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Reply 20 of 81, by Jo22

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Gmlb256 wrote on 2022-05-07, 01:14:
Jo22 wrote on 2022-05-06, 23:15:
Hi there ! 😀 Speaking of time frames.. To be fair, I had similar thoughts on the DOS gaming scene in the 1990s already. "320x20 […]
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konc wrote on 2022-05-06, 13:03:

Try to think of them in the correct time frame: compared to what exactly would someone consider the C64 a toy for kids in 1982-83? The first IBM PC? 😂

Hi there ! 😀 Speaking of time frames..
To be fair, I had similar thoughts on the DOS gaming scene in the 1990s already. "320x200 pels? Are you kidding me?"
That really felt like home computer territory to me. In the 90s.
Not something that's worth a Macintosh or PC/AT.
- Please let me elaborate: Back then (mid 90s) I had a 286, like ThinkpadIL,
but enjoyed both DOS shareware games and Windows 3.1 games - which also used 640x480 pels resolution.
The Windows games were from the desktop games category, I think.
Atari ST and Macintosh had them too, years before Windows was mainstream.
So 640x480 seemed "normal" to me, at least for the view-port.

Now let's feel my confusion when, by the turn of the century and thanks to more internet access,
I found out about the majority of commercial DOS games running merely in a mediocre 320x200 pels (MCGA) resolution.

It was a huge disappointment to me.
As if the PC platform was turned into a C64 or an Amiga.
Or was degraded to "toy computers", to use the wording of ThinkpadIL.

And to make matters worse, at the time, all those "retro" games turned up out of nowhere, glorifying the 320x200 cult.
I was confused and I really didn't understand why no sophisticated DOS games with "real" VGA (Standard VGA) were made anymore.

You know, games in the spirit of Flight Simulator, SimCity, Gateway, Spellcasting 101 or ST: A Final Unity.

320x200 (and 320x240 to a lesser extent) was the lowest common denominator on PC platform for DOS games because early SVGA was a mess supporting around until VESA came around much later. Still the CPU has to do almost everything to draw something into the screen and there were inconsistencies with VESA implementations on many video cards which is why UniVBE was created.

The lack of skilled programmers at the level of John Carmack and Michael Abrash also didn't help.

Yes and no. I mean, you're not wrong. You're thinking of 256c stuff an VBE, I guess.
But I think of Standard VGA, mode 12h, as used by DOS applications in general.

640x480 in 16c was supported way down to 1987.
Also, Super VGA in 800x600 in 16c was a very popular mode, predating VBE a bit.
It even has two mode numbers in VBE (6Ah and 102h) which is unique.

The only "issue" was detecting the correct mode number of the SVGA - the memory layout was the same among OAK, Trident, Paradise etc cards.

I believe, that's why it was possible that there was a single 800x600 16c SVGA driver in Windows 3.10 already:
It wasn't much trouble to implement. No palette or memory issues.

To get things like Wonderland (Magnetic Scrolls) running in SVGA on non-supported cards is a matter of modifying the executable with a hex editor.

That being said, the VGA CRTC was very flexible.
People reprogrammed the EGA/VGA drivers of older OSes like Windows 1.0 or GEM to use a VBE mode number.
That works, as long as the default settings don't require much alteration.

Anyway, that being said, the lack of commercial Standard VGA games did put me in the odd situation
that foreign PC-98 games in 640x400 16c did look more sane or used to me than our low-res DOS games that we had.

Edit: I'll soon add some screenshots of the 640x480 DOS games that I remember.

Edit: I forgot. I already mentioned some of these in another thread.
Re: VGA games with only 16 colors

Last edited by Jo22 on 2022-05-12, 10:55. Edited 1 time in total.

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Reply 21 of 81, by darry

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Going back to the C64, consider that it was launched in 1982 and that it was similar to but had more features (VIC-II and SID, mainly) than the Commodore PETs, which definitely were not toys in their time .

By the end of its production run in the mid 1990s, the C64 would definitely have been more likely to be likened to a toy by a prospective new computer buyer comparing it to an x86 base PC clone of the time .

Reply 22 of 81, by AppleSauce

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There's an article about a C64 being used in a repair shop
https://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/g … 64-repair-shop/

Atari ST still used at a camping ground
https://www.pcgamer.com/dutch-legend-has-been … ng-an-atari-st/

So people did see the value in the microcomputers they bought , at least enough to use it for their jobs.

I mean the perception might be down due to the aesthetics?
The micros tended to have slick angled shapes or super rounded edges which made them look kind of consoley ,
whereas IBM pcs were very boxy and serious looking and didn't try anything too fancy , more so sticking to the typical IBM conformist attitude.

