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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Mr.Toast
Roseville, CA

by Mr.Toast posted Tue Feb 05, 2019 12:07 am

Something that has been on my digital bucket list for a *very* long time was trying to understand even the fundamental concepts of assembly language. It was just voodoo black magic mystical wisdom stuff to a kid growing up in a low income area of Florida.

I was all about the 64 starting in '82 when I signed up for a computer class (6th grade) that was just loaded with about 20 of them on a state grant. These were amazing to me and up until then, I had never used a computer as they were the domain of 'rich folk'. The teacher was awesome (Mr. Biddle, wherever you are) and I quickly picked up BASIC-although some of the nuance of the pokes and peeks were without context. I had to keep a log of all the ones that did something interesting that I could find.

I don't know how my grandparents could afford it on fixed income, but they managed to put a 64 under the tree for me that year. I'd never had a gift so expensive! This was awesome until, well, the first time I had to turn it off. Poof. There went everything I was learning in a blink. Next up, I had to have a floppy drive. I am sure I petitioned the "to do my homework" or something to that effect. Needless to say, the 64 didn't get a lot of serious action until the next fall when we could finally afford to get a brand new one from the local Service Merchandise store, which was Sears with a magic carpet that your purchases rolled out of their warehouse. 1541 and its ON! Finally I can make the Wizardry Killer I wanted! Sukkit APple ][!

Reality was that BASIC was just too slow to do what I had in my head. The lack of drawing routines in BASIC 2.0 meant my DATA arrays filled with character graphics was quickly tapping out the memory resources. And, it was miserably slow. I didn't know better at the time.

So, how were all these awesome games I was pirating from school mates made? Turns out it was something called ASSEMBLER. I had no clue what this meant. I learned about using a monitor but the cryptic nature of everything flying by made little sense. Unfortunately, library books on the subject were extremely slim and outdated, even by 1983 standards. None of my friends knew what machine language was. I resigned to the fact that this was some other world. Like Europe or something. ASM was like Europe. They actually speak ASM in Europe. I was sure of it. Needless to say, ASM was something I, as a 13 year old kid, would never know. At least that was the perception I had.

Exhausted for resources, I went the BBS route and eventually ran a local BBS called DEFCON5. That sucked a lot of the time and attention away from programming-aside from the BASIC programming needed to customize and update the BBS software I was running.

High School led to skateboarding and chicks and goofing off so a lot of that fell to the background. But I still loved computers and replayed Ultima III and all the other wonderful things there were at that time. Oh, and my buddy said, hey let's ride our bikes out to the nearly derelict 60's era strip mall and see this new computer they're having a demo of! Called the Amiga! It was a traveling marketing event with Commodore swag and a giant bouncing ball in our little run-down pokey town. WOW. But, that is a part two story somewhere down the line...

Sorry for the long monologue. You're probably wondering where all this is going... Long story short, ASM is one of those doors I never figured out how to open when I was a kid. 35 years later, I've got a bit more disposable income and a fairly technical job that keeps me sharp on my toes. I have an opportunity to finally open that door with my rekindled interest in the stuff I had fun with as a kid.

There's some awesome, and I mean AWESOME youtube and content creators out there right now who are kicking ass at making this daunting subject accessible. I may never be the next awesome garage title coder or see my work on the big screen at REVISION 2019, but I damn sure am going to open that door with their help!

Here are some of the folks I am digging that make for great teachers. You should really check them out. Give em a like a sub because I don't think they're getting the recognition they deserve!

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First up is Aaron Baugher. His videos (he's making new ones at a very high rate) are deep and long. But he's the first one I've found that really cracks the nut for me when it comes to overcoming the paradigm of high level languages that modern programmers tend to have. He explains some of the very weighty subjects for a noobie to understand. But, the pacing is not overwhelming. I've learned a ton from this content creator in just a short time. For me, it was a Keanu Reeves "Woah. I know kung fu" experience.

