Issue 40, May 2010
Free to download magazine dedicated to Commodore computers
Available as PDF, HTML, TXT, SEQ and D64 disk image

Willis Patten passed away
Tuesday 20th April at 1:00 pm



This month we see 2 people taking up the Commodore BASIC programming challenge; one user decided to recode a dedicated Commodore 16 version, and the other create a Generic code that detects the machine it’s running on. Although detecting the machine is a good idea of course the speed of the game then changes so a Vic with a smaller screen seem to run faster than the Commodore 64, I suppose some sort of timer could be inserted into the code when calculating the machine to slow down the game.

Also in this issue

a new use for Commodore machines mixing new music with old sound, although many groups have attempted something similar, this issue we have an interview with rock band “MIND IN A BOX”


You may have noticed something similar to our Readers comment where the editor from Retroaction magazine has notice a large number of EBay sellers selling CDs or DVDs with scans of Commodore and other retro magazines. The problem is these retailers haven’t put in the effort to actually scan them, instead downloading them from torrent sites and just copying CDs or DVDs. In effect earning money from nothing. While the Question of actually scanning a magazine and putting it on a site is questionable, the art of then selling these scans someone else has made seems even more questionable.

Archiving of material is useful; and of course web space needs to be paid for so the scanner will often offer these disks for sale. The cost then covers hosting and the electricity that has gone into scanning the magazines in the first place. But just copying a DVD and selling it on EBay is putting at risk the archiving process. Should someone owning the copyright of such magazines want them removing from the archive site then we have potentially lost some history. I like browsing magazines that were out back in the 80`s and looking now at other hardware; something I had no interest in while in my youth. I truly hope that this pleasure isn’t taken away, by some idiots making a “fast buck”.

Interestingly I was contacted early in Commodore Free’s history by an individual who said that the magazine I worked on for FREE was being sold! Of course it makes you think about packing it all in, I am not really into working for free and working for free to pay someone else is even worse.

Willis Patten Dies

Just as I write this editorial I learnt about the death of Willis Patten who I knew only via Email as a virtual friend. I interviewed Willis in a past issue of Commodore Free. I also see that Maurice has proposed to sell Willis’s SCPU that was sent back for repair and send the money to the family. Maybe they, just as Willis did, want the SCPU back! I know Willis sent out many emails asking for the device to be returned.

Anyway enough about the SCPU as it will remind me of my unit that I am still waiting for, and bring up the whole mess of what Maurice is doing with people’s machines and money.

Maybe its time to refund people’s money and return there hardware with a note saying unable to fulfil the contract your money / hardware has been returned thank you for supporting .... Etc.

At this moment in time I would consider this the best for both parties as Maurice clearly doesn’t have the time to devote to restoring / repairing items a or manufacturing new items. Releasing the funds will permit paying customers to look at other options; people with broken hardware could use other sources for repair. I would welcome either my hardware or my money being returned to me.


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Readers Comments

I recently received this email from the editor of RETROACTION, I think some action is needed so I have reprinted the email.

Hi everyone,

Apologies for emailing you all like this, but I feel that I need to get this message across to as many like minded people as I can. You may have already noticed that I've posted news about this at my website Retroaction, but now I need your help to pass on this message.

We all like our retro games in one way or another and the magazines that came with them have a fond place in our heart (check out my Back in Time for April 1990 to see how much I love these classic mags)

You may know that these magazines have been slowly getting preserved on websites like World of Spectrum ( )
Amiga Magazine Rack ( )
Out-of-Print Archive ( ),

That's great, eh? However, a small handful of thieves are taking these scans, passing them off as their own work and selling them on at a profit. Thieves, yes, because, not only is this illegal (as the copyright remains with the original publisher), but they don't have the permission of the person who scanned them.

You may have come across the name Mort when reading about magazine scans. He's the dedicated guy who has put ten years of his life into scanning and preserving the likes of Crash, Zzap!64, Mean Machines, ACE, C&VG, CU Amiga, Commodore User and much more. It's mostly his work - which, I must stress, is hosted free on World of Spectrum and Amiga Magazine Rack - that is being leeched here. So with the only cost being the blank DVDs, these sellers are making between £5.00 and even up to £30.00 profit on each auction.

Well, we think enough is enough and it’s time to hit back. Remember, these people have no permission to sell these scans and don’t even have permission from the person who scanned them. I’ve already reported around 30 auctions from four different sellers. Yes, 30 auctions from 4 sellers. However, we all know that this is just the start. eBay may ignore this as a one off and just warn the seller. That’s where you come in. If you were a huge fan of these magazines, and appreciate the amount of work done to preserve them, then you owe it to yourself to report these copyrighted infringing auctions.

To make reporting the auctions that little bit easier I have included their user ids, links to their auctions and example reporting descriptions.

eBay has a long winded reporting system, but don’t let that put you off. Here’s what I’ve been reporting these DVDs as, but feel free to use your own method. To help the cause, feel free to send this announcement on to like minded people.

Report Item ->
Counterfeit and breaches copyright ->
Bootleg and counterfeit media ->
Media on Recordable formats (CD-R, DVD-R, VHS tape, etc.)

Brief Description:
Mags remain copyright of Newsfield Publications. Seller has no permission to sell scans.
Mags remain copyright of Seller has no permission to sell scans.
Mags remain copyright of Future Seller has no permission to sell scan
Mags remain copyright of Dennis Seller has no permission to sell scans.
Mags remain copyright of original owners. Seller has no permission to sell scans.
All media on these DVDs remain copyright of original owners. Auction infringes eBay policies.
eBay scans DVD sellers. Here they are, named and shamed:

catherinesutton ( 176)
List of items currently selling (at time of writing):

ZZAP!64 Complete 90 issue set on DVD
Sega Force magazine collection all issues on DVD
Mean Machines Sega Complete 53 issue set on DVD
Crash Magazine Complete 98 issue set on DVD
Mean Machines Magazine Complete 24 issue set on DVD
Mean Machines Magazine Complete 24 issue set on DVD

sveta025 ( 33)
List of items currently selling (at time of writing):


fpap1 ( 549)
List of items currently selling (at time of writing):

Your Commodore & Commodore World Mag collection DVD
Mean Machines + MM SEGA + The Games Machine C64/128 DVD
AHOY ! Commodore 64/128 Amiga COMPLETE Magazine DVD
Compute! Gazette COMPLETE Magazine Collection 2 DVD C64
RUN Commodore 64 / 128 Magazine Complete Collection DVD
Commodore Format + Commodore Disk User Collection DVD
Compute! Magazine Collection 4 DVD C64 Apple II
The One + Games Machine + Raze mags on DVD + Coverdisks
Sinclair Spectrum ZX Ultimate Collection 7 DVD’s
Commodore User + Micro Adventurer collection C64 DVD
COMPLETE CRASH Magazine DVD Spectrum ZX Sinclair
COMPLETE Sinclair User Magazine DVD ZX Spectrum
ZERO + The Games Machine DVD PC Atari ST Amiga
Commodore Magazine + Big K + Micro Adventurer C64 Amiga
CU Amiga Magazine COMPLETE Collection 2 DVD
COMPLETE Your Sinclair Magazine DVD ZX Spectrum
Zzap! 64 COMPLETE + Commodore Horizons Collection DVD

lynnanne12374 ( 1000)
List of items currently selling (at time of writing):

Sega Force, Mega & Master Force Magazine ALL ISSUES!
Zzap!64 Commodore C64 Magazine ALL ISSUES! ZZAP 64
Crash Sinclair ZX Spectrum Magazine ALL ISSUES!
ALL Amstrad Computer User & CPC Attack Magazine on DVD
Nintendo N-Force & SNES-Force Magazine ALL ISSUES!
Your Commodore & Your 64 Magazine ALL ISSUES! 2xDVD

Good luck, everyone, and spread the word.