Reply 23 of 81, by Gmlb256

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Jo22 wrote on 2022-05-07, 03:53:
Yes and no. I mean, you're not wrong. You're thinking of 256c stuff an VBE, I guess. But I think of Standard VGA, mode 12h, as u […]
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Yes and no. I mean, you're not wrong. You're thinking of 256c stuff an VBE, I guess.
But I think of Standard VGA, mode 12h, as used by DOS applications in general.

640x480 in 16c was supported way down to 1987.
Also, Super VGA in 800x600 in 16c was a very popular mode, predating VBE a bit.
It even has two mode numbers in VBE (6Ah and 102h) which is unique.

The only "issue" was detecting the correct mode number of the SVGA - the memory layout was the same among OAK, Trident, Paradise etc cards.

I believe, that's why it was possible that there was a single 800x600 16c SVGA driver in Windows 3.10 already:
It wasn't much trouble to implement. No palette or memory issues.

To get things like Wonderland (Magnetic Scrolls) running in SVGA on non-supported cards is a matter of modifying the executable with a hex editor.

That being said, the VGA CRTC was very flexible.
People reprogrammed the EGA/VGA drivers of older OSes like Windows 1.0 or GEM to use a VBE mode number.
That works, as long as the default settings don't require much alteration.

Anyway, that being said, the lack of commercial Standard VGA games did put me in the odd situation
that foreign PC-98 games in 640x400 16c did look more sane or used to me than our low-res DOS games that we had.

Edit: I'll soon add some screenshots of the 640x480 DOS games that I remember.

I get what you're referring to.

Wish that the 640x480 16 color mode was used a bit more with DOS games especially that VGA can change the color palette and would have led to interesting things but alas many stuck with the CGA 16 color palette.

The 800x600 16 color mode that originated with the Paradise SVGA was quite popular among various video cards. It was very easy to write a TSR that emulates it by just calling the VESA equivalent because it doesn't require bank switching for the memory layout. Sadly, the same can't be said with early SVGA 256 color modes unless the non-standard CRTC registers were compatible.

I have done this with PC Paintbrush and several of these Moraff's DOS games. 😁

darry wrote on 2022-05-07, 04:15:

Going back to the C64, consider that it was launched in 1982 and that it was similar to but had more features (VIC-II and SID, mainly) than the Commodore PETs, which definitely were not toys in their time .

By the end of its production run in the mid 1990s, the C64 would definitely have been more likely to be likened to a toy by a prospective new computer buyer comparing it to an x86 base PC clone of the time .

On-topic: I see home computers as personal computers for consumers and technology back then was very simple than we have today. The C64 provided a BASIC interpreter which I hardly consider a toy, leading users to tinker with programming.

Reply 24 of 81, by darry

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Gmlb256 wrote on 2022-05-07, 05:21:
darry wrote on 2022-05-07, 04:15:

Going back to the C64, consider that it was launched in 1982 and that it was similar to but had more features (VIC-II and SID, mainly) than the Commodore PETs, which definitely were not toys in their time .

By the end of its production run in the mid 1990s, the C64 would definitely have been more likely to be likened to a toy by a prospective new computer buyer comparing it to an x86 base PC clone of the time .

On-topic: I see home computers as personal computers for consumers and technology back then was very simple than we have today. The C64 provided a BASIC interpreter which I hardly consider a toy, leading users to tinker with programming.

I am not trying to argue that the C64 ever was just a toy, just that world around it moved on over its lifespan and, consequently, so did perceptions, to the point of many people seeing it as a "toy". The C64 always was a very flexible and capable machine with good built in BASIC, lots of available peripherals (in part due to compatibility with PET and VIC-20 era peripherals) and a huge and varied software library. It is just that by the end of its production the C64 had become a bit long in the tooth and practically anybody comparing a C64 in 1994 to even a pedestrian x86 PC of the era would have found the latter vastly more capable . Of course, a C64 was dirt cheap by then, but that actually played into the "cheap=toy" perception as well .

During at least a large portion of the 1980s, the C64 was perceived as a viable, full-featured home computer option that could do everything family members would expect from a home computer (gaming, word processing (though lack of native 80 column support did not help with that), learning to program in BASIC, home budgeting, etc), at a reasonable price. The computer world, however, moved forward, expectations grew along with the competition's capabilities and yesterday's workhorse became today's (1994) "toy" and tomorrow's (2000+) "obsolete junk" (no offense meant, I would love to have one and would cherish it) to the mainstream market .

