Monday, June 30, 2014

Retrochallenge 2014 - Get Set

Now it's 11:37 PM Pacific Time, and the excitement is building on the West Coast of the US, where Retrochallenge 2014 is about to commence!

The computers are ready. But, alone, are they enough to stand up to the tests of character and strength that await them? Take heart, there is help from the sidelines.

The Raspberry Pi

Serving once again as a trusty virtual disk drive for the PX-8, the Raspberry Pi is ready to retrieve and store BASIC programs:

The Raspberry Pi wishes it was a PX-8


Hey, the PX-8 isn't the only kid that gets to play with a virtual disk drive. The SIO2PC, a device which conveniently hooks an Atari 8-bit system to a modern PC, festooned with blinky lights, is standing by:

Tomorrow, these LEDs shall blink

The Manuals

Books are the stuff of life, and the reference materials are also waiting in their corner. Here are, in no particular order, the Atari 800 "Purple Book", the KED editor (PDP-11) quick reference, and the Epson PX-8 BASIC Reference Guide:

Notice that nothing is powered on... No, my friends, that celebration comes in just a few minutes, as these digital animals are let out of their time-boxed cage! BWA HA HA HA HA HA.


See you in the morning!

Retrochallenge 2014 - On Your Marks

It's 10:49 PM Pacific Time in Portland, Oregon. The temp is 74 degrees outside, and it's going to be a whopping 98 tomorrow. That's 36.6 Celsius, quite warm by any measure. In just over an hour, this year's Retrochallenge will begin for those of us on the West Coast of the US. Much of the world has already started. Eclipsing the Olympics and even the current World Cup frenzy, the Retrochallenge is the ultimate test of strength, agility, and stamina.

OK, so, maybe that's over the top. However, I'm quite excited. In preparation, I've readied my systems. Here they are, in descending order of gross metric tonnage:

The PDP-11/23+

Weighing in at over 300 pounds (>136 kilos) is the PDP-11/23+. It's loaded with the venerable Fortran 77 compiler. I love to say venerable. I'm not even sure what it means. But it's impressive.

The venerable PDP-11/23+ with venerable Fortran 77

The Atari 800

Yes, this is the original Atari 800, packed with 1.79 MHz of raw 6502 power, and running the venerable Extended Fig-Forth.

Atari 800 with Commodore monitor

The Epson PX-8

Last but not least (except in weight), the Epson PX-8 and BASIC in ROM stand ready to meet any challenge. It's sitting next to my Dell E6430, but they don't talk much. Generation gap.

I guess it's not venerable, but it is cute:

The Epson PX-8 and Dell E6430, brothers from another mother

All this takes massive, Earth-shaking power to run:

60 Hz and loving it

(Do you think this is a fire hazard?)

These computers have accoutrements, which I will describe in the next blog post ("Get Set")!

I am shaking out the muscles, and getting ready for the sprint!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Retrochallenge Summer 2014

For my Retrochallenge Summer 2014 entry, I want to do a 3 x 3 game marathon.

3 games:
  • 21
  • Craps
  • Roulette

3 platforms - choice of:
  • Commodore VIC-20
  • Commodore 64
  • Commodore 128
  • Apple II
  • Atari 800
  • TRS-80 Model 100
  • Epson PX-8
  • PDP-11 with VT-100 terminal

Language choices:
  • C
  • Forth

  • Will need a good pseudo random number generator (PRNG) and a good seed
  • Will have to understand the I/O approaches for each of the three chosen platforms and languages
  • Will have to decide which subset of rules for each of the games will be implemented

So, super-duper success is all nine games (3 x 3) implemented, including graphics and sound applicable to the platform(s). Just barely crossing the finish line is one game on one platform. No games equals total loss and utter humiliation.

If you have suggestions on platforms or languages, let me know!