This will save a lot of time... meppi, from Out-of-Print Archive, has an easier way to report multiple listings at the same time:

"To make it a bit easier you can use these numbers for the above auctions:

110510119070, 110510125020, 110519895291, 110519890332, 110510122909, 110521034947, 110522142686, 110522145077

250607170950, 250607171200, 250607171502, 250607172047, 250607172519, 250607172973, 250610003854, 250610445863, 250617133936

190382661307, 200452958522, 200455016514, 200455626960, 200460217312, 190388199101, 200460219179, 200460225325, 200460228615, 200460815764, 200461632603, 190389210276, 200461634463, 200461634537, 190389445528, 190389866039, 200462585276, 190390210730, 200463415978

They can be reported in a batch of 10 at a time.

To report them, got to an item in question and on the right hand side underneath the seller info and other item info box you'll find a "report item" link.

Click it and choose:

And in the brief description section write something along the lines of: "Copyright infringement of video game magazines without the publishers authorization" "

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Commodore 128 Website

Still in an early for of development is a new Commodore 128 website, with information about the great machine, like hardware tips, specifications and software/ programming information

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X-Pander 3 Coming Soon!

X-Pander 3 Coming Soon!
by brain on Apr.13, 2010, under Hardware Design

X-Pander 3 Cartridge Expansion Unit

In my continuing effort to sell more products for your Commodore computer, I determined users would buy more cartridge-based solutions if they could plug more into their machine at one time Thus, given the lack of cartridge expansion options on the market at present, I am producing the X-Pander. Modelled off the CMD EX-3, CMD EX2+1, and the FB-3XP, X-Pander offers the following features and design aspects:

The prototype units have arrived and have been tested, production units are currently in manufacturing and should be in the store in a month. Current pricing estimates are $30.00.

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Protovision Update


The new Video/Monitor cable (2 in 1) is now available! Decide where you want to plug your C64 in: monitor or TV! The cable can be ordered from our online shop at http://www.protovision-online.ce/catalog


Advanced Space Battle and the boxed version of Metal Dust are temporarily out of stock.


The Retro Replay is sold out for good. The MP3@64 is temporarily out of stock.


MisterMsk created 2 ROMs for the MMC Replay/Retro Replay. This is the sd2brwse light file browser for the uIEC and the SD2IEC drives by Hannu Nuotio. It was version 0.6 that was modified. MisterMsk (with the help of people from Lemon64 and has added a 3 second delay to the program and changed the colours a little. He also changed it so it defaults to lower case. Finally, it defaults to the SD2IEC/uIEC being drive 8 (since most games use this by default.). There have been two updates lately. Also, 32k and 64k images have been made into CRT files for emulators. Forum thread:


Jonnosan released another version (1.0.30) of netboot65, the main change being a fix for a bug (introduced in the previous release) which stopped inbound connections working (including the web application server function in KipperKart).

Find the release here: Forum thread:


WebNoter is a quick demo app Jonnosan made to show off KipperKart at a local scene party this weekend. He is pretty sure this is the first C64 demo with an embedded web server :-)

Download from Forum thread:


We would like to welcome The Leen to Protovision. She is helping out with manuals and inlays for our game releases, and has also become our Protovision mascot.


A new pricelist (03/10) is available at the usual location: .

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Last Oregon Commodore Dealer Sale

Jim Scabery, Portland, Oregon's last Commodore dealer, is having a close-out on all C= chips for PETs, VIC-20s, C64s, and C128s. Below is his most current list of chips, as of March 31. If you need more information on those chips marked ??, send Jim a message. If you don't see a chip that you need, send Jim a message. You can contact Jim at


