Issue 60
Free to download magazine dedicated to Commodore computers
Available as PDF, ePUB, MOBI, HTML,
TXT, SEQ and D64 disk image

Nigel Parker
Spell Checking
Peter Badrick
Text, HTML & eBook Conversion
Paul Davis
D64 Disk Image
Al Jackson
PDF Design
Nigel Parker
Email Address
Articles are always wanted for the magazine. Contact us for details. We can’t pay you for your efforts but you are safe in the knowledge that you have passed on details that will interest other Commodore enthusiasts.
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Copyright © 2012 Commodore Free Magazine
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Hi and welcome to another late edition of Commodore Free magazine, thrown together in much haste and with very little skill involved

Especially welcome this issue are the new readers who recently contacted me, (they wished to be anonymous) hopefully the magazine is catering to your needs and you said you enjoyed reading the articles and are busily back tracking through the old issues in true retro style. Or is that a retro style-e

Help me if you can ........

I haven’t received much in the way of a response to the “cry for help” I issued, where I said I needed reviewers and information on the Commodore 264 series of machines (these are the Commodore 16 and plus 4 and C116 machines). If you are a user of these machines and feel passionate enough to write something for others to read please get in touch as I would like to put together a “264 Special issue”.

Pick me up before you go go

I have recently become fascinated with the TV programme “American Pickers”, if you haven’t seen it yet I would suggest you look out for it. These guys hunt through “collectors some may call them obsessive hoarders but I suspect all commodore users are guilty of this, I know I am, heck I cant even open the door on my “computer room” because as my wife says its full of JUNK)” homes trying to find old items to sell on and therefore try to make a profit. Although picking isn’t something new, the fact we can now follow 2 guys around (albeit by watching a TV show) and see some of these eccentric collections I find fascinating. If you are wondering what I think all the fuss is about then head over to the History channel and click on videos I know it works in the Uk and America but am not sure if you can view these videos in other parts of the world though, maybe using a Uk proxy server may assist you. The items uncovered are things like 100 year old bikes, farming implements, motoring items.

Other series of note for me are Pawn stars, as in pawning an item to get funds, and American restorations where they take old items and make them look like new, (although I am not to sure about making every old item look new, to me some items are better rusty and old looking) but the skill involved is well worth watching. Nothing to do with Commodore but on Pawn stars they did get an old Apple II computer to pawn in and they Pawned it for $100 the girl really wanted $300. Anyways let’s look what’s in this issue

I also like “storage wars” were people bid on old storage units (the owners can’t be found) very exciting.
Errm ok then what’s in the issue................

In this issue then

We have more news, and a review of WYVERN THE GAME, we continue our CP/M and Assembler tutorials I haven’t had any feedback on these, so I presume everyone is following along and digesting the information. Finally Commodore man tells us how to Finding the Start and Endpoint of a Program

Thanks for reading and comments as well as submissions are always welcome


Nigel (acting Editor Commodore Free)


DMS 64 Released

DMS 64, creates images of Commodore 64 disks and can split the image into multiple files. Copyright Donncha O Caoimh,

Version 1.0 originally written in 1994 but was fixed and spread online in Feb 2012:

To create a disk image with DMSREADER. You'll need 2 blank disks or 2 D64 files to write to. Multiple files with the extension .DMS will be created.

Recreate the original disk by using DMSWRITER.

C64 Studio 2.1 Released

C64 Studio is a .NET based IDE written by Georg Rottensteiner

This app supports project based C64 assembly or Basic V2. The internal assembler is using the ACME syntax.

In connection with Vice the IDE allows you to debug through your code and watch variables/memory locations, registers and memory. Any other emulator can be set up as well if it's start able via runtime arguments.

C64 Studio allows you to compile to raw binary, .prg, .t64, .d64 or cartridge format (.bin and .crt for 8k and 16k)

Additionally to this C64 Studio comes with a charset, sprite and media editor.

It features for now:

Get it here:

MorphOS: OpenOffice Document Viewer Version 0.0.5

OpenOffice Viewer displays text and graphics in OpenDocument format, which is used for instance by OpenOffice. Changes in version 0.0.5:

Download: OpenOfficeViewer_0.0.5.lha (10.2 MB)

Hollywood 5: Infinity Out Now!

After two years of development, Airsoft Software is proud to announce the immediate availability of Hollywood 5: Infinity for AmigaOS and compatibles and Microsoft Windows. This is a massive update which boasts over 120 new functions in comparison to Hollywood 4.8 and brings along many new features and general improvements. Highlights include the ability to play video streams, full Internet and network support (you could even run a server with Hollywood now!), support for real vector graphics and vector image formats like SVG, hardware accelerated double-buffering, inbuilt synthesizer functions and much much more.

Hollywood 5: Infinity is undoubtedly the most advanced Amiga multimedia application and on Windows, it is a fresh Indie alternative to bloated authoring systems that need tons of DLLs, memory, and hard-drive space. Hollywood is highly stable, extremely easy to use and flexible, and used by many creative people around the globe. A totally unique feature is the ability to cross-compile native executables for many different platforms including: AmigaOS3, AmigaOS4, WarpOS, MorphOS, AROS (x86), Windows (x86 & PPC), and Linux (x86 & PPC).

