Issue 85
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
Bert Novilla
TXT, HTML & eBooks
Paul Davis
D64 Disk Image
Al Jackson
PDF Design
Nigel Parker
Richard Bayliss
Terry Raymond
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 © 2014 Commodore Free Magazine
All Rights Reserved.



Wow! It’s like another year over already – where did time go?

I would like some more writers to join Commodore Free's team of staff. Currently the only staff writer is myself, and this is proving difficult, not to mention time-consuming. If you feel you have the skills and would like to be a permanent writer on the exclusive team of Commodore Free, feel free to get in touch with me. You don’t have to commit to writing “every” month; just submit as and when. Thank you in advance.

So this issue sees an interview with an amazing hardware creation called THERAPSID. It’s a SID chip in a box, but this has knobs to tweak the sounds. It not only looks amazing with the SID chip squelching underneath, it also sounds amazing.

We have a great interview with Particles BBS Sysop and an intro to the history of a BBS, as I know some younger readers will be wondering what a BBS is, and why they were so important to computing and communities way back in the 80s. Back then the Internet wasn’t as it is now and we used BBS systems to download files, email, and chat. Heck, I miss all that modem squealing – I sometimes have to phone up my fax machine to get the squeal fix.

Terry Raymond shares with us how to create an icon for your GEOS or Wings application, with a walk-through tutorial for you programming types to follow. Let me know your thoughts please.

Richard Bayliss proves there is life in the cover-tape with some more programs and applications to load up. I never received anything from Pet, Vic, C16 or Amiga users; please feel free to submit works you own the copyright to for inclusion on this feature.

One reader asked me if I would print an article he wrote about transferring files from the C64 into Ever-note. It even has an old-style BASIC listing to type in, although you will need a soldering iron to make the cable, so I hope you enjoy his efforts!

More news from around the Internet, and from users emailing in and that’s the issue finished. If all goes to plan you are reading it before the new year! Either way, I wish you a happy and prosperous New Year, and hope you all remain fit and well.

Some readers were a little concerned about the slow issue releases; yes I had some health issues, but it was mainly due to workload. Sadly I don’t have enough time in the day to do my work job and write the issue. Anyway, I hope you do enjoy it after waiting for so long for the issue to arrive and thanks for all your emails!

Best regards,

Nigel (Editor) Commodore Free

Commodore Free E-Cover Tape #16

By Richard Bayliss

The Commodore Free cover tape is back! This month it is probably the BIGGEST and the BEST cover tape so far. There's loads of great programs in store for you. There's the prize version of the SEUCK game 'Double or Nothing', which consists of a loading picture, new front end, extra music, and also some great power ups. There's also a few puzzle games to blow your brain away. If you are bored with playing games, then feast your eyes on this month's PD Demo Extravaganza, which features some stunning demos past and present from the demo scene :)

Double or Nothing – Redux

(C)2014 Alf Yngve

Programming Martin Piper, Richard/TND
Graphics Alf Yngve, Shine/Delysid
Music Richard/TND

Yeah, yeah. I know, this game was released on Issue #80's E-Cover tape, but now you get the ULTIMATE edition of the game, featuring plenty of enhancements. This is the game that 'Won' the SEUCK Compo 2014, and features a brand new front end, a loading screen, in-game music, and power ups. This enhances game play even more – and the game will get even tougher.

The world is at war against invaders. Your mind begins to drift. You find yourself in two realities. You are going mad. Which reality is the real one? Are you trying to save planet Earth by fighting against an army of robots, or fighting a swarm of aliens?

Using a joystick in port 2, help control your protagonist through both worlds, fighting against the enemies. The further you progress, the two realities will come together. During play you will come across some power up objects. Pick these up to change the weapon type. Some power ups will be strong, others are weak. Can you fight bravely, put an end to the war, and return back to the real reality?

5 x 5

(C)1997 Super High Inventive Technologies

Programming Didi/Laxity
Graphics Didi/Laxity
Music Red Devil/Fairlight

This is a fun English word game, with nice presentation and some great music, all created from the Demo Scene. The game consists of different options (which enhances the gameplay) such as a timed game, or highlighting correct letters in wrong places, etc.

The object of the game is to simply guess a five-letter word which the computer has stored into memory. Type in some letters to see if it will form the correct word. If it doesn't then you'll get another chance at writing the missing word. Fail on that another three times and the game is over. If, however, you do get the correct word, you'll move on to the next level; a new word will then be randomly selected. Keep on guessing as many different words as possible, and reach the high score table. Can you manage this, or will you fail?


(C)2011 IceOut Games/Avatar

Programming Charles Grey
Graphics Charles Grey, Flower/Avatar
Music Fredrik/Avatar

Time for a fun puzzle game which involves money. The idea is quite simple: you need to flip your coins round and eliminate each set. You have a set time limit to get eliminate as many coins as possible. To get rid of the coins simply move your cursor over four coins, hold Fire, and the direction in which you wish to rotate the four coins on-screen. Should four coins all match together in a square, they will be removed from the board. Keep on playing until you have run out of time, then see what high score you can achieve.