Loc Qty IC Description Price
SF2 4 2112 ??
SF5 11 2114 S-RAM 1X4 $2.20
TC 20 4044 STD Logic $0.27
SF2 1 4066 STD Logic $0.21
ST4 10 4066 STD Logic $0.21
BT1 8 6116 S-RAM 2X8 $1.45
BT8 9 6502 C= 1541 $3.50
55 6510 C= MPU $5.50
B10 27 6522 C= 1541 $3.50
75 6526 C= CIA $4.00
SF2 2 6560 C= Vic20 $6.50
BT12 8 6567 C= VIC-R9 $6.50
26 6567 C= VIC-R5 $4.50
6567 C= VIC-R8 $5.50
14 6581 C= SID $17.00
SF2 1 6889 ??
SF3 12 7400 STD Logic $0.64
SF2 12 7400 STD Logic $0.64
SF3 5 7404 STD Logic $0.78
SF2 5 7404 STD Logic $0.78
SF4 5 7406 STD Logic $0.51
SF4 2 7407 STD Logic $0.45
TL 10 7407 STD Logic $0.45
SF4 1 7408 STD Logic $1.23
TJ 21 7408 STD Logic $1.23
SF4 4 7412 STD Logic $0.50
SF4 8 7414 STD Logic $0.56
SF4 3 7415 STD Logic ??
SF3 6 7416 STD Logic $0.64
SF4 3 7417 STD Logic $0.56
SF4 2 7418 STD Logic ??
SF4 2 7419 STD Logic ??
SF4 4 7424 STD Logic ??
SF4 1 7425 STD Logic $0.49
SF4 7 7426 STD Logic ??
SF3 1 7426 STD Logic ??
SF4 1 7430 STD Logic $0.41
SF4 3 7432 STD Logic $0.64
SF4 4 7434 STD Logic ??
SF4 1 7440 STD Logic $0.33
SF4 1 7443 STD Logic ??
SF4 1 7446 STD Logic $1.07
SF4 5 7450 STD Logic ??
SF4 2 7453 STD Logic ??
SF4 20 7474 STD Logic $0.57
SF3 4 7474 STD Logic $0.57
SF4 2 7486 STD Logic $1.43
SF3 2 7486 STD Logic $1.43
SF4 2 7496 STD Logic $0.65
SF2 1 7701 ??
BX 1 8500 C= MPU ??
BT18 6 8520 C= A2000, A500, 1571, 1581 ??
SF2 9 8701 C= Clock Generator ??
SF2 1 9334 ??
BT5 15 68764 EPROM ??
SF3 2 74122 STD Logic ??
TP 13 74123 STD Logic $1.24
SF5 1 74123 STD Logic $1.24
SF4 5 74132 STD Logic $0.77
SF2 1 74161 STD Logic $0.53
TM 12 74166 STD Logic ??
SF3 5 74174 STD Logic $0.67
SF2 12 74174 STD Logic $0.67
SF5 10 74177 STD Logic $0.90
SF5 3 74193 STD Logic $1.90
TU 6 1257-150 ??
BT7 9 251828-01 Gate Array 1541/1571 40Pin $5.00
251828-03 Gate Array 1541/1571 40Pin $6.00
SF2 8 251829-01 Gate Array 1541/1571 20Pin $5.00
B11 8 310654-03 DOS ROM 1571 ??
310654-05 DOS ROM 1571 ??
BT17 10 325302-01 DOS ROM 1541 $4.50
BT16 17 325302-01 DOS ROM 1541 $4.50
BX 1 325572-01 C= 1541 Logic Array $7.50
SF2 4 4116-25 D-RAM 16X1 $0.61
SF2 6 41256-120 D-RAM 256X1 $0.45
TU 17 41256-120 D-RAM 256X1 $0.45
SF2 8 41464-12 D-RAM 64X4 $1.57
TQ 16 41464-12 D-RAM 64X4 $1.57
SF5 12 4164-2 D-RAM 64X1 $0.68
BDT 153 4164-2 D-RAM 64X1 $0.68
TX 25 4256-120 D-RAM 64X1 $0.68
TY 7 4256-120 D-RAM 64X1 $0.68
TV 25 4256-120 D-RAM 64X1 $0.68
TS 23 4256-120 D-RAM 64X1 $0.68
TT 10 4464-15 D-RAM 64X4 $1.57
SF2 3 4464-15 D-RAM 64X4 $1.57
SF2 2 4N26 Optoisolator $0.27
TT 14 50464-15 D-RAM 64X4 ??
BT4 8 62256LP-12 S-RAM 32X8 $3.17
BT2 6 6264ALP-10 S-RAM 8X8 $2.63
TQ 8 6665-200 ??
SF4 4 74H04 STD Logic $1.00
SF5 1 74H20 ??
SF4 9 74H74 ??
SF1 7 74LS000 STD Logic $0.22
SF1 6 74LS000 STD Logic $0.22
SF3 5 74LS000 STD Logic $0.22
TA 12 74LS003 STD Logic $0.23
SF3 6 74LS004 STD Logic $0.21
SF1 7 74LS004 STD Logic $0.21
ST7 10 74LS004 STD Logic $0.21
SF1 1 74LS005 STD Logic $0.25
TN 7 74LS005 STD Logic $0.25
ST2 10 74LS006 STD Logic $0.48
SF3 10 74LS006 STD Logic $0.48
SF3 4 74LS008 STD Logic $0.21
TA 14 74LS009 STD Logic $0.25
SF3 2 74LS010 STD Logic $0.26
SF1 8 74LS010 STD Logic $0.26
SF1 13 74LS011 STD Logic $0.24
SF1 2 74LS020 STD Logic $0.27
TG 25 74LS021 STD Logic $0.18
TI 21 74LS021 STD Logic $0.18
SF1 5 74LS022 STD Logic $0.40
SF1 10 74LS027 STD Logic $0.16
SF1 10 74LS030 STD Logic $0.21
SF1 14 74LS032 STD Logic $0.23
SF1 9 74LS042 STD Logic $0.63
SF3 5 74LS042 STD Logic $0.63
SF1 11 74LS051 STD Logic $0.20
SF3 10 74LS074 STD Logic $0.20
SF3 5 74LS076 STD Logic $0.59
SF3 8 74LS085 STD Logic $0.33
SF3 4 74LS086 STD Logic $0.20
TH 16 74LS086 STD Logic $0.20
SF5 3 74LS123 STD Logic $0.21
SF1 12 74LS125 STD Logic $0.21
SF1 10 74LS125 STD Logic $0.21
SF1 8 74LS132 STD Logic $0.28
SF1 10 74LS138 STD Logic $0.30
SF3 3 74LS138 STD Logic $0.30
TO 4 74LS139 STD Logic $0.21
SF4 3 74LS139 STD Logic $0.21
SF1 1 74LS139 STD Logic $0.21
SF1 5 74LS145 STD Logic $0.40
SF1 10 74LS151 STD Logic $0.25
SF1 10 74LS153 STD Logic $0.32
SF1 1 74LS158 STD Logic $0.39
SF3 12 74LS163 STD Logic $0.25
TE 4 74LS173 STD Logic $0.58
SF1 10 74LS174 STD Logic $0.42
SF1 6 74LS175 STD Logic $0.34
TK 17 74LS193 STD Logic $0.43
SF3 11 74LS193 STD Logic $0.43
SF1 9 74LS194 STD Logic $0.63
TE 10 74LS195 STD Logic $0.70
SF3 6 74LS196 STD Logic $2.00
TF 17 74LS197 STD Logic $0.89
SF3 5 74LS197 STD Logic $0.89
SF1 9 74LS241 STD Logic $0.21
SF1 7 74LS244 STD Logic $0.31
SF3 5 74LS244 STD Logic $0.31
TF 9 74LS257 STD Logic $0.20
SF4 5 74LS257 STD Logic $0.20
ST9 9 74LS257 STD Logic $0.20
SF3 8 74LS258 STD Logic $0.56
ST1 12 74LS258 STD Logic $0.56
SF1 12 74LS259 STD Logic $0.31
SF1 5 74LS266 STD Logic $0.38
TN 19 74LS266 STD Logic $0.38
SF4 9 74LS373 STD Logic $0.62
TB 12 74LS373 STD Logic $0.62
SF1 1 74LS670 STD Logic $1.21
SF5 2 74S00 STD Logic $0.34
SF5 1 74S04 STD Logic $0.34
TW 25 74S08 STD Logic $0.12
SF5 12 74S08 Quad 2-Input $0.12
SF5 1 74S288 Prom 32X8 $7.23
SF5 2 74S86 STD Logic $0.61
12 82S100 C= PLA $8.00
BX 1 8563R9 C= 128 CRT CONT. $8.00
BX 5 8722R2 C= 128/MMU $5.00
BT15 51 901225-01 C= Char ROM $4.00
BT15 19 901226-01 C= Basic ROM $4.00
31 901227-02 C= Kernal ROM $5.00
901227-03 C= Kernal ROM $6.00
3 901229-05 C= 1541 $5.00
BX 1 901447-24 C= ROM 3.0 Graphic 2001 ??
SF5 11 901453-01 C= 2114 RAM $2.20
BX 2 901465-01 C= ROM 3.0 Pet 2001 ??
BX 5 901465-23 C= ROM 4.0 2001-9000 ??
BX 11 901474-03 C= ROM 4.1 8032/9000 ??
55 906107-01 C= 6510 MPU $5.50
75 906108-01 C= 6526 CIA $4.00
26 906109-04 C= 6567 VIC-R9 $6.50
906109-04 C= 6567 VIC-R5 $4.50
906109-04 C= 6567 VIC-R8 $5.50
906112-01 C= 6581 SID $17.00
BT14 10 906114-01 C= PLA $8.00
SF2 6 AM9016 ??
SF2 1 CA3146 ??
SF2 1 CD4013 Dual Flip-Flop $0.39
SF5 1 CD4044 Quad NAND $0.27
BT3 6 CN7107N ??
BT3 6 CN7108N ??
SF2 2 LM311N Voltage Comparator $0.47
SF2 3 LM311P Comparator $0.30
SF2 1 LM324N Op.amp $0.26
SF2 7 LM556 Dual Timer $0.45
SF5 1 LM741CN14 Op.amp $0.41
SF5 1 LM747 Op.amp $1.00
SF2 2 MC14044B Quad Latch $0.30
SF5 2 MC14066BCP XR Quad $0.27
SF5 1 MC1455P Ana Timing $0.18
SF2 3 MC1488 Quad Driver $0.30
SF5 1 MC3004 ??
SF5 1 MC3062 ??
TP 6 MC3446 ??
SF5 2 MC4044 Phase Detector $5.23
SF5 1 MCM2114 S-RAM 1X4 $2.20
SF5 1 MM2114 S-RAM 1X4 $2.20
SF5 1 NE521 ??
SF5 4 NE555P Precision Timer $0.33
SF2 6 NE556N Dual Precision Timer $0.33
SF2 2 NE558N Quad Timer $0.77
SF2 10 NE592 Monolithic Video $0.62
TO 16 NE592 Monolithic Video $0.62
SF5 1 PAL16L8 Octal 16-Input $1.29
SF2 2 Q2T2222 ??
BX 2 R65C22P2 ??
SF3 13 SN74LS273N STD Logic $0.68
SF1 10 SN74LS283N STD Logic $0.56
SF1 10 SN74LS365AN STD Logic $0.99
SF1 1 SN74LS367N STD Logic $0.45
TD 12 SN74LS374N STD Logic $0.69
SF3 6 SN74LS629 STD Logic $3.33
SF5 3 SN74S02 STD Logic $0.83
SF5 19 SN74S08N STD Logic $0.68
SF5 1 SN75150P Dual Line Driver $0.76
SF5 1 SN75154N Receiver $0.42
SF2 1 SN75161AN Octal Interface $1.60
SF2 2 SN75189AN Quad Receiver $0.25
1 TLC555 1.2 MHZ Timer $0.44
BT6 31 WD1772 ??

