Commodore's port. (new software, translation packages from Apple and Atari, word processors) (column) John J. Anderson.
Ahoy, Commodorians, and welcome aboard. This month we will make up a holiday wish list for Commodore computer users. But first, let's make a couple of quick diversions.
If you caught the November 1983 issue of Creatire Computing, you'll know that the big news this season is the advent of Simons' Basic, the super Basic from Commodore for the C-64. It includes 114 new commands for programming and program editing, graphics, and sound. Finally, the casual user may have a chance to get the most out of his Commodore 64. At $30, Simons' Basic is a of Creative Computing, you'll know Onosko's review in the November issue.
We will be providing full, tutorial coverage of the product in upcoming Commodore's Ports. Keep an eye out.
Next, a quick swing to the mailbag. From Jeffrey Groby, in Florissant, MO, come the following comments:
"As a new owner of a Commodore 64, I was astonished by sprites, but found them very tedious to define. When I purchased the September 1983 issue of Creative Computing, I saw the sprite editor, and was overjoyed. I typed in the program and ran it, and after a while found a minor mistake. If readers make the following change, the program will run as it should:
130 IF A$ CHR(17) THEN L= L-1:GOTO 600
150 IF A$ CHR(145) THEN L=L+1:GOTO 600
"I commend Mr. Lane on the value of this program.'
And from Tyler Jensen, of Roosevelt, UT, the following:
"With great anticipation, I await the arrival of each issue of Creative Computing. I read and reread every article, absorbing the information on every page.
"Before spending a dime on my new Commodore 64 (my first computer), I renewed my subscription to your magazine. I especially enjoy reading about new developments in the micro industry, and your hardware and software evaluations.
"With every issue, I see at least one and usually more letters to the editor with complaints of some sort. There is hardly ever a complimentary letter. The staff at Creative Computing deserves better than that.
"So, a 17-year-old senior at Union High School gives his thanks for a job well done. Keep up the good work.'
Thanks very much, Tyler. We here in the depths of New Jersey appreciate your kind words. We will allways give space in the magazine to those with a beef or criticism--that is a part of our professional responsibility. We receive plenty of complimentary letters, too, but we usually resist the temptation to publish them.
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On to our holiday wish list. "Tis the season to be jolly, you know, and nothing makes us more jolly than new hardware and software to complement our Commodore systems.
As a traditional holiday service, Creative Computing will help you take the guesswork out of microcomputer gift giving. Using a highlighter, mark the following passages that most pertain to your own desires. Then leave the magazine, open to Commodore's Port, in a conspicuous place. The bathroom is frequently a shrewd choice, but use your own discretion.
That is, of course, if you can find one. The fact of the matter is that 1541 drives are in tremendous demand right now, and production problems at Commodore have kept supply lagging seriously behind demand since September. So maybe you should not get your hopes up too high--even if Santa is kind enough to try to get you a gift drive this holiday season; it may not come to pass. I am assured that the elves are working as hard as they can, though.
There are many quality word processing software packages available for your Vic 20 or Commodore 64, and we will mention a few further ahead. For students, the move to a word processor can make a very real improvement in the quality of compositions and term papers.
A printer can also be an invaluable aid in learning programming. Hard copy of long listings makes debugging much easier--and program flow simpler to follow.
Another way to add a printer to your system is to buy a special interface to allow your Commodore to hook up to standard configuration printers from third-party sources. Then you can drive any Centronics parallel printer, including letter-quality daisywheel machines. (Bear in mind that daisywheel printers will not be able to depict special graphics characters.)
Some interfaces provide emulation of Commodore printers on third-party machines that have dot-addressable graphics capability. Other interfaces print special English codes on non-graphics printers to indicate the function or needed keypresses represented by special graphics characters.
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Apple owners have some great software available to them--it makes Ataritypes jealous sometimes. Atari owners, on the other hand, claim some of the best games around, for any system, take it from me. Sometimes it makes Apple owners misty-eyed.
And what about Commodore 64 owners? Well they may truly rejoice, for they shall have the best of both worlds. Apple and Atari software is being busily translated to run on the 64, and the library grows daily. The 64 handles Apple bitmapped as well as Atari player-missile (sprite) graphics with great dexterity, and translation from these other 6502 machines, while not a trivial task, does not require total rewriting.
Not to slight original efforts for the 64, but frankly, the best software packages available for the Commodore 64 right now are translations from the Apple and Atari. From Broderbund, for example, there are superb versions of David's Midnight Magic, A.E., and Choplifter. The top-notch houses, including Sierra On-Line, Sirius, and Synapse, are working night and day to translate their hits for the 64.
Electronic Arts has announced the release of Hard Hat Mack, Axis Assassin, Pinball Construction Set, MULE, Worms?, Archon, and Muder on the Zinderneuf for the Commodore 64. I cannot think of better news for game-loving Commodore owners.
And what about you, Vic 20 types? Are you to be left in the cold this Christmas? No sirree. Try the Vic version of A.E. on for size. When I first saw it at the summer CES, I absolutely could not believe it was actually running on a Vic. It is magnificent! In addition, all of the houses mentioned above are also working on Vic translations of their major titles.
Then there is Tronix, with games such as Swarm, Sidewinder, Scorpion, Deadly Skies, Gold Fever, Kid Grid, and Juice. Jimmy Huey's games manage to wring every last bit of capability from the Vic 20--and make it look like a 64 in the process. And now Tronix is setting its sights on the Commodore 64!
If you are looking for a word processor for your Commodore 64, there are many new packages to choose from. What follows is by no means complete, but a partial list of new packages:
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Word processing on the Vic is not as easy, because of its 22-character display and limited memory capacity, but it is possible. Wordcraft for the Vic received a favorable review in the November issue. Other packages, from Commodore itself and companies such as Quick Brown Fox, offer serviceable, low-level word processing for the Vic 20. Check your dealer!
And from all of us, the best for the holiday season and in the year to come.
Firms Mentioned In This Column
Microware Distributing 1342B Route 23 Butler, NJ 07405 (201) 838-9027.
Richvale Telecommunications 10610 Bayview Plaza Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada L4C 3N8 (416) 884-4165.
Micro Systems Development Inc. 11105 Shady Trail, Suite 104 Dallas, TX 75229 (214) 241-3743.
Limbic Systems Inc. 1056 Elwell Ct. Palo Alto, CA 94303. (415) 964-8788.
Cardco Inc. 13 Mathewson Witchita, KS 67214 (316) 267-6525.
Koala Technologies 4962 El Camino Real Suite 125 Los Altos, CA 94022 (415) 964-2992.
Professional Software Inc. 51 Fremont St. Needham, MA 02194 (617) 444-5524.
Broderbund Software 1938 Fourth St. San Rafael, CA 94901 (415) 456-6424.
Batteries Included 186 Queen Street West Toronto, Ontario Canada M5V 1Z1 (416) 596-1405.
Skyles Electric Works 231G South Whisman Rd. Mountain View, CA 94041 (415) 965-1735.
Sierra On-Line Sierra On-Line Building Coarsegold, CA 93614 (209) 683-6858.
Tronix 8295 South LaCienega Blvd. Inglewood, CA 90307 (213) 215-0529
Electronic Arts 2755 Campus Dr. San Mateo, CA 94403 (415) 571-7171
Photo: Pinball Construction Set: soon to be a classic for the C-64.
Photo: Choplifter: even the Vic 20 version captures the full flavor of the game.
Photo: Swarm: Tronix games make the Vic 20 seem like a different michine.
Photo: Serpentine: A faithful translation to the Vic 20 from Broderbund.