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8 Bit Heaven

8 Bit Heaven

[ Vic 20 ] [ Apple ][ ] [ Atari 400/800/XL/XE ] [ C-64 ] [ Atari ST ] [ 8 bit Shrine ] [ Classic Gaming Set-top Box ] [ 8 Bit Magazines ]

Commodore Vic 20:

The Commodore Vic-20 computer    The Vic-20 Data Cassette module

Jupiter Lander Gortek and the Microchips

The Commodore Vic 20 was the first computer I ever used. I never owned one until fairly recently. My next door neighbors had one, and I also initiated a fund raising drive at my school to get money for a computer. We ended up with a Vic 20. I dabbled in programming using Gortek and the Microchips and played tons of Jupiter Lander on a 13" black and white TV.

Vic 20 Sites:

VICE, the 'Versatile' Commodore Emulator. This is the emulator I use.

Vic-20 Forums @ Denial

History of the Vic20

Apple ][ series:

The Apple ][+    The Apple ][c computer    The Apple ][c green phosphor monitor

Choplifter    Dr J and Larry Bird Go One on One

A childhood friend had an Apple //c with a small green (monochrome) monitor. I couldn't afford one so I only got to use it occasionally when at his house. It had a mouse which at the time ('85-86) was still relatively novel. The games I played on it were Choplifter, Dr J and Larry Bird One on One, Captain Goodnight, Cavern Creatures, and Karateka.

I also spent a lot of time at our local library where they had an Apple ][ which was outfitted with a coin mechanism which you put quarters in, similar to what you'd see in a laundromat. I played a lot of Kabul Spy there.

I now own a //c, Enhanced //e, ][+, and IIgs.

Apple ][ Sites:

Apple ][ Emulator Resources Guide

Probably the best for Windows, and is still updated regularly.

Atari 400/800/XL/XE:          The wampus from M.U.L.E.

The Atari 800 Home Computer    The Atari 130XE Home Computer

Blue Max    Exodus: Ultima III

The Atari was the first computer I owned. I had first seen it because my cousin got an 800 for Christmas with Star Raiders and Pac Man. I was hooked! I saved up my paper route money and by the time I had enough the XLs were out. I bought an 800XL. Most of the games I played were typed in from magazines like Antic, ANALOG, Compute!, and Family Computing. The games I owned for the Atari were Master of the Lamps, Ultima III and IV, Realm of Impossibility, Blue Max, Zork, and F-15 Strike Eagle. I also played Chicken a lot which was in Antic I believe and was a lot like Frogger. I also have discovered the excellent game M.U.L.E. which I remember seeing in magazines but never bought.

Atari 800 Sites:

Altirra Atari 800 emulator
Probably the best Windows Atari 8 bit emulator right now.

Atari800 emulator
Original author's page.

Commodore 64:

The Commodore C64 computer    The Commodore 1541 5 1/4 disk drive

Telengard    Space Taxi

My brother got one of these the same year I bought my Atari for X-mas. He got the whole setup and I was pretty jealous. The sound from the SID was the best I had heard at the time. I also got to hear how much better Ultima III sounded on a C64 at my friends house. Games I played on the C64 were Racing Destruction Set, Defender of the Crown, Impossible Mission, Space Taxi, and Telengard (which is best on the C64!!).

Commodore 64 Sites:

VICE, the 'Versatile' Commodore Emulator, supports disk emulation also. This is the emulator I use.

Lemon's C64 site
An excellent site with tons of game reviews.

Atari 520/1040 ST:

The Atari 520 ST

Time Bandit    Dungeon Master

Oids    Defender of the Crown

OK, so the Atari ST is a 16 bit computer. :)
I traded my Atari 8 bit for an Atari 520 ST soon after they came out. The 16 bit graphics made my XL look ancient. The screenshots for Time Bandit and Starglider were enough for me to trade up. I also owned Plutos, Populous, Rogue, Oids, Defender of the Crown, and Dungeon Master.

