Just the signal, not the noise

Hello 8bit'ers,

Tomorrow is Saturday, yesterday was Thursday, and thus, the evidence is mounting that today is indeed Friday. A Friday after two (yet again) relatively uneventful weeks. (How is this going to continue?)

However, after uncovering a devious conspiracy this week, it's finally clear: Gregorio Naçu and The 8-Bit Guy are one and the same person. Our thanks to OpenAI... we need more whistleblowers! 🤣

This issue is a bit more lightweight. Let's hope that the coming weeks will bring more of our favorite topics to light. And let's hope that there's still an article or two for you.

Enjoy Issue #78.



Imagesource: https://twinbasic.com/

BASIC is dead, long live BASIC. In a significant move towards preserving classic code, TwinBASIC, a modern BASIC compiler aiming for complete compatibility with all existing VB6 and VBA code, is making steady progress. This commercial venture promises to provide the 32-bit Windows version free of charge, while the 64-bit variant will either require a licence or will display a 5-second TwinBASIC splash screen at application start.

So why bother with 8-bit systems any longer, when you can now program for more modern architectures in your favorite language? 👹

Wayne Phillips aka @WaynePhillipsEA just released the current preview version, which supports the compilation of standalone EXE applications, ActiveX DLLs, and ActiveX Controls. Though in its nascent stages, most common VB language features are already complete. However, several elements still have limited functionality and are slated for future improvements.

As this modern compiler builds momentum, developers can track its development progress via its roadmap. The compiled code emitted by TwinBASIC is unoptimized native code, resulting in faster performance than VB6’s p-code compilation, thanks to it being native machine code.

While TwinBASIC introduces fresh compiler features and new datatypes, it also supports multi-threading. (Woohoo!) However, this feature will be officially unveiled once the language syntax to support it is added. It is also integrating LLVM for superior code generation. So – actually the perfect tool. Let's find a perfect problem.

Share the signal:

Z280 OS

Z280 OS
Imagesource: https://unsplash.com/

Take a step back in time to 1987 and let's have a look at RSX280 – an operating system for the Zilog Z280 CPU that's oozing vintage vibes. It's like DEC's old-school RSX-11M just decided to throw a party in the 21st century. 🎉

RSX280 is the life of the tech-retro party, juggling multiple tasks, users, and terminals like a pro. Its micro-kernel operates on a first come, first served basis (or round-robin scheduling for the tech-savvy). It's got a Quick Input-Output mechanism that's as zippy as a roller-skating waiter. And, the Asynchronous System Trap support and Event Flags? Now that's what I call a true blast from the past.

But wait, there's more! The unknown individual named hperaza designes the OS such, that it lets you add on to the kernel's functionality like lego blocks if you've got the privileged tasks. It's got a Task Directory that's faster than a greyhound on a race track. And guess what? You can even stick tasks in the memory for lightning-fast activation.

RSX280 doesn't shy away from hardware either. It cosies up with Bill Shen's Z280RC board and Tilmann Reh's CPU280 board, each boasting its own unique set of kernel and drivers.

Now, before you get too excited, remember it's a work in progress. It's like an old car that runs pretty well, but every so often, you might find a bug or two under the hood. But hey, what's a vintage experience without a few hiccups along the way?

So strap in, because with RSX280, it's time to move into the 16 bit era with the Z280.

Share the signal:


Ultimate Electronics

Ultimate Electronics
Imagesource: https://ultimateelectronicsbook.com/

Doing software all day is one thing. Doing hardware – well – is another. But what about getting back to the fundamentals? Ready to delve into the electrifying world of electronics? Brace yourselves, because the Ultimate Electronics: Practical Circuit Design and Analysis is here to take you one level deeper.

This isn't your average electronics book. It's a free, interactive guide that fuses the math, the physics, and the practical, allowing you to truly comprehend how electronic systems rule our world. From understanding Ohm’s Law’s linearity to grasping how a complex number represents an entire sinusoidal signal, this book is your golden ticket to building a solid intuition for electronics.

The real spark? The book’s hundreds of interactive schematics. Click, simulate, tweak, repeat – learning has nearly never been so much fun. And while it doesn't replace hands-on experimentation, it does make learning faster and easier.

Downside: This journey goes hand-in-hand with calculus, linear algebra, and classical physics. So be prepared, because you're about to enhance your understanding of both electronics and these complementary fields!

The genius behind the circuits? Most probably Mike F. Robbins aka @mikefrobbins. Applause, applause, applause! 👏

Share the signal:

MEGA65 Projects

MEGA65 Projects
Imagesource: https://mega65.org/

It's been a while since the MEGA65 finally became available after such a long wait. Accordingly, there are now a plethora of resources on the internet that can help get you started with the machine.

Steven Combs, a familiar name to insiders, showed us in Issue #24 how to enjoy the machine without the original hardware and without an emulator. Keyword: FPGA.

However, another person who definitely deserves mention here is Dan Sanderson, aka @dan_sanderson, who has also been a guest in our magazine from time to time. In addition to his Welcome Guide and the MEGA65 Digest, Dan consistently shares new projects revolving around the unofficial successor to the C64.

