Issue 71
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
TXT, HTML & eBooks
Paul Davis
D64 Disk Image
Al Jackson
PDF Design
Nigel Parker
Richard Bayliss
Jeff Lee
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.
All materials in this magazine are the property of Commodore Free unless otherwise stated. All copyrights, trademarks, trade names, internet domain names or other similar rights are acknowledged. No part of this magazine may be reproduced without permission.
The appearance of an advert in the magazine does not necessarily mean that the goods/services advertised are associated with or endorsed by Commodore Free Magazine.
Copyright © 2013 Commodore Free Magazine
All Rights Reserved.



All Taped

We have yet another cover tape. Sadly, this feature will be taking a summer vacation with a view to returning later in the year, mainly due to time constraints and the fact that the feature has deserved a holiday especially as it’s so popular amongst readers also Richard is enjoying a rest and working on other projects. So don’t worry: it’s not disappeared just on short term leave.


We have an interview with Lenard Roach this is part 1 of a longer than usual chat with him about his publishing career You may remember we covered Runstop/Restore in a book review way back in issue 58 , the interview also has a couple of questions I asked the writer at the time after reading the book for the review.


I was recently contacted by therealeasterbunny (no animals have been harmed as part of this issue). He told me about a project he completed to convert a Commodore Pet game onto Android OS. The project is now finished and downloadable. You can read more about it here in this issue: “Nightmare Park” by therealeasterbunny


Mojon cartridge (Sir Ababol / Nanako In Classic Japanese Monster Castle C64 ) gets a Commodore Free play test. You can read more in the full review, but it’s once again another quality review from the RGCD crew.


Jeff Lee shares some views about the Thatcher years, as well as a review of the book C64 Walkabout, which was plugged in issue 65 where I said the item was launched onto the public a year ago (that was 2011). It book is now in its second edition


News on recently released products and services.


Thanks to all the people who commented on the last batch of readers comments, it’s nice to see the magazine is well read by so many, and-that so many of you decided to comment, and even commented on the readers’ comments. It must have hit a nerve with some of you. Rather than reprint more about comments, I will just sum up that it seemed to be a split between people who liked the adverts, those who didn’t, and those who wanted items grouped together (to see a c64 section, and Pet section etc.) and those who wanted it as it is. Seeing as I can’t please all the people all the time, I may try some test issues and see how people feel. So what do you as a reader think, is it better with adverts all at the back? As they are etc, I may try things like this to gauge the outcome of people comments.

Interesting so many people asked me to join Facebook or to follow me or them on especially as I said I wasn’t on it. Maybe I could join as a company! Maybe I could post teasers for the next issue etc, I will look into this if you really do want to follow Commodore Free. Anyway, I have run out of time, space and patience for this editorial. Enjoy reading, and happy Commodoring ... Hmm that sounds corny I think I will remove it on the next issue.


Nigel Parker

EDITOR Commodore Free

And Co-edited by Jeff Lee

Jeff Lee writes about cultural history. He is a former games developer, and wrote The Hype Game, a novel that documented life in the 1980s games industry. His blog can be found at

Commodore Free E-Cover Tape #6

By Richard Bayliss

It is that time once again to dig out your tape deck (or emulate one) and be ready for a BIG SURPRISE. With thanks to issue 6 of Commodore Free. What is the big surprise? Well, we are very happy to bring you “Trance Sector Competition Edition”, which I produced specially for the Revival Retro Gaming event in Wolverhampton. We also have decided to dig out a handy note writer, and also some single file demos for you to enjoy.

Trance Sector – Competition Edition

by Richard Bayliss, Loading pic by Achim Volkers, Level 32 by Frank Gasking

This was the big surprise which I had in store for you all brand new version of my C64 commercial game Trance Sector. The original was published by Psytronik Software. This version is a special competition edition of the game, which was produced specially for Revival Retro Events 2013 in Wolverhampton on 18th May. I will be attending this event as well, but not as an exhibitor, Just as a visitor :)

The story so far. It is discovered that an alien race, which calls itself the Cygma Elite, is storing nuclear/radioactive pods in which are being used to build an intergalactic time bomb. If this device were tested, it would destroy all planets of the entire solar system. We have transported a hero, to their factory, known as the Trance Sector. You must pick up all of those nuclear pods – and destroy the base.

Playing the game is pretty much straightforward. All you need to do is move your disposal craft around each floor of the Trance Sector, picking up the nuclear pods. Watch out. Each floor is heavily guarded by seekers. The missiles will charge into. you if you are caught by their sensors

If one of those seekers smash one of your pieces, then unlucky, a life is lost. Lose all 3 and the game is up.

There are various obstacles that you must watch out for. The help screen on the front end will tell you what they do. At times during the game, a ball will appear in the middle of the Trance Sector. Simply pick up the ball when it has cycled to the object you want. There can be either extra points, E.X.T.R.A (Build all those together for gaining extra lives) and of course a bomb, to destroy the seekers.

You will also be racing against time to pick every single pod up for disposal. Your ship will disappear and transport you to the next level after all pods are cleared. For every stage cleared, you will be awarded a time bonus for the amount of time left on the clock. Can you beat all 32 levels and save the entire solar system from a massive catastrophe. Or will you be too late for it.

Do you like Trance Sector and wish to own it in real media for your collection. Visit for more information. :)

Space Trip

by Achim Volkers, Music By Richard Bayliss

Achim Volkers has done some great fun games in the past, and this game is one heck of a true classic. “Space Trip”. It mixes a platform game, with a bit of Paradroid.

There has been an alert that a series of space ships has been contaminated by a series of aliens. The aliens couldn't resist exploring the space ship to see what they could find, but they carried a virus with them that could impact on the crew on board each ship.

The Lunar Cleaning society has assigned (unlucky) you to enter each space craft and clean it up. You are totally unaware, that you are to shoot the cheeky playful aliens. Unfortunately, after you teleported into the space craft, the aliens turned from playful to hostile. It seems that they don't like the fact that when you pick up a pistol, they will start spreading their virus to you upon contact. Your mission is to find a laser gun, charge it up, and shoot those aliens clean out of each space ship. A console in one of the rooms is there to help teleport you to each deck on board, or allow you to abort your mission. The console will not allow you to transfer to the next ship until the whole ship has been cleaned out. Can you save all ships from alien contamination, or will it be too late?

Cobra Mission

by IndyJR/FanCA, Music by Richard Bayliss

IndyJR/FanCA came up with a neat Sideways Scrolling SEUCK game called 'Cobra Mission'. So get ready for some pure combat action in the style of the classic Skramble. Your mission is to fly through the enemy terrain, picking up innocent bystanders. The mission sounds easy, but it isn't as easy as you would have thought.

The enemy forces are powered up with missiles and other airborne and ground force vehicles. You must shoot them down and avoid them if you are careful enough. If you are not careful enough, then your helicopter could end up being blown to pieces. Avoid crashing into the background, otherwise you'll get nowhere.

Bank Run

by Alf Yngve, Enhanced by Richard Bayliss

Yeehaaa! Howdydoo there pardners. Get ready for 'a rootin', tootin', and a whole lotta shootin'. Ok. I had better stop the Western phrases and just get on with it.