Here is a non-exhaustive list of new features in Hollywood 5:

Hollywood 5: Infinity is the ultimate Multimedia experience and a must-have for all creative people. Hollywood is available on a CD-ROM and as a download version for AmigaOS compatible systems and for Microsoft Windows. The CD-ROM version is delivered in a nice Digipak (see photo). If you order the download version, you will have to download an ISO image which you need to burn on CD-R then. If you already own Hollywood, you can buy a discounted upgrade version. Customers, who have bought Hollywood 4.8 after January 1st, 2012, can apply for a free upgrade. Screenshots of Hollywood 5 are available on the Airsoft Software homepage.

Hollywood is the ultimate bridge between all the different AmigaOS compatible platforms and the other three modern desktop systems, Windows, Mac OS, and Linux! With Hollywood, you can save programs for all those platforms. You do not have to own AmigaOS4 or AROS, you can save programs for these platforms also from your AmigaOS3 installation! You do not need to have Mac OS X, you can still compile your programs for it using your AmigaOS or MorphOS installation. Only Hollywood makes it possible. If you want to learn more about Hollywood, please visit the official Hollywood portal at which also has a forum for all questions concerning Hollywood or the Airsoft Software homepage

All this makes Hollywood The Cross-Platform Multimedia Application Layer. Join the Multimedia revolution and get your personal copy of Hollywood 5: Infinity now!

Old-School Hacker Movie Needs Your Help

It’s not every day someone asks you for your old Commodore 64 to help recreate 1980s Melbourne for a period piece on hackers. Yet, that’s exactly what the makers of Underground, a direct-to-TV movie currently in the works for Channel Ten, are doing. So, have you got any aging hardware you’re willing to part with?

New Timberwolf release for AMIGA OS

The Timberwolf team is proud to announce the immediate availability of the first beta version of Timberwolf 4.0.1. Timberwolf is an AmigaOS web browser based on Firefox/Mozilla technology. This technology is more than just a browser, it is an enabling technology, bringing powerful tools such as html5, WebM, JavaScript, XUL, and more to AmigaOS 4.x. These are the building blocks for other applications as well, such as the email client "Thunderbird" or the media centre "Songbird".

This first beta release includes almost the full functionality of the browser, allowing style-sheet enabled web browsing, secure connections, use of Firefox® add-on and more.

Of course, being a beta, there are some limitations, such as missing support for printing, sound, WebGL, and drag & drop. Most importantly, no support for hardware accelerated rendering is implemented yet. We are working on getting all those features implemented over time. Current focus is on stability and completeness.

Minimum Requirements:

AmigaOS 4.1 (Update 4) is required to run this version of Timberwolf.

Universal C64 Cartridge

A C64 cartridge with USB connection for uploading CRT files from a PC and for fast turnaround time when developing assembler programs for the C64 on a PC. The board contains a MC9S08 microcontroller, a 128 Kbyte SRAM and a CPLD, which can be programmed to emulate many cartridge types. With a different firmware it can be used in standalone mode, without a C64, for other applications as well, like a logic analyzer or a motor controller.


Audio Evolution 4 Now Freeware

News from DaveAE

The full version of the audio hard disk recording software Audio Evolution 4 for OS4 has been uploaded to OS4depot! The source code and AROS/MorphOS versions will follow later.

I hereby wish to thank all customers who have purchased AE4 (for any of the above platforms) in the past.

All the best,


For successors of Audio Evolution on other platforms (Android, Windows, OSX), please visit the link below.

New CodeAudio release by OnyxSoft for classic AmigaOS

OnyxSoft releases an update of CodeAudio!

CodeAudio v3.10 - (68k)

Full-featured GUI for audio encoders (MP3/OGG/FLAC/AAC/A8) with a wizard and CD, CDDB/FreeDB support.

NewsTek Roars Back to Life in 2012 with Episode #12

Information from NEWSTEK

NewsTek Roars back in 2012 with a brand new episode. Rich and I are changing it up for this episode. I lined up an interview with Allen Wolf, writer and producer of the hit film “In My Sleep”. We do an in depth interview with Allen and learn his process in writing and producing this psychological sleep thriller in an Alfred Hitchcock style.

The Internet Movie Database lays out the story line of Marcus, “ he struggles with Parasomnia, a sleepwalking disorder that causes him to do things in his sleep that he cannot remember the next day. When he wakes up with blood on his hands and a knife at his side, he is startled to hear that a close friend has been found stabbed to death. Marcus frantically tries to put the pieces together – could he have murdered his friend while sleepwalking to hide a dark secret between them? The police close in as Marcus investigates his own nocturnal activities, desperate to figure out what happens after he goes to sleep. His journey to uncover the truth leads him to a shocking revelation.”

We talked with Allen about some of the experiences during the filming of the movie. Also about some of his research about “Parasomnia” and this sleep disorder. We also got some insight about the process of making a movie in general. All in all a really good interview about a thrilling movie. It’s the Sleeper hit that you have not seen yet but need to. We are giving away three “In My Sleep” Blu-ray /DVD Combo packs. Be sure to listen to the episode to find out how to get in on the giveaway.

The Amiga is mentioned about 30:30 minutes into the show.

DiscreetFX is giving away three of Special Edition Blu-ray/DVD Combos.

If you would like to be entered to win one of these send an e-mail requesting it to the link below.