1.0A AGC Fuse 1 1?4 x 1?4 $0.10
1.0A GMA Fuse 5mm x 20mm $0.10
1.5A AGC Fuse 1 1?4 x 1?4 $0.10
1.5A GMA Fuse 5mm x 20mm $0.10
2.0A AGC Fuse 1 1?4 x 1?4 $0.10
2.0A GMA Fuse 5mm x 20mm $0.10
3.0A AGC Fuse 1 1?4 x 1?4 $0.10
3.0A GMA Fuse 5mm x 20mm $0.10
4.0A AGC Fuse 1 1?4 x 1?4 $0.10
5.0A AGC Fuse 1 1?4 x 1?4 $0.10
5.0A GMA Fuse 5mm x 20mm $0.10
10A AGC Fuse 1 1?4 x 1?4 $0.10

To see the Commodore/Amiga book list, prices, and contact information, go to

To see the VIC-20 software list, prices, and contact information, go to

Robert Bernardo
Fresno Commodore User Group

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VIC20 Final Expansion Cartridge

VIC20 The Final Expansion, a cartridge with 512KB SRAM, 512KB EEPROM, and a SD Card slot is now available for purchase. The Cartridge took several months to make, and features a new cart sports a built-in SD2IEC.

Full specifications

For more information and to purchase, go to and click on Final Expansion on the left of the page.
The Cartridge also has its own documentation page here:

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geoLink Version 1.00 Released

Version 1.00 of Geolink has been released

geoLink is a networked GEOS application for the Commodore 64 written by ShadowM using the ip65 network stack. The first prototype was shown at World of Commodore on 2009-12-05 (here is the presentation in PDF format), and contained only a simple chat client that talked to a Java-based server. A version including an IRC client instead was released on 2010-04-14. Future versions may include other features like file transfers and ....?

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Commodore User Willis Patten Passed Away

Many of you probably knew my father, Willis Patten.

He passed away Tuesday 20th April at 1:00 pm at Kindred Hospital in Louisville. There will be a small memorial service in Shelbyville Kentucky. No flowers please."

I interviewed Willis in Commodore Free issue 7 the PDF link is here
Amongst other things; Willis created the GEOS Publication. Below are reprinted the fist two questions from the interview

Q. Can you introduce yourself to our reader

I am 79 years young and a passion for Commodore beginning with a Vic-20 in 1984. I am married to a wonderful saintly lady (Phyllis) who, while not a Commodore user herself (uses an emachine) supports me and encourages me with my devotion to Commodore.

Q. Willis can you tell us about your magazine

My Journal is called GEOS Publication. Currently it has been a 16 page publication, the first 8 pages of which are devoted specifically to Commodore Computers and Commodore GEOS predominantly. The second 8 pages (maximum allowed by geos Publication) is a conglomeration of humour, Documentations on history, trivia, pee cees, cartoons, self-esteem, etc. One of my obstacles was I began getting further and further behind in keeping up with getting issues out on time due to various obstacles related to keeping my Commodore system operative. At one time my subscriptions were almost 200 strong, but currently has reduced to just under 50, which tends to be the story of many Commodore publications.

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Kantronics Hamtext cart

From the February 2010 Fresno Commodore User Group meeting. The Kantronics Hamtext cart for the Commodore VIC-20 is demonstrated. First, there is the WWII Morse key, then trying to use Morse code going through the Hamtext interface into the VIC-20 with Hamtext cart, then more looks at the menus.

Filmed by Bernardo

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The AmigaOne X1000 A-EON website goes live

The AmigaOne X1000 is not like other computers. It's based on a PowerPC CPU architecture, it includes Xena, a "Software Defined Silicon" co-processor, and above all it runs AmigaOS 4.

It is 25 years since the launch by US computer company Commodore of the Amiga A1000, a revolutionary machine that introduced multimedia and multi-tasking to the world. While AmigaOS has continued in development (making it possibly the longest developed and used desktop OS in the world) the hardware side has had a harder time of it since the demise of Amiga's old parent company, Commodore.

2010 is the year we come back. A-EON technology, in co-operation with a small group of mainly European companies, are creating a new high-end, prestige platform that will once more allow the Amiga Operating System to shine.

The X1000 ends the years of AmigaOS being relegated to a ghetto of outdated hardware - great as it was at the time, the world has moved on a long way since the days of Commodore. For the first time in many years, AmigaOS has a genuinely modern hardware platform.

AmigaOne X1000 specs:

Ports and connectors:

All specs are subject to change

I emailed the Company in the hope of some press information and maybe an interview, as yet I have received no email back .........................

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Commodore Free BASIC Programming Challenge

C64/VIC20/C16/+4 Version

By Paul Davis

Here are a few simple changes to the Asteroid Belt listing presented in issue 37. The extra code allows the game to run on either the C64, unexpanded VIC20, C16 or Plus/4 and will detect which machine it is running on. To make the game slightly more challenging, an extra feature has been added that will deplete the ship's fuel over time. Run out of fuel and its game over.

Only the lines that need to change are listed here. Load in the original program (or copy and paste it into an emulator) then add the following lines (owners of an unexpanded VIC20 will need to remove some of the old REM comment lines first to free up some memory):

10 a=0: b=a: c=a: i=a: s=a: f=40: a$=""

19 rem determine which machine this is running on
20 if peek(65532)=226 then m=64
21 if peek(65532)=34 then m=20
22 if peek(65532)=246 then m=16
29 rem variables for platform dependent memory locations
30 if m=64 then sc=1024:co=55296:wi=40:hg=25
31 if m=20 then sc=7680:co=38400:wi=22:hg=23
32 if m=16 then sc=3072:co=2048:wi=40:hg=25

90 gosub 420

100 fori=1 to hg-1:print:nexti

110 b=sc+wi*int(hg/2):c=int(wi/2):bs=sc+wi*(hg-1)

120 a=int(wi*rnd(1))

130 poke bs+a,46

140 if rnd(1)>.1 then p=int(rnd(1)*wi):poke p+bs,42

160 if a$="m" and c<wi then poke b+c,32:c=c+1

171 rem to make the game more challenging we will use up 1 unit
172 rem of fuel every time the screen scrolls
173 print:f=f-1
174 rem if we have run out of fuel, game over
175 if f=0 then r$="ran out of fuel":goto 310

180 if peek(b+c)=42 then r$="hit an asteroid":goto 310

320 print "sorry you"
325 print r$
330 print:print "you scored";s;"points"

400 if m=64 then for i=0 to 16:poke 53280,i:next i
401 if m=20 then for i=0 to 8:poke 36879,i:next i
402 if m=16 then for i=0 to 16:poke 65305,i:next i
405 s=s+10:f=f+10:return

419 rem clear screen to white on black
420 if m=64 then poke 53280,0:poke 53281,0
421 if m=20 then poke 36879,8
422 if m=16 then poke 65305,0:poke 65301,0
425 print chr$(5);chr$(147);:return

Explanation of the additional lines:

Line 10: adds the F variable to hold the current amount of fuel on board the ship.

Lines 20-22: determine which machine the program is running on by checking the 6502 reset vector at memory location 65532 (FFFC in hex). The end result is that the variable M is set to the value 64, 20 or 16 for C64, VIC20 or C16/Plus4 respectively.

Lines 30-32: set the value of a few constants depending on which machine is in use. SC is the start of screen memory, CO is the start of colour memory, WI and HG are the width and height of the screen. The values for the VIC20 are for an unexpanded machine only. If you have extra memory, the location of the screen and colour data will need to change.

Line 90: changed to call a subroutine to clear the screen.

Line 100: changed to use the HG (screen height) variable rather than the C64 specific value.

Line 110: changed to use the SC, WI and HG variables to calculate the on-screen positions rather than the C64 specific values. Also added the BS variable to hold the address of the bottom screen line.

Line 120,130,140,160: changed to use the WI and BS variables rather than the C64 specific values.

Line 173: scroll the screen and deplete the ship's fuel reserve.

Line 175: check if the fuel has run out. If it has, jump to the game-over section with the reason why the game ended in the R$ variable.

Line 180: changed to put the reason for ending the game in the R$ variable.

Lines 320-330: changed to print the reason why the game ended from the R$ variable. This allows the same section of code to be used, regardless of why the game is over.

