News

A hand-picked, aggregated news feed for fans of retro / 8-bit computers.

Recently added/updated stories:

Rebellion acquires The Bitmap Brothers brand and portfolio

Rebellion, creators of the Sniper Elite Series, has acquired The Bitmap Brothers brand and portfolio and plans to bring the classics to the new platforms as well as release brand-new games based on the beloved licenses.

"We'll strive to be vigilant custodians of one of gaming's great names", said Rebellion CEO and co-founder Jason Kingsley OBE.

vintageisthenewold.com/rebellion-acquires-the-bitmap-brothers-brand-and-portfolio

Apple Macintosh prototype for sale

Bonhams has this prototype Macintosh for sale. It's thought to be one of two surviving prototypes with 5.25" drive. It is expected to fetch up to 140,000 pounds ($180,000 US)

hackaday.com/2019/11/27/just-in-time-for-christmas-apple-macintosh-prototype-for-sale

UNIX version 0, running on a PDP-7, in 2019

Hackaday carries this video from Living Computers Museum showing a PDP-7 (of which there are now thought to be five surviving) running UNIX version 0. A disk emulator was connected and a new device driver written for that.

hackaday.com/2019/11/17/unix-version-0-running-on-a-pdp-7-in-2019

David Allen and Steve Lowry - The BBC Micro and Computer Literacy Project

David Allen and Steve Lowry talk about the development of the Acorn BBC Micro computer and the Computer Literacy Project.

www.computinghistory.org.uk/det/41935/David-Allen-and-Steve-Lowry-The-BBC-Micro-and-Computer-Literacy-Project

Object of the Year award for Centre for Computing History

Congratulations to the Centre for Computing History. They were awarded Museums in Cambridgeshire's Object of the Year award for the ZX Spectrum prototype.

https://twitter.com/computermuseum/status/1191395032881868802

Alex van Someren - Acorn World Talk

The Centre for Computing History have published this video of Alex van Someren giving a talk about his time at Acorn, helping to develop the BBC and Electron, and also his own company making add-ons.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=fww2qkKbQ4Y&feature=youtu.be

John Grant talks the Evolution of Communication Technologies

John Grant is a founder of Nine Tiles and a pioneer in early microprocessor operating software, having written the OS for the Sinclair ZX80. After working on the ZX80 and other microcomputers, Mr Grant turned to designing digital networks and "AV-friendly" networking technology.

On 10 October at the Centre for Computing History, Cambridge, UK, he will be giving an insightful talk on the development of communications technologies and the ideas behind them, followed by a Q&A session.

www.computinghistory.org.uk/det/55085/John-Grant-talks-the-Evolution-of-Communication-Technologies-Thursday-10th-October-2019

Netflix won an Emmy for Bandersnatch

Winner of Outstanding Television Movie in the 2019 Emmy awards was the Netflix Black Mirror interactive episode Bandersnatch.

The episode's story revolves around a young programmer who takes his idea for a new type of game to a software house. His game is a 'choose your own adventure' and the Black Mirror episode mirrors this by forcing the viewer to make decisions which steer the plot.

There are many 80s references and easter eggs for fans of the computer games of the time.

www.emmys.com/awards/nominees-winners/2019/outstanding-made-for-television-movie

World record performance of The Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy using 10 SID chips

David Youd, David Knapp and Joeri van Haren worked together to join ten computers, nine C64s and a C128, to play a world-record rendition of the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy at this year's Commodore Retro eXpo.

Hackaday carries the story with a link to the video of the performance.

hackaday.com/2019/09/07/how-many-commodores-does-it-take-to-crack-a-nut

Clube MSX Magazine starts a crowdfunding campaign for reprint of its first issue

Clube MSX is a quarterly printed Brazilian magazine dedicated to the MSX line of computers. The first issue was released on June 2018 at RetroRio. It ships to a number of countries

Clube MSX are currently working on the sixth issue which will be released at the end of September.