This sideways SEUCK game, written by Alf Yngve, was inspired by the classic C64 game called “West Bank”. The concept of the game is simple enough. You are a tough Sheriff who has been given news that a new bank in town is under threat of robberies. The evil Bounty Boys are planning a heist to grab all the cash available from the bank. Your objective as a Sheriff is to stop them.

Move your crosshair over the enemies and shoot the guns out of their hands. You'll come into situations where good folk visit the bank to throw in money. You must avoid shooting the good folk. If you do that, you'll have to pay a penalty of a life lost. You only have 3. There are also bombs that must be shot immediately before they explode. If one of them sets to go off, then a life will most definitely be lost. There is no avoiding their explosions. It may be possible to avoid enemy gun shots, depending on which direction they are firing. It’s safe to shoot at money (which gives you bonus points). An extra life will be rewarded for every 10,000 points scored.

Can you last a whole day fighting against the bounty boys and their vicious attacks? Good luck pardner.

A Real Writer

by 1541/GameBusters Crew, Binary Zone PD

This is a handy message maker in which you can use to write your own messages, with one of Rob Hubbard's classic tunes playing in the background. This note editor allows you to write your own scroll text and in view mode – mimics the keys you have typed in so far. You can also choose which animated cursor you would like to use for typing in the message. Absolutely right, it does exactly that. There is a good choice of character sets in which you can use to write your messages. Once you have finished writing your message, the program will allow you to save your message to disk, or to tape, in a fully compressed executable form.

As an extra, I have added a very useful instructions file (using the same noter) on how to use it. Hope you will have loads of fun with this neat editor.

Next Issue

The cover tape will be taking a break during the summer period.

We are also thinking about adding some Readers’ games, demos or utilities or something like that. If you have anything you would like to share on the Cover Tape then please email your submissions to:

richardbayliss.c64(a) or to Nigel's email address Then hopefully we should have your submission ready in September 2013.

See you in a few months time.


AmigaOS 4: Assist 1.0 Now Available!

This is the 30th release of Assist, which now includes over 300 articles to help you get the most out of your Amiga! As well as the numerous bug fixes and refinements, version 1.0 sees the introduction of step-by-step tutorials, logging, and improved preferences for customising Assist's behaviour.

For those of you not familiar with Assist, it is a knowledge base of helpful information for AmigaOS 4.1 users with many handy features such as:

New users can grab the latest version from OS4Depot, while existing users can update to this latest release via AmiUpdate.

StormC 5 Editor Released

StormC5 editor released

News From The Website

We are glad to present the first component of the StormC5 IDE, StormC5ED. In the tradition of the previous versions, we placed high values in the development of StormC5ED ensuring the popular Amiga look-and-feel. We set high priorities on high speed and modern editor functionalities. Due to the intensive use of operating system functions of AmigaOS 4.1, StormC5ED is available exclusively for the new Amiga operating system and will be further aligned it in the future. We would like to point out that much of the Proceeds of the StormC5 editor will be incorporated in the future development of the StormC5 environment.

Join now, in a new kind of editing on AmigaOS 4.x!

StormC5ED is available via download or CD. The download version costs only 29,95 Euro and the CD version 34,95 Euro. Order at once from our Online Shop.

The following outstanding capabilities are offered by the new StormC5ED:

Amiga look-and-feel:

All keyboard shortcuts correspond to the AmigaOS specifications, toolbar images are supported, tooltips, etc.

AppWindow/AppIcon support:

Dragging a file icon in an editor window or on the editor appicon will open that file.

Extreme fast syntax highlighting:

Lightning fast syntax highlighting, Recognized words can be highlighted with colour and/or font attributes.

File classes:

The driver for the syntax highlighting are applied as external modules. As a result, the editor is extensible for future tasks.

File classes do currently exist for the following languages:


For recognized words the relevant definition/Quick-Help is displayed.


In a document an unlimited number of bookmarks can be set and jumped to with a keyboard shortcut.

Folding parts of a document via definable fold marks:

For example, so in C/C++ files, the method bodies are folded away for clarity and better readability of the code.

MDI- or TDI-Userinterface:

Texts can be displayed either in a separate window for each text (MDI - multiple document interface) or all together in a single window with Tab control (TDI - Tabbed Document Interface).

Automatic indentation (atm. only for C/C++):

On typing of a character that initiates or terminates a block, the editor can react with different variations to increase or reduce the indentation ("keep your source code clean and tidy").

Visualization of tabulators, spaces and linefeeds:

Optional displaying of these characters to find missing tabs in a "makefile", for example.

The GUI of the editor is available in 7 languages:

In the basic package, the StormC5Ed interface has already been translated into 7 languages: German, English, Spanish, French, Italian, Danish and Russian are currently available. Other languages will follow.

More information about StormC5ED find you at our product website.

Berzerk Redux Final C64

Code Martin Piper
Music NecroPolo of Ancients Pledge Inc., Avatar, Level 64, SIDrip Alliance, Richard of Blazon, People Of Liberty, Psytronik Software, Scene World Magazine, The New Dimension
Graphics Zeldin of Cascade
Charset Groepaz of Dienstagstreff, Hitmen, VICE Team
Test Jazzcat of First Blood Entertainment, Onslaught, Vandalism News Staff, Warlock of Arkanix Labs, Armageddon, Retro64

An amazing achievement; ok it’s just a convert but it’s a very good one and a personal favourite game of mine Next issue will have a full review, sorry played it so long I ran out of time to review it in this issue!

Download :

Finding Elvis (Journey To The Center Of The Earth)

A commodore 64 Text adventure written in BASIC some years ago but now re released

The loading credits don’t reveal much but ........

FINDING`ELVIS (Journey to the centre of the earth)
An Adventure by oneBitman
Created in 1992
Saved from the Datavault
Hacked and released at forever2013 as a non-competitive entry

Multicolor2Char v0.2

Recently released by “THE USER” and running on a windows compatible machine

Here are some instructions

1) Click on the [...] Button to set the Filename.

2) Click [Load], if it says too many chars, redo your BMP until "Perfect Fit!" shows. You only need to repeat Step 2.

3) Click the Box with the colours of YOUR PALETTE and use the [+] or [-] keys to let it fit your choice of D8xx (This is the colour with the restriction of one of the lower 8 colours)

4) (Optional if you use a 160x200 BMP) Select the colours you want to use with the built in viewer. This is shown with MY PALETTE. Then click the Button [Save Viewer].

Only 4 colour BMP in half size width resolution are supported. So a full C64 Screen fits in 160x200 Pixel. You can indeed create double/halve/whatever screen with this, but then you can only export the charset and tilemap.

Commodore Legends: Petro Tyschtschenko Interview

Still alive and well, Commodore legend Petro Tyschtschenko is interviewed by Robby "The C= guy" about his past and present. If you don’t remember Petro, he saved The Amiga product line when Commodore went into bankruptcy

I presume the hand gesture here was for Victory rather than some other gesture towards Commodore. I met Petro on 2 occasions, and even have a Commodore Amiga 1200 poster signed by him.

