Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Power of Machine Language

(Image: screenshot of simple 6510 sprite.s example using win2c64)

In the ever continuing discussion of what is better - machine language or basic, Aart J.C. Bik programs his code in machine language. Whether your creating music or graphics, Aart continues to show that machine code is far superior. In his words, "Basic is just too slow." For Aart, The sheer speed of 6510 over Basic caused demo writers of music and graphics to write in machine code. Aart continues to state that "Moreover, certain very important features (like raster interrupts, required for more than 8 sprites or e.g. sprites in the border) can only be programmed in machine code."

For people working on PCs or on the C64, check out Aart's win2c64 cross-assembler at:
Aart's Commodore 64 Page

Friday, October 06, 2006

Compute! Magazine Now Online

Published from 1979 through 1994, Compute! covered the Commodore 64, IBM PC, Atari ST series, Commodore Amiga, Commodore PET, Commodore Vic-20, the Atari 8-bit series, the Apple II plus, 6502-based computers, TI-99/4A, and home computer kits. Part of the fun of getting Compute! back in the day were the BASIC programs that I typed in to create music, video and computer games. Eventually, Compute! spun off to COMPUTE!'s Gazette that was geared to Commodore computers. Compute!'s archive can be found at:

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Blips and Bleeps: A Brief History of Commodore Music

Karen Collins has written a clever piece titled "Loops and bloops" Music of the Commodore 64 games. Whether your a retro gamer, music historian, ethnomusicologist, or 8 bit music composer, everyone will find something to enjoy in this article. From Igor Stravinsky to Rock and Roll, this history gives chip musicians a glimpse into the nostalgic era.

Figure 1: Ghosts 'n Goblins (Elite Systems, 1985) Commodore 64

Music Programming For the Commodore Computer

The list of programming languages for the Commodore can be quite intimidating, but thanks to Dan Fandrich, you can find the language that suit your needs. Check out the list of Basic editors, assemblers, etc at:

For the 8 bit music geek take a look at $ Nick's BASIC [C64,C64 cart] (1984, Southern Oregon Video Enterprises, Inc.), $ Video BASIC-64 [C64] (1985, Abacus Software), and $ GameMaker [C64] (Gary Kitchen).

C64 Direct-to-TV Uber Geek Joystick

Imagine beaming yourself back to the 80s. Now imagine if you could squeeze the Commodore 64 computer into a joystick. Talk about retro. The C64 Direct-to-TV joystick has 30 built-in games and gives you the impression that your actually playing the original Commodore 64 computer. The C64DTV was designed by Jeri Ellsworth (a home grown programmer) and had an initial production run of 250,000 units.

Hint: C64DTV allows you to boot in the Commodore Basic editor by wiggling the joystic back and forth.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Magical 8bit Plug

The japanese 8 bit band YMCK recently released their Magical 8bit Plug that creates some serious 8 but sounds. I am totally impressed, and am currently running my own copy on Digital Performer. The group states that the: "Magical 8bit Plug is a plug-in style software-synthesizer for producing primitive electronic sounds like the old 8bit game consoles. In Macintosh environment, it runs with AU (Audio Units)-supporting applications: ex. Logic, Digital Performer, Garageband. In Windows environment it runs with VSTi supporting applications: ex. Cubase. Most of the software/hardware synthesizers include the most primitive waveform: square wave and pulse wave. But almost none of them include the pseudo-triangle or the low-resolution noise that will most characterize the 8bit sound's unique taste. Magical 8bit Plug will help you producing the old 8bit sounds by providing those unique waveforms."

You can download the Windows and Mac OS X versions at the YMCK site: http://www.ymck.net/english/download/index.html

Kraftwerk VS. Commodore 64 Orchestra

Chicago's electro heavy weights Commodore 64 Orchestra (www.commodore64orchestra.com)is scheduled to release their much anticipated Kraftwerk album on Mp3 Death (mp3death.us). There are reportedly some other 8 bit releases on the album but the label is being hush hush about it. More to come. on this story.