Retro Wallpapers

Wallpapers, Lock Screens & Backgrounds news from Retro VGM

These are all fun ways in which we like to add our own personal stamp on our mobile communications device of choice from Windows Phone & Android to Blackberry & iPhone we all have a preferred device of choice.
While it is nice to be able to snap a picture and then, without any messing around, use that picture as our own wallpaper it’s also fun to be able to use other pictures in order to really add that personal touch.
So RETRO VGM have created a series of Retro Themed Smartphone wallpapers in three different styles.

feedback is appreciated regarding the styles that I have chosen and not the actual choice of images, however if you would like to see a particular game from the ZX Spectrum or Commodore 64 added then I will do my best to add them.

All the wallpapers are sized for WVGA screen resolution of 480×800 pixels. If your device supports a higher or lower resolution you’ll still be able to use them but they might resize oddly. Enjoy browsing, I will be adding more as time passes so check back every now and again or even follow the blog.

jAMOS AMOS Crossplatform Language


jAMOS is a cross platform, Java-based reimplementation of François Lionet's AMOS BASIC on the Amiga.



DIAG264 is a system to search for defects in a Commodore C16, C116 or Plus/4 computer. The system consist of a special cartridge and several loop back connectors. With this system you can test the following parts: RAM, ROM, I/O of the CPU and TED registers. On the DIAG264 web page you can find a very comprehensive manual how to test your computer

Description from the website

The design and operation of Diag264 is modelled closely on the operation of the cartridges available for the 64/128 and VIC-20. One of the aspects that I was most keen to copy was the functionality of the Dead Test Cartridge of the 64. The primary use of this cartridge was to find RAM issues in a machine that otherwise appeared dead.

The majority of Commodores 8-bit offerings used DRAM chips in either a 64k x 1 or 16k x 4 configuration. This usually meant that any dead RAM chip would make the machine completely inoperable, as the zero page ($0002-$00FF) and stack ($0100-$01FF) are rendered practically unusable. The kernal start-up routines in both the 64 and 264's make extensive use of the ZP and implicitly rely on the stack upon the first execution of an RTS instruction! This presents a problem for any normal cartridge based diagnostic tool because we are dependent on the kernal to hand over control to the cartridge ROM. The Dead Test cartridge avoids this problem by making use of the 64's rarely used Ultimax mode, which enables an external cartridge ROM to replace the Kernal of the host machine and therefore bypass the normal start-up routines, making it a superior tool for identifying RAM problems on an otherwise ‘dead’ system.

The 264 architecture does not include any way of auto-booting into an external ROM without trying to pull some dirty tricks with the address lines. So it becomes a trade-off between the conveniences of a cartridge versus the extra benefits of booting straight into the diagnostic. Not being a fan of compromise, the Diag264 ROM can be compiled for either cartridge or kernal.

The kernal option is a simple drop in replacement of the kernal ROM, which is the 28-pin ROM chip with the identifier beginning with 318004 (PAL) or 318005 (NTSC.) The cartridge option involves sacrificing a standard commercial Commodore C16/Plus cartridge (I used Strange Odyssey) unless you are lucky enough to have a supply of cartridge blanks. You will need to remove the ‘low’ ROM and install a 28-pin DIL socket in its place, as seen in my cartridge in Figure 1.

Figure 1 - Cartridge Mod

The TED chip itself supports both NTSC and PAL standards, controlled by bit 6 of register 7. NTSC and PAL machines therefore have slightly different kernals to correctly set the state of this bit, and also some other small modifications to take into account timing differences. When running from a cartridge, DIAG264 could query the installed kernal to determine whether it should be running in NTSC or PAL mode. This could be done by checking the value of $F33F which contains the default for TED register 7. As of version 0.2B, this is not implemented, and it is not possible at all when running from a kernal replacement. For this reason I have made both NTSC and PAL versions of DIAG264 available.

Review: Wyvern

By Commodore Free

Released by : ColorClashSoftware, The New Dimension

Credits :

Code Chris Yates
Jon Wells
Music Richard of Blazon, Psytronik Software, Scene World Magazine, The New Dimension
Graphics ColorClashSoftware
Design ColorClashSoftware
Text Richard of Blazon, Psytronik Software, Scene World Magazine, The New Dimension
Concept ColorClashSoftware
Loader Martin Piper

WYVERN . The Story

across the land of Prodigia lived a holy dragon (you) called, WYVERN; you rest in a small cave sleeping. Far from this land lies a castle, in which an EVIL DRAGON LORD lives as ruler. He sends an army of his minions to capture wyvern and took him to the dungeons.

WYVERN suddenly wakes up and finds he takes a deep breath and MELTS the SHACKLES in which at the time was restraining him from his escape. Then he breaks out of the huge dungeon to make his ESCAPE.

Wyvern sets his sights for freedom, but an army of colourful dragons have spotted him.


You are WYVERN you have been ABDUCTED by the EVIL DRAGON LORD who wants to control the world of PRODIGIA. You break out of the shackles, by breathing fire at them and ESCAPE the DUNGEON inside the castle. Unfortunately you are spotted by an evil dragon, and now an army of them have been set free to STOP ‘you.

Your quest is to ESCAPE from the castle of the evil lord. Escaping the castle will be quite a CHALLENGE as there are ENEMY dragons and minions Out there to stop you. BREATHING FIREBALLS at the enemies should hopefully do the trick.

