 emulator implemented in WASM for the browser.

Neil Barkhina grabbed the original project RetroArch ParaLLEl, and ported it to the browser using his brain, fingers and emscripten.

And it even works on mobile devices. ROMs are of course not included, but if you always wanted to dive into the worlds of OpenGL, WASM and emscripten ...

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Imagesource: https://youtu.be/lRzWDm6-uHE

In September we already talked about the fantastic C256 Foenix machines from [Stefany Allaire](https://twitter.com/StefanyAllaire).

Now that Stefany has started shipping the latest model A2560K, Tail Recursive has taken a detailed look at the machine. 

Very informative video for everyone, who is thinking about getting this machine. Who said it? "The Silicon Graphics of retro computers" ... definitely true. 🤩

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Spectrum at 40

Spectrum at 40
Imagesource: https://youtu.be/fO3m5mud6pA

The ZX Spectrum's 40th birthday was a little while ago, but hey, we'll take any opportunity to celebrate! 🎉

And the latest video from Den of Wonder definitely gives the appropriate occasion. Because it is - as always - produced in high quality, and is a perfect fit for 8pm on your TV. 

Fancy a bit of history and nostalgia? Then the following video will not only entertain you in 20 minutes and 8 seconds, but also make you a little smarter about the history of the little machine. 


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The Spectrum Show

The Spectrum Show
Imagesource: https://www.youtube.com/user/BuckingTheTrend2008/

Can't get enough of the Spectrum? Then we've got more right here. In fact, a whole lot more. To be exact, 129 Spectrum related videos by Paul Jenkinson.

On his channel you'll find a video on pretty much every Spectrum related topic, and if you don't know him yet, it makes perfect sense to at least take a look.

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The VGA Revolution

The VGA Revolution
Imagesource: https://youtu.be/0YSF8BE5yE4

Our final topic today is VGA. We stay with nostalgia and take a look back to 1991 together with Retro Dream.

VGA as a specification already existed since 1987, but most machines still came with the 16 colors of EGA at that time. That VGA finally came is history. But what exactly that meant at that time, for games as well as for gamers, is summarized very ... let's say graphically, in the following video. 😉

Have fun.

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And that's it for this week. If you have found something worth your time, we are very happy. If not: Our complaint- and grievance-mailbox is always open for you. You can always contact us with criticism or suggestions - just directly reply to this email.

If you liked the current issue, feel free to forward it to everyone you know. Eternal fame and gratitude of the recipients will be sure for you! 

As sure as the planet revolves around the sun, the upcoming issue will land in your mailbox in a week from today. In the meantime, stay positive, build something and speak about it.

Take care.

Jan & Bastian

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