Anyway you can read the interview in full by clicking on the URL

Link to petros memoiren 1982 to 2001 although the text is in German

Hermit's 1 Rasterline Tracker


This project was inspired by the CSDB music release 'Air on a Rasterline' by Lft

The idea was to tweak as much as possible out of the SID using just a single rasterline (around 63 cycles).

The problem was that with the lack of a standard player for non-coder musicians to use a tracker a player would need to be coded To fit into just one rasterline, of course this means some restrictions, but with clever use of the routine you should be able to obtain good results.

Cloanto Releases Amiga Forever And C64 Forever 2013

May 10, 2013 - Cloanto released today Amiga Forever 2013 and C64 Forever 2013, the latest versions of the award-winning Commodore-Amiga preservation, emulation and support suites for Windows.

The 2013 editions for Windows had a focus on making the software easier to use, while providing new and more powerful features for advanced users and content creators. For example, the packages are easier to download and install, and emulated systems can be "repaired" with one click after unintended changes. Power users can now build ISO images and portable USB drive environments, use the visual Screen Clip Editor to better blend old screen modes into modern systems, or experiment with the new WinFellow emulation plugin or with a fresh build of the AROS Research OS. Outside the player, the RP9 thumbnail handler adds a new level of eye candy to File Explorer.

"One of the most fascinating challenges of user interface design has to be how to please both novice and sophisticated users. The attempt to keep things as simple as possible often limits learning and can be perceived as a 'dumbing down' by a more demanding audience," noted Cloanto's Mike Battilana.

"Even looking at recent versions of Windows, Mac OS and Linux, you can feel the pain of some choices. In today's search engines, queries that used to work reliably have become less precise. Word processors won't let you select the exact characters you want. Lacking perfect artificial intelligence, we are increasingly being autocorrected beyond recognition.

C64 Forever brings us back to an era in which users knew that they were, or could be, in complete control of the machine, rather than vice versa. Tens of millions of home computers came with a powerful reminder of this, as they included a programming manual. Even today, the Amiga continues to inspire for how it elegantly met the needs of different audiences, leaving a feeling of freedom rather than one of artificial limitations. In addition to preserving access to a digital culture of tens of thousands of games, demo scene creations and other titles, we are trying to introduce new generations to these different angles, as we are convinced that this deeper perspective can help achieve a better view of the future too."

In Amiga Forever and C64 Forever 2013, the same interface transparently connects to three different emulation engines, giving consistent access to more than 25 computer models, all with fully licensed operating systems. The shared RP9 file format makes titles easily portable across computers and software versions. While novice users only need to press Play, advanced users can Edit titles and browse through options that are designed to also help understand how the software works.

Amiga Forever 2013 is available now in three editions:

C64 Forever 2013 is available now in three editions:

Amiga Forever and C64 Forever passed official Windows 8 logo tests on both x86 and x64 systems. Prices for both Amiga Forever and C64 Forever start from $9.95 (special upgrade offers). Registered customers who purchased a previous version of the software on or after March 1, 2013 are being sent instructions to download a free update.

For more information:

Press Release with Graphics and Links

NetSurf 3.0 Released For The Amiga

NetSurf is a small, fast, CSS capable web browser for AmigaOS 4 and other platforms. The OS4 version has an OS4 native GUI and does not require AmiCygnix.

NetSurf 3.0 contains many changes over the 2.x release series. The biggest difference is the use of our new Document Object Model library, LibDOM. This new library is a foundation that paves the way for us to implement a fully dynamic layout engine in the future. Other improvements in NetSurf 3.0 include completely new text area support, ability to fetch and parse CSS in parallel with HTML documents, extensive behind-the-scenes refactoring, and a host of smaller changes and fixes. A more complete listing is available in the Change Log.


NB: This is a "semi-unofficial" build with early JavaScript support. There may be an "official" build from the more well-tested CI server at a later date.

Short Fast CSS capable web browser (JS)
Author NetSurf contributors (OS4 port by Chris Young)
Uploader chris unsatisfactorysoftware co uk (Chris Young)
Type comm/www
Version 3.0a-json
Architecture ppc-amigaos >= 4.1.0
Date 2013-04-25

3.0a fixes a problem with the install script not updating an existing installation. If you have already installed 3.0 there is no need to update to 3.0a.

This is a JavaScript enabled build of NetSurf. It also has Cairo support enabled, uses shared libraries, and has a specialSAM460ex "onchipmem" optimised version of libwapcaplet.

See for more information about NetSurf.

This software is licensed under the GPL, and the sources are available from A copy can also be obtained directly from the maintainer of this port,, in the event that the website is unavailable.

CommVEx 2012 Videos Being Posted

See Greg Alekel of speak of and the Comet+ Internet modem prototype. You can find "Alekel talks CommodoreServer and Comet+ at CommVEx 2012" at


Robert Bernardo

Fresno Commodore User Group

July 27-28 Commodore Vegas Expo v9 -

Android C64 Emulator

Robert Broglia has released a commodore 64 emulator for the Android operating system. C64.emu is based on the VICE 2.4.3 emulator.

No ROMs or disk images are included with the download.


Advanced Commodore 64 (C64) emulator based on VICE 2.4.3. This is a fully native port not using SDL and implements features needed to run the majority of games with additional functionality coming in the future. The source is available under the GPLv3.

Features include:

Cloanto Releases Amiga Forever Essentials for Android

April 23, 2013 - Cloanto, publishers of Amiga Forever since 1997, is announcing today the immediate availability of Amiga Forever Essentials on Google Play. The release marks the first of a planned series of "Essentials" packages for different platforms, in which officially licensed Amiga ROM and OS files are made available for programmatic access by a diversity of open-source emulation engines.

For the Android release, Cloanto worked closely with the developers of UAE4Droid, AnUAE4All, UAE4All2 and other apps to make sure that the Amiga system files are auto detected and easy to use.

"We are grateful for the fact that Google Play is open-minded about emulators and GPL components. As such, Android was our ideal candidate for the initial release in the Amiga Forever Essentials series," said Cloanto President Mike Battilana. "This makes it possible to keep Amiga emulation accessible, enjoyable and legal in ways that are not always within reach for other systems or platforms."

Amiga Forever Essentials unlocks the potential of different Amiga emulation apps designed for Android, making it possible to play thousands of Amiga titles on Amiga OS versions 1.2, 1.3, 2.04, 3.0 and 3.1 in emulated computers like the Amiga 500 and Amiga 1200. Bonus content like Workbench 1.3 and First Demos disk images let Amiga enthusiasts enjoy memorable classics such as the 1984 Boing demo.

The app is available now for only $0.99 on the Google Play store.

For more information:

Amiga Forever Home Page

For Developers: Shared System Files on Android Devices

Amiga Forever on Facebook

Amiga Forever on Twitter

CommVEx 2012 Videos Being Posted

Another video is on-line. In this one, Steve Davison talks about C64 programming and more. To see "Davison talks sundry programming matters at CommVEx 2012", go to

More to come,

Robert Bernardo

Fresno Commodore User Group

July 27-28 Commodore Vegas Expo v9 -

Flimsoft News

For some time now Flimsoft has had to put a couple of releases on hold for various reasons, mainly due to myself being a full time worker and full time father. For those of you who do the same as me, you’ll realise how time consuming this all can be, let alone running a very busy C64 software house.

