YOUR COMPUTER's BBC MICRO REVIEW and the hateful days of type-in listings (VIC20 edition)

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Commie_User
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YOUR COMPUTER's BBC MICRO REVIEW and the hateful days of type-in listings (VIC20 edition)

Post by Commie_User » Tue Apr 16, 2019 4:34 pm

With our lord Chris Serle on the cover, a topless Beeb, the Kenneth Baker interview and interesting mentions of 'floppy tape', I'm surprised we don't have a permanent hotlink to this very January 1982 issue here at Stardot.


http://www.retro8bitcomputers.co.uk/Con ... 982_01.pdf



And I rather fancied this type-in listing for Vic 20 random music on page 39, which doesn't work, in fine British tradition of the time. I've no way the brain to correct it.

Still, with an issue published for 1981 technology and back, at least there were far shorter listings to type.


Code: Select all

   20 s2 = 36875
   30 v = 36878
   40 c = 36879
   50 poke v,4
   60 dim n (8)
   70 dim b (4)
   80 print "clr"
  100 gosub 500
  110 for a = 1 to 8
  120   read n(a)
  130 next
  140 n = int(8*rnd(1)) + 1
  150 b(1) = n
  160 for a = 2 to 4
  170   gosub 400
  180   b(a) = n
  190 next a
  200 for a = 1 to 4
  210   poke s1,n(b(a))
  220   for b = 1 to 2
  230     gosub 400
  240     poke s2,n(n)
  250     poke c,16*b(a) + n
  260     for j = 1 to 250: next
  270   next b
  280 next a
  290 goto 200
  400 n = n + int(3*rnd(1 ))-1
  410 if n =9 then n = 8
  420 if n =0 then n = 1
  430 return
  500 for a = s1 to v
  510   poke a,0
  520 next
  530 return
 9000 data 195,201,207,209,215
 9010 data 219,223, 225

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BigEd
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Re: YOUR COMPUTER's BBC MICRO REVIEW and the hateful days of type-in listings (VIC20 edition)

Post by BigEd » Tue Apr 16, 2019 8:47 pm

Nice short lunar lander type-in there.

I see the floppy tape drive is only £175, whereas a teletext decoder for your telly is £200.
(Manual for the floppy tape drive here - capacity of up to 63k with access time of 110seconds, or down to 3.5k with access time of 7 seconds.)

And I see the chess computer got a nice upgrade from a Z80 to a 6502.

And a Rubik's Cube solver is a cheeky 20% more costly than a Rubik's Cube simulator.

And there's some new software so you can write bug free machine code. That must be handy.

And it seems Go is the last game which computers will be able to beat humans at... oh yes, that did turn out to be true.

Lots of Atom expansions...

... and the BBC Micro's Tube connector will allow all sorts of excellent CPU upgrades - that certainly happened!

Overall, great diversity in the ecosystem. From Compukit to Beeb - that's my kind of journey.

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Re: YOUR COMPUTER's BBC MICRO REVIEW and the hateful days of type-in listings (VIC20 edition)

Post by joachim » Tue Apr 16, 2019 9:27 pm

And the BBC Micro was going to cost £225 …

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Re: YOUR COMPUTER's BBC MICRO REVIEW and the hateful days of type-in listings (VIC20 edition)

Post by Commie_User » Tue Apr 16, 2019 10:04 pm

February '83 carries a rather fence-sitting letter on whether to buy a BBC or a Commodore 64. I'd venture that because the machines were in their opening months, not enough utilities were out to fully exploit unique capabilities.

http://www.retro8bitcomputers.co.uk/Con ... 983_02.pdf


Besides certain others like the Apple II, this was when the proper computers were coming out. Contrast that with how much their ZX81 looked on life support with all the addons, page 96.



THE CHOICE
• I have decided on buying a
home micro. I have studied
various kinds and narrowed the
choicc down to the Commodore
64 or BBC Model B. Can you
help?
Naditn Ahmed,
Walthamstow,
London.


BOTH MACHINES have their strong
points. While the BBC gives a
higher graphics resolution there are
not as many colours and no sprite
facility; BBC Basic is undoubtedly
the more powerful version but is
harder to master. Only 8K RAM is
available on the BBC in high-res
mode as opposed to 24K on the 64.
It could also be said that the
promised introduction of Simons
Basic on the Commodore machine
may put it very slightly ahead of the
BBC, but obviously, the additional
cost must be considered. This list
could well be extended but the
question is really a matter of horses
for courses.

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Re: YOUR COMPUTER's BBC MICRO REVIEW and the hateful days of type-in listings (VIC20 edition)

Post by RobC » Wed Apr 17, 2019 2:27 pm

Commie_User wrote:
Tue Apr 16, 2019 10:04 pm
February '83 carries a rather fence-sitting letter on whether to buy a BBC or a Commodore 64. I'd venture that because the machines were in their opening months, not enough utilities were out to fully exploit unique capabilities.
The "horses for courses" response seems pretty sensible to me irrespective of when it was written given that the correspondent doesn't say what they want to use the computer for.

If it was just to allow little Johnny to play games then the C64 would have been the sensible choice. If it was for more serious uses then the Beeb might have been a better option.

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Re: YOUR COMPUTER's BBC MICRO REVIEW and the hateful days of type-in listings (VIC20 edition)

Post by Commie_User » Wed Apr 17, 2019 3:06 pm

Maybe. But I still think even in the case of having nothing to reply to, there was nothing in the answer to tell us what the 64 or BBC could actually do or how.