During your escape, you need to pick up bottles of POTION, to BOOST up your score, avoid CRASHING into DEADLY background and escape before the dragon lord CAPTURES you and BANISHES you in the dungeon FOREVER!

Commodore Free

The game downloads as a Zip file and has a D64 and Tap version

Loading the D64 gives a TND style into

With some suitably tuneful music and thumping along style baseline, of course pressing space starts the game loading

With some very squelchy square wave music – and a bouncy melody line, you can see this is a SEUCK from the information menu or title screen.

Pressing the joystick fire button (connected to port 2) starts the game

I am unsure how the music fits in with the game; but the music sounds are good and the tune holds itself up well, I quite liked the bass drum kick and the snare in the main game very realistic.

The games backgrounds are very colourful and there is a lot going on screen (background wise at any rate) with the design of the columns etc it’s easy enough to see where you are and what you are supposed to kill or avoid. The main character sprite is dragon like creature in green and the attacking sprites (also dragons) move in the usual predetermined SEUCK patter completing this level is just a matter of moving to the right place on screen and pressing fire, until you get to the end. The enemy movements should have been a little more random but again this is more a SEUCK limitation than a game design, however some of the enemies could have moved differently.

The next level is mealy moving through a winding corridor with nothing to shoot and is over quite quickly, the bricks look like bricks and erm...

Well I am struggling a little here it’s a corridor or tunnel whatever you want to call it.

After that it’s more of the same with the creature’s following a new path wave and increasing in difficulty by some considerable amount; and it’s here I come stuck, in my skills as a dragon killing other items on screen. The level of difficulty seems to jump from very easy to very hard.

The games looks are great, not sure about the main sprites but the backgrounds are great detailed and very colourful, and although its nothing that could be in any way called original, it’s another welcome sideways SEUCK blaster with decent music although I wondered how the music .


Graphics: 7/10
Music: 7/10
Playability: 5/10
Lastability: 5/10

Overall: 6/10


At the start of the game as soon as the colour lettering disappears start to move right quickly as there is a bonus right at the screen edge shown in this pictures with a GREEN circle to highlight it

The game has some odd bugs for example if you die while crashing into the wall /maze area in level 2 the screen still scrolls and you re-emerge inside the bricks moving will kill you ! However just leaving the creature there and he will eventually die anyway? Very annoying. It isn’t every time and I have noticed the same problem later in the game, also on level 3 I can see a bonus to collect I collect this and the game seems to jump back and I am playing the same part of the level over and over again.

Here is what Richard Baylis had to say about this particular problem

I noticed what Christian did for level 3. I think he was trying to implement a trick that was to make the game repeat a section twice/three times the game would restart that level before moving on to the next stage. Sometimes this is a clever trick in SEUCK (Due to memory restrictions of the editor). Then after this has happened, the game moves on to the final level. :)

Finding the Start and Endpoint of a Program

(On a Commodore computer using a Monitor program)

By Commodoreman ©

Have you ever wondered where a computer program is stored after you “load” it in the computer? Have you ever been given the place in RAM where a program starts–but wonder where it ends? How much RAM is actually being used?

If you have ever asked yourself this question, but never had the experience or knowledge with the Commodore computer, this article will provide a way to figure that one out. It will be easier for you 128 and Plus/4 owners, since the 128 and Plus/4 has a built-in monitor readily available. If you have a VIC-20 or a 64, you’ll need access to a monitor program. (You club members have access to a few in the Library).

I will be giving the example using a Commodore 128 in 64 mode. I will be using the Commodore Assembler Development System software which has two monitor programs available.

If you are using 128 mode, similar results can be obtained using the built-in monitor (just turn on the 128 in 128 mode and type M-O-N-I-T-O-R followed by the Return key). Just be sure to account for the differences in how the 128 handles RAM.

I’ll be giving memory locations in hex with the decimal equivalent in brackets–that should make it easier for those who are still learning what all this hex stuff means.

Let’s say you’re a beginning assembly or machine language programmer. You’ve just created a small utility program and would like to place it in the RAM area between $C000 and $CFFF (49152 to 53247). If you are using the Commodore Assembler Development software, you probably know that the Editor loads into RAM starting at location $C000 (49152). This is known because whenever a SYS command is used to start a program, the start address (or beginning point) is also used. For me, I wanted to know where this program ended so I could cram in more programs into this free area (49152-53247 is not used by BASIC).

To find out where Editor starts and ends, there is a neat little trick that can be used to make it a lot easier. Sometimes there is lots of meaningless stuff “stored” in RAM. We will fill the RAM area between $C000 (49152) and $CFFF (53247) with a bunch of zeros. This will make it easy to identify where the program ends.

Type in and run the following little program in BASIC:

10 FOR I=49152 TO 53247


This little loop is all we need to fill the area we want with zeros. It can also be modified to fill any area in RAM.

Next, we will load the Editor program:


SYS 49152



Next we need to select one of the monitor programs. Note: Because we are using RAM areas $C000- (49152 -), we cannot use MONITOR$C000 (that would erase Editor64). So we will use MONITOR$8000. (If you get an ?OUT OF MEMORY ERROR, just type NEW and key in the following:)


The Following will be displayed:

SYS 32768

           .;803E     32008300F6

Now we will use the .D (disassemble) command to view the RAM starting at $C000 (49152).