I have recently had a couple of weeks off from work, and have put a lot of my time and energy into getting Flimsoft back in business with release dates and finding a suitable illustrator/s for our artwork. It has taken some time to arrange things, and it has paid off without a doubt.

First up then are a few things announced a couple of months ago: Budget Squad titles of Morph 64, Chang’s Adventure, and The Cursed Key. These releases are still in the pipeline, and will still be only cassette releases. At the moment, it looks like Chang's Adventure will be the first to be released in this series. However, I am sure there will be diskette releases in the future if the Budget Squad series proves to be popular.

Chang's Adventure artwork by Danny Tolchard

Our next big new release is entitled Outbreak, which is a nice puzzler from an American game programmer by the name of Tony Fruzza. I have test played this and it is all coming together very nicely indeed. It is reminiscent to the popular Nintendo NES game Dr. Mario, but not completely a clone (unlike the numerous Tetris clones which have cropped up over the years). The theme of Outbreak is going to be along the lines of B-Movie genre. This stunning image of the inlay cover was designed by a good friend of mine - Jon Hopkins. Players of Outbreak rotate coloured capsules in order to eradicate the vile virus that is rapidly spreading ( I did say reminiscent?).

Outbreak artwork by Jon Hopkins
The player almost faces the outbreak...

We also have a platform/puzzle(esque) title which is still in development (although artwork is now complete – and stunning it looks too!). The game in question is indeed Shiver me’ Timbers. Oddly enough it is pirate themed! The guy behind this has worked with me in the past, and that is all I can say as of now. It will be a brand new release for 2013, which will be available to buy on diskette, cassette, and digital download.

The game is a platform adventure. The player walks and leaps through the various screens to collect 'bits and bobs' in order to access further screens. To some extent, it can be seen as having a similar style to the Dizzy series (at least the traditional Dizzy games!). As I said - Shiver me' Timbers is currently in development and probably won't be released until summer time (British summertime).

Shiver Me' Timbers artwork by Danny Tolchard

Our new and very talented illustrator (Danny Tolchard) is currently working with Flimsoft in designing the new inlays and artwork in general in order to give our releases the packaging which they have always deserved. We are having our Flimsoft logo completely redesigned, and having our very own Commodore 64 logo on our future releases; yes, times are very good right now for us. You will also notice that will be looking better in the near future too! We have taken on another guy to make it a better browsing experience for you.

After looking at my own personal collection of games, it is mainly the larger cardboard packs which are the best to look at. To some degree I believe that many collectors collect for packaging like myself. For this reason Flimsoft are looking to do this in the future, although doing this in 2013 is going to be tricky and expensive, just like the guys behind HYPERION have also found. It can be done though and hopefully WILL be done. Keep the faith: this time next year there could be cardboard packaged games all over the shop!!

I should also add that we have changed the price structure of our premium diskette releases. All new releases will now be £9.99 (Little Sara Sister is now only £7.99!!).

To end this update - for those of you who would like to receive newsletters via email - please drop us a line to: and we will add you to the list. Please also add us on Facebook and hit 'like' in order to receive frequent updates.

As always, a massive thank-you to those who have supported us and continue to support us by buying our games – much, much more to come soon (I could tell you now but will keep it a secret until our next update).


THYX Release New Single “Network Of Light”

THYX has released their new Single "Network Of Light" of their forthcoming album "Below The City".

You can get the Single now an all major mp3 download stores.

The music video of "Network Of Light" is here -->

Tracklist Single:

  1. Network Of Light
  2. Network Of Light (cutoff remix)
  3. Old People Love Song (unreleased)
  4. Network Of Light (minimum remix)

THYX is the soloproject from mastermind Stefan Poiss.

Where to buy?

Thatcher’s Legacy and the UK Games Industry in the 1980s

By Jeff Lee

Informally, discussions about the video games industry in 1980s Britain often raise the ‘backdrop of Thatcherism’, despite the little ink that’s ever spilt on the matter. I’m never surprised when industry outsiders quickly form the impression that computer games were a Thatcherite endeavour. Nor am I surprised at their assumption that everybody in the industry was cut from the same Thatcherite cloth. A game such as Harrier Attack captured the post-Falklands Conflict flag-waving that the PM capitalised on. In 1983, Clive Sinclair received a knighthood in the birthday honours list on her recommendation. Let’s even think of basic principles here. The very idea that anybody would, or even could, start a small company and become successful in a few months was the embodiment of a shift from heavy industries to the SMEs that she championed. Yet in my time in the industry, I saw no consensus on Thatcherism, only a DIY ethic that was influenced by it.

The first point – dissensus – can be explained through a satire programme in the UK called Spitting Image. One of the most enduring images of Margaret Thatcher is that of the programme’s puppets of her. These evolved over the years into a sort of shrieking Mafiosi. They perfectly identified the duality of her (from softly spoken to thunderous in an instant) and her era (whether in the conflict over the Falklands or the power of unions). And Spitting Image gave her to us, we developers, as an impersonation among many. I worked in one software house where we regularly impersonated (the Spitting Image version of) Reagan, saying ‘Okey-dokey, Ed’ instead of ‘OK’. This phrase was one of the first things we sampled once we bought a Microvox (after, of course, farts and burps). We even learned to say it backwards, sampled the attempt, reversed it, and duly adopted the phlegmmy-sounding ‘Ocky-docky, Eckt’ as our new way of saying ‘OK’. But this digital manipulation of Spitting Image shouldn’t be mistaken for either an homage or a political sympathy. The point here is that our politics were mixed-up, naive, even apathetic.

It’s true that some of us had endured homework by candlelight during the years when strikes and unions held Britain in a headlock. But it’s also true that some of us were uneasy about the escalation in cold-war rhetoric from Thatcher and Reagan. There were a range of political attitudes forming both among and within us that didn’t easily fit into the boxes that the politicians and journalists of the day insisted on. Furthermore, we were mostly aged between 16 and 24, and had virtually no interest in politics. The new comedy that Spitting Image was part of was the critical voice that the parties in opposition lacked. Thus, sampling Thatcher’s American counterpart was jocular, as sophisticated as we got, and hardly partisan to any cause.

Not that Thatcherism wasn’t an influence. There was an attitude that a lot of money could be made should you capture the imagination of the buying public. And that’s my second point: there was a sense when we entered the industry that we could do things ourselves. Some people have tried to convince me that there’s a connection between this DIY mindset and the punk scene prior to the games industry. Hobbyists making games is thereby associated with utopian and alternative cultural movements. The trouble with this noble view is that it owes more to theory textbooks than reality. The DIY in games development wasn’t about making a better world – it was about making a living. In more than four years I never met or heard of a single person with either a punk background or influence. I knew a designer in the late eighties who was into cyberpunk. But his interest was in style and sci-fi.