Reply 25 of 81, by ThinkpadIL

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Speaking of Commodore 64, there was an effort to make a professional modification called Commodore SX-64, also known as the Executive 64 (which only supports the opinion that the original model was more a gaming machine , i.e. a toy). So what we see when we take a look at this machine?

--- Tiny blurry color display, which is more suitable for gaming than for serious applications, without B/W crisp option at all.
--- No standard RS232 port
--- No standard Parallel port
--- No CP/M, just Commodore BASIC or GEOS (GUI with Joystick instead of Mouse ... what a joke!)
--- Joystick port - two of them!
--- Cartridge port.
etc.

Guys, I really appreciate efforts of Commodore to build a very cheap computer anyone can afford, and I really tried to see it as a serious machine. But come on, if it looks like a toy and performs like a toy then it is probably a toy. Very capable toy, but still a toy. The same is true regarding ZX Spectrum.

Reply 26 of 81, by ThinkpadIL

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... on the other hand, there was a mouse available (Commodore Mouse 1351 for example) which could be connected to the Joystick port, and CP/M 2.2 available via special cartridge.

So it seems like it actually was possible to convert a standard Commodore 64, which was more of a toy, to a somewhat Personal Computer capable of doing serious work like word processing, spreadsheets and programming. But anyway, it looked more like a toy on steroids than a normal Personal Computer. Though it would come for a price. The same way today you are able to convert a cheap Tablet PC to a somewhat normal Laptop PC. But why to invest in tons of addons a fortune in order to get still very underpowered Personal Computer, when you could buy a professional Personal Computer for about the same price?

Last edited by ThinkpadIL on 2022-05-07, 13:36. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 28 of 81, by ThinkpadIL

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Plasma wrote on 2022-05-07, 13:35:

I draw the line at whether or not it has a floppy drive. And yes that means IBM 5150 with only cassette = toy, C64 with 1541 = PC.

I can agree with you but only partly. There were some CP/M based Personal Computers that were using a cassette tape recorder by default and that was OK due to relatively small size of date to be stored. Though even then cassettes were already a dying format.

Regarding IBM 5150 with cassette tape recorder only being considered as a toy, I can't agree at all. Due to its expandability It was more like a hugely underpowered Personal Computer than a toy. IBM PCjr on the other hand was a toy even with Floppy Disk Drive and all the extras available. In that sense Commodore 64 was a Commodore Jr which never grew up.

Reply 29 of 81, by ThinkpadIL

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Here are links to two interesting articles making a comparison between Commodore 64 and IBM PCjr / Tandy 1000.

https://dfarq.homeip.net/commodore-64-vs-ibm-pcjr/
https://dfarq.homeip.net/tandy-1000-vs-commodore-64/

In my opinion they make quite adequate comparison between those machines placing Commodore 64 to a category of a very capable Home Computers ... but not more than that.

Reply 30 of 81, by Plasma

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ThinkpadIL wrote on 2022-05-07, 14:04:
Plasma wrote on 2022-05-07, 13:35:

I draw the line at whether or not it has a floppy drive. And yes that means IBM 5150 with only cassette = toy, C64 with 1541 = PC.

I can agree with you but only partly. There were some CP/M based Personal Computers that were using a cassette tape recorder by default and that was OK due to relatively small size of date to be stored. Though even then cassettes were already a dying format.

Regarding IBM 5150 with cassette tape recorder only being considered as a toy, I can't agree at all. Due to its expandability It was more like a hugely underpowered Personal Computer than a toy. IBM PCjr on the other hand was a toy even with Floppy Disk Drive and all the extras available. In that sense Commodore 64 was a Commodore Jr which never grew up.

You couldn't do any work on a 5150 with only cassettes, other than screw around in ROM BASIC. So it's a toy until upgraded. You can run WordPerfect and Lotus 1-2-3 on the PCjr. Hardly a toy.

Reply 31 of 81, by ThinkpadIL

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Plasma wrote on 2022-05-07, 15:15:
ThinkpadIL wrote on 2022-05-07, 14:04:
Plasma wrote on 2022-05-07, 13:35:

I draw the line at whether or not it has a floppy drive. And yes that means IBM 5150 with only cassette = toy, C64 with 1541 = PC.

I can agree with you but only partly. There were some CP/M based Personal Computers that were using a cassette tape recorder by default and that was OK due to relatively small size of date to be stored. Though even then cassettes were already a dying format.

Regarding IBM 5150 with cassette tape recorder only being considered as a toy, I can't agree at all. Due to its expandability It was more like a hugely underpowered Personal Computer than a toy. IBM PCjr on the other hand was a toy even with Floppy Disk Drive and all the extras available. In that sense Commodore 64 was a Commodore Jr which never grew up.