All the same, check out the Herman Hauser interview from 1982 and how he's really over-egging the Electron: http://www.retro8bitcomputers.co.uk/Con ... 982_09.pdf

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Re: YOUR COMPUTER's BBC MICRO REVIEW and the hateful days of type-in listings (VIC20 edition)

Post by BigEd » Wed Apr 17, 2019 3:27 pm

p39:
How does Acorn intend avoiding these problems with the Electron? "We are now of a size which allows us to pick our subcontractors with care — if they say something will arrive in June you can bet it will. "The chip that we are doing for the Electron is a very much more cautious approach to ULA design — there won't be any problems with the ULA."
and
So how long will we have to wait for the launch of the Electron? "The other lesson we learnt from the BBC machine is not to announce a product until you are sure you can deliver it — that's why I'm cautious and say it will be out by the end of the year."
Last edited by BigEd on Wed Apr 17, 2019 3:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: YOUR COMPUTER's BBC MICRO REVIEW and the hateful days of type-in listings (VIC20 edition)

Post by BigEd » Wed Apr 17, 2019 3:30 pm

I notice the 16032 (later renamed the 32016) was described as a 16 bit chip:
Hauser is not afraid of Dragons — or for that matter of Spectrums or any other new micros: "None of them is expandable in the same way as the BBC — that market will be adequately dealt with by the Electron".
"The BBC is very much an Apple and Pet competitor — and in fact beyond that because of the 16-bit extension. It is a very advanced design and we do not see any computers with these features appearing for another year or so. A very useful extension offering Z-80 and CP/M will be available in the autumn and the 16032, 16 bit extension by the end of the year".
The 16032 is really exciting — you can go up to megabytes of RAM, you can run the Unix operating system and big languages such as Fortran, Cobol and PL-1."

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Re: YOUR COMPUTER's BBC MICRO REVIEW and the hateful days of type-in listings (VIC20 edition)

Post by RobC » Wed Apr 17, 2019 3:55 pm

BigEd wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 3:30 pm
I notice the 16032 (later renamed the 32016) was described as a 16 bit chip:
Yes - I think the renaming to the 32016 came about later because manufacturers started calling CPUs with 32-bit registers "32-bit" even when they only had 16-bit data buses.

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Re: YOUR COMPUTER's BBC MICRO REVIEW and the hateful days of type-in listings (VIC20 edition)

Post by BigEd » Wed Apr 17, 2019 4:17 pm

Mmm, it's something I hesitate to comment on because it's the sort of thing which brings out strong opinions! These are, to my mind, actually fuzzy labels and not strict categories at all.

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Re: YOUR COMPUTER's BBC MICRO REVIEW and the hateful days of type-in listings (VIC20 edition)

Post by RobC » Wed Apr 17, 2019 6:23 pm

Yeah - it's a bit of a minefield! I think the 68000 might have kicked it all off but don't know the history well enough.

I tend to think of things like the ARM as truly 32-bit and the NS32016 and 68000 as 16-bit but it's all a bit fuzzy :)

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Re: YOUR COMPUTER's BBC MICRO REVIEW and the hateful days of type-in listings (VIC20 edition)

Post by BigEd » Wed Apr 17, 2019 6:55 pm

Certainly the ARM has a simple description: 32 bit data bus, 32 bit registers, 32 bit instructions... and as far as I can tell the 8086 through to the 80286 were fairly clearly 16 bits. But as you say, 68k and ns32k muddy the waters a bit, especially as a moderately stable architecture had several rather different implementations, in both cases.

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Re: YOUR COMPUTER's BBC MICRO REVIEW and the hateful days of type-in listings (VIC20 edition)

Post by 1024MAK » Wed Apr 17, 2019 7:59 pm

In my mind, it is the size of the primary registers that can carry out arithmetic and logic operations.

If you define a microprocessor by the external width of its busses, then you do find a bit of a mess. For example, there are a number of devices where the data bus and part of the address bus are multiplexed. How do you define these?

And of course, the 68008 exists, no way can you really describe this as an eight bit microprocessor.

In the same way, the Z80 cannot be described as a 16 bit microprocessor, as although it does have some 16 bit operations, they are rather limited compared to the abundance of 8 bit operations.

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Re: YOUR COMPUTER's BBC MICRO REVIEW and the hateful days of type-in listings (VIC20 edition)

Post by SteveBagley » Thu Apr 18, 2019 12:05 pm

I'd suggest size of the ALU as a potential indicator for the 'bittedness' of a CPU but that would make the Z80 a 4 bit CPU.

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Re: YOUR COMPUTER's BBC MICRO REVIEW and the hateful days of type-in listings (VIC20 edition)

Post by BigEd » Thu Apr 18, 2019 12:23 pm

Yes, something more like the largest data items which can be acted on by arithmetic and logical operations in single instructions might do it. Trips off the tongue. Although, the IBM 1401 from 1959 then needs special dispensation:
When an operation such as addition was performed, the processor began at the low-order position of the two fields and worked its way to the high-order, just as a person would when adding with pencil and paper.

The only limit on the length of such fields was the available memory. Instructions applicable to variable length fields included: Add, Subtract, Multiply, Divide, Compare, Move Characters to A or B Word Mark, Move Characters and Edit.

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Re: YOUR COMPUTER's BBC MICRO REVIEW and the hateful days of type-in listings (VIC20 edition)

Post by 1024MAK » Fri Apr 19, 2019 7:43 pm

Well, that’s the problem with pigeonholing... there’s always something that doesn’t fit... :lol:

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Re: YOUR COMPUTER's BBC MICRO REVIEW and the hateful days of type-in listings (VIC20 edition)

Post by BigEd » Fri Apr 19, 2019 8:23 pm

I think computer architecture is really interesting - lots of design space to explore, lots of trade-offs. It just happens not to boil down to one number, like how many bits, or how many megahertz.

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