No: the DIY spirit to making games owed something to Thatcherism. There was a certain confidence and drive to stand out by inventing counter-intuitive products that were commercially risky. And Thatcher was an enabler and cheerleader for the small businesses that took those risks. But none of this would have mattered without the desire that a few thousand remarkable people had to transcend the acute limitations of the technology they worked with. Making those early machines do anything meant doing it yourself. And paradoxically, the limitations were productive. It was still possible for one person to create a product while the machines were small enough. It’s surely in this individual that any debate over the Thatcherite legacy for gaming lies. Can they be equally imagined as a Hurdian, Portillistan, or Kinnockian individual? Or would games and technology have pushed on in the same way regardless of who was in power? How surprising it is that so little ink has been spilt on these subjects.

Copyright © Jeff Lee 2013.

Jeff Lee writes about cultural history. He is a former games developer, and wrote The Hype Game, ( a novel that documents life in the 1980s games industry. His blog can be found at

This Article originally appeared on Retro Game Collector under the pen name Marwood Packard.

Review: C64 Walkabout

By Jeff Lee

There’s not a great deal published about the culture of the early computing industry, so I read with great interest anything I find that captures the feel of the time. I’ve put my notes about Robinson Mason’s C64 Walkabout together so that we have here what I’ll call a review!

Mason says in the first chapter that it’s unimaginable that a computer launched in 2012 would last until 2024. This partly brings to mind the disposable nature of computing today, the accelerated turnover that feeds landfill sites around the world; but this is only in passing – the comment is that the Commodore 64 enjoys a landmark status that few other pieces of technology can boast. A lot of this is down to the communities that have built up around the machine, much of which is documented in the book. What comes across strongest is the enthusiasm of the devotees such as Mason who make up those communities.

This is a ‘how to’ book that will help anyone whose interest has already been aroused by the network of video, audio and textual content put online by enthusiasts. The author’s detailed knowledge covers collecting, the demo scene that emerged in the late eighties, computer fairs, adventure gaming, non-gaming software, the Vic-20, emulators, interactive fiction, and all without resort to lengthy discussions of the main games on the C64 that have already been discussed to within a centimetre of their life.

Coverage, in this sense, is partial to the author’s experience, which although extensive, limits the comparisons. This is not necessarily a problem. More even-handed coverage would require exhaustive research outside the resources of an enthusiast, and would be unlikely to be recompensed by the low revenues possible from an eBook for a niche market. What partiality brings to the reading experience to Walkabout is a character and quirkiness that even-handed coverage would miss. A roundup of adventure games suddenly digresses into an interview with a programmer. Watch out for the charming anecdote about C64 music and piano lessons.

It’s hard to imagine this book encouraging more than a modest interest in C64 retro computing, despite this apparent intention. It’s not that the advantages aren’t argued enough, in fact, they occur repeatedly throughout. However, the unconverted are unlikely to get to most of this encouragement when it’s woven into material that’s aimed at aficionados. Likewise, aficionados may find themselves feeling like the converted being preached at. The book cries out for a bridge. For example, having a ‘The Case for the C64’ chapter early on and free to read on Amazon’s Look Inside could separate the appeal to new audiences from the instructional content better.

Not that structure needs to be so rigid that it loses balance. Helping readers and giving personal touches aren’t mutually exclusive. The retro discoveries made by the author’s daughter bring a parental angle that’s a touching reminder that enthusiasms can be passed on. This is both personal and informational. Family / intergenerational aspects are what eBook authors can do more of that authors publishing through traditional means are often discouraged from. There’s a balance to Walkabout’s getting down to business and chatty diversions that suggests that the enthusiasm to make the case for Commodore retro can’t be entirely separated from clearer organisation for those looking to follow a resource. For this reason it’s hard to call the book a ‘reference’ in the usual sense. Take this passage about caring for vintage hardware:

It is also a good practice to clean the contacts on the cartridge port and cartridge contacts with rubbing alcohol (91% – not 71% – the 71% has inactive ingredients for skin contact that could be an unnecessary contaminant). The contacts can oxidize or might just be dirty from storage over the years. Despite these efforts you may find that reseating the cartridge will work best.

Like elsewhere, the recommendations can read like a mix of grooming, nursing, art conservation, and even love letter. Preservation is a theme that runs throughout, as it is bound to. There are also peculiar historical references such as the attempts made by C64 developers to keep up with bigger machines by squeezing more out, e.g. by software that required multiple disk swaps.

There’s an unstated but implied point here that’s a good one to end on. As technologies age, the love shared among devotees will inevitably rub up against the upgrade culture that makes technological development possible. Anyone interested in this friction will find this book especially rewarding.

Copyright © Jeff Lee 2013.

Jeff Lee writes about cultural history. He is a former games developer, and wrote The Hype Game, ( a novel that documents life in the 1980s games industry. His blog can be found at

Sir Ababol / Nanako In Classic Japanese Monster Castle (C64)

RGCD Cartridge Release

By Commodore Free

System Requirements

A Commodore 64/128 (PAL/NTSC).
A joystick/joypad.
A VDU preferably connected to a loud sound-system.


Following on from last year's authorised C64 cartridge release of UWOL: Quest For Money, RGCD is back with a compilation of two more Mojon Twins game conversions coded by Woodmaster - the classic run 'n jump collect 'em up 'Sir Ababol' and mind-bending platform-puzzler 'Nanako in Classic Japanese Monster Castle'.


The following people made this game possible.

Code, Concept & Design
Music & Sound Effects
Cartridge Conversion
Project Management, Manual & PAL Testing
Box Artwork
Box Design
NTSC Testing
Cartridge Hardware

The C64 conversion of Nanako was been developed from scratch by Inside, based upon the original design by The Mojon Twins.

Sir Ababol is a Mojon Twins production, Copyright 2010. Published on tape and disk by Psytronik Software, and cartridge by RGCD 2013.

Nanako in Classic Japanese Monster Castle is a Mojon Twins production, Copyright 2007. Published on tape and disk by Psytronik Software, and cartridge by RGCD 2013.

Ordering The Official Cartridge/Disk/Tape

The cartridge version is available to buy, The game is presented in a transparent purple cartridge shell illuminated by an internal LED, and comes complete with a printed manual, and a vinyl Mojon Twins sticker.

The cartridge version is available in two packaging types, a standard card carton and a more expensive 'deluxe version' that comes in a plastic case. The standard version is priced at £22, whereas the deluxe version costs £27. Shipping is £4 for UK/Europe and £5 for the rest of the world. A digital version of the game will also be sent out to all customers following receipt of payment.

Please note that Psytronik Software are also selling the game on premium/budget disk and tape for £9.99/£4.99 and £3.99 respectively (plus shipping) via their Binary Zone Retro Store.

The Psytronik version is a compilation of Sir Ababol, Nanako in Classic Japanese Monster Castle and UWOL: Quest for Money. UWOL: Quest for Money is also available separately on cartridge from the RGCD shop.

Sir Ababol and Nanako In Classic Japanese Monster Castle have both been tested on both PAL and NTSC machines, and they work on the C64, C128 and C64GS (there is no keyboard input required to play). Although the games run on NTSC hardware, they do play fractionally faster. As such, the games are labelled as NTSC compatible, but designed for PAL systems. SID 8580 recommended.

