Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 60 / MAY 1985 / PAGE 10

Mattel Aquarius Translations

I have an Aquarius computer, which uses a version of Microsoft BASIC. I have been unable to translate the Commodore 64 programs to my version of BASIC. The Aquarius people advised me that the Commodore 64 programs were closest to what the Aquarius would accept.

Marion H. Myers

Translating programs written for one computer so that they'll run on a different computer is about the most difficult type of programming you can do. In fact, it can be more difficult than rewriting the program from scratch.

To do a translation, you must have a working familiarity with both computers. It helps to obtain the manuals for the computer you're trying to translate from. If the program PEEKs or POKEs any addresses, you must know the comparable addresses on your system. Your computer must also be able to duplicate the functions of the operating system of the original computer.

Although Commodore does use a version of Microsoft BASIC, the 64 has many unique features, such as the SID (Sound Interface Device) chip and multicolor sprites. Most programs using graphics and sound will contain many PEEKs and POKEs necessary to program these features.

When attempting to translate any program, first examine the listing carefully. Determine what any PEEKs, POKEs, and extended BASIC commands are doing. Make notes on how you plan to duplicate these functions on your computer.

Of course, you must be sure that your computer has the ability to duplicate the original program. If your computer can't duplicate the 64's sprites, for example, any game using sprites will be extremely difficult to translate because you'll probably have to use a high-resolution screen with bitmapped graphics. The resulting program may not be able to run fast enough unless it is written completely in machine language. Some top-level commercial game programmers have stated that when they write a new game, they first program it on the Apple, which lacks most of the graphics and sound capabilities found on Commodore and Atari computers. Once the game is operating on the Apple, it's fairly easy to translate to the 64 and Atari. But again, a thorough knowledge of all the computers is required.

If you stick with programs which contain no PEEKs or POKEs, you'll probably be able to translate without much difficulty. Unfortunately, not many useful programs are devoid of machine-specific PEEKs, POKEs, or CALLs.