Lines 400-405: changed to have a different effect depending on which machine is in use. The code that is the same for all machines is on line 405. Collecting a fuel pod increases the ship's fuel reserve by 10 units.

Lines 420-425: clear the screen to white on black using the correct video chip registers for each machine. The code common to all machines is on line 425.

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Commodore Free BASIC Programming Challenge

Adapted C16 Version

By John Fielden

Listing of: asteroid16.prg

30 DIMHI(15):DIMHI$(15)
40 HI(0)=90:HI$(0)="STAR MAN":HI(1)=50:HI$(1)="SUPER STAR"
50 HI(2)=40:HI$(2)="STAR MAN":HI(3)=30:HI$(3)="SUPER STAR"
60 F=100 :JF=0
70 A=0:B=A:C=A:I=A:S=A:F=40:A$=""
80 PRINTCHR$(147);:POKE65305,0:POKE65301,0:POKE1339,113
110 B=1504:C=20:M=16:SC=3072:CO=2048:WI=40:HG=25
120 B=SC+WI*INT(HG/2):C=INT(WI/2):BS=SC+WI*(HG-1)
130 A=INT(40*RND(1)):IFRND(0)<.333THENA=0
140 Z=INT(40*RND(1))
150 IFA>0THENPOKE4012+A,46 :REM *DOT*
160 IFRND(1)>.1THENP=INT(RND(1)*40):POKE4012+Z,42 :REM *STAR*
200 POKEB+C,32 :REM *[SPACE]*
210 PRINT:F=F-1:IFF<1THEN270
240 POKEB+C,22 :REM * V *
250 S=S+1
260 GOTO130
270 PRINTCHR$(147);
380 FORJ=0TO10
390 IF S> HI(J) AND J<10THEN420
410 GOTO500
430 INPUT"{down} ENTER NAME ";N$
440 N$=LEFT$(N$,15)
450 FORX=JTO12
460 DV=HI(X):DV$=HI$(X)
470 HI(X)=S:HI$(X)=N$
480 S=DV:N$=DV$
560 PRINT"{down}"
610 PRINTHI$(T);" ":PRINT"{up}{right}{right}{right}{right}{right}{right}{right}{right}{right}{right}{right}{right}{right}{right}{right}{right}{right}{right}{right}{right}{right}{right}";HI(T)
630 PRINT"{down} ANOTHER Y/N?"
650 IFA$<>"N"THEN60

10 & 20 Always good to mark where it came from, and what it is.

Though we're learning REM statements slow the program down. These won't as they only get read once, And aren't in any repeated use loops etc. So, the only question is the excess memory total they take up. Once you have the program in memory, type in this line:


After playing the game a few times, upon exit. I got the answer: 58602

This is free memory in bytes. It is Yape, the plus4 emulator. The c16 will have a smaller answer.

Type, followed by return key press.


then retype printfre(x) line, or go up to it. space out the answer beneath it and go to it, then press return key. The answer I get is 59110. As I have no ability in maths I typed.

?59110-58602 <return>

Gave the answer 508 followed by Ready.

Err, actually no! I didn't think two little REM statements would take up so much room. There are several more statements in the listing, though I did keep these to a minimum for sake of speed. While on the subject of speed and saving memory; I've already renumbered the program lines to increment by 1. and lost a grand total of 9 bytes! It seems the computer prefers to increment lines by 10.

3 HI controls the score, while HI$ is name that goes with it.

I put this into 15, so screen permitting, the high score table can go up to 14 (from 0). The remainder is for calculation purposes. Reducing these to 12 doesn't seem to alter the free memory space. And when I started adding the high score table, though I knew it took only three or four commands to sort. Which three were correct, and the right order was driving me up the wall. More on that later.

Suffice to say I used a makeshift complex system of two tables, adding the new high score, and copying it over before putting it back again from that point. Something still on file in case any-one is interested in a sort of 'long division' version of the sort technique.

4 & 5 I put these in for debugging purposes, and are all but completely unnecessary, apart from aesthetics quality. They give new pilots something EASY to aim at, at the start.

6 Nothing is in the c64 version yet. This is also added, as the game has been changed slightly. The reason for this line is because it is extremely good programming to always set the variables, and even constants at the start of the program, and obviously at the value they start at. For instance, it is no good thinking; this variable starts at 0 so I don't need to set it. ...

What if the program is modified later. A good point is the high score table, which allows the user to play another game. You can't just clear memory because you need the recorded scores in tact. JF determines whether an asteroid has been hit, or whether the pilot wasn't able to refuel in time. As now there are two ways to meet a demise.

7. You will know this from line 10 of the original c64 version. Added is F=40.

8. the chr$ code is the same. The POKEs have different register values. See orig. 90

9 ...has vanished. It took awhile, counting in values of 16 from the first grey point for POKE1339, 113 is the best white colour. Though things aren't always white in space. I had a chr$(5) for code white to overrule the prior grey. But now it isn't needed.

10 as line 100 of orig.

11 has changed somewhat since line 110 of orig. b and c are on the next line. (This makes them defunct on line 7. Neither is A needed as it is there on line 13. delete them, change the =A to =0. then check fre(x)...I got 59140 with increments of ten!)
12 & 13 & 14 A lot of complicated calculations, best left for a professor of mathematics, which I am not. But SC refers to the character set in POKE codes. It shouldn't be SC really as this is reserved for Scores usually. But it is part of a cheat sheet I was given, when my original attempt at converting the c64 code came back without drawing the ship, or referring to it at all. Just an endless scroll of asteroids and fuel dumps. So I've kept this as is.

15 p4012 is a place on screen, plus a determines where on that line the dot, i.e. "fuel dump" will go.

16 Put a star along the line. Not necessarily in a different place, but will take precedence over the dot if writing over it.

17 look for a key press, but continue on your way; reading the following lines. We can take the REM statement out as it says, the geta$ statement is better on its own, and the REM is counter productive to this end. Changed from the orig. line 150.

18 as rest of 150 in orig. move the ship left upon keypess "Z"

19 as orig. 160, except originally this was "M". I changed it to "X" so that it is easier to navigate with one hand. The other was dedicated to eating cola bottles throughout testing! (Ahh! that Quinine hit, yum!!!). moves ship to right on apt. key press. change if you wish.

20 put a space in last ship position. As orig. 170

21 line feed, as 175 :F is Fuel. As we go on our way, fuel is used. If ship runs out it becomes lost in space. Let’s change "Super Star" at line 3 to "Will Robinson", and while we're at it line 5 to "Captain Kirk" or vice-versa. Aye commander, sir!

EDITOR Hmmmm that Quinine hit is having strange effects on you

22 Hit an asteroid, again goto27 to end game. "It's worse than that he's dead Jim!"- orig. 180

23 more fuel. As orig. 190

24 place ship. As 195. Another REM can be edited out.

25 Increase score as much as fuel decreases. 1 per "scroll".

26 As orig. line 300. All the scroll did was push the characters printed one line up, though the ship is cleverly replaced, so it doesn't scroll up, but appears to stay where it is. (though it would be more convincing if we could remove the flashing on and off all the time.) We go back for a new value of A. And start the whole process again from there.

27 to 33 self explanatory Print statements,

34 Any extra key presses after the crash became nullified with this statement, while the user is given chance to take in what has just happened.

35 A subroutine, adding 10 units of fuel, upon hitting a dot.

36 Only necessary while you familiarise yourself with program. Then you may delete this line, renumber1,1,1 and see if it runs faster.

37 Add a line.

38 start a new count

39 if pilots score is greater than the one on the hi-table, at the point of where we are, and within range of shown table THEN leave this count.

40 if not, see if next one is.

41 if we haven't skipped this line, it means we're not good enough this score to go on the elite table. So skip to the screen print of the pre-existing table.

42 inform user, your in!

43 get their name

44 make sure it isn't a ridiculous length that won't fit and throw the whole thing up in the air.

45 continue last count from where it left off

46 make dummy variable for currently positioned table score

47 put new score in table at this same position.

48 place Dummy Variable as though it were score, ready to be put in at the next increment.