Atari ST Sites:

Atari Forum
The best place to chat about the Atari 16 bit computers.

ST emulator for Windows, the one I use the most. Has lots of very nice features.

8 Bit Shrine:

I've put some pictures up of my computer room, including all of my 8 bit related stuff.

Visit the Shrine

Classic Gaming Set-top Box:

Not too long ago I build a set top box for my basement that I use for playing classic video games from the couch. The setup includes custom software (frontend, other programs), utilities like python, rsync, pskill, shutdown, Joy2Key and others, emulators, an Acer Mini PC with a USB interfaces for a lot of classic controllers. With a controller and a small wireless keyboard, I can drive from my couch. Completing the setup is a nice big (and HEAVY) CRT. I've also added a MiSTer to the setup which is AMAZING!

I had at first been using my modded xbox to use emulators but I found that compatibility and performance wasn't as good as PC based emulators. All basic operation of selecting games/systems, favorites, launching games, quitting games, and playing them are controlled from just the gamepad.

From my couch I'm able to select and play games for many different systems including:

  • Atari 2600/5200/7800/800/ST
  • Commodore Vic-20/C64/Amiga
  • TI99/4a
  • Tandy Color Computer
  • Vectrex
  • Nintendo NES and SNES
  • Sega Genesis and Master System
  • ColecoVision and Coleco Adam
  • Apple ][ and IIGS
  • Odyssey 2
  • Arcade games via MAME
  • Intellivision

The frontend that is loaded when the machine was booted was written in Python using the Pygame library. The program is available HERE. I update it very often and the latest is always available there.

Here are some pictures (click for larger version):

The Acer Mini PC (lower right below the 2600)

The A-Open Mini PC and wireless gamepad receiver

What you see after Windows has booted

What you see after XP has booted

All the Atari 2600 games listed w/ screenshots ready to select

All the Atari 2600 games listed w/ screenshots ready to select

I launched Yar's Revenge and now I'm playing it on the couch

I launched Yar's Revenge and now I'm playing it

8 Bit Magazines:

One thing I remember well from my childhood was the anticipation of new computer magazines for the coming month. Compute! was the one I bought the most of because it covered more than one computer. I now collect those old magazines and have accumulated quite a collection. It's much bigger than it should be. Even still they make for great reading if you used these computers back in their day. Emulators give them even more interesting uses.

These are some of the magazines I have currently. Most are complete sets.

------------- Geek Stats Follow ----------------

Compute's Gazette
Commodore Power Play
Commodore Magazine
Commodore Microcomputers
Compute's Apple
Call A.P.P.L.E.
Apple ][ Review
Apple Orchid Users
Hardcore Computist / Computist
ST Log
Compute's Atari ST
Atari Connection
Atari Explorer
Atari Interface
Atari Age
Compute! (70s/80s only)
Family Computing
Computer Gaming World (80s only)
Creative Computing
Videogaming Illustrated
Electronic Fun with Computers and Games
Electronic Games / Computer Entertainment
Computer Games
TRS-80 Microcomputer News
Rainbow (Coco)
20 Load (Vic-20)
Home Computer Magazine (TI 99/4A)
Retro Gamer
------------- Geek Stats End ----------------

Since I put up this page some digital archives have popped up on the net. This is a great way to preserve these relics.

8 Bit magazine and other 8 bit sites:

Antic - STart at the Classic Computer Archive
Atari 8 bit and ST. Very thorough, all the covers and articles as well as the disks that came with them are available. Now has other magazines such as Compute!, Compute!'s Gazette, Creative Computing, Hi-Res, and Tandy Whiz Kids.

Digital A.N.A.L.O.G. Project
Not to be confused w/ the sci-fi mag, Atari 8 bit.

Bombjack - C64 magazine scans
Tons of other stuff as well.
A plethora of information on just about any old computer you can think of, including my 8 bit favorites. Check out the "Computer of the Day"!

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