Well, that went more quickly than I expected. On Sunday, the graphics card of my big computer died, but I found a replacement on Ebay soon. I actually snagged up the first ATI Radeon 9600 from a good seller I could find, but I think it was a good choice since it has an original ATI cooler and heatsink. It’s a little louder than the Arctic Cooling sink I had put on the previous card, but if it cools better then I can stand the additional noise. And it’s got a pretty snazzy artwork on the heatsink, which is actually the reason why I’m posting this article (you can click on the image to enlarge it) :-).
Yes, I could have gotten a more powerful card, like the Radeon 9800 I’ve got in another computer, but this one is really enough for what I’m doing with the computer and it only has an old AGP graphics port, so I’m rather limited in my choices. The most important feature is not really the graphics chip, but the two monitor outputs – I’ve really gotten used to working with two displays especially when post-processing photos and I’ve really missed it in the last few days. Now both monitors are back in action and so am I.
The Commodore 64 was one of the best 8-bit gaming home computers of the 1980s and although I had never used it exclusively for playing games, I certainly made no effort to avoid them. There was a huge amount of garbage out there and the old preconception that computer games were only violent and nothing else was at least a little true, but there were also a lot of exceptions. Of course everybody back then traded some games via the schoolyard exchange and while I had a lot of original games, some others were only available via slightly illicit means because at the end of the 1980s many older games were already out of print for a long time. I tried many of the different genres and while there were a lot disappointments, I still found some real jewels in the relatively short time the C64 was my main computer between 1989 and 1990. Here are some of these games, which continue to be my favourites until today. I’m really happy that the games themselves and even the hardware to play them on still exists.
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Warning, this is a bit of a rant… It seems my computer hardware doesn’t like me anymore! A couple of days ago I noticed that my printer seems to be packing in and today the graphics card in my big computer went belly-up. Although the computer still works and I can use the on-board graphics adaptor, this means that I lost my dual-monitor setup I always use for processing my photos. So this really put a damper on a peaceful Sunday and although I just bought another Radeon 9600 on eBay, the missing graphics card will mean a definitive slowdown in photograph posting over the next days until the replacement arrives.
I still have a couple of new photos around, but I won’t be doing any major photo processing with a single screen. I also finally wanted to finish my C64 games article today, but it’s still not ready because the computer troubleshooting took too much time. So there you are as far as lame excuses go :-).
I have to admit that I’m hopelessy behind everything at the moment, mainly because that little C64 gaming article ballooned into something a bit bigger which needs a little more time. In the meantime, I’d like to give a huge shout-out to Terry Stewart from New Zealand, who has one of the biggest collection of vintage computers of all sorts, shapes and sizes and shows them all in incredibly detailed videos on his Youtube channel, in articles on Website and also on Google+. I’ve spend a lot of time browsing around and watching his videos, learning a lot about all those other old computer I never knew of.
He even has a Kaypro II, which you can see in the video embedded below – it’s not exactly like a Kaypro 2x, the first computer I ever encountered, but it’s very close. It sounds a little different than a 2x (there’s a short video here with the distinct floppy drive sounds), but the case and keyboard seem to be largely identical – the only differences are the huge vertical floppy drives of the II while the 2x had two half-height horizontal drives. Terry gives a great overview of the available software live on the machine itself and he also shows some of the huge amounts of manuals you got with the computer back then. He also demonstrates Kaypro IV later in the video, which seems to be closer to the 2X than the II. I distinctly remember the rudimentary graphics capabilities which only a few demos actually used, but we never had this rather sophisticated Space Invaders clone – only two games called Ladder (a sort of Donkey Kong clone) and Catchum (a simple PacMan knockoff), all using only ASCII characters!
The last Vintage Computing post was more about the Commodore 128 in general, but there was more than just the one machine – the C128D variant was even more amazing, transforming the 8-bit-machine into a real personal computer. This is the story about the “big” C128 and how I ended up with not only one, but two of them. Long after I had graduated from the Commodore 64 to the Amiga and even the PC, I discovered that my 1541-II floppy drive was broken, but I almost accidentially found a surprising replacement with one computer I always wanted to have in the C64 era.
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