49 increment by 1. i.e. add 1 to x, and go back to 45 to pass through loop again.

50 actual table screen print, title.

51 to 53 as it says, acknowledgements.

54 skip a line

55 spaces in relevant place haven't been listed. (11)

56 could blank this line, and put cursor down in next line for same effect.

57 more spaces missed. After NAME (17)

58 miss a line for aesthetics.

59 start a new count, print the count as placement, adding 1 because who was ever the nought best at anything? That's why I like computers, their in a world of their own! The semi colon ";" (or "dot uh, comma!" as Dad would call it constantly when we typed in Star Trader from Melbourne House' Games Book, tells the computer to keep the cursor there, on that line.

60 If score at current count hasn't been occupied then advertise this excellent magazine!

61 put the score in the appropriate place on the same line as current count.

62 get info. For next count.

63 wait for next challenge, end if told no.

64 wait for key to be pressed.

65 if not N, assume another game is requested. if it is No, game comes to natural END, without need for statement because there is no sub routine (yet) following it.

NOTE: I've included listing with increments of 10, so you can easily alter the program accordingly, and perhaps make your own changes. The conversion is easy, put a 0 on the end of each line number so 1 becomes 10 etc

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Interview With

By Commodore Free

Q - Please introduce yourselves to our readers

Hi Nigel. We are The project itself consists of Markus and myself. Markus writes all the lyrics and works on the background concept, and I compose and produce the music and sing the vocals. We are both from Vienna, Austria, and R.E.T.R.O is our fourth album.

Q - Can you explain to our readers what sort of music you produce?

Our first three albums were quite different from R.E.T.R.O. They have a kind of science fiction story behind them, which actually connects all of the albums, and is told in the lyrics and additional text in each CD booklet. We try to interweave the emotions that we want to convey with the music itself, with this additional background, where characters in the world of experience something that evokes certain feelings in them. A lot of this is meant as a metaphor for aspects of the real world. We really like this duality -- pure emotions evoked through music, and an additional science fiction background. The name itself is a metaphor for not truly being free in your mind, not being able to do what your heart desires to do.

Musically, people often say that we are doing technopop or maybe futurepop, but we are not big fans of genre classifications. Our music is definitely quite electronic, which of course is even more pronounced on R.E.T.R.O. Our latest album is a homage to the golden times of home computer and video games music, especially the Commodore 64 and its SID chip, as well as the amazing composers of those times. We wanted to transform some of our most favourite tunes into the present, releasing this "special" album as a tribute to some of our C64 heroes.

Q - What makes you unique?

It's hard to say that about ourselves, but a lot of people have said, or written in the past that we have a very unique sound, which at the same time has a lot of variety, for example very different vocal styles, but that also always has a recognizable signature sound that people often recognize instantly.

We are probably also one of just a few bands who try to integrate a larger story background of some kind into their albums, especially where not only each album is a kind of concept by itself, but several albums are connected together and you can always look forward to the next album from a story perspective as well as the music.

Q - So do you use retro machines in all your music?

I used to do that, but not anymore. Markus even designed a SID soundcard for PCs at school many years ago, together with a colleague (Mr. SID, who is well known in the SID music scene). We thought about using it in our own music, but nowadays we like to work as integrated and easy as possible, instead of integrating too many different devices that tend to make everything too complicated.

The sound card also needed an ISA slot, which you cannot find anymore in PCs that you can buy today.

Q - do you feel emulation or the real hardware is better,

In general I think real hardware is always better. Not so much because of the sound, but I think the main goal is that you have something in your hands that you can actually touch and turn some knobs and switches; physically play around with, and of course that you can also throw at the floor :) I'm joking! But I really think it is always better when you can directly control the sound, without fiddling with a mouse. When you compare the real SID chip to emulations, it is more difficult because without a physical user interface to begin with, the only thing you can compare is the sound, where it used to be that real hardware always sounded better but today it's really hard to hear much difference.

Q - can you list the hardware you would use to create a " usual Mind in a box" song

My main Synthesizers are the Roland JV880, JP8080, Waldorf Pulse, MicrowaveXT, and a Korg Wavestation SR.

Q - what hardware did you use to produce the Album-R.E.T.R.O

In general the same items that are listed above. For the SID sounds I have also used the Quadrasid Plugin.

Q - Do you use any real Commodore equipment in your composing/writing?

Nowadays no, sorry :) I think it would be too difficult to include in my music setup. From that perspective, I can only work when I can be as efficient and seamless as possible. For me the production setup is very important, and I still try to make it better all the time. If something isn't working I throw it away... like an Access Virus TI, for example, which had so many amazing bugs that I never could never get it to work properly even after numerous firmware updates.

Q - Do you still own any old Commodores?

No, but Markus has all of them :)

I only have a few, but I kept all my equipment I had in the eighties, and got some additional stuff over the years since then. I still like to put them up from time to time and play around for a while. There is nothing better than playing a few rounds of Winter Games on a real C64.

Q - I presume you are retro gamers?

I buy and play; or I should say look at, a lot of games, and download retro games. And the new game console retro download venues like the Wii Virtual Console will make me poor one day ;) I love retro gamer magazines, I was really happy when more of those started to be produced.

Q - obviously this is a Commodore dedicated magazine, however some readers are fond of other machines to have you any machine related memories to share with our readers

I remember times when I read the German game magazine ASM almost from cover to cover, which covered all the major games machines like the Spectrum and CPC in addition to Commodore computers, and later I always wanted to get an Acorn Archimedes. But actually, I never got any of those myself. Nowadays I'm a big fine of game consoles, and a big part of that is downloadable retro content. The Virtual Console is great, although did I mention that it is really outrageously expensive? ;)

Q - How did your music end up on the soundtrack of the Xbox games?

Someone from the studio who developed the games asked our label to include some of our tracks. It was a real pleasure for us, because we spent a lot of time in our past making music for computer games. Maybe a major part of our childhood :)

Q - What do you feel was unique about the SID chip and its sound?

Maybe most of all it’s the analogue filters, which were very unusual for that time. The sound from this chip really had something magic, and I think there were just no computers out there at that time that could even remotely compare. It was a true masterpiece of chip design.

Q - Have you been keeping track of the C64 remix scene?

Yes, sometimes I'm listening to remixes on or the great online radio I enjoy listening to this kind of music a lot. Sometimes I listen to the original SID files, until someone around me says that I should turn off this shit... but i love this shit :)

Q - Have you been inspired by any of the famous C64 composers?

Of course! I think the musicians from this area were my first electronical music heroes. They were incredible. Rob Hubbard, Reyn Ouwehand, Chris Hülsbeck, and so on... they were incredible. Of course you can notice a certain correlation to the artists whose songs we selected for R.E.T.R.O.

Q - What were your favourite C64 games?

Maybe you can see it when you take a look at the track list of R.E.T.R.O. I think it was the Last Ninja series. :)

Did I mention Winter Games? Yeah, the Last Ninja games were terrific. For me, there are two periods you could say. When Winter Games came out, I was just a kid, and so this is pure nostalgia for me. Starting with the first Last Ninja, I was at least feeling much older :)

Q - What apart from the SID chip was special about the Commodore 64

Everything... ! it was such an incredibly great machine. It was like an old car which you could tune/modify easily. Put a reset button into it, make the load times shorter with FastDOS / DolphinDOS. Lots of people left the floppy drive case open. Sometimes you loaded something that had a disk read error and when you put your fingers on the drive head you could make it continue! I think this computer was one of the last ones where DIY guys could get by with easy tricks. Today, if you have a computer problem you can update your drivers, software etc. but the connection to the computer and its problems is just not there. Everything is much more complicated today.