Commodore Free review:

Sir Ababol

The history ...............

At the end of the 11th Century, a young crusader named Sir Ababol from Manchester City travelled across the ever green prairies of French Britain, climbed the infinite heights of the Pirineos and arrived at the Alcoraz River. There, with astonishment he witnessed St. George from Capadocia, also known as “the dragon guy”, helping the Christians to conquer territories held by the infidels.

Perplexed by the apparition, Sir Ababol stumbled over a rock and onto a big fat ball of spikes, causing him to jump across the air in pain and fall into the river. The river carried him to the Monegros' Desert, where he awoke with a sheep licking his right cheek. He realised that he had lost his mighty sword, without which he couldn't continue his journey across the world. Sir Ababol saw a farmer in a lucence-sown field and decided to ask him for help, only to be pointed in direction of a piece of land full of wild Ababol flowers.

What were these red flowers, and why did they share the same name as our hero? Was it destiny? Since when did the Alcoraz River flow into the Monegros' Desert? Why does St. Marta have a train station but not a tram line? How do I get to Jerusalem? Too many questions gathered in his head, so he wiped them all out with a big sneeze and headed to the land full of Ababol flowers.

From this very moment his fate is in your hands. Guide him across the Monegrian fields helping him collect the strange Ababol flowers and regain his sword so that he may continue his journey to Jerusalem. Amen. Jesus.

Playing Sir Ababol

Using a joystick plugged into port 2, you must control Sir Ababol as he boldly ventures across the Monegrian fields with the goal of gathering 25 Ababol flowers. To progress in your journey you’ll need to find keys to unlock several doors, allowing you to gain access to different sections. Once you have collected 25 Ababol flowers, your mission will be over.

Avoid touching the marauding monsters and the evil water. You can regain some lost health eating the magical legs of Monegros' fried chicken that are scattered around previously visited screens.

Sir Ababol Controls

Plugging in the Cartridge and Starting the computer, the cartridge gives the classy RGCD logo that makes way to a small menu system. The system is operated entirely by a joystick in port 2, so it can be used on a c64GS Commodore games system, (as the c64GS doesn’t have a keyboard).

The menu’s music is very suited to the games atmosphere, and the rolling base, bleeping lead sounds, and white noise pizzicato gives a good build-up to the games ahead.

Using the joystick and Selecting ABABOL

The game takes us into a de-crunching phase where the screen turns black and the game is prepared behind the scenes.

Then suddenly the superb music pumps out. It’s all you would expect a C64 SID tune to be, and has all the usual SID filter effects and that amazing, phat base blobs along with a suitably high-pitched warble. It feels like you’re a knight sitting around that well-known round table, awaiting instructions. This is oozing with skill, and a classic title seems to be unveiling in front of me before I’ve even played anything! The more you listen to the amazing track, the more the build-up starts to take you over. If you remember the feeling of the tape loading systems with the loading screen, and then the music starting while you’re sat there waiting, you will know that stomach churning feeling of eagerly awaiting the game.

The SIR ABABOL text is waving in a typical demo styleeeee

It’s subtle but adds a touch more class, and is still somehow in keeping with the style of the game!

Pressing fire scrolls out the title and starts the game; again the music is more subtle, but well suited to the game. The playfield seems very small however, and the music plays on, trying to make up for this reduced playing area somehow.

Graphics are well drawn, and suitable sound effects grace the game with jumping and of course bumping into items.

The depth of the graphics is great, but again, the screen seems very small.

Ohhh look a key thingy – I am having some of that!

As you bump into other creatures, you lose energy, and of course, losing too much isn’t a good thing because you die! You do seem to be able to jump fairly high, but the gravity soon pulls you back down. Again, here my only criticism is the screen size – it’s a very small play area.

Of course the game is nothing that hasn’t been tried and tested many, many times before; you collect things – in this case flowers – and need seek out and hunt for keys to unlock other areas of the game.

Enjoyable but the screen is small.

Music 8/10
just the screen size reduced this from an 8
Gameplay 8/10
Graphics 7/10
marked down because of the small screen play area

Nanako In Classic Japanese Monster Castle

Quick catch-up on the history

Mya, a witch apprentice and Nanako's younger sister, breaking the palace rules and disobeying her mentor's orders, decided to depart for Heún Tower in order to improve her knowledge of dark magic.

The old tower, surrounded by a magic halo knitted by God only knows who, was populated by a whole army of Karakasas among a multitude of other kinds of Tzukogamis (inanimate objects that become conscious after they are more than 100 years old). Commonly, they are not hostile at all, but the way Mya broke into the tower made them very angry and become really dangerous. Poor Mya hid herself away in a chamber located at the top of the tower, unable to descend the 25 floors and return home, surviving miserably during several weeks.

Nanako, deeply worried about her sister’s disappearance, picked up on Mya's trail and followed her to the Heún Tower. Her mental connection with Mya was strong, and she could tell that her sister was in trouble. Boldly, Nanako entered the tower - she knew that when she found her they would be able to create a connection and be teleported to a safe place. But for now, the main problem was to dodge all those Karakasa between them!

In this game you control Nanako using the joystick plugged into port 2. The game consists on 25 levels, each one representing one of the floors in the tower. In each one, to reach the following level you have to literally build up your path to the top of the screen. This can be achieved via Nanako’s ability to carry boxes (only one at a time) and drop them elsewhere.

In each screen you’ll find a Karakasa. Nanako is able to walk over a still Karakasa, but if it moves Nanako may fall from its head and be ensnared in its vicious claws beneath, losing a valuable life. However, to be able to use a Karakasa as a platform to jump from and reach higher is essential in some of the levels.

Another useful ability Nanako possesses is to release a box during a jump, causing the box to appear where she is and stay floating in the mid-air. It's very important to master the ability of dropping the box at the highest point of a jump, so as to gain fast access to upper levels.

At the beginning of each level a password is given (using the Kun alphabet - see below) which can be used to access previously beaten levels instead of having to start over once and again. Use LEFT/RIGHT/UP/DOWN to write the password and JUMP to validate it.

The 'KUN' Alphabet

Nanako uses an ancient and magical character set known as KUN. An alphabet to help you decipher the text is provided below.

Nanako In Classic Japanese Monster Castle Controls

Very playable with some atmospheric music.

With no way to return back to the ROOT menu, I had to do a reset on my machine.

Again we are back to that amazing folding baseline and meandering lead sound – blimey I may stay listening to this .... [ED – COME ON!...]

What? Oh yes, the game....

Anyway, eventually you move on by pressing down on the joystick and selecting NANAKO. A very racy picture of a rather scantily-clad Japanese woman appears, assuming she’s not a ladyboy! OK, moving quickly on then …

Press fire to de-crunch the game into memory, and after about a second you are taken to the games menu system.

Man! The music is totally insane here! Ok you need to listen to this; this is a pumping SID tune, but not a techno rave thing, just a pumping tune. Words can’t convey the feeling of this tune, so …

Press the fire button if you can tear yourself away from it, and ...