You couldn't do any work on a 5150 with only cassettes, other than screw around in ROM BASIC. So it's a toy until upgraded. You can run WordPerfect and Lotus 1-2-3 on the PCjr. Hardly a toy.

IBM PCjr also was capable of using cassette tape recorder, so leave it without Floppy Disc Drive and it becomes even less capable than IBM 5150 with cassette tape recorder only. Anyways, IBM 5150 wasn't intended to be used with cassette tape recorder only, so it is not a good comparison.

Reply 33 of 81, by ThinkpadIL

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Plasma wrote on 2022-05-07, 15:35:

Yes, PCjr without a floppy drive = toy. I draw the line at the floppy drive.

Epson PX-8 - a CP/M based Laptop designed to be used by default with a microcassette tape drive was barely a toy. As I've mentioned before, cassette tape drives were very pretty common among CP/M era 8-bit Personal Computers. Using a cassette tape drive on an MS-DOS era 16-bit computer, of course, was already a nonsense.

Reply 34 of 81, by weedeewee

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Speaking of toys.
Who doesn't like some boot off of a vinyl record 😁
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bqz65_YfcJg

Right to repair is fundamental. You own it, you're allowed to fix it.
How To Ask Questions The Smart Way
Do not ask Why !

Reply 36 of 81, by Gmlb256

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ThinkpadIL wrote on 2022-05-07, 14:52:
Here are links to two interesting articles making a comparison between Commodore 64 and IBM PCjr / Tandy 1000. […]
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Here are links to two interesting articles making a comparison between Commodore 64 and IBM PCjr / Tandy 1000.

https://dfarq.homeip.net/commodore-64-vs-ibm-pcjr/
https://dfarq.homeip.net/tandy-1000-vs-commodore-64/

In my opinion they make quite adequate comparison between those machines placing Commodore 64 to a category of a very capable Home Computers ... but not more than that.

Even though the original IBM PC isn't being compared with the C64, the real CGA card had composite output and gave much better colors via composite artifacting. The only downside is that it made text mode unreadable.

For some reason, only Tandy got the memo regarding the IBM PCjr video and audio capabilities to make a PC that was vastly superior without sacrificing performance and most of the compatibility with IBM PC. Maybe because most of the PC were focused at business at the time and the poor reception of the PCjr caused people to gloss over the interesting stuff with early PCs. Not to mention how people in several regions in Europe were spoiled with the Commodore Amiga which was way ahead of its time.

Reply 37 of 81, by ThinkpadIL

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Gmlb256 wrote on 2022-05-07, 16:03:
ThinkpadIL wrote on 2022-05-07, 14:52:
Here are links to two interesting articles making a comparison between Commodore 64 and IBM PCjr / Tandy 1000. […]
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Here are links to two interesting articles making a comparison between Commodore 64 and IBM PCjr / Tandy 1000.

https://dfarq.homeip.net/commodore-64-vs-ibm-pcjr/
https://dfarq.homeip.net/tandy-1000-vs-commodore-64/

In my opinion they make quite adequate comparison between those machines placing Commodore 64 to a category of a very capable Home Computers ... but not more than that.

Even though the original IBM PC isn't being compared with the C64, the real CGA card had composite output and gave much better colors via composite artifacting. The only downside is that it made text mode unreadable.

For some reason, only Tandy got the memo regarding the IBM PCjr video and audio capabilities to make a PC that was vastly superior without sacrificing performance and most of the compatibility with IBM PC. Maybe because most of the PC were focused at business and the poor reception of the PCjr caused people to gloss over the interesting stuff with early PCs.

I think the main problem was that Commodore and IBM had different approaches. Whereas Commodore tried to make a serious computer from a toy, IBM tried the opposite way, to downgrade a serious computer to the level of a toy. In other words it was a competition between a great and capable toy and a very bad serious computer which was incapable even as a toy.

Reply 38 of 81, by Plasma

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ThinkpadIL wrote on 2022-05-07, 15:47:
Plasma wrote on 2022-05-07, 15:35:

Yes, PCjr without a floppy drive = toy. I draw the line at the floppy drive.

Epson PX-8 - a CP/M based Laptop designed to be used by default with a microcassette tape drive was barely a toy. As I've mentioned before, cassette tape drives were very pretty common among CP/M era 8-bit Personal Computers. Using a cassette tape drive on an MS-DOS era 16-bit computer, of course, was already a nonsense.

Barely a toy? It has an 8-line screen 🤣.