.D C000

., C000 A9 00        LDA #$00

Notice that RAM location $C000 (49152) to $C001 holds the values ‘A9' and ‘00'? LDA #$00 means to Load the Accumulator with the value 0 (zero), and it took two bytes of RAM to do it. Use the cursor down to scroll to the next memory address.

The next RAM address is C002. Notice that there is something stored here too. This will continue to be the case for a while. Hold down the cursor down key until you get a bunch of lines with 00 and BRK in them.

The last line I get is for RAM location $C647 (50759) and takes up three bytes to $C649 (50761). I know this because the next line displayed is C64A.

WHAM-O!! There it is! It is safe to assume that the EDITOR64 program ends at $C64A (50762). Since we placed a bunch of zeroes in this area of RAM, loading the EDITOR64 program changes the values in a certain segment. By checking to see what has changed, we find out how much RAM has been “disturbed”. So we can place our next program into the RAM location starting at $C64B (50763).

Remember, always make sure that you count a BRK at the end. This tells the computer that this is where the program ends (so don’t overwrite it!). The BRK statement in Assembly/Machine language is equivalent to the END statement in BASIC.

There ya go! Happy programming!

Rediscovering Commodore CP/M

Part 2

By Commodoreman ©

Welcome to Part 2 – Rediscovering Commodore CP/M.

In this article I am dividing this into two sections: SETUP and FIRING UP COMMODORE CP/M MODE.

Since I cannot guess what anyone else reading this article has access to, I will try to use more than one type of system configuration. However, I will start with what I have listed below, and later use different combinations and hopefully most readers will be able to follow along. I’ve also decided to do more of a journal type entry and writing things down as I go. Things could get a little messy without an “organized” approach, but hopefully somebody out there can glean something useful.

Section 1: SETUP

I have assembled the following:

System configuration:
Other available and resources:

I will start with the initial setup and then use any of the other items listed as the need arises. I have noticed that there are some internet sites that have programs, but I have not as of yet tried any of them. That might be a good start too. I have a feeling that the internet will play an important role here as well. Also, somewhere in my collection I have some miscellaneous Z80 programming books – might be useful after I run through the basics.

Firing up CP/M Mode

CP/M 3 is the version available to the Commodore 128. The Commodore 64 did have a cartridge with version 2.2, but from what I understand, it was not as functional. I'll stick with version 3 on the 128 (yeah, somewhere I do have a cartridge for the 64 – wonder where it is...). I will have to be sure any programs I have now or in the future will be for version 3.

I inserted the System Disk into the drive and I fired up the 'ol 128. Here's what I got...

CP/M 3.0 On the Commodore 128     1 Aug 85
                   40 column display

A> (blinking cursor)

                                   R A01 10

Well, I remember A> had something to do with the current default drive, so I entered the following: B: <RETURN> and this is what was displayed...

CP/M Error On B: Disk I/O
BDOS Function = 14

I know this is an error code – Time to hit the manuals!

While I'm looking for the error code, I will look up what the R A01 10 displayed at the bottom of the screen means (I know, all you CP/M veterans are probably laughing by now...). Oh, also, I noticed that at the bottom of the screen, it has changed from R A01 10 to R B03 00 (Could this be a hint as something to do with disk access?).

Accessing the Manuals…

According to the Commodore 128D User’s Guide, the above display is deciphered as follows:

This is how CP/M looks on the 128 in 40 column mode. The screen is divided in two parts with the left half showing. I need to use the Control Key and one of the Right Arrow keys (these are the keys at the top of the keyboard!) to view the other part of the screen. (Hmm, if this becomes too cumbersome, I’ll be connecting the 80 column monitor).

The User’s Guide also states that I have access to 58k of available RAM (in CP/M terms – TPA, or Transient Program Area).

The opening screen shows the default user and drive letter (0 is the default and is not shown, drive A is the default disk drive). Also, according to the manual, I can connect 4 physical disk drives (lettered A, B, C, and D), and one “logical or virtual drive”. I’ll investigate that later. I did check out what was meant by the “default user” and according to the Digital Research User’s Guide (see pg. 2-4), CP/M files can be divided into “user” groups. There are 16 users possible numbered from 0 to 15. Here’s what the User’s Guide states,

“CP/M 3 further identifies all files by assigning each one a user number which ranges from 0 to 15. CP/M assigns the user number to a file when the file is created. User numbers allow you to separate your files into sixteen file groups. User numbers are particularly useful for organizing files on a hard disk”.

I interpret this as a means of helping to organize when there are likely to be multiple users (such as in a business environment of some sort) that use the same machine. I’m gonna have to investigate the hard drive issue later.

I think I will make a checklist of things I want to do later, so I don’t forget…I’ll put this at the end of the article for easier reference.

O.k., back to the manuals. The next titbit mentioned in the 128D User’s Guide mentions that a RAM Expansion module is accessed as drive ‘M’. This is set up as a RAM Disk. The manual mentions to reference the User’s Guide for the RAM expansion unit being used. Since I have a 1750, I checked out the manual to see what it says. I found another checklist item. Apparently there is a disk that is supposed to have been included with the REU for CP/M. I will have to research this since I don’t remember seeing one with mine (the problems of buying a used peripheral).

