so lotsa kids overseas are getting to experience the joy of 8 bits, just like i did when i was young. this would be the end of the story were it not for the folks from playpower.org. it just so happened, so the story goes, that a USCD grad student visiting his overseas home happened upon a store selling the $12 machines. inspiration struck and he wondered if it would be possible to get g33ks in the developed (?) world to code an educational game or two. so they have a wiki and an idea and are ready to start harvesting spare g33k cycles.
i am a total sucker for all things 8-bit. i generally eschew first person shooters for a nice game of galaga. and i have 8-bit operators on heavy rotation around chez meadhbh. so it was nearly impossible to resist. this is the story of my 8 bit fantasy (so far.)
buying the machineplaypower.org has coordinated with the maker shed to resell the TV-Computer in the US. click on over to http://www.makershed.com/ProductDetails.asp?ProductCode=MKPP1 to order. one thing you should note, however. while the TV-Computer costs the equivalent of $12 overseas, it's selling for $50 here. i suspect this is a secret plot to preserve the inflated price of commodore PET's on ebay, though i think i read somewhere some of the money is going to the 501(c)(3) the playpower people are putting together. in california, you're going to pay state sales tax and unless you want to drive over to the o'reilly offices, you're going to pay shipping. (though kudos to the maker shed for offering this as an option.)
my total came to something like US$63.56 (or since i spend most of my day buying things in linden dollars, L$16,525)
unpacking the machinefor the benefit of those readers who will be living vicariously through my experiences, let me provide a play by play description of unboxing the TV-Computer.
operating the machine
about the hardwareat some point in the future, i'm going to void the warranty. but not tonight; it's a touch late. but here are a few notes about the hardware.
impressionsit was great fun to go back and relive the glory days of 8 bit, but the keyboard was a major problem and it looked like my unit put some scan lines above the screen and some below.
the unit came with zero documentation, so i'm left to guess what the commands are for the cartridge DOS clone and GBASIC. i haven't done the google search yet, so i'll post here if i find anything.
despite the unit's flaws, the 6502 has a magical otherworldly feeling about it, and i for one can't wait to start playing around with it. i'm motivated half by my nostalgia for 8-bit systems and half for wanting to have a cheap platform to develop educational games for my son. ultimately i would LOVE to buy a room full of these things and some refurbished CRT TVs for a computer lab for my local school. but i'd also feel obligated to pay for at least one local teacher to play at seymour papert's feet like i did.
what's next?next week i'm gonna void the warranty to see what's inside it. maybe i can fix the keyboard while i'm in there. ultimately i would like to develop / port something like Apple LOGO to the box. and i'm probably gonna try to do a FORTH interpreter; they're pretty simple, and honestly, i like FORTH waaaay more than i like BASIC.
if you're interested in hacking these things with me, i'm hosting a weekly virtual get-together. thursday nights at 7PM, Second Life Time at meadhbh is full of stars.