Backers will receive other collectors' items such as mug, t-shirt and poster.

vintageisthenewold has the story.

www.vintageisthenewold.com/clube-msx-magazine-starts-a-crowdfunding-campaign-for-a-collector-edition-of-its-first-issue/https://www.vintageisthenewold.com/clube-msx-magazine-starts-a-crowdfunding-campaign-for-a-collector-edition-of-its-first-issue

CPCRetroDev 2019

CPCRetroDev 2019 is the 7th edition of the retro videogames creation contest of the University of Alicante. The contest rewards the best and most creative developers of the retro scene, capable of making the best video games for Amstrad CPC 464.

The prize pool is 1650 Euro, split between many prizes in three categories.

Deadline is 30 October, award ceremony 8 November.

cpcretrodev.byterealms.com/contest/cpc-retrodev-2019

Maybe the oldest computer, probably the oddest

the FACOM128 takes up 70 square meters and weighs about 3 tons.

It's a relay-based computer which makes it reliable and fast compared to its tube-based contemporaries.

Tadao Hamada's job at Fujitsu is to keep this machine running. It's thought to be the oldest computer in operation.

It uses a biquinary system which codes decimal digits in 7 bits. It has general purpose memory, specialised memory and read-only memory. Even a floating-point unit. There are more fascinating technical details in this Hackaday article.

hackaday.com/2019/08/03/maybe-the-oldest-computer-probably-the-oddest

8-bit Symphony goes to Prague

Following the huge success of the 8-bit Symphony performance in Hull earlier this year, Chris Abbott has announced plans to take the music to a Prague studio with a huge Hollywood-grade orchestra to record a CD set of the concert tracks. There will be extras; an extended versions of The Last Ninja, the full version of the Green Beret orchestration and a brand new Zoids from Rob himself.

Rob Hubbard says, "Recording with the professional musicians of the Czech Studio Orchestra will be another special event for everyone who loved the originals. The high quality recordings will open up broadcasting, TV, Radio, more arrangements and further live orchestral performances. I'm very excited about the possibilities!"

The project has now launched on Kickstarter at the link below.

www.kickstarter.com/projects/8-bit-symphony/8-bit-symphony-pro-double-orchestral-cd-of-8-bit-classics

Centre for Computing History receives 1m funding boost

Cambridge-based Centre for Computing History (CCH) has received a 1m pound donation from Mike Muller, Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and one of the founders of Arm, also based in Cambridge.

The donation enables the museum to purchase its premises, and concentrate efforts on developing what they can offer to visitors and students.

CCH recently received accredited museum status from Arts Council England and was awarded a National Lottery Heritage Fund grant to preserve items and documentation relating to the story of the LEO computer.

www.computinghistory.org.uk/news/54138/The-Centre-for-Computing-History-receives-1m-funding-boost

Retro Computer Festival 2019

7 and 8 September, Centre for Computing History, Cambridge.

The Centre for Computing History promises that the festival will be the largest ever, with more exhibitors and more computers than ever before.

There will be computers coming from all over the world as well as many classic British computers.

Follow the link below for the exhibitor list and some worthwhile videos made at last year's festival.

www.computinghistory.org.uk/det/53612/retro-computer-festival-2019...

Results announced for SEUCK competition 2019

Congratulations to Stefano Canali, Eleanor Burns and Alf Yngve who won first, second and third place in this year's competition.

All entries use the Shoot 'Em Up Construction Kit, which allows you to create a game by designing sprites and choosing options.

All entries are available for download higher up the page. The winners were Pagoda Warrior 2, Legion of the Damned and Fulgur.

tnd64.unikat.sk/Seuck_Compo_2019.html#Results

Apple 1 manual for sale

A manual for the 6502-based Apple-1 has come up for sale. It is expected to fetch $10,000

Is that a ring from a coffee cup?

Apple made 200, of which 20 are thought to survive.

iDownloadBlog has the story.

www.idownloadblog.com/2019/07/08/apple-1-manual-auction

RGCD C64 16KB Cartridge Competition, entries in and available to play

The competition closed for submissions on 1 July. Entries must be new, original work and be in a 16k cartridge.

