Hello, from Ontario, Canada

NMD

New Member
Jul 6, 2019
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Hey everyone, I'm Nick. I don't actually have any 8-bit computers in my life any more, but I still have fond memories. I delivered newspapers as a 12 year old for a year or more saving for my first computer, the Vic-20. My aunt worked at a shop that sold them (and other big boy office equipment and computers of the time) and she gave my mom a break for a few hours and took me to work. I played Gorf and played with the speech synthesizer cart and tried my hand entering a program or two from the manual. I fell in love, and asked my aunt if I could photocopy the manual. She gave me some disused yellow paper, and I manually copied the whole manual onto it.

It would be quite some time before I could afford the more than $400 it would cost for a new Vic-20, but I used that manual to teach myself BASIC programming. I didn't get arrays at first, that took more re-reads of the manual and some attempts at programming before it made sense to me. I wrote my first program on ruled paper in the school library without owning a computer or even having used one for more than a few hours. It was my kid-like version of PacMan. When I finally got my Vic-20 I typed the program in and it mostly worked. I was hooked.

I got to know other 8-bit computer owners, and eventually became their "go to" guy for computer support. My neighbour got a C-64, and when I was over to help his daughter with her math, they let me play Jumpman on it. I was hooked... I had to find a way to get a C-64, but my family was poor, and it would take forever to save the paper money up for a C-64 and a 1541 drive. My neighbour introduced me someone working for an investment company that wanted a 20 questions questionnaire program to run on their Compaq luggable when they set up a kiosk at the mall. I wrote the program for them and in exchange they gave me a C-64.

I had typed in programs from magazines of the day (Byte, Compute, Ahoy, Run, Transactor and others... in fact I was then spending most of the money from my paper route buying computer magazines.) I found you could only learn so much from the magazines and I really wondered what exactly all the numbers were in machine language programs like the free word processor SpeedScript. I set out to learn machine language, and soon fell in love with 6502 assembly.

I got really good at assembly. I forget the name of the assembler I used, but I recall it used to be something like SYS 700 and that the code was typed in as "BASIC" lines thereafter. This led me to getting a chance to work on a contract job for the Super Snapshot cartridge. I forget the exact details, but I recall their chief coder calling me and telling me I had 4k to do the character set editor, and asking me if I could manage it. It took me an evening to throw it together, and it was something like 1.5K total. I got another call back from their coder telling me how impressed he was. That cartridge sold a lot of copies, I always wondered if anyone ever used my code for something cool.

From that point, I had a C-128 and then I got into the Amiga... that was such a great computer. I still have fond memories of AREXX and something called MUI the Magic User Interface. I actually coded and released a piece of shareware using it, having it published on a Fish disk even... but by then the Amiga was mostly surpassed by the IBM PC revolution.

At some point I even had a Commodore CDTV... and an Amiga 2000T... but all good things come to an end... I too eventually gave into the future.

I got a beige box PC XT clone with a 40G hard card. By that time I was in university as a programmer, working my first co-op job programming in Vax BASIC of all things.
 
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NMD

New Member
Jul 6, 2019
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I actually came here to post to the @The8BitGuy to ask him if he's ever come across the SuperSnapshot cartridge... and if he ever considered covering it in an episode.
 

NMD

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Jul 6, 2019
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And also, to find out if anyone remembers which C-64 assembler it was I was using that had the SYS 700 to invoke it (or was it 900, memory is a little hazy after all these years).
 
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cml37

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May 19, 2019
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Washington, D.C. Area
Welcome! Sounds like we have similar stores.. though mine was with PC compatibles (i.e. I became the block "fixit" guy for them.. and even started a small company fixing computers).

Glad that you are here!