Compiled from sources by the editors.
VIC Printers, Software, Disks
Commodore has announced several software and hardware items for the VIC computer. Games, a printer, a disk drive, programmer's aid and assembly language cartridges, memory expansion modules, and an expansion interface are all coming. Release dates and prices are tentative. We expect Commodore to be shipping US produced, FCC approved, VIC-20s by October.
The new VIC Graphics Printers are expected to be released to dealers in September. It is an 80 column, twelve characters-per-inch, dot-matrix printer with 60 dots per inch (both horizontal and vertical) resolution. Its speed is 30 cps (characters per second) which means that an average typewritten page of about 275 words can be printed in about a minute.
The printer will permit the user to define his own characters. Each dot is programmable and the unit will also print the VIC graphics. It uses eight inch tractor feed paper, but can be narrowed to smaller widths for printing labels, etc.. It features a test mode and uses a ribbon cartridge (available from any Axiom distributer and soon from Commodore dealers). Seikosha manufactures the printer. Suggested retail is $395.
The VIC Disk
Sometime after Christmas, Commodore expects to begin selling a single disk drive which will attach to the VIC serial port. In addition, the drive is planned to be compatible with the 2040 disk drives used on the PET computers. An IEEE interface cartridge has also been announced which will permit PET peripherals to be attached directly to the VIC through the expansion port or an expansion module. This module will contain six slots and accept program cartridges, memory expansion cartridges, or interface cartridges.
The memory expansion cartridges are to be available in three sizes: 3, 8, or 16K (each K is 1024 bytes of memory). With expansion memory attached, however, another cartridge cannot be used simultaneously. The screen and color memory locations are affected by the addition of the 8 or 16K cartridges. From smallest to largest, these memory expansions are predicted to be available September, October, and November (respectively) of this year.
For telecommunications — attaching VIC to The Source or CompuServe, or the Dow Jones services via phone, or calling up other computers — an RS232 Terminal Cartridge and associated software will connect to the User Port. This permits the use of a MODEM by which the VIC can make and receive calls.
Blackjack, Slither/Superslither, Biorhythm Compatibility, Space Math, Car Chase, and Blue Meanies from Outer Space are in release and will be reviewed in the fall issue of Home and Educational COMPUTING!. Planned for October release are: Jupiter Lander, Superslot, Night Driver, Draw Poker, VIC Avengers, and VIC Alien, a maze game.
BASIC programming will be assisted by another projected cartridge, Programmer's Aid, which will add new commands to BASIC for plotting, sound, color, music, and high resolution graphics. It will permit the user to define his keys however he wishes, provide simple music notation, color in an enclosed area, and so forth. The commands will be permitted in both BASIC programs and the immediate mode.
For machine language programmers, November is the target for a machine language monitor cartridge which will feature a simple assembler and disassembler. An intriguing feature of this software is a facility to swap zero page out and define a virtual zero page anywhere in memory. Machine language programmers know the value of zero page addressing on the 6502 microprocessor. BASIC will, of course, need its zero page when in operation.
A book, The Programmer's Reference Manual, is in the works too. It will contain a memory map, machine language and BASIC specifications, VIC chip details, and schematics. The title is tentative. It might be distributed as The VIC-20 Reference Manual.