Archive for February, 2014

Sleeping with the enemy

Posted: February 20, 2014 in 80's

Yesterday I’ve got a TRS-CoCo II working, hooked up with my Commodore monitor. They didn’t get along at first, but after a while, they were friends, or maybe polite acquaintances 🙂

Commodore and Tandy having a good time

Commodore and Radio Shack having a good time

Although I still think the Commodore 64 is a better machine overall, the TRS-CoCo is actually very powerful. The Extended Colour BASIC is way more powerful than the crazy peeks and pokes I have to use on C64 BASIC. Commodore did way better with the BASIC 7.0 used by the Commodore 128 and other models, which is very similar to the Extended Colour BASIC commands. The code above is not even worth explaining – I was just randomly plotting some graphics and playing some notes.

In my journey to learn everything about the Commodore 64 I did some experiments in BASIC and I managed to finish a complete game. Although I believe the final product was pretty good, every article I read in magazines like Compute Gazette keep saying that you can get most of the machine if you code in its native language: 6502 machine language. This kind of bothered me a bit because I never had a chance to program using any assembler. I did a quick training on Z80 back in 1984 but I never use it – and to be honest, it didn’t click on me – I was way more comfortable using BASIC.

BASIC has a lot of problems, like the lack of functions and better structured statements, but it is easy to learn and you can see the immediate results of what you’re coding, which is probably the reason of its huge success. I know I can still do amazing things using plain BASIC!

To answer the title question, I say a big “yes”! Learning to code for the 6502 will make you a better developer, even if you don’t actually have a reason or use for it right now. Here are my reasons: (more…)