I just found a book in my collection about CP/M – it is book #8 from the Commodore 128 series published by ABACUS. Here is what I was able to find out about those numbers at the bottom of the screen…

“You've probably noticed that there are always some numbers in the lower right corner during loading. Even when the initial message disappears, these numbers don't go away. The last line of the screen is the status line, which can't be written on. The numbers in the corner show which block is being read from or written to. An R stands for reading from, and a w for writing to a block. Further down is an A or B message, indicating the disk drive that's being used. The status line can be turned on and off with the key combination (p. 25)”.

Now for that error message. I found in the Digital Research Programmer’s Guide more information on BDOS errors,

“Physical and extended errors are displayed on the console in the following format:
CP/M Error on d: error message
BDOS function = nn = filename.typ
where d identifies the drive selected when the error condition is detected; error message identifies the error; nn is the BDOS function number, and filemane.typ identifies the file specified by the BDOS function. If the BDOS function did not involve an FCB, the file information is omitted. Note that the second line above the error message is displayed only in the banked version of CP/M 3 if expanded error message reporting is requested by GENCPM (p. 2-29)”.

O.k., so from this I know the error message means that BDOS (I found out this acronym stands for Basic Disk Operating System) is telling me that there is some type of disk error on drive B. The BDOS function number (14 in this case) is defined as “Select Disk”. I guess I should have had a disk in the drive and the latch closed! It seems to me that CP/M will check the drive for a disk when an attempt is made to switch from the default drive (or any other drive) which had been placed into the primary position (as indicated by the prompt). I’ll put BDOS down on my list of things to get more information on.

So if I summarize what I have researched so far, here is one way of how I do it...

CP/M (Control Program for Microprocessors) is a system of organizing information via hardware and software. When booting the system on a 40 column screen the computer displays information on the CP/M version number followed by printing “On Commodore 128", the date, current user number (0 being the default and is not shown) followed by the current default drive letter and the status of the disk drive. The user number and the default drive letter are followed by the right bracket “>” and is known as the system prompt. This is where the user enters information called a command. This could be a system command or a call to a program. CP/M handles interfacing with disk drives via BDOS (Basic Disk Operating System).

CP/M on the Commodore 128 includes the following :

End of Part 2



List Of Resources

Printed Material:

Assembler Programming

By Shaun Bebbington

Author's notes: This is the third lot of tutorials (parts 9 through to 12 inclusive) that were published in Micro Mart magazine between February and July 2011 in the 'Specialist' section, which also includes Amiga, Apple, Linux and gaming news and views – see for more information about this publication.

Disclaimer: The tutorials assume some prior knowledge of machine code, so you may need to read the last two issues of Commodore FREE which has parts one through to four and five through to eight . None of this will not be very useful if you are not a complete beginner and I'm only providing a foundation on which to build. I'm sure all of the example code could be improved greatly. Remember: the more you experimentation you do with your code, and the more you read up about the Commodore 64's hardware, the more you will learn. Even better if you enjoy programming, because this will aid your progression as much [or more] than anything else.

I retain the copyright for these articles, which are used in Commodore FREE with permission. If you would like to contact me about them, then you may do so through the Micro Mart forums and a link is provided. Without any further ado, here is the next installment, which covers some of the very basics. The original images that I provided with the articles are included for illustration purposes only.

Bitmapping – Part 9

Without delving too far into the secrets of the Commodore 64's many graphics modes, such as Flexible Line Interpretation (known as FLI) or the interlaced version [IFLI], the VIC-II chip sees the screen as 8x8 character blocks by default, but can also 'bit-map' the screen, allowing 64,000 pixels to be manipulated by the user. Each eight pixels is grouped together in a byte, so the bit-mapped screen excluding colour RAM is 8,000 bytes of memory, or just under 8K. By comparison, a screen full of characters is 8 times smaller, excluding colour nybbles (and any memory used for user-defined graphics).

Whether you're using plain old characters (or UDGs) or you're bit-mapping the screen, or using both, you can toggle multi-coloured mode, which means that the vertical resolution is essentially halved and the number of colours in an 8x8 pixel area is doubled from two to four, giving a 'chunky' 160 x 200 pixel matrix. More about this later. For now, we'll just worry about high-resolution bit-mapping (sometimes referred to as mono-colour mode).

The first thing that you will need to do when switching on bitmap mode is to know where your bitmap will reside in memory. For a full bitmap, there are certain places in RAM that are used and these cannot be altered at will. You should also note that when in this mode, each character block on the text screen is used to define the colour of the pixel area on the bitmap that it matches (assuming mono-colour, also referred to as high-resolution). The easiest way to think of this is that the each character on the normal screen is below each 8x8 pixel area of the bitmap, and affects the foreground and background colour in each block (pixels that are on or off respectively). As the C64 has just 16 colours, ranging from 0 to 15 inclusive, the colours are represented by four-bits each, as this fits exactly into our 8-bit hexadecimal system, so if you store f3 hex at screen location 1024 (0400 in hex), the two colours are affected in the corresponding bit of the bitmap area (top-left 8x8 pixel block in this case, assuming your bitmap resides at memory location 8192 onwards). How the colours are worked out is to split the byte into four bits, so f hex is equal to 15 decimal, which is light grey, and 3 hex is exactly the same as it would be in decimal, which is cyan. Therefore the pixels switched off in the block will be cyan and those switched on will be light grey.

