This is the place to discuss our glorious C64/128 machines and their very active scenes. Other C= 8-bits welcome, too!
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intric8
Seattle, WA, USA

by intric8 posted Thu Nov 15, 2018 2:13 pm

Now look, I realize this is kinda goofy. I just got a NOS boxed copy of GEOS128.

And I can hear a lot of you asking, "Why the hell would you buy GEOS when you can find it for free online?" Great question. Valid question.

On the one hand my excuse is a practical one. I have a C128Dcr I'm still learning how to use, and getting original disk images to physical floppies took me a weekend to figure out thanks to a ton of help from Mitchell Dayton. (I'm still not able to write D71 images but I soon will - but that's a discussion for another day, though.)

On the other hand there is some stuff I really prefer to have the original, physical copy of that I can pick up. Looking at the box and flipping through the manuals sort of tricks my brain into imagining what it must have felt like back in 1986 had I been so lucky to have this software back then. It's sort of a mental Delorean.

I've been thinking about this for a long time and I've boiled it down to a bumper sticker philosophy.

Retro is a fountain of youth for the soul.

And having physical objects from BITD trigger that internal reward faster and more deeply for me.

Anyhoo, check out my latest acquisition: GEOS 128!
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There's a little bit of water/coffee damage on the box sleeve, but the rest is 100% minty mint. I have no idea what those big numbers on the side of the front cover were for, unless they are a Zip Code for Santa Cruz, CA (?). Note the pile of C128-specific games in 80 column glory made by a friend of mine at the last Seattle Commodore Computer Club.

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Still in its original sealed bags. Ooh! And Quantum Link! :)


GEOS128 comes on floppy and will auto-boot the disk when inserted into a C128's drive. No "Load..." typing here. Many 128-mode programs can auto-boot, too.
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There's 1980s air in here!

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Observe the pristine manual. I will actually need to read through this. Since GEOS takes so long to boot, I've got time!
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Head's up, folks. This is THE new standard. Got that?


I haven't had the heart to cut the sealed packets open yet. Before I did that, I told myself, I needed to figure out how to get 80-column mode operational with the C128D.

I bought a simple 9-pin serial cable off Amazon, based on the recommendation from EzdineG. I've decided to use my 1084S monitor with the D for now. It looks like a fantastic match, aesthetically speaking. How does sound work when using RGBi, though? Bah - doesn't really matter. All of the 80-column software I have is either business software or text adventures. There is no sound!

I grabbed the copy of Infocom's Trinity, and put it in the drive. Powered on the machine. It auto-boots! And yeah, it looks just great.
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80-column mode on an 8-bit machine really is freaking sweet.

But the 1084s doesn't let you just flip from 40-column to 80-column mode (it is capable of both modes). At least, I haven't figured out how to do it.

To that end, I couldn't see a way to go to 40-column mode using the serial cable for RGBi. Is it possible to use the "normal" 9-pin DIN cable to RCA jacks (including audio) for C64 mode - and keep that cable plugged in - while also having the serial-to-RGBi cable plugged in for 80?

That way, I can just power off, press a button on the back of the monitor, and power back on in the new mode? This would give me chroma/luma/audio for C64 mode (which is ideal IMO) and RGBi for 128 mode.

Lastly, I asked the sysop of ParticlesBBS (icbrkr) what his favorite C128 terminal is. He recommended Dialogue 128, which is an 80-column program.

There's even a d81 image for it!
Triple Point Software, programmed by Gary Farmaner. Dialogue 128 is quite an amazing terminal with support for the Swiftlink RS-232 cartridge, 1351 mouse, 1700 & 1750 RAM expanders, 40/80 column mode and much much more. Docs are on the disk.


Unfortunately, the C128D user port - which is how I connect to BBSes these days - conflicts with the 128's internal drive. I have to get a modem that severs the trace for what's called the U9600 hack.

Back to GEOS128, it includes a built-in GUI word processor called GEOWrite. And over on cbmfiles.com, there is a massive amount of software for GEOS programs and utilities. One such program lets you pass GEOWrite files back and forth between Windows and even Amiga. That's a future project I look forward to cracking open!
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joethezombie

by joethezombie posted Thu Nov 15, 2018 6:49 pm

intric8 wrote:But the 1084s doesn't let you just flip from 40-column to 80-column mode (it is capable of both modes). At least, I haven't figured out how to do it.

To that end, I couldn't see a way to go to 40-column mode using the serial cable for RGBi. Is it possible to use the "normal" 9-pin DIN cable to RCA jacks (including audio) for C64 mode - and keep that cable plugged in - while also having the serial-to-RGBi cable plugged in for 80?

That way, I can just power off, press a button on the back of the monitor, and power back on in the new mode? This would give me chroma/luma/audio for C64 mode (which is ideal IMO) and RGBi for 128 mode.


Yes, this is what I do on my monitor. The 80 column is always output via the RGBi, and the 40 column is always output via the composite output. Your monitor should have an RGBi / CVBS switch, mines on the front, but maybe yours is on the back (Im unfamiliar with the 1084s) to switch between the inputs. You don't even have to power off the C128D. A run/stop-restore is enough to switch the video mode after selecting with the keyboard.

And that boxed copy of GEOS128 is EPIC. I spent soooo much time in high school in the GEOS environment.
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intric8
Seattle, WA, USA

by intric8 posted Thu Nov 15, 2018 9:24 pm

Thanks, Joe. And I was just coming here to say I'd verified my hunch, too. But hearing it from you makes it all the better.

From one of the Commodore 128 manuals in the original box:
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So yeah - that's the ticket. Thanks!
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BloodyCactus
Lexington VA

by BloodyCactus posted Fri Nov 16, 2018 6:38 am

joethezombie wrote:You don't even have to power off the C128D. A run/stop-restore is enough to switch the video mode after selecting with the keyboard.