The photos in the booklet of R.E.T.R.O, where you can see a C64c with lots of additional buttons, LEDs, etc., this is my old C64 that I modified as a kid, including putting in a second SID for stereo sound. The ease with which you could something like that was amazing. I even did this crazy potentiometer that's sticking out at the
back, where you could reduce the clock frequency smoothly from just below 1Mhz to zero while it was on. Or the LEDs on top, they light up when different memory banks are accessed. Ha, great :) It was a machine where you could have the feeling that you really understand the hardware down to the smallest detail, read ROM listings and know every bit of every register. That's a feeling I really miss in today's computers.

Special album, a tribute to the old Commodore 64 days.

Release date: 2010-02-26
Tracks: 11
Total play time: 00:53:45

Germany InfraRot
Germany Poponaut
Germany Indietective
Germany Dependent
Spain, France fnac
Sweden Hotstuff
Switzerland ex libris
United Kingdom MusicNonStop Has MP3 Previews of the tracks
Russia Popmarket
Russia Plegion
USA Metropolis Mailorder
Canada Storming The Base
Net iTunes

01. Last Ninja 3
02. Lightforce
03. The Last V8
04. Supremacy
05. Shades
06. 8 Bits
07. Mindkiller
08. The Last Ninja
09. I Love 64
10. We Cannot Go Back to the Past
11. Whatever Mattered

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PRG Starter

Using the VICE emulator? Ever got lost in the jungle of PRG files?
Well, here is a little helper for you!

I wished hard enough and someone somewhere in the murk depths of programming answered my wish. He then took my wish enhanced it way beyond my expectations and released a piece of software he named the software PRG STARTER. The software was so good and easy to use it made me wonder why I hadn’t wished for it before; or was it that I wasn’t wishing in the right places or wishing for the right things to appear. So what am I wishing for and what does it do.

This software is for emulator users; specifically (at this time) users of the Vice Emulator package What the software does is to analyse a Commodore file; be that a PRG or a D64 tape etc and start the relevant executable of Vice for that particular piece of software. (its like magic has occurred)

So why it this useful.

Well here is one scenario:

Suppose you have some d64 images but don’t know what machine they are for, they were filed away in the pit that is “your Computer disk” downloaded because they were deemed useful but have long been forgotten, were they for the VIC, the Commodore 64 or the plus4/16?

So do you

  1. Load each one into each version of the emulator and hope it will run? Time consuming
  2. Forget about them and delete them then download them all over again?
  3. Run this piece of software and wonder how you managed before.

Maybe before this software appeared you would have thought about options 1 and 2. Now it just option 3.

Here is what the website says

Do you recognize this:

"Wait, was this PRG file for the C64 or Vic-20? Or was it for the unexpanded Vic-20 or for one with 8K or was it a cartridge file"?

Imagine just double clicking a PRG, D64 or P00 file, and the file will be loaded into the correct emulator and with the correct settings. This is exactly what PRG Starter does! It makes VICE so easy to use that even you mother could do it! ;-)

How does it work

The software analyses each file and starts the relevant configuration and emulator executable,


Go to here and download the EXE file, the software needs the .NET framework installed this is a free download from Microsoft available from here

Save the EXE form PRG starter on you machine where you wish to run it from, I saved this with my vice emulator on my c:\ in a folder called commodore files drive

Click SETUP and find the VICE executable, ANY will do I selected C64

Then you are prompted to select file to associate with the application

Ok that’s it close the App and you’re ready to go

Double clicking now on any of the assigned file types starts PRG starter

And runs VICE emulator

Something wrong

If something doesn’t look right and the software doesn’t detect the file or you want to alter something clicking on CHANGE gives a new option where you can configure some of the settings

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PRG Starter Tricks And Tips

Alternative starting methods

Instead of double clicking files associated to PRG Starter, you can drag and drop files on PRG Starter's program icon. So if you have a file that you know is a PRG file but without the .prg extension, and if you don't want to rename it; Then you can just drag and drop the file on PRG Starter's program icon to start it. So you could make a shortcut to PRG Starter on your desktop just for that purpose if you like.

You can use PRG Starter from the command line as well. For example: PRG_Starter.exe "the demodisk.d64"

Changing the starting address of files

It's possible to change the starting address of programs that have a $XX01 starting address. (All normal program ram spaces ends with $01). If this is the case, a "Change" button will appear. So if it's obvious that's the wrong emulator is used for a file, you can change it to the right one. Some programs do have the wrong starting address if for example someone have loaded and saved a program with a computer that it wasn't made for. In the change address dialog, some choices will be shadowed and unavailable when it's not possible or unwise to save as those types.

The change button even works on files inside disk images.

Dual cartridge images on Vic-20

Some cartridge images on Vic-20 are in two parts that go to different memory addresses. They are normally named something like SpaceMan_6000.prg and SpaceMan_A000.prg. To start these, do like this:

Global Overrides

You can force a file to be opened with any emulator by renaming the file and putting any of the following keywords in the filename:

(c64), (c128), (plus4), (pet), (cbm2),
(vic_all) = Vic20 with ram in all memory blocks,
(vic_none) = Unexpanded Vic20,
(vic_3k) = Vic20 with 3k expansion,
(Vic) = Vic-20 with automatic memory configuration.

Only use the overrides when you find a file that doesn't open with the right emulator and when the Change button doesn't appear or help. This is mostly useful for files with strange starting addresses, for example auto starting files.

Additional VICE options

You can put additional VICE options inside {}-brackets in the filename to add these options to VICE. This is useful in case a file needs special features in VICE that you normally don't have in your VICE settings. Many demo disks need true drive emulation for example, for which you can add {-truedrive} in the filename.
For example: bible1{-truedrive}.d81 You can find options to use here.

The popup window

A counting down message is shown in the pop up window. To prevent the window from closing, click on the message. The counting down will also stop if you press any of the buttons.

Config file

The config file (that just contains the VICE path) is located in your Documents folder and is named "PRGStarter".


If the file association setup fails for a file type, then try to do it manually:

Vista/7: In the Windows Control Panel
-> Default programs
-> Associate a file type...

Windows XP: In the Folder Options.

If that doesn't work either, then start REGEDIT and delete the extension key in question under HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\FileExts\ and then run the PRG Starter setup again.

Bug Reports

The vast majority of files are identified correctly, but NOT all files. That is just impossible because of the limited information PRG files contain. That is why I have provided the override filename tags. However, if you find PRG Starter to misbehave, you are very welcome to send me a bug report. (Use the email address displayed in the PRG Starter popup window). But please first try to autostart the file in the correct VICE emulator yourself with "File->Autostart Disk/Tape image". If that isn't possible, then how would PRG Starter be able to do it?


V1.4.3 - 18/4 2010 (Minor update)
* The routine that detects machine language access of the TED chip (Plus/4) was fine-tuned.

V1.4.2 - 17/4 2010 (Minor update)
* Added support for Commodore 64 .crt files.

V1.4.1 - 15/4 2010 (Minor update)
* Added support to display Vic-20 Minipaint pictures.
* Added support for .D41 files (Which is the same thing as D64)

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Interview With Anders Persson

Creator of PRG Starter

Q. Please introduce yourself to our readers

Hello! My name is Anders Persson and I'm 37 years old. I'm living in Sweden with my fiancé and a dog. Commodore 8 bit computers is one of my hobbies. I have four Vic-20s, one C64, three Plus/4s, two C128s and one C128D.

Q. What do you do for a day job?

I have no day job except for a small part time job as a webmaster for two web sites.

Q. Can you tell our readers a little about your computing history

My brother bought a Commodore Vic-20 in 1982. Later when my friends bought computers like C64 and C128, I bought my brother's Vic-20 this was in 1987. After a year I got a C64 too. Then after some years I bought an Amiga 500. I upgraded to an Amiga 1200 with a hard drive when it first came out. I didn't get a PC until 1999. When it died after a couple of years, I went back to the Amiga for a while and then back to Windows. Today, I'm using Windows Vista. And I actually like it!

I started programming the first day I bought my Vic-20. On the Amiga, some might recall my programs "Selector" and "BorayLetter". Selector was even on the front cover of the Amiga Format magazine once:

I also made a lot of Protracker mods with the Amiga. They are available on Aminet under mods/boray

Q. Yes you are indeed very musical you have a website selling mp3 albums - - can you tell our readers a little about your musical developments, also how successful have the albums been.