Let's have a look at a quick example of a high-resolution bitmap then in assembly:

*=$c000                 ; Where our program resides in memory
     lda #$60
     sta $fc
     lda #$00
     sta $fb            ; This will indirectly index the bitmap RAM
     lda $d011          ; The following sets up hi-resolution bitmap
     ora #%00100000
     sta $d011
     lda $dd00
     and #%11111100
     ora #%00000010
     sta $dd00
     lda #$5c
     sta $0288
     lda #$79
     sta $d018
     lda #$f3           ; This is our default colour setting
     ldy #$00
DEFCOL                  ; Sets up default colour to new screen area
     sta $5c00,y
     sta $5d00,y
     sta $5e00,y
     sta $5f00,y
     bne DEFCOL
     lda #%10000001     ; This will be our default pattern
     ldy #$00
     sty $d020          ; Sets the border colour according to Y index
     ldx #$20           ; How many pages of RAM we'll be using
LOOP                    ; This will set our default pattern as above
     sta ($fb),y        ; if A was set to zero, it would clear all bits
     bne LOOP
     inc $fc
     dex                ; We've set one page, X is decreased
     bne LOOP           ; This will check if X is zero.
HOLD                    ; Marker for unconditional infinite loop
     jmp HOLD           ; Infinite loop

Run it by using SYS 49152 and you should see something that looks a little like rather sickening stripy wall paper. To find out more about mono-colour bitmaps, please email me or check out

Banks and sprites – Part 10

Recapping on last week, I briefly described bit-mapping the screen on the Commodore 64, and gave a quick example of displaying a not-very-exciting high-resolution image that could be said to resemble some rather horrid looking stripy wall paper. Hopefully, you had the chance to play around with the example and change the colours and the bit pattern displayed.

You may have noticed that bit-mapping, like re-defining the character set, requires you to change the VIC-II memory pointers so it 'sees' the relevant 16K bank of RAM, so in other words, if you were going to use last week’s example for a basis to display a title or splash screen, and you had user defined graphics (UDGs) in your project too, you'd have to ensure your UDGs where in the same bank as the bit-map when reverting to text display whilst remembering that all characters should be written to 5C00 in hexadecimal, unless of course you were to change the pointer in the VIC-II afterwards to a different bank. It's therefore easy to guess that memory management is an issue when creating your C64 project, although there's nothing that is insurmountable without a bit of forward thinking, which is where a pencil and paper proves useful. Here is some example code of changing the bank:

     lda $dd00          ; This memory location is used for bank switching on the VIC-II chip
     and #%11111100     ; We only need bits 0 and 1, so we'll leave bits 2 - 7 unaltered
     ora #%00000010     ; and then 'or' the value with the bank that we want to see
     sta $dd00          ; and now we should write the new value back to location DD00 hexadecimal

So, if you want the default bank on start-up (VIC bank zero, memory location 0 to 3FFF hex), you'd change the third line of the above code to:

ora #%00000011

For VIC bank one (located from 4000 to 7FFF hexadecimal), the value would be as in the code example above, bank two (starting at 8000 through to BFFF hex), the value would be #%00000001 and finally bank three (C000 to FFFF hex) would be #%00000000. Of course, each change will alter where the character screen and bit-map screen is in RAM - more about this on the forums at, where you may pose any questions to me. As it's not possible to go too far in-depth through these pages, it's worth reading up about memory management by searching the vast Internet for information, but a good site covering such subject matters is at

Looking Spritely

Another feature of the host graphics chip is hardware sprites. Note that 'sprites' are sometimes referred to as Movable Object Blocks (MOBs) in some literature.

Without worrying about advanced programming techniques such as multi-plexing or anything fancy like that, the C64 can display eight sprites on a single screen regardless of which screen mode you've set. To be more precise, the VIC-II is able to handle eight sprites per scan-line (sometimes referred to as a raster-line or raster-beam), but we needn't concern ourselves with this at the moment.

As with bit-mapping or the default screen mode, everything has its' place, so each sprite must start at specific locations in the memory bank that the VIC-II is pointing to.

Each sprite is made up of 24 pixels by 21 pixels in mono-colour (high-resolution) mode, with multi-colour mode halving the vertical resolution, meaning 12 by 21 pixels. There is quite versatile handling too, as each [sprite] may be expanded horizontally, vertically or both, and is automatically layered based on a pre-set of zero through to seven. And regardless of how chunky you have set your MOBs, you are still able to move them horizontally or vertically one single pixel at a time based on the default visible area of 320 by 200 pixels, which is quite good as it always ensures smooth movements even if the graphics have that 'blocky' look about them. You may also set the priority of each sprite to say whether or not it is in front of or behind the characters on the screen or the bit-mapped, but you are not able to change the way one sprite may over or under lap another as this is set by the hardware. I have a brief sprite demonstration next time as unfortunately we've ran out of space for a coding example.