There are 20 entries in the 2019 competition, including Sarah Jane Avory's Neutron which has received some attention this year. They're all available for download at the link below.

itch.io/jam/c64-16kb-cartridge-game-dev-compo-2019/entries

New pictures of the Mega65

New pictures have been released of the forthcoming Mega65, a new 8-bit computer, "highly compatible" with the C64 and C65.

c65gs.blogspot.com/2019/06/pictures-updated-on-website.html

Memorial in New Hampshire marks the birthplace of BASIC

The birthplace of BASIC has been honoured with a roadside memorial marker in New Hampshire, USA.

The programming language was invented at Dartmouth College in 1964.

www.theregister.co.uk/2019/06/17/plaque_for_basic_birthplace_new_hampshire

Sophie Wilson honoured with a CBE

I join the Centre for Computing History in congratulating Sophie Wilson on being awarded a CBE for her services to computing.

Sophie played an important role in designing Acorn's computers including the BBC models and designed the instruction set for one of the first RISC processors, the Acorn RISC Machine (ARM) which has become one of the most successful and important processors today.

She has been named one of the 15 most important women in tech history.

www.computinghistory.org.uk/det/6615/Sophie-Wilson

Entries in and voting open for the SEUCK competition 2019

The Shoot 'Em Up Construction Kit or SEUCK is a long-established piece of software that allows game designers to create games without coding. Instead there's a series of editors and options.

The object of the Official SEUCK Compo 2019 is to design, plan and develop a Commodore 64 SEUCK game. This year's compo has no particular category or theme

The entries are now available in the 'Showcase' section of this page, for you to download and vote.

tnd64.unikat.sk/Seuck_Compo_2019.html#Showcase

TI-99 10 liner competition open

AtariAge have opened a competition for games written in 10 lines of TI BASIC or any version of Extended Basic.

It's always surprising to see what great ideas developers have and what they can do in ten lines.

Whether you're interested in entering or trying the entries, below is the link to the thread for posting entries.

atariage.com/forums/topic/291836-official-10-liner-program-competition-thread

Apple I fetches 371,000 pounds

An Apple I has been sold by Christie's for 371,000 pounds, towards the lower end of the expected range 300,000 to 500,000 pounds ($378,000 to $630,000 US)

the auction also included various other hardware, manuals and schematics.

appleinsider.com/articles/19/05/26/rare-apple-i-fetches-471000-at-christies-auction

8-Bit Symphony - Live at Hull City Hall 15 June 2019

As I write there are still tickets for the live performance of the 8-Bit Symphony, Presented by Hull College Group, Hull Philharmonic Orchestra, Rob Hubbard and C64Audio.com.

A world premiere of epic, sweeping arrangements of 8-bit game music played by a live orchestra with immersive 8-bit visuals and game footage!

With Rob Hubbard as musical director and a stellar guest list including Paul Norman.

www.8-bit-symphony.com

Bandersnatch nomintated for BAFTA

Sadly, Netflix's Black Mirror : Bandersnatch didn't win a BAFTA award this week.

It was nominated in three categories; Single Drama, Editing: Fiction, Special Visual and Graphic Effects.

Books and games have allowed you to make choices which affect the outcome, but this may be the first streamed film with such a feature. You have just a few seconds to make each decision. the segues are impressively slick. These branches lead to one of half a dozen different endings.

The film is set in the eighties around the boom in home computing. The lead character, responsible for writing a computer game, which itself is a 'choose your own adventure' game, feels that he's being controlled and forced to make decisions that he may not have chosen himself. There are many references to games and game development of the time. The great Jeff Minter (Llamasoft) makes a cameo appearance.

www.radiotimes.com/news/tv/2019-05-13/bafta-tv-awards-2019-winners-in-full

Commodore 65 prototype for sale

As I write this (12 May) the prototype machine has 10 bids and stands at 17,000 EUR. There's a video showing the machine working and some shots of the inside.

It's estimated that there were between 50-200 of these made. It's an enhanced version of the C64, with "advanced features close to those of the Amiga". It has a chipset including 65CE02 processor and 'Vic-III', compatible with the Vic-II and capable of 256 colours on screen at 320x200 through to 1280x400 with four colours.

www.ebay.nl/itm/Ultra-rare-Commodore-65-prototype/223509001295

Joe Decuir at VCF East 2019

This is Joe Decuir's presentation from VCF East 2019 is available. He talks about designing the early Atari computers, a little on conceptualising the Amiga and some modern developments, all very much from a technical point of view. It's a very interesting and engaging watch.

