Build your dream computer

Anything relating to non Sinclair computers from the 1980's, 90's or even before.
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PeterJ
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Build your dream computer

Post by PeterJ »

Imagine if you would that you are back in the 1980s and have access to all the home computers of the time. Being an exceptionally gifted individual you can take aspects of any 8bit home computer of the time and build your own. What aspects of what computers would you take?

To get you started...

It would obviously have to be a Sinclair machine, and have the competitive price point.

The excellent BASIC of the Spectrum along with the colour palette and attribute clash.

The keyboard entry choices of the Spectrum 128K

The built in Floppy Disk of the +3

The Sprites and Sound of the C64, but with additional Spectrum BASIC commands.

The build quality and keyboard of the Memotech MTX

The built in SCART Connector of the Sony MSX

The 320 X 200 resolution of the C64 with 16 colours on screen (with 1 background and 1 foreground colour per 8x8 cell)
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akeley
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Re: Build your dream computer

Post by akeley »

In short:

Build & looks: CPC 6128
Floppy: Atari 8-bit
Sprites / scrolling: C64
Resolution: Spectrum
Colour palette: Atari 8-bit
Basic: Spectrum
Sound: C64


I guess 320x200 resolution would be superior, but it'd probably also have some limitations so I'm happy to stick with Spectrum's. It seems enough for 8-bit games anyway. 3" floppies were expensive so I'd go with A8 since Commodore's was slow as molasses. And with that, I've just broken my "design" because 6128 looks perfect with 3" bay, big one would spoil it...
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Einar Saukas
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Re: Build your dream computer

Post by Einar Saukas »

The only thing I would change:

viewtopic.php?p=43381#p43381
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TMD2003
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Re: Build your dream computer

Post by TMD2003 »

I must admit I rather liked the way the Amstrad CPC handled its colours when I was looking through the manual not so long ago. The INK command is used as INK a,b where there are four coloured "pens", a is the pen number (1 to 4), and b is the colour from the palette assigned to that pen. So you can flash easily between colours with the same background BBC Micro-style:
PEN 2
PRINT (something)
INK 2,(colour)
(pause)
INK 2,(another colour)
(another pause)
(repeat)

I would at least start with 256 colours the way ULAPlus does - which, if I've got my facts right, is to define each colour thus:
First two bits = blue level (0-3)
Next three bits = green level (0-15)
Last three bits = red level (0-15)
Blue has the least variance in its brightness, so it's the colour that has the least number of levels. This system also gets rid of the need for the BRIGHT channel, and FLASH is more of a hindrance than a help in most cases. Blue 3 and green/red 15 are BRIGHT 1, Blue 2 and green/red 10 are BRIGHT 0, and then there's plenty of scope for darker variations, orange, brown, pink, and the C64's nasty colours. With PAPER and INK for each cell this would double the number of bytes required for the attributes, and I admit I prefer the scope for a 40-column display. And, on top of all this, the most important thing is that it'd allow a decent version of Wizball!

To get 320x240 pixels with 8x8 character squares, (which I think would be better than 320x200, and I'm fairly sure the Amstrad CPC can do 640x480 at high resolution), that's 1200 squares, 8 bytes per square, and 2 bytes per attribute, for a total of 12,000 bytes for the display file.

This new idealised computer will require more memory addresses, so the QL's POKE_L and POKE_W commands will come in very handy.
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RWAC
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Re: Build your dream computer

Post by RWAC »

PeterJ wrote:
Wed Sep 16, 2020 10:27 am

It would obviously have to be a Sinclair machine, and have the competitive price point.

The excellent BASIC of the Spectrum along with the colour palette and attribute clash.

The keyboard entry choices of the Spectrum 128K

The built in Floppy Disk of the +3

The Sprites and Sound of the C64, but with additional Spectrum BASIC commands.

The build quality and keyboard of the Memotech MTX

The built in SCART Connector of the Sony MSX

The 320 X 200 resolution of the C64 with 16 colours on screen (with 1 background and 1 foreground colour per 8x8 cell)
I'd prefer a 3 and half inch disk drive.
And 128K BASIC. I really hate having to search for keywords in 48K!
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PeterJ
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Re: Build your dream computer

Post by PeterJ »

@RWAC,

I agree about the 3.5" floppy, but couldn't think of a home computer in the 80s that came with one.