Nope! Still on the menu? Yep, me too! [ED – WHAT ABOUT THE GAME?]

What? Oh, yes …

Pressing fire takes you into the game. The music here is slower, but just as infectious.

You have to remember in this game that “You do possess the ability to pick up a box”

So standing on a box and pressing the joystick down lets you carry the box to another location where it’s more needed.

You can then jump up and release the box by pressing the joystick up. You will need to master this technique very quickly because you need to gain extra height for jumps. This is the only way to get this height, and the gravity is very heavy on our little guy.

If all else fails, you can press “R” to commit suicide! The games screen layout changes around slightly each time you play, so it feels slightly different each time, even on the same level or screen.

You can see I put the box thing to good use here

Although to be fair I am still on the first screen so ...

It takes practice, and the learning curve is quite high, but once you grasp the box thing, everything clicks into place, so stick with it. It’s all down to practice (as the saying goes).

Super colours and animation and the music again adds totally to the gameplay.

Graphics 8/10
Sound 8/10
Gameplay 8/10

Another fiendish platform game but with a welcome twist to add into the usual mix.

“Nightmare Park”

Commodore PET Game

By therealeasterbunny

The first DeLorean has been made, 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' is screening and Charles and Di are about to get hitched. But you don't care. The school clock reads 11:55 and all you can think about is how quick you can get from your Maths class to the school's new computer club at lunch break to get on a spare microcomputer! The year is 1981.


Legend tells of a Park where courageous heroes
attempt to venture through, take on all its
challenges and emerge victorious.

The Gruesome Gambler, Stampeding Unicorns, Death Rays, Stingers,
Multiplying Lurgi, Mad Mathematician Crushers, Blabbers and Najjers,
Egostistical Gorillas, Hails of Barbs,
Zigzaggers and a Vortex all stand in your way.

Will you be a hero and attempt to beat the Park,
or will Nightmare Park claim yet another victim?

Hello! My name is therealeasterbunny and I am addicted to the Commodore PET!

My favourite game of all time is PET "Nightmare Park" and, as far my research goes, it was originally written for the PET around April 1980 by Bob Chappell.

A BASIC listing for Nightmare Park npark/npark.htm first appeared in Personal Computer World August 1980, which I only found out some years later after coming across it in my Commodore PET and computer magazine collection that I had built over the years.

Since playing Nightmare Park in the early 80s, I have recreated it for my own personal enjoyment on the VIC-20, Commodore 64, IBM PC, Windows Mobile and now the Android platform.

My main aims for the Android port were authenticity in terms of both gameplay and the visual appearance from the original Commodore PET character set.

After extracting the 'PETSCII' character set from a PET ROM and converting it to individual 8x8 pixel images, I then assessed the screen resolutions of the various Android gadgets out there. I found that I could represent the game's 4:3 aspect ratio by simply scaling up the 8x8 character size in equal amounts. The screen sizes cater for this scaling upwards of 320x200 (40*8 / 25*8), albeit making the game 'centred' on some widescreen devices, but leaving adequate room of 40 pixels underneath the game screen for a 'soft' keyboard for some of Nightmare Park's challenges. 320x240 in total, it happily scaled up to fit in the widely used 800x480 (*2 magnification) and 1024x720 (*3 magnification) screens as well as other sizes.

The port was meant to be! Additionally, the Android's touch screen, together with 'tap zones' for navigation, allows for full touch screen gameplay. Once you have the knack of the tap zones, the game is as exciting and playable as it was 32 years ago.

I have had lots of nice feedback about the Android port since release. Some people mention that it brings back happy memories of their PET and school computer clubs.

Since its first release in 1980, Nightmare Park has been recreated commercially for other platforms, and in many new formats of graphical game play, but I find the original to be the best. Some parts of the game rely on randomness and others on skill. It all forms part of a great game from Bob Chappell.

Bob worked with Peter Calver (Supersoft and Audiogenic fame) and went on to create other games including a Commodore 64 version of 'HHGTTG'.'s_Guide_to_the_Galaxy Even though I have searched phone books, telephoned and messaged various Bob Chappells, and even spoken to Peter Calver a couple of years ago (who last had contact with Bob in the mid to late 80s), I have as yet been unable to trace Bob. If anyone knows his current whereabouts, please get in touch, as Peter and I would love to get in touch with him.

If you are looking for any hard-to-find PET reference material, or would like hints and tips about approaching game porting from the PET to mobile devices, please get in touch. I am happy to help share my PET and porting experience / code hints for other programmers who may also wish to port their favourite PET games.

Commodore PET Nightmare Park is now available for free download from Google Play. Reminisce! Relive your youth! Enjoy!


Interview With Lenard Roach

Part 1: Books

By Commodore Free

Commodore Free had the chance to contact Lenard Roach and quiz him about his work on and about the Commodore.

Q: Hey, Lenard! Thanks for taking time out to talk to our readers.

A: It's all groovy. I'm chilling with my cats and ready to chat.

Q: Let's start with something to ease everyone into the conversation-how long have you been working on the Commodore?

A: I got my first unit for Christmas in 1987. It was a C64 with tape drive and RTF hookup. I burned an image of the home screen into my JC Penny TV, which was so bad from constant computer use that I had to replace it. I wrote my first and only movie script, "The Crimebusters," on it. The script was so long that it took 30 minutes to load the manuscript off the tape drive and into the C64. I used Speedscript 3.0 for my word processor back then. Now I use GeoWrite. I started serious BASIC programming in 1991, and finally hit the "big time" in Commodore with "Check it Out" in 1992, the same year my youngest son was born. RUN magazine gave me $150 for 26 blocks of code. It was the thrill of a lifetime. I went Commodore crazy from 1995 to 2010 writing dozens and dozens of articles for Ryte Bytes, Loadstar, The Interface, and The Village Green, along with some more freelance programming.

Q: Speaking of writing, let’s look at your two Commodore books, "Run/Stop-Restore" and "Run/Stop-Restore: 10th Anniversary Edition." Starting with the first book, "Run/Stop-Restore," what was the purpose behind that book?

A: "Run/Stop-Restore" is a collection of stories and essays from some of my best writings during 1995 to 2000. I assembled these pieces together under an inspiration – a whim, if you will – about three days after I got fired from my job at the detention centre. The assembling, structuring, formatting, printing, and illustrating the book took a month of working on for twelve hours a day every day.

Commodore had dozens of "how to" and "history of" books, but nothing I could find that expressed the emotions and experiences of working on the machine. Maybe I didn't look too hard. I was hoping to come out with the first "what the" book in the Commodore genre. Upon opening "Run/Stop-Restore," the reader is met with, not technical data or dates, names, and places, but some fun, tongue in cheek humour along with the occasional data, and even an illustration done by the one of the Roach family that told the story in a picture. The book was divided into eight sections that categorized the essays. The cover was illustrated by my then eight-year-old son Gabriel.

Q: Yes, the cover to "Run/Stop-Restore" definitely throws the browser for the book into a loop. I personally would be looking for a keyboard or something along those lines. Can you explain the house on the cover of this particular volume?

