BASIC 65 – from dead horse to stallion

Once the team had official permission to use the C65 ROM for the MEGA65 project, Bit Shifter decided to take on the task and look at the ROMs source files. The first step was to reestablish the tool chain that Commodore used to create their ROM, there is a post in the MEGA65 blog that describes this process very well.
Bit Shifter started the same way the MEGA65 team did with the project: Picking up what Commodore had to leave behind (BASIC 10) and continue from there. He has now been working on the MEGA65 ROM for over a year and turned it into something Commodore fans only could have dreamed of in the 1980s and 90s: BASIC 65. To get an impression of what he achieved please look at the ROM history page. To summarize just some parts of his impressive work:

  • Planned commands – now implemented: GCOPY, CUT, PASTE
  • Commands extended: PEEK, POKE, SYS, SCREEN, DMA, BLOAD, BVERIFY, SPRSAV, DIRECTORY, COPY, PLAY, HIGHLIGHT, INSTR, FOR, NEXT
  • New operator: XOR
  • New commands: LOCK, UNLOCK, INFO, RPLAY, FREEZER, MOUNT, CHDIR, FGOTO, FGOSUB, FREAD, FWRITE, FONT, SPEED, EDMA, RSPEED, DOT
  • New variable type: BYTE
  • New constants: Hex constants 32 bits in size
  • Speed optimizations: BASIC65 is average 5 times faster than BASIC10 at the same CPU setting
  • Many bug fixes, some of them in Commodore / MS BASIC since the first PETs and C64: garbage collection bug, PRINT ""+-0 crash bug, BEND bug, inexact PI and therefore errors in COS, SIN, TAN
  • Bug fixes in CBDOS: @ Save and Replace bug, collection bug, splat file deletion bug, subdir deletion bug

First physical MEGA65 release

One of the most captivating science fiction stories surfaced in 2018 for classic 8-bit and 16-bit systems when Berlin based author Stefan Vogt released his game Hibernated with great impact and praise. Being a well-known member of the retro-scene, he is now widely cited for reviving the genre of text adventures with his new releases for the still relevant home computers of the 1980s.

Being an avid fan of the works from the legendary Infocom, Stefan now completely rewrote his classic to a full-featured interactive fiction piece using Infocom’s Z-machine standard. As an early supporter and adopter of the MEGA65, Stefan owns one of the 100 DevKits; it was a no-brainer for him to bring his newest effort as a native MEGA65 version. With Hibernated 1 – Director’s Cut we are more than proud to have the first physical release in the roster, more to follow. The original 3,5″ DD Disk will auto-boot when put in your MEGA65 disk drive.

You can order the game from Stefan’s publisher Poly.Play. The box itself is a 1:1 interpretation of Infocom’s stunning physical releases, and it goes well next to any Infocom collection. Look how wonderful that box is!

MEGA65 Pre-orders

After seven years of work the biggest project MEGA ever started has reached an important milestone: The MEGA65 desktop computer can now be pre-ordered and production has begun! We are more than proud to announce that exactly 30 years after Commodore froze the development of the C65 we will start shipping the first batch of machines. The price of 666.66 Eur (net) is not only calculated with a sharp pencil and an homage to the launch of the Apple I, the C65 prototypes were also sold for the price of 666 Deutschmarks. Congratulations to all people involved, our partners, the wonderful community around the MEGA65 and all supporters of the project! You all made this one of a kind open-source non-profit community driven nerd dream come true!

Commodore 1565

Here at MEGA one mission is to preserve or even recreate objects, knowledge and code from the short but fragile digital history of mankind, save them and their creators from being forgotten and lost in oblivion. This time we enjoy to not only revive a very rare and widely unknown piece of hardware from the famous Commodore universe, once completed this object will also be a valuable addition to our famous 8-bit computer, the MEGA65, which itself is a recreation of the abandoned Commmodore 65 with modern features and enhancements: The Commodore 1565 floppy drive. This is a first 3D printed case version, designed for the MEGA65 project by Claudio Sánchez (Tokafondo) from Gran Canaria, Canary Islands and photographed by our brilliant Martin Streit.

C-One

Digital archeology of a different kind: Perhaps a pioneer for computers like the MEGA65, the C-One claimed to be the very first reconfigurable FPGA computer. Started in 2000 as a new C64 by Jeri Ellsworth, who soon after preferred to work on the C64DTV, the C-One was light and shadow at the same time. Only about 200 pieces were sold. This was perhaps due to the same problems that made it insanely difficult for us today to get the beast working: closed-source mentality, poor to non-existent documentation, dependence on exotic PC memory modules, horribly ugly form factor (ATX), way too unfocused. Why is there a PCI slot that no one has ever used? After three days of research, we brought this thing to life and gave it a fresh, more compact look – without an ATX case. It was fun because it was so complicated.

Interactive Fiction

With game graphics becoming more and more realistic, there has been a reanaissance of classic text adventures lately. Today called Interactive Fiction, text adventure games rely on high quality writing to base the story on and support the gamer with. While flashy graphics may be used, they are used to embellish the power of the text, not to replace it.
One of the biggest players in this industry was Infocom with their so-called Z-machine, poweing many fantastic classics like Zork, The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Planetfall. Text adventures aged so well that there are even new ones being released, like Hibernated 2 and Tristam Island (both available for MEGA65).
It has been over due to announce Z-machine for the MEGA65 computer, ported by MEGA65-team member Bit Shifter. Whether you use it on your real MEGA65 or with XEMU, there are dozens of intriguing worlds and stories to be discovered!