Check out Aaron Baugher's 6502 playlist here
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Next up is the awesome 8-bit Show and Tell. You may know him as Robin @BedfordLvlExp on twitter. This channel is great! Lots of awesome, Canadian-folksy personality and a really great teacher. Super easy to follow along and you will learn a lot from his videos! Totally a "Like and Sub" kinda show!

Check out the 8-bit Show and Tell here
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Nybbles & Bytes is a brand new show (if you're reading this in 2038, sorry-it was brand new in 2019, I swear!) that provides for a well produced and scripted series. Starting at practically zero knowledge, and working towards a game of some sorts, this content creator is ambitiously approaching youtube and quickly building a large audience. The channel even had Bil Herd's attention, so that a thing.

Nybbles & Bytes can be found on YouTube here
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Last but certainly one I am looking forward to the most, is keith s' amazing new series called "Learn 6502 Assembly Programming". This is a totally cross-compile focused learning and development environment implementation. Get this, he has a download-and-go multiplatform (NES,SNES,BBC MICRO, VIC, C64, even a TurboGrafix!!!) cross compile environment a click or two away! Literally select your binary target, click assemble, and poof! It launches in whatever 8 bit machine you have selected. Amazingballs. Not only that, but he approaches things as if you are a complete beginner!

Watch his awesome videos here
He also has a great support site where you can download the dev environment to try for yourself.
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I do hope you'll go and show these content creators some love. There's a lot more resources out there. These are some of the newest and freshest content being made right NOW on the subject! Its 2018-2019, folks. And, it is an exciting time to be in this hobby!
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Zippy Zapp
CA, USA

by Zippy Zapp posted Tue Feb 05, 2019 10:54 am

Cool story and I have much the same experience. I started learning ML when I was a teen, probably 16 or 17 in the late 80's. We had a 64 since 1983 and a Vic-20 in 1981 so BASIC was always a thing that I was interested in. But yeah, I saw the ML thing as incredibly powerful and only certain people could learn it. The problem for me was sticking to it and dedicating the needed time to learn and practice it. That would have meant giving up my fun teenage years with my buddies and much of my game time. Most of my buddies liked arcade games but were not into computers. I had separate computer friends in the neighborhood for that. So it was for sure a balance act and I was having too much fun elsewhere.

Thanks for sharing your YouTube channels, I had not seen 8bit Show and Tell, great channel. I hope he gets more subs.

I had stumbled on to Nybbles and Bytes and was shocked when I saw 6k subs already and only 1 video (2 as of this date). My only criticism is the many errors in the information presented. IE the VIC-II has a 40x20 text screen, which we know is 40x25. Stuff like that should be carefully checked since you are teaching technical details that are very crucial to learning. But that is by no means a tutorial I would recommend to a beginner since they will be completely lost.
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intric8
Seattle, WA, USA

by intric8 posted Tue Feb 05, 2019 2:08 pm

Thanks for the memories. Man, my computer history was not far from yours. I was raised by a single mom, and by the time she pondered getting me the C64 it was on sale for $200 - still a gargantuan sum considering my dad was pretty deadbeat with financial help back then. And the 1541 was another $100. This was when the Amiga had already launched, my mom could only afford the C64. It wasn't until my first year in college I got a printer - but we didn't have the money (or know how) to get a special cable for it to actually work. My first year in college I had to use the typewriter labs, which were run by (no joke) quarter machines just like at the laundromat. I had to buy STACKS of quarters to write a paper, and the correction tape was a disaster. Ugh.. freshman year really sucked.

The Amiga made my jaw drop, but the C64 was so so so kick ass for me at the time and for so long. I loved going to the Babbages or Software Etc. stores at the mall and looking at the software. I couldn't afford to buy any of it, but at least I felt like I was "in the game" now.

By 9th grade I met a guy who quickly became my best friend that year. He also became my games supplier. He came from a very well-to-do family, and just handed me piles, no questions asked. He even gave me a second disk drive, which I couldn't believe. I could copy from drive to drive! I thought I was a freaking hacker. Hah!

I do remember carefully reading the fantastic C64 manual where they explained how to program image sprites and I just didn't get it at all. Like your ASM / foreign language comment (which made me cackle with appreciation) BASIC was tough for me to simply "get" on day one by myself.