A 1902A does not even require that, just hit the button on the monitor. You should not need to hit runstop/restore as the C128 outputs on both outputs at the same time, they are both active. It just depends where the app in ram is writing to.
--/\-[ Bloody Cactus :: http://kråketær.com :: http://mega-tokyo.com ]-/\--
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xenomachina
California

by xenomachina posted Fri Nov 16, 2018 4:09 pm

The 128 is always outputting two video signals. One is the "40-column" NTSC signal via the "VIDEO" port (and also the RF out) . This is generated by the VIC-II. The other is the "80-column" RGBI signal, generated by the VDC.

Some monitors like the 1902A and 1084 have inputs for both, and there's a switch to choose the mode. I have a 1084S, and the switch is labeled "CVBS / RGB". On my 1084S the switch is on the far right behind the front flip-down panel that says "Commodore". There were a few variations of the 1084 and 1084S, so yours may be in a different place (mine looks almost like the one on the GEOS 128 box, actually...) If you have such a monitor you should connect both the VIDEO and RGBI ports. VIDEO connects to the chroma, luma, and audio inputs. For a 1084S you may want to use a splitter for the audio.

(The 1084S actually has 3 video inputs: chroma+luma, RGBI, and RGBA for the Amiga. If both RGBI and RGBA inputs are available, RGBA "wins". I had my 128 and Amiga 2000HD connected to my 1084S like this for years.)

The 40/80 column key in the 128 is mostly just for BASIC. It tells BASIC which mode to place the cursor in when resetting. Software that expects a certain mode will completely ignore it. GEOS 128 is always 80-column, just like GO64 is always 40-column.

BASIC ignores the 40/80 key unless you reset. You can switch modes in BASIC with the GRAPHIC command. GRAPHIC 0 goes to 40-column text mode, GRAPHIC 5 to 80-column text mode. The other GRAPHIC modes also use the VIC, but only the spit-screen modes (2 & 4) move the cursor to the 40-column text space. The other display will still be generated and will not be cleared and so it is possible to have dual-screen applications that use both video modes simultaneously. (One caveat is that BASIC's split-screen stops being split when in GRAPHIC 5 mode, but there are ways around this using assembly.)

As for audio: this always comes out of the "VIDEO" port (and also RF) and is generated by the SID. If you connect the audio-out of the VIDEO port to a Commodore monitor with a mode switch, like the 1902 or 1084, the audio will go to the speakers regardless of the video mode selected.
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intric8
Seattle, WA, USA

by intric8 posted Fri Nov 16, 2018 5:35 pm

@xenomachina your post and attention to detail is pure gold. Thank you SO much for taking the time to explain all of those modes and settings. I am going to be bookmarking your post!

Now can we enter the Matrix and you put your C128 info onto a chip and push that into the back of my head? That would be sweet. :)
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intric8
Seattle, WA, USA

by intric8 posted Fri Nov 16, 2018 5:47 pm

In somewhat related news, today I received my external 1571 drive. I now have the entire disk setup for the C128 I'll ever need (besides moving the internal off of ID 8 in the future). What I mean is I can now write to any disk format, including the "pro" d71 and d81 disk images. Stoked!
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My "new" C= 1571 external drive.
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My new 1571 seen with my 1581 drive.


The new 1571 has JiffyDOS installed. The previous owner also fully tested the drive, and determined it had a bad head. So he replaced it from a different fully working machine to guarantee what I got was tip-tip. A pro move.

And then he hand-typed a letter for me - using a typewriter from 1938 - and dropped a massive nugget of very useful information for all 1571 owners.

A quick note about these 1571 drives; if you don't plan on using the drive for an extended length of time, it is always a good idea to leave a disk in the drive and the door latched. The head supports in these drives are thin pieces of spring steel, and if you leave the heads in the up or open position with the drive unlocked, it can fatigue the metal until the mount breaks.
!
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intric8
Seattle, WA, USA

by intric8 posted Fri Nov 16, 2018 10:52 pm

@joethezombie this shot's for you. :)
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User avatar
joethezombie

by joethezombie posted Sat Nov 17, 2018 10:50 am

Absolutely stunning! I don't have the external drives, I could never could afford them as a kid, and by then I was saving all my lawn mowing money for an Amiga. But I think I'm going to complete the setup close to 30 years later with a 1571 and 1581 of my own. That is such a cool setup, rivaled only by the A1000.

I still have a pretty good collection of software from my childhood, including hand-drawn maps and notes from various dungeon crawlers, my favorite at the time. A lot of these disks haven't been loaded for decades, I wonder if they still work... But a few get loaded monthly still. My favorites, Forbidden Forest, Pastfinder, Super Pipeline, Jumpan Jr, just a few games off the top of my head, but yes, even GEOS gets loaded.

Speaking of which, the GEOS ROM is something I didn't know about, really looking forward to getting one of those multi-ROMs!

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Dynamic_Computing

by Dynamic_Computing posted Tue Nov 20, 2018 9:32 pm

I have been having a blast with my C128. I actually have not used my C64 since I got it up and running. I find it useful to program in 80 column mode, and then switch to 40 column mode to test it. It is just so nice to have such a clear 80 column display to work with. I have a nice 1702 monitor that handles RGBi and chroma/luma like a champ, but it has an intermittent flutter... Probably a bad solder joint on the flyback transformer.
I just got two 1571 drives the other day - and with my sd2ide that is coming in this week, this system will be awesome. I have played with GEOS a little, but I wanted to wait for both my drives to come in to really play with it.
Believe it or not, I am also excited about CP/M and I am practicing with that. I plan on doing a video series on both GEOS and CP/M in the next few months. Maybe we can share some experiences with GEOS for the series.

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