Re: [ reactions ] Re: [NYT] Microsoft Is Set to Be Top Foe of FreeCode

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From: Eugene Leitl (
Date: Mon May 07 2001 - 02:09:00 PDT

On Mon, 7 May 2001, Joseph S. Barrera III wrote:

> Hmm. In 1986 I bought an XT clone with 640KB. Even then, a 64KB
> address space limit was pretty restrictive. Why would you go for an
> 8-bit machine in 1985?

I was poor, and in highschool. The CPC-464 with 64 kBytes RAM, 640x200
(640x400 interlaced), multitasking OS, with a very fast, tokenizing Basic
with monochrome CRT went for about $400 then. Because I wanted to hack
Z-80 (Rodnay Zaks, where art thou now?) instead of 6502 and of superior
gfx, I chose the Amstrad box.

I should have gone with an Apple ][ with Z-80 card and CPM and floppies
instead, of course. But nevertheless it was fun watching the (1d,2d,3d)
random rule cellular automata evolve, and trying to write a text editor in
Basic, and hacking occasional bit of Z-80 assembly (manually assembled,
and poked into strings from a prairie of DATA statements. I think I got
good return value from the little Amstrad, and then there were the game
warez you could copy with a tape deck ;)

The 8080 and 8086 were not real 16 bitters, and the assembly language was
about as convoluted as Z-80. Ugh. So when in 1987/1988 I bought my second
box, the decision between 80286 (AT clone), Atari ST, Mac and A2000 was
quite clear. Unfortunately, for hacking assembly A2000 was not nearly as
handy as a C= 64 with a ROM cartridge. The addressing scheme allowed you
to shoot the entire address space, lack of MMU did not prevent you from
shooting the OS, and rebooting with floppies took forever.

At some late point I bought a used Novix 4000 board, and used it with
Amiga as text terminal. 12 Forth MIPS, and an OS you could read and
understand in an afternoon, and a CPU elegant beyond belief. Now if only
it had a frame buffer...

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