I did eventually start to copy large (felt large) programs out of the back of Compute's Gazette, and eventually got them to work, but I was just copying. Thank goodness the syntax line debugger was good enough to help me narrow down what was usually just an annoying typo.

I'd found all these content creators except for Aaron - I will definitely be subscribing and checking him out. I like to fantasize about some day coding these machines, and I realize it's a fantasy. But I do find the content very compelling. The 8-Bit Show is my current favorite. He's great, and so down to earth.
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intric8
Seattle, WA, USA

by intric8 posted Tue Feb 05, 2019 3:30 pm

One other thing (and this is to everyone):

Don't be alarmed if you come check one of your posts and the URLs you pasted into a post have been converted to text links. Dropping URLs here is no big deal (and is encouraged) but it sometimes breaks the layout in Mobile Web when the URL is longer than the screen is wide. So I'll go in and grab your URL, find some text to put it around, and link it up. Not trying to micro manage your posts or anything - just don't want the experience to break on smartphones, and that's a 33% of visitors these days.

FWIW there is a simple fix for this which I plan to implement but haven't gotten around to it just yet.
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Dynamic_Computing

by Dynamic_Computing posted Tue Feb 05, 2019 7:39 pm

Great article, and I too have been enjoying these videos. Nybbles and Bytes really needs to reveal the secret code she is using - 6400 subs in two weeks for an 8 bit channel is odd, considering guys like Robin have been cranking out awesome videos for months and have less than 10% of the subs. She does work for Google... Youtube is owned by Google... She needs to reveal her secrets! :shock: :shock: :D :D
https://www.youtube.com/c/10minuteamigaretrocast
@10marc1 on Twitter
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nybblesandbytes
California

by nybblesandbytes posted Wed Feb 06, 2019 2:26 am

Zippy Zapp wrote:I had stumbled on to Nybbles and Bytes and was shocked when I saw 6k subs already and only 1 video (2 as of this date). My only criticism is the many errors in the information presented. IE the VIC-II has a 40x20 text screen, which we know is 40x25. Stuff like that should be carefully checked since you are teaching technical details that are very crucial to learning. But that is by no means a tutorial I would recommend to a beginner since they will be completely lost.


Hey, author here. The channel exploded without me even attempting to do anything to promote it. I expected it to languish in obscurity, frankly, so I haven't had any time to really gel with video production, scripting, and so on, or even really gel with the hardware fully. This means I end up overextending myself, which also means I end up with errors in the video.

As far as I am aware, I've made three mistakes in the two episodes I have up right now:
- Accidentally saying the 8502's ALU is capable of multiply/divide operations (which I corrected in the intro to the second episode).
- Swapping the PCH and PCL registers (which I also corrected in the intro to the second episode)
- Accidentaly saying the VIC-II does 40x20 instead of 40x25 in the second episode. (which I have already corrected and been corrected on many times in the comments, and as soon as I have time will be correcting via subtitles in the video and in episode 3).

Have you seen anything else that is horribly wrong like the text resolution issue that everyone has been reaming me over?

Also, if you have any particular tips for trying to keep the error rate close to zero, I'd like to hear it: I'm new to the architecture of the 128D, so I'm having to learn as I go.

The sad part of youtube is the inabiliity to replace the video or (now that they're gone) annotate the video for corrections I find later. Most of these mistakes are easy to fix if I had the tools. Sadly, youtubers simply don't anymore. This means I can only post a followup video to correct them, and that takes time. Basicaly weekends only because N&B doesn't pay the bills.
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nybblesandbytes
California

by nybblesandbytes posted Wed Feb 06, 2019 2:47 am

Dynamic_Computing wrote:Great article, and I too have been enjoying these videos. Nybbles and Bytes really needs to reveal the secret code she is using - 6400 subs in two weeks for an 8 bit channel is odd, considering guys like Robin have been cranking out awesome videos for months and have less than 10% of the subs. She does work for Google... Youtube is owned by Google... She needs to reveal her secrets! :shock: :shock: :D :D


No secrets. I literally have no idea how it happened, and frankly I'm a little terrified by it. I needed some time to figure this stuff out, but the YT recommending engine pushed me out there.

