Re: VIC-1011A

From: Marko Mäkelä (
Date: 2001-05-29 06:50:22

On Mon, 28 May 2001, Colin McCormick wrote:

[Sorry that I'm quoting almost everything you wrote, but I think the
cbm-hackers audience would be interested, although this is a bit
off-topic.  My replies are inline.]

> Marko Mäkelä wrote:
> > Hello Colin,
> > 
> > I think that I got such a cartridge about two years ago.  I haven't tested
> > it, since I prefer to use my Digital VT-420 or VT-220 terminal.  Is there
> > a halfway decent terminal program for the VIC-20?  I think that the
> > VIC-1011A is a genuine VIC-20 product.
> No, terminal emulation is a rough and ready thing!
> > I didn't know that the RS-232 interface of the plus/4 user port was
> > pin-compatible with the software-emulated interface on the C64 and VIC-20
> > user ports, but it sounds plausible.
> It certainly worked anyway!  I used the terminal emulation program taken 
> from one of the manuals
> (C64 or Plus/4 or VIC20, I forget which), after myself and a work 
> colleague had worked out all the
> bugs in it.  I put in a little patch which translated some of the 
> peculiarities of the Commodore ASCII
> set.  It was OK for pure command line work, but if I used anything that 
> expected more of the terminal
> then it fell over horribly. 

I well understand that.  Even on a "more modern" platform, the CP/M
descendant called MS-DOS or MS Windows, most terminal programs are
severely lacking in terminal emulation.  The only acceptable terminal
program for them is MS Kermit, which is not a Microsoft product, but
developed at the "father of Kermit" US university whose name escapes me
now.  It has no fancy colorful menus, but instead it emulates the Digital
VT series terminals correctly and has decent character set translation
tables.  I used a VAX/VMS machine with it in 1992 and 1993.  The other
terminal emulator implementations that deserve to be mentioned are the
Linux text console driver and xterm.  Other emulations, such as the native
terminal emulators of commercial Unix systems, or "fancy" versions of
xterm, usually have some bugs.

> I've got vague recollections of using the thing to connect to an old
> 1200 baud modem too, again talking to the mainframe (a Vax/VMS
> monster).  It all worked, very badly.

Hmm, I have a MicroVAX II with 17 RS-232 ports but no operating system and
no decently working hard disk.   Anyone got a spare 70 MB RLL disk?

> Thanks for your interest in my ramblings!  I'm building a X1541 cable
> at the moment, just need those diodes.  Then looking forward to
> getting lots of VIC20 stuff from the internet.

You could also use prlink, it doesn't need anything else than a simple
cable connection.  Plus, it's much faster to load those cartridge games
directly from the PC: just one or two seconds.

> Heck: a Vic20, a Betamax video recorder, a Hillman Avenger and a BSB
> satellite receiver.  I am getting a bit sad here....

Well, it wouldn't be so much fun to have stuff that everyone else has or
understands, would it?  It's just a bit more trouble when you need spare


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