I have always made music. I have made over 300 tunes. I compose and record here at home. I play guitars, keyboard, bass and drums. Now a days I record and mix on the PC. Before that, I recorded on a stand alone digital recording workstation synced to my Amiga1200.

When I started selling CDs in 1998, it was fairly easy to sell. But today, even though my music is much better, people just expect music to be free!

Q. Although the information is printed elsewhere in this issue of Commodore Free please can you explain "PRG Starter"

It's a little helper for the VICE emulator. The various files used by emulators (prg, d64, d81, t64, p00 etc) are all used by all of the emulators in the VICE package (and other emulators as well of course)... So, for any prg file or d64 etc, you had to keep track of which emulator they go to and what settings they require. The Vic-20 was especially troublesome as different files require different ram settings. Now, with PRG Starter, you don't have to bother with this at all. You just double click a file and it auto starts in the right emulator.

Q. Could the software be adapted to other emulators other than VICE

First I thought of having some sort of settings screen where you could adjust all the different start commands and options. But I decided that it would be just too many options and that it would be better to keep it simple. Another thought I had was to have an option for using YAPE instead of VICE xplus4 as I know that YAPE is a popular emulator among Plus/4 users. That is more likely to happen, but for now, I'm happy with it being just a VICE helper.

Q. Has the software been tested successfully under Mac OS and Linux

It has been tested successfully on Linux (Fedora 12 x86_64). You need the right Mono packages installed. It has not been tested on Mac (as far as I know). The "Setup" button will not appear if you don't run it on Windows, so you have to attach the file types etc yourself.

Q. What was the inspiration for the project and How did you start to code the software, for example: you have some PRG files and d64 images how do you start writing a piece of software

In year 2004 I wrote a program called "PRG Info" for the Amiga. It was one of the help tools in a package I called "vic-emu-tools". PRG Info was made to analyze a PRG file, provide information on how to run it on a real computer and on vic-emu for the Amiga. The package also contained a script called "vicstart" that used PRG Info to start cartridge files in vic-emu. So, I had the basic idea to PRG Starter 6 years ago already.

Later, in 2007, I think I asked a fellow Vic-20 user "Björg Stojalowski" to make a PC version of PRG Info, or if he asked me. Anyway, I shared my source code with him, and he made a PC version. It's available here:

In 2009 (I think), I posted a suggestion to the VICE team, to make a better auto start feature in XVIC as that is the machine that is most difficult to set up. New users on the Vic-20 Denial forum almost always ask how to run different files. I suggested to the VICE team that they could use the same kind of detection used in "PRG Info" in XVIC and I attached the source of my Amiga version. I didn't get any answer.

In the start of 2010, I had not programmed on Windows since 2000 (when I worked as a C++ programmer). I had been programming some Vic-20 stuff since then, but not anything for a modern computer. But now I suddenly felt like taking it up again. I found (to my big surprise) that there was a completely free version of Visual Basic 2008 available from Microsoft. I think it's a very nice programming environment (and it's about 1-2 million times faster than basic on a Vic-20!). First, I made a Windows version of another old Amiga program of mine called "SimMail". After that I started on a new version of "PRG Info" that would take one step further and not only tell how to run a file, it should actually start it. So "PRG Starter" was the logical name. I based it on the Amiga version. There probably still exists code segments in there from the Amiga version.

As soon as I released the first version, another fellow Vic-user "Robert Hurst" asked for a Linux version. As I didn't know about the Mono project by then (that let's you run .NET applications on Linux), I let him make his own Linux version from scratch after looking at my source code. He made some additions, for example .P00 support. That inspired me to do the same thing. Since my first release (that only supported PRG files), I have added support for .P00, .P01, .P02 etc, .D64, .D41, .D71, .D81, .T64 and .CRT. And I have added other various enhancements as well.

Q. How Does the software pickup what machine the files are for

The first two bytes of a PRG file is the 16-bit loading address of the file. This is the address from which the file was saved. If you load the file ,8,1 then the file will be loaded into this address. If you load it just ,8 then it will be loaded to the standard program address. (VICE always loads ,8,1 when autostarting). The different Commodores have different standard start addresses for their basic memory. Vic-20 even has different addresses for different memory configurations. So has the C128 and Plus/4 when using basic graphics. There are other standard addresses, for example for various Vic-20 cartridge files.

So the starting address and file size is of big use when analyzing what computer the file belongs to. But for some machines it's not as easy as that. The unexpanded Vic-20 and the Plus/4 share the same starting address and so does the PET and the Vic-20 equipped with a 3K expansion. So there needs to be some analyzing. Here is a description of the routine telling the unexpanded Vic-20 apart from the Plus/4:

If the file is too big for an unexpanded Vic-20, then it's for a Plus/4. If it's small enough, then the basic code is scanned for Basic V3.5 commands and for any colour codes 8-15 in strings. If any are found, then it's a Plus/4 program. Then, it's scanned for basic access of the ted chip and for a certain use of screen pokes. If found, it's a Plus/4 program. After this and if there is just basic and no machine language in the program, then it's regarded as a Vic program. If the file contains machine language, then it's scanned for access of the VIC and TED chips and every access adds to a machine score. The highest scorer will win and if the score is a draw, then the Vic-20 will win.

Q. How accurate can the software be when deciding what configuration to run

Well, let's just say it's not 100% accurate, but I think it's accurate enough. I occasionally find programs ending up in the wrong emulator. There are two different reasons:

1. Someone has for example; used a C128 (in C128 mode) to copy and save a C64 program. Then the program will be identified as a C128-program. For this reason I have provided a "Change" button where you easily can save the correct starting address into the file. It works even with D64 files etc. Note that files containing the wrong starting address wouldn't be possible to auto start in VICE without PRG Starter either, but PRG Starter offers an easy way of fixing this.

2. The second reason is if the analyzing fails. This is most common on more obscure files saved from strange memory addresses. It can also happen occasionally that the Vic/Plus4 or Vic/Pet analyze fails. Anyway, for this I have added global overrides. You just rename the file and put one of the override tags in there, for example (Vic) or (Plus4). So, in this way, you can actually get 100% of your programs to end up in the right emulator.

Q. Do you have any Further plans, for example a recent update added MINIpaint screens can be viewed with the software; And Do you feel apart from minor updates and bolt-ons that the software is complete, I suppose you could continually add things like a GEOS File viewer for paint and document files and a converter to convert Geos written files to ASCII text or RTF, kolapad viewer etc where do you stop

Well, I have no immediate plans for PRG Starter, but I didn't have after releasing V1.0 either. If new ideas or good suggestions pop up, then there most likely will be a next version. On the other hand, it's more likely that there are less ideas left by now ;-)

Q. What has the feedback on the project been like and This may be an odd question but have you had much negative feed back about the software?

I have mostly got positive feedback. How about "one of the most useful tools in Vic emulation". Or... Here is my favourite: "This program has quickly become an essential part of my Commodore emulation experience. It's like all genius things - this should've been made a long time ago and it's a really simple idea but it took a genius to think of it and implement it!"

I have also got some feedback about files not working etc. That is valued feedback but most of it was actually because of faulty prg files that wasn't possible to auto start in VICE without PRG Starter either.

I don't think I've got any feedback that has been mainly negative from anyone who has tried the program.

Q. I notice as a nice touch when a file is run PRG Starter will display start and end memory address in both HEX and Decimal and the size of the file in bytes, is this for a reason or was it just a detail you added.

As I've described earlier, these figures are essential for what the file will be identified as.

Q. Do you have any other software projects planned for use with Commodore machines

No. Occasionally I write some programs for the Vic-20, which can be found here:

Q. Do you have a question you wished I had asked

No, I think you covered most of it.

Q. If you could make 1 change in the world to anything what would it be

Adam and Eve shouldn't have eaten those fruits! ;-)


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