Story via vintageisthenewold

www.youtube.com/watch?v=dlVpu_QSHyw

Duncan Smeed in conversation and Dragon prototype

In this new video from the Centre for Computing History, Jason speaks to Duncan Smeed from Dragon Data, they discuss the history of the Dragon computers and look together at a 16k prototype board for the Dragon 32, and a board for the Dragon Alpha, a stab at a more business-like machine.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=0IipxReq0G8

Spectrum Next demonstrated at Play Expo

This is Jim Bagley showing off the Spectrum Next at Play Expo, Manchester, 4-5 May.

The Next has a beautiful design by Rick Dickinson. It is compatible with the Spectrum, made with FPGA technology and has all the hardware add-ons and connectivity that you'd expect today. The board even fits inside an original Speccy case.

This isn't the final model but it is a fully-functional version for demonstration at the show.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=e2mR_OPwv0k

Impressive upgraded ZX81

This ZX81 was donated to the Computing History Museum. It has a mechanical keyboard and natty case.

After opening it up they saw this.

Somewhere within those homebrewed electronics is a ZX81 board. Around it are power supply components, veroboard, wiring and even (possibly) a home-made PCB.

I'm dying to find out more about what all of this does.

twitter.com/computermuseum/status/1123987704327430156

Super Mario Bros for C64 released, then removed

"After 7 years of development..." announced ZeroPaige the developer, along with links to download the port of the 80s platform game.

Shortly afterwards, a tweet announced that Nintendo had issued an instruction for links to be removed. There is some doubt about the truth of this, as Paulo says in the story I'm linking to.

At time of writing, I was able to download from one of the links in that forum post. Of course once something has been released, it can be shared forever.

www.vintageisthenewold.com/is-nintendo-really-taking-down-super-mario-bros-64

BASIC 10Liners 2019

You can view the results and download all of the entries from the BASIC 10Liners competition 2019. This is me having a go at the people's choice, Mines20. It's amazing what can be done in ten lines and it highlights that great gameplay doesn't correlate with great graphics and sound.

The competition covers all 8-bit computer systems. There are several classes. In each you have to write a game in ten lines of BASIC. In PUR-80 each line has a max of 80 characters, in PUR-120 and EXTREME-256 lines are limited to 120 and 256 characters.

Vintageisthenewold carried the story, follow the links to the winners and downloads.

www.vintageisthenewold.com/basic-10liners-2019-results-are-out-leaving-only-one-open-question-how-is-this-even-possible-in-10-lines

ZX Spectrum Prototype

We've seen one 'unboxing' video from the Centre for Computing History of the Spectrum prototype that has recently come to light.

In this follow-up, Jason Fitzpatrick talks some more about the machine. He talks about the development of the design, first as an improved ZX81 and then to this version. He also talks about 'firing it up' and the precautions that they must take before they do that.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=bq4NzvNZhc0

The Embroidered Computer

But is it art? This work by Irene Posch is a functional 8-bit computer made from metallic threads, glass and metal beads, with no traditional electronic components at all.

The computer is comprised of relays, harking back to days before semiconductors. A textile-based computer reminds us that Jacquard looms, which used crude electromechanical systems to weave complex patterns, inspired Babbage and Lovelace when they were designing the analytical engine.

Follow the link below for a number of pictures, animations and a schematic of the device.

www.ireneposch.net/the-embroidered-computer

Antstream: Retro Gaming Reborn

As the big companies are falling over each other to open a streaming gaming service, how does the idea of a retro game streaming service grab you?

Antstream claim to have hundreds of licensed titles with the promise of thousands. Once you have their app on your pc, mac, tablet or console then you have access to any of the available games with no download time or the hit-and-miss of whether it'll run in your emulator.

As I write this there's a month to go and they have around a third of their target.

www.kickstarter.com/projects/234135283/antstream-retro-gaming-reborn

Happy Mac / Sad Mac

Although the computers featured are a little later than we usually target here, I couldn't resist featuring this amazing project.

