Re: 264/TED/Plus4 Story

Date: Mon, 5 Sep 2011 22:38:54 +0200
Message-ID: <>
Hi Bil,

On 2011-09-03 09:25, Bil Herd wrote:
> > Greetings Levente
> > 
> > Sorry for the delay, it's been an interesting week here on the east coast of
> > the US.

I hope you could make through that with as little inconvenience as possible...

> >  It’s a cool thought a school with kids typing on our keyboards
> > around on the other side of the world.  We were so focused on getting things
> > done that the thought of where they would end up wasn’t really ion our
> > minds, though we shipped several of the "TED in a VIC case" Alpha units to
> > several companies in Europe... about half went there if I remember right so
> > we knew that we were targeting  Europe in ways that Apple never did.  We
> > made up for it in failing to target our own schools in ways that Apple never
> > would either.

Some years ago, one of those "Alpha" units (as far as I can judge), has
been reported by Anders Carlsson on this list.

Speaking of HU, I can confirm that Apple had been virtually unknown in
the country, at least before the iron curtain fell down around 1990. Even IBM
could sell more computers (via not-that-straight ways, as HU was
formally COCOM listed at the time...) than Apple. ...Probably not a
representative report of the whole European market, but still...

> > Did the presence of simple systems that could make lots of color, with
> > admittedly very little software prompt some of the demoscene by any chance?
> > I just picture someone looking down at the TED with a blinking cursor and
> > thinking there has to be SOMETHING you could do with this thing.

"Very definitely"... :-)

BTW, I wouldn't call the availability of software "bad", well, at least
not for the early era (1985-1986 and around). I could name a great
number of game titles that were IMHO all comparable to the C64 games of
the same era. These games were obviously never officially sold in the
Eastern bloc, but they still made it to people's hands via
sharing/copying. (...Note: software copyright has been an unknown term
here until the early '90s). But, whilst the C64 software industry
shifted to some higher gears from 1987 and on, official software
publishing for the Plus/4 started to fall at the same time, only to
disappear completely around 1990.

Parallel to that, people started to crack/hack games already in 1986 and
on. Novotrade (the same company responsible for the technical side of
the Plus/4 school computer deal) took the challenge and published a lot
of educational and game software in the Hungarian market. ...Some of
those titles have already been written by people also known on the
forming "scene" (...which obviously had not been called a scene, let
alone a "demoscene" at the time). In that early period, the distinction
between a would-be scener and a software developer might have also not
been trivial... most of the official titles would just have been written
by young individuals or small groups anyway; and whether they'd later
appear as sceners, was not obvious.

Crack intros and early demos started to appear around 1986 and 1987.

I think the first "golden era" of the Plus/4 scene rose up around
1988-1989, and lasted until, say, 1992-1993 or so. It all went in a
similar fashion to other platforms - people started writing crack
intros, then demos, megademos, they'd form groups. Sometimes, people'd
just convert C64 programs, including demoeffects, tunes, and especially
games. (A large number of famous C64 game titles have been converted to
Plus/4, ...well, by - so to say - a handful of young enthusiasts, who
were mostly in their mid- to late tens at the time...). Some months ago
I had the opportunity to talk with a very famous guy of that period at a
retro sceneparty... I asked how he could release so _many_ programs back
then (...the typical time between his releases usually ranging from one
to two weeks); he answered, he would typically just arrive home from
school at Friday afternoons, throw his schoolbag to a corner, sit down
at the computer, ...and would not get up from there, unless absolutely
neccessary, until Monday morning...  I think that was very typical in
that period.  I didn't enter that business that early, never released
many programs (and only ever made two C64 game conversions myself); yet
I do remember many late nights of coding, then arriving slightly late at
school the following day, after having slept some 4 or 5 hours in the best case.

I wouldn't call the current Plus/4 demoscene very productive (or very active,
for that matter), it hasn't been that for the last, say, 15 years or so.
Activity might be similar to that of the Amstrad CPC scene, both of them
being slightly non-mainstream platforms, with only a handful of more or
less active enthusiasts. ...From the other hand, from time to time,
people release IMHO "interesting" stuffs. There's still great potential
in the platform, mostly due to the TED being pretty hackable, as a
lot of its inner registers are exposed to the programmer.

> > BTW please feel free to point/friend request any CBM users at my facebook
> > link BilHerd/, I don’t
> > always have time to post but enjoy hearing what others are up to that also
> > think in bits-n-bytes.


Best regards,


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Received on 2011-09-05 21:00:07

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