A C64 sprite editor

More on sprites – Part 11

Last week, I briefly introduced hardware sprites on the Commodore 64, so as there wasn't much time or space for a piece of example code, I thought that I'll throw one straight at you, with some explanations on the forums at Here's this week’s routine:

     lda #$0d        ; Using block 13 for sprite zero
     sta $07f8
     lda #%00000001  ; Enable sprite zero
     sta $d015
     lda #$05        ; We'll colour it green
     sta $d027
     lda #%11100111  ; Our bit pattern for the sprite (repeated)
     ldx #$40        ; X is used as a counter
     sta $0340,x
     bne SETUP       ; Builds the sprite
     lda #%00000000
     sta $d010       ; This clears the MSB setting for all sprites
     ldx #$64
     ldy #$70
     stx $d000       ; X position set
     sty $d001       ; Y position set
     jsr $ff9f       ; Scans keyboards
     jsr $ffe4       ; Put relevant value into A
     cmp #$57        ; W is up
     beq MOVEUP      ; If true, move sprite up...
     cmp #$53        ; S is down
     beq MOVEDOWN    ; etc...
     cmp #$41        ; A is left
     beq MOVELEFT
     cmp #$44        ; D is right
     beq MOVERIGHT
     cmp #$0d        ; Checks is the RETURN key is pressed
     beq EXIT        ; If so, we'll exit
     jmp SCAN        ; Back to loop marker
     ldy $d001       ; Gets previous Y position
     dey             ; Decreases by one
     sty $d001       ; Stores new value
     jmp SCAN
     ldy $d001
     sty $d001
     jmp SCAN
     ldx $d000
     stx $d000
     cpx #$ff        ; Checks for horizontal position moving left
     bne SCAN
     lda #%00000000
     sta $d010       ; Clears MSB for horizontal position
     jmp SCAN
     ldx $d000
     stx $d000
     cpx #$00        ; Checks for horizontal position moving right
     bne SCAN
     lda #%00000001
     sta $d010       ; Sets MSB for horizontal position
     jmp SCAN
     jsr $e544
     lda #$00
     sta $d015       ; Switches off sprites
     rts             ; Back to BASIC

Once it's assembled, the program assumes that the VIC-II is looking at the default 16K bank as explained last week. For completeness, however, you may add the code to force the graphics chip to see bank zero, but try changing the banks anyway to see what happens. Run the routine by SYS 4096, and use the keyboard to move the simple sprite around the screed, W is up, S is down, D moves right and A moves left and RETURN exits the example program. Fortunately, I'll be covering reading the joystick port next week, and as space is at a premium, I'll leave it there. As mentioned, send over your question that you have and I'll answer them as best I can.

The joys of movement - Part 12

We've reached the final instalment of these tutorials, so I hope that you've enjoyed your first steps into the mystical world of machine code programming. But it needn't end here; there is the accompanying thread over on the Micro Mart forums at, and even though this beginners guide ends here, I'll still endeavour to answer any questions that you have. Remember that the more you experiment, the more you will learn!

You may have noticed that I haven't covered the Commodore 64's diverse sound capabilities. This is simply because covering such a subject would take at least 12 instalments by itself. But as you are now getting to grips with assembly language, take a look at

Last week’s example demonstrated moving a sprite around the screen using the keyboard. Now we all know that the C64 has two joystick ports, so it makes sense to use them.

The two joystick ports are read into memory locations dc00 and dc01 hexadecimal, which represents ports two and one respectively. You'll note that most games use the second port, but if you want to use the other then there's really nothing stopping you, as the difference is only in the memory location that you're reading and not in how it works.

The C64, like most 8-bits, used 8-way, digital controllers with a single fire button, a standard set by the Atari with its 2600 console. This makes sense as most classic games don't require more than 8 directional controls, and some don't use more than two. Each direction is read as one or two bits in memory and fire as required. Reading a binary octet from right to left, the zero-bit is up, bit one is down, bit two is left and bit three is right. The forth bit is set when fire is depressed. To test which direction is set, we can use an 'And' gate, for instance:

     lda $dc00       ; We're testing port two here
     and #%00000001  ; Check for up
     beq MOVEUP
     lda $dc00
     and #%00000010  ; Check for down
     beq MOVEDOWN
     lda $dc00
     and #%00000100  ; Check for left
     beq MOVELEFT
     lda $dc00
     and #%00001000  ; Check for right
     beq MOVERIGHT
     lda $dc00
     and #%00010000  ; Check for fire
     beq FIRE

This technique is fine, but there's a more efficient way of doing things. What we can do is to 'roll' the accumulator so that each bit shifts to the right, so any bits that essentially 'fall off the end' will be put onto the processor stack and the carry flag will be set. So, if you logically shift the following bit pattern to the right: %00000010, the new value will be %00000001. Do it again, and you will get %00000000 + carry flag set. Here's an example:

     clc             ; It's good practice to clear the carry flag testing it
     lda $dc01       ; Okay, we'll try port one this time
     lsr a           ; Logical shift RIGHT
     bcs MOVEUP      ; Branch on Carry Set
     lsr a
     bcs MOVEDOWN
     lsr a
     bcs MOVELEFT
     lsr a
     bcs MOVERIGHT
     lsr a
     bcs FIRE

This is more efficient that the first example, plus has other benefits too, which is discussed on the forum thread mentioned above. The important thing to remember is that it's up to you as to how you write your code, as the first thing to worry about is to get it working.

See if you can use either example this week with the code last week and replace the keyboard controls with either joystick port. You may need to slow things down a little as machine code is many times quicker than BASIC. There was a way to do this much earlier in the series, but you know what to do if you get stuck. Whatever happens, keep on coding as it can be the most rewarding thing that you can do with your old Commodore. Bye for now!

The classic Competition Pro joystick