You are a proud owner of a MEGA65? (Congrats!) Then you definitely know Dan already. You are looking for some new challenge for your hobby room? Then a Nexys 4 FPGA and these resources might be just what you need to get you through the upcoming summer.


Share the signal:

Turbo Rascal Syntax Error

Turbo Rascal Syntax Error
Imagesource: https://lemonspawn.com/

Put on your swimming shorts and the flotation aid. We're about to dive into the wonderful world of Turbo Rascal Syntax Error (TRSE). And oh … is this a mouthful! TRSE is like a Swiss Army Knife for creating games and demos for your cherished 8-bit and 16-bit computers. I'm talking MOS6502, Motorola 68000, Z80, the M6809, and the X86, among others. This thing is a whole shebang - an IDE, compiler, programming language, resource editor - all rolled into one neat package.

I love monoliths.

Developing for your beloved vintage systems has never been easier. TRSE comes decked out with all the bells and whistles of a modern IDE - error messages, code completion, syntax highlighting, you name it. Plus, it supports a dizzying array of retro systems.

What else is in this treasure trove? A real-time ray tracer for sprucing up your game production, a versatile image editor, and even a barebones music tracker. There's almost 300 runnable tutorials and a host of project examples. Definitely check out the creators (Nicolaas GroeneboomYouTube Channel.

Convinced? TRSE is a love letter to the golden age of computing. So, what are you waiting for?

Share the signal:

Another BASIC

Another BASIC
Imagesource: https://pexels.com/

Ladies and gentlemen, the retro computing gods have bestowed upon us another gem (and hence a second BASIC article) - Vision BASIC! This isn't your grandad's BASIC, no siree. This BASIC has been pumping iron, downing protein shakes and reading self-help books for over 20 years. If BASIC was a caterpillar, Vision BASIC is the butterfly on steroids it morphed into!

Born out of a two-decade-long journey through the wilderness of bits, bytes and nibbles, it is here to bring your programming dreams to life. Speed? You bet your high byte! Need more? Whip out your machine language skills and sprinkle them right in alongside your BASIC commands. This glorious piece of software doesn't flinch.

Sprites, sounds, and graphics? Check, check, and check! ☑️

This BASIC implementation from Dennis Osborn – known through his YT Channel – minimizes your need to poke around like a mad scientist in a haystack of registers. It even lets you create your own commands or functions, because why not? You can save these user defined commands and functions into separate files, and add them to your programs whenever you wish. Talk about flexibility!

But the cherry on top has to be the old-school C64 editor feel. We all know and love it, and Vision BASIC brings it back in style. Yes, you'll need to tweak your existing programs to get them working here, but that's a small price to pay for the speed and power at your fingertips.

The catch? You'll need at least 256K of extra RAM. But once you've crafted your program, you can run it on any stock C64 machine without an issue.

Got a vision? (There are special doctors for that!)

Share the signal:


Soundsamples on the C64

Soundsamples on the C64
Imagesource: https://youtu.be/0xWyLeVnxFU

Technically, like other 8-bit machines, the C64 was not capable of playing sound samples. And yet... thanks to a bit of dark magic, the blood of a virgin, 2 grams of stardust, and a pact with the devil, it became a lived reality.

But how does it work? The answer to that question is as exciting as... the question itself. ♻️

Who would have thought? But without wanting to take away from the seriousness of the topic, the resolution is truly fascinating, and it comes from The Modern Vintage Gamer – @ModernVintageG.

His current video not only comes with all the details and facts. Like all of his productions, it is situated in a quality range that can certainly be described as primetime-ready.

Feel like learning something in a relaxed way? Here you go. 📺

Share the signal:

Fix it Felix

Fix it Felix
Imagesource: https://brokenbytes.itch.io/

Get ready to break out your joysticks and travel back in time with Fix-It Felix Jr.. This is no mere trip down memory lane - we're talking about one of the most beloved 2D platform games of all time, reborn on your trusty Commodore 64.

The premise? Niceland's in chaos, and it's all thanks to a certain irate giant named Ralph. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to help Felix Jr. restore peace and order, one window at a time. As you ascend the levels, be prepared to dodge bricks, outsmart ducks, and race against the clock - all in a day's work for a hero, right?

The cherry on the cake? The game is a charity project with all donations going to UNICEF. So plug in, power up, and save the day - both in Niceland and in the real world!

The original game wizard is Antonio Savona tweeting as @tonysavon. Kudos Antonio!

Share the signal:

Greed devours brains, and AI devours retro?

At the moment, one might get the impression that too many people, overwhelmed by AI panic, are neglecting the things that really matter in life: Retrocomputing!

However, as we're sure this will change, we are confident that all of your friends, acquaintances, colleagues, and every single member of your family would consider it an enrichment to also be a recipient of our bi-weekly magazine. So just click Forward and spread the joy!

Do you have a topic for one of our upcoming issues? Feel free to send us a message. You can reach us anytime simply by hitting Reply.

Let's hope that Issue #79 will be a bit thicker. Until then – build something and 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.