Yes, I work for Google, but N&B is my own thing (I have copyrights to the videos), so I can't monetize it -- can't even talk about it at work -- and I can't do anything that would put me into a conflict of interest. And, I can't talk about Google.
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rpiguy9907

by rpiguy9907 posted Wed Feb 06, 2019 8:53 am

Astonishing how many of us got a similar start in computing. My parents were also poor with three kids. The C64 was such an asymmetrically expensive gift compared to anything else that I got as a kid I am still astonished by it and thankful for it today.

I remember begging for a Coleco Adam and expecting to get no computer at all, I didn't think it was at all even a possibility.

In retrospect, I was also really lucky my parents got the cheap Commodore 1541 + C64 Sears bundle instead of the more expensive Adam, as it never enjoyed the 3rd party support of the C64 (I don't know where I could have even bought software for it, or anyone to copy games from).
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Zippy Zapp
CA, USA

by Zippy Zapp posted Wed Feb 06, 2019 9:35 am

nybblesandbytes wrote:Hey, author here. The channel exploded without me even attempting to do anything to promote it. I expected it to languish in obscurity, frankly, so I haven't had any time to really gel with video production, scripting, and so on, or even really gel with the hardware fully. This means I end up overextending myself, which also means I end up with errors in the video.

Have you seen anything else that is horribly wrong like the text resolution issue that everyone has been reaming me over?

No, not really. Personally, that was probably the biggest one that, as you say, people seem to be reaming you over. My criticisms are based on an expert teaching these things, which I believed you to be. So, since you are learning as you go, you can just ignore them. ;)

Also, if you have any particular tips for trying to keep the error rate close to zero, I'd like to hear it: I'm new to the architecture of the 128D, so I'm having to learn as I go.

That is insane that you are new to this as you do sound like a pro so keep it up and I am sure the errors will be fewer as time goes on. That said it seems to be a common issue that people come up against in these types of learning videos. I am not sure what the solution is but I am sure 100% error free when you are still learning yourself is probably not practical for a hobby. I didn't leave anything in the comments for the video but praise as the comments on YouTube tend to get negative very quickly so as I said there, keep up the good work.
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nybblesandbytes
California

by nybblesandbytes posted Wed Feb 06, 2019 11:29 am

Zippy Zapp wrote:
nybblesandbytes wrote:Hey, author here. The channel exploded without me even attempting to do anything to promote it. I expected it to languish in obscurity, frankly, so I haven't had any time to really gel with video production, scripting, and so on, or even really gel with the hardware fully. This means I end up overextending myself, which also means I end up with errors in the video.

Have you seen anything else that is horribly wrong like the text resolution issue that everyone has been reaming me over?

No, not really. Personally, that was probably the biggest one that, as you say, people seem to be reaming you over. My criticisms are based on an expert teaching these things, which I believed you to be. So, since you are learning as you go, you can just ignore them. ;)


Yeah, I suppose I haven't explained that quite as well as I should. I might do a clarification on that. :)

Zippy Zapp wrote:
nybblesandbytes wrote:Also, if you have any particular tips for trying to keep the error rate close to zero, I'd like to hear it: I'm new to the architecture of the 128D, so I'm having to learn as I go.

That is insane that you are new to this as you do sound like a pro so keep it up and I am sure the errors will be fewer as time goes on. That said it seems to be a common issue that people come up against in these types of learning videos. I am not sure what the solution is but I am sure 100% error free when you are still learning yourself is probably not practical for a hobby. I didn't leave anything in the comments for the video but praise as the comments on YouTube tend to get negative very quickly so as I said there, keep up the good work.


I've actually been really proud of the folks that have been commenting -- they've all been very professional and courteous! That's not tosay ai haven't had my share of villany -- but they just post scummy filterable stuff, so its easy to deal with. :D

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