Fabienne "fbz" Serriere's 'generative knitwear' features many mathematical or biological patterns. She crowdfunded an industrial knitting machine to help produce these scarves.

In this case she's used the ROMs of early Macs and among the binary digit patterns you can see the familiar smiley mac faces, other icons and characters. Models she's made scarves from include Power Mac 5200, Macintosh IIsi and Power Mac 5200.

The scarves have been remarkably popular, most of these are sold out.

knityak.com

Apple co-founder Woz will talk at free event

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak (aka Woz) is to talk about his career and the future of computing at Purdue University, Indianna, USA on April 17.

No word on whether the talk is to be streamed or recorded for future broadcast. The event is free, but ticket-only. Follow the links to book.

Story via Cult of Mac.

www.cultofmac.com/617150/apple-co-founder-woz-will-talk-techs-future-at-free-event

Unveiling Heath Robinson

The Heath Robinson was an early attempt to automate codebreaking in the second world war.

The machine has been reconstructed and will be on display at the The National Museum of Computing, Milton Keynes, UK. It was the inspiration for Colossus, which already has a reconstruction on display at the museum.

Unveiling will take place on Saturday 6 April 2019 with Irene Dixon, a wartime Wren who operated Heath Robinson and Colossus, and Peter Higginson, a great nephew of W Heath Robinson after whom the machine was named. The event is ticket-only, a few tickets are still available as I write this.

More information is at the museum's website, link below.

www.tnmoc.org/news/news-releases/unveiling-heath-robinson-codebreaking-machine

Amstrad Gamers' Choice Award 2018 Results Announced

RetroGamerNation have announced the winners of its Amstrad Gamers' Choice Award for games released in 2018. Gamers voted on their favourites from a shortlist of 13.

Vintageisthenewold has the story with a worthwhile video showing footage from the nominees and winners.

www.vintageisthenewold.com/amstrad-gamers-choice-award-2018-results-announced

For Ember: Chiptune album created using an Atari 8-bit

Adam Sporka has released an album of 18 tunes rendered using an Atari 800XL

He used the Raster Music Tracker on PC and transferred the files to the AVGCart -equipped Atari for recording.

Most of the songs are original compositions with a couple of covers. it's available for streaming or purchase in all of the usual places.

vintageisthenewold has the story with embedded Soundcloud player and all the links you'll need.

www.vintageisthenewold.com/for-ember-new-chiptune-album-totally-created-using-an-atari-8-bits

377-byte chess game for Spectrum

Is there a call for such optimisation and efficiency in today's world? Nevertheless, this is as astonishing as the fact that we used to be able to play chess on an unexpanded ZX81 which used a whopping 672 bytes.

Alex Garcia has released "probably the smallest chess program ever made". If you're interested in how he's done it, he's written a description and released the source code on his site.

If you just want to pit your wits against it, he has a page with an embedded emulator.

Vintage is the New Old have the story containing the links:

www.vintageisthenewold.com/with-only-377-bytes-chesskelet-might-have-broken-the-world-record-for-smallest-chess-program-ever-made

First C64 entirely from new commercially-available parts

It's a bold claim but Perifractic believes that he has made the world's first C64 using new parts. His criteria were that the parts must be new and commercially-available, non-Conmmodore, and that the result should be fully-compatible with all media (tape port, cartridge port and so on).

Almost all parts have been available already; case, keyboard, motherboard. The only sticking point has been keycaps which no-one has produced so far. Perifractic noticed that certain lego parts fit the standard posts and this has led to a project to make available the kit of lego bricks required, with the top tiles custom printed with the letters and symbols.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=5UX-gqylYgQ

Sinclair ZX Spectrum Prototype

This prototype of the original ZX Spectrum has been in the possession of Nine Tiles, the subcontract company responsible for the Spectrum's ROM. It has now been donated to the Centre for Computing History.

The prototype uses project board with hand-wrap wiring, a full-travel keyboard with handwritten labels. It is very similar to the first production spectrum but the layout is different.

There's more information at the page I'm linking to. It also has a worthwhile video with Adrian and Phil taking a good look at the prototype's board and keyboard.

www.computinghistory.org.uk/det/51620/Sinclair-ZX-Spectrum-Prototype



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