A: Everyone in my family contributed to the book; everyone that is, except Gabriel. My wife discussed the situation with me, and I thought of the only part of the book that hasn't been done-the cover. I sat Gabriel down and asked him to draw a picture of what Commodore meant to him, and whatever he drew would end up on the cover of the book. Gabriel instantly drew a picture of a house. Commodore meant "home" to him-a machine that was a part of the family as much as the people and the pets. A house without a Commodore is not a home.

Q: I can't find any indication of "Run/Stop-Restore" ever being published by a mainstream publisher or on the Internet. Can you tell us the whereabouts of this book?

A: "Run/Stop-Restore" was a complete, 100% self publishing venture. It was a "wine idea on beer money" project, as my mom would say. I made the master manuscript copy on a Commodore MPS-801 printer, then photocopied the manuscript ten times over, had a printing shop put a cover on them, and they were done. You heard right-only ten original copies of the book were made. I gave eight away to various clubs in the United States, and sold two at one of the various CommVEx's held in Las Vegas every year by the Fresno Commodore Users Group.

Q: So this book no longer exists?

A: My web master, great friend, and all around good egg, Tim Montee of Tim's Tech Shop in Keytesville, Missouri, borrowed the master copy of the book, and slowly and meticulously, scanned each page, in all its Commodore glory, into a PDF file and placed it on my website, So to answer your question, no, there are no more available hard copies of the book, but yes, the book lives in digitized form on the Internet.

Q: I must say both volumes of the work are very hard to follow and seem to send the reader to several different places in one sitting. Care to comment on that?

A: Both "Run/Stop-Restore" and "Run/Stop-Restore: 10th Anniversary Edition" were styled to bring the reader into a "mini-mall" of stories, ideas, and thoughts pertaining to and surrounding the Commodore computer. It also shows the style of writing I do as a essayist, article writer, and story writer. Sadly, I do not possess in great measure the great skill of strong organization when it comes to these style of books. I tried my best, but I'm sure there is room for improvement.

Q: Which leads us off to talk about your second Commodore work, "Run/Stop-Restore: 10th Anniversary Edition." Why did you feel that another edition of the same, apparently unsuccessful, book was necessary?

A: "Run/Stop-Restore: 10th Anniversary Edition" was birthed after the third worst tragedy in my life happened. My wife of 26 years confessed to having a love affair with a man who was five years older than my oldest son and was leaving me. God, I think, took this shattering of the family structure, and put me right to work after that on my second book in the effort of trying to keep my mind occupied so I wouldn't do something stupid with my life. Between working on the second book and working two full-time jobs kept me busy while my heart had time to heal.

There was a lot of work that needed to be done in turning "Run/Stop-Restore" into its 10th anniversary version. First, the publisher I selected to do the work needed the original Commodore text transposed into a .doc format so their computers could read it. Thanks be to God and Dick Estel of The Fresno Commodore Users Group for introducing me to and teaching me via email how to properly operate the Big Blue Reader Commodore-to-PC translator. The task to transpose all that Commodore text to a Word document one word at a time would take about another month of twelve hour days. The entire task took about a week of just a few hours each with Big Blue Reader .

Q: It's amazing to think that both books were created on the heels of personal disaster. I'm looking at a copy of "Run/Stop-Restore: 10th Anniversary Edition" now, and again, I must ask the question about the cover. Why the IBM, and not an actual Commodore?

A: The wonderful people at Author House had no idea what a Commodore was. They had never heard of the machine. All they knew was that it was an old computer. In their collection of photos and graphics under their copyright control message was a picture of this old IBM desktop. They pitched the idea to me and instantly I balked at the thought of putting an IBM on the cover of a Commodore book. They explained to me their situation, so reluctantly I agreed to putting up with the IBM. It's either that or a blank cover. In retrospect, I'm thinking a blank cover would have been better.

Q: There is quite a difference between the two versions - the content, the style, the subtraction of the illustrations, not self published - what prompted these and other changes?

A: Most of these changes were due to simple failures to acquire the proper hardware and software to make a 100% transference between the two versions. At the time I did not have the scanner to put the pictures back into the Word version, for example. I left out the section breaks to have the second book run quicker and smoother. I removed some of the stories found in the first version that just didn't seem to fit at a second glance, and added new material that is only found in both the original publication and in the second book. Despite the small page count, "Run/Stop-Restore: 10th Anniversary Edition" has more reading matter than its predecessor. As for using an established publisher, I never tried one before and wondered what they had to offer. I bought their elite package on sale for 50% off, and got quite a bit of service, except marketing – that was extra. Author House has a lot of after-publication services, each for a fee, that will help a new writer to get off the ground. Be wary, though! Have a good $5k to $10k close at hand if you want to access any or all the services they offer.

Q: Was publishing "Run/Stop-Restore: 10th Anniversary Edition" easier or harder than "Run/Stop-Restore?"

A: With "Run/Stop-Restore," I did all the work, both writing as well as publishing myself; with "Run/Stop-Restore: 10th Anniversary Edition," I hired a team to do all the publishing and cover design. It is definitely easier to use a for-profit publisher, but self-publishing is cheaper. Another up for the for-profit is that they are constantly coming up with things to help promote the book (at a cost to you, of course), while the self-publishing route you dig up everything yourself, so they both have their ups and downs.

Q: Which do you prefer personally?

A: I like the for-profit publisher because I'm lazy and the self-publishing is a lot of work.

Q: Before we log off from the chat, let me ask you one more thing--a scan of the Internet shows you have another book that is non-Commodore related. For the interest of our readers, can you give us a short synopsis of that book?

A: Thank you for allowing me a chance to promote that book in your magazine. My 2012 release, "Skits For 2nd Hand Puppets Volume 1: The Ten Commandments" was one of my many manuscripts that was written on a Commodore with GeoWrite software that I had to convert to Word to PDF. This book is a skit book that focuses on churches, especially the churches with two to five year olds that like to have fun and watch a five minute puppet show in the process. I took the Ten Commandments found in Exodus 20 and created the land of Anywheresville "where anything can happen." Curious creatures learn with the children what the Ten Commandments are any how they apply to their lives. Also in the book are two Christmas skits and an Easter skit which are both fun and entertaining. This book was published by and is available through either or

Q: Wow, another book generated first on a Commodore. Why didn't you stay with Author House on the newest book?

A: An honoured rival in the book writing industry advised me about Create Space and told me that if I'm willing to do the formatting and cover graphics on my own, Create Space will publish my manuscript for free. That's a lot cheaper than $5K or $10K.

Q: True indeed. Anything you want to tell our readers before we go?

A: Have fun--on the Commodore and in life. Life's too short to not pursue your dreams in whatever you want to do. Let nothing--and I mean nothing--hold you back. Research, delve, dabble, try, test, create! I got into Commodore late, but I'm still having fun. New stuff is coming out on the Commodore every day. Check them out, or be bold an create your own.

Q: Thank you for giving Commodore Free your time. Can you come back again soon and talk about some of your programming accomplishments that you mentioned at the beginning?

A: Sure. I'd love to.

Lenard’s Homepages

Runstop/restore was reviewed in Commodore Free back in issue 58

To be continued .......................