I didn't say it very well, but I chose 'The keyboard entry choices of the Spectrum 128K' so you could choose an entry type. Best of both worlds and all that.
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Joefish
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Re: Build your dream computer

Post by Joefish »

Here's a bit of uselessness I dreamt of once, and have just now bothered to work it all out.

Instead of the 'BRIGHT' and 'FLASH' bits, what very (technically) simple use could you but those bits to for INK and PAPER? Ideally I'd like it to select an entirely separate and hand-picked alternate set of 8 colours: light grey, dark grey, rich brown, dark mauve, dark green, azure blue, bright orange, light tanned skin. But in reality, on a ULA, what could you achieve?

The Speccy has one bit each for R,G,B, and the BRIGHT bit affects all of R,G,B. But what if you had 2 bits for Green? Or an extra Blue bit? Or even applied it as an extra half-bit to both Blue and Green?

Well, these are all the palettes that result. Assuming the Speccy BRIGHT colours as a starting point (with either 0% or 100% R,G,B), on the left-hand-side are the palettes you get if you have 2 Blue bits, 2 Red bits or 2 Green bits. On the right are if the extra bit affects Blue+Red, Blue+Green or Red+Green. Effectively if either R,G,B is off, and I toggle the half-bit, it raises it to 33.3%. If R,G,B is on, and I toggle the half-bit, it reduces it to 66.7%.

Image

Clearly an extra blue bit does very little for you.

The '2-Green-Bits' palette bottom-left would be a colourful improvement, though it's a bit heavy on the pinks. I think I like the effect of the 'Extra-Cyan-Bit' palette (the one right-middle) most out of these. There's a nice light flesh-tone in there, a nice (magenta-tinted) orange too, although nothing useful as a dark flesh or brown. There aren't any greys, but dark cyan would do...

What do you think? Can you think of another palette you could achieve with some simple logical rules?
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Ralf
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Re: Build your dream computer

Post by Ralf »

Well, if I could use any 8bit computer I would probably use some latest and most advanced one like Sam Coupe or MSX 2.

Sorry Zx Spectrum ;) I would probably want to build something as cool as possible, using standards from 1989, not 1982.

It would have nice resolution and palette. It would have hardware sprites and scrolling. It would have built-in trusty disk drive. And it would have advanced Basic that would allow dealing with sprites and which would allow running games at machine code speed.
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Joefish
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Re: Build your dream computer

Post by Joefish »

Anyway, an ideal 8-bit machine?

Sinclair branding
Oric Atmos shape and colour
Z80 CPU
BBC Basic (and manufacturing quality)
ZX Spectrum 256x192 resolution, but with (a) 16-colour INK/PAPER attributes or (b) four-colour per-pixel, no attributes, or (c):
MSX character-mapped, multicolour character screen mode, and all with...
ZX Spectrum-style in-line video memory map
1/2 palette from the ZX Spectrum (8 BRIGHT colours), 1/2 palette hand-picked from C64 and Amstrad
C64-style hardware pixel scrolling
MSX mono hi-res sprites, but with more on each line like a C64
MSX twin, 2-button joystick ports
Atari paddle port support
C64 light-pen/gun support
MSX cartridge port
C64 sound
128K Spectrum memory paging (but able to page video RAM at 16384 too)
ZX Spectrum expansion port
Last edited by Joefish on Wed Sep 16, 2020 2:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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AndyC
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Re: Build your dream computer

Post by AndyC »

TMD2003 wrote:
Wed Sep 16, 2020 12:06 pm
I must admit I rather liked the way the Amstrad CPC handled its colours when I was looking through the manual not so long ago. The INK command is used as INK a,b where there are four coloured "pens", a is the pen number (1 to 4), and b is the colour from the palette assigned to that pen. So you can flash easily between colours with the same background BBC Micro-style:
PEN 2
PRINT (something)
INK 2,(colour)
(pause)
INK 2,(another colour)
(another pause)
(repeat)
You can flash colours more easily by doing:

PEN 2
PRINT something
INK 2, colour, another colour

You can even vary the speed of flashing with something like SPEED INK, if I remember correctly
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