Snake Bite

(C)2013 Public Domain Software

Programming Alan Bond
Graphics Alan Bond
Music/SFX Alan Bond

Hands up – who remembers the worm/nibbly games? Well, Snake Bite is something quite different. One way or another (as a treat for worm fans), here's something a little different: 'Snake Bite'. Using a joystick plugged into port 2, you must guide your snake around the maze, eating fruit to make your snake group. Then flee to the exit, which will appear after the fruit has been eaten.

Try to avoid getting stuck in situations where you can't move as you won't be able to get anywhere – and you'll have to re-load the game (unless you are carrying a gun and shoot yourself with it). As each level progresses you must work through and solve puzzles to try and escape from the maze. Can your snake escape from all of the mazes, or will it become trapped in an unmovable situation? Good luck – and don't get stuck!


Delirious 9

(C)1990 Genesis Project

Programming Raistlin/G*P
Graphics Artline Designs, Marius Skogheim
Music Deek/Crest, Fun Fun/Triangle, Lars Hoff/Prosonix, Ole Marious Pettersen/Prosonix

To end this issue's cover tape, we have a stunning old single file demo called 'Delirious 9' by G*P. This demo features four parts in total, with some breathtaking music, colourful graphics, and some classic old-style demo effects, and plenty of scroll text to read as well.

Skull Tour

(C)1989 Danish Design

Programming Brian Hansen, Thomas Beha
Graphics Brian Hansen, Thomas Beha
Music Drax/Vibrants

Skull Tour is a simple classic scroll text demo featuring really nice colour graphics and animations. There's nothing really special effect-wise, but the demo looks pretty stunning anyhow.

Real Acid

(C)1989 Paramount

Programming Scratcher/Paramount
Graphics Scratcher/Paramount
Music Markus Schneider

To end this issue's classic demo round-up comes Real Acid, a very old contact demo by Scratcher/Paramount. It consists of some nice graphics, scroll text, and excellent music.


(C)2014 Score

Programming Mate/Score
Graphics Mate/Score, Shine/Code7
Music Nyarla, Odysseus/Reflex, Ozone

This is the latest one-file demo from a new demo group which names itself 'Score'. The demo is split into three different parts, and consists of some nice presentation and effects. To move on to the next part, press the space bar and the next part will de-crunch for you.

Next Time

We'll be bringing another balanced E-Tape, where we'll be adding more great stuff on to it. We'd like to try and have a cover tape that doesn't consist of any SEUCK games or any TND stuff the next time 'round. Are you able to help out? If the answer is yes, then please submit your cover tape submission to the usual email address, which is on the scroll-text of the tape loader.

Thank you.

See you on the next cover tape.

General News

Retro Game Calendar 2015

The Sunteam have created some great calendars for retro computer fans. The website has calendars you can print out and use in an old CD case as the calendar's desk holder.

Each calendar has a graphic showing how to cut out and use the CD case to display the calendar in its retro glory.

The following retro calendars are available:

ZX-81, ZX-Spectrum, Commodore 64, Sega Master System, PC Engine, Sega Mega Drive and Commodore Amiga.


The TherapSid uses a Commodore 64 SID chip to produce music.


Compatible with all SIDs,
3 Oscillator,
4 waveforms per oscillator Multimode Filter,
turn 35 knobs,
press 31 buttons,
100 institutions,
16 Steps Modulator,
and the system has an app for the iPad.

See interview later in this issue.

BEEP Documentary

Beep is a documentary film and book of video game music and sound. This project is a Kickstarter project, and the end result will be available in March 2016.

A few examples of people being interviewed for the project are: Allister Brimble, Chris Huelsbeck, Anders Carlsson, Mike Clarke, Tim Wright, Martin Galway and many more.


TOSEC has recently been updated.

TOSEC, or The Old School Emulation Center, is a group of people who work on the preservation of games or other software for the home computer and games consoles.

In this update: 19 new, 369 updated

Particles! BBS | telnet:// | telnet://

Been around since 1992... which is like, an eternity in computer-time.

What Is It?

It's a BBS running Centipede on a Commodore 128D with message bases dedicated to old computer goodness.


Runs PETSCII, ANSI, ASCII, 40 columns, 80 columns so connect with whatever you want.

Speaking of connecting, connect from the website at if you don't have a terminal.

Useless Hardware Info

See interview in this issue.

Cassiopei Update

A firmware update for the Cassiopei is now available; also, the C128 is now fully supported. You can now quickly get started without even typing anything thanks to the new boot disk functionality. There is also a new release of the Cassiopei manager.

CBM prg Studio v3.1.0

Arthur Jordison has released an update to the CBM prg Studio.

Changes in this version include: Code clippings, improvements for the VICE debugger support, new manual for mixing BASIC and machine language, support for the Plus / 4 screen code builder tool, and BASIC 8 support for C128 projects.

C64Studio v3.8

C64 Studio is a machine language development environment that works with VICE. You can write machine language and then testing in the VICE emulator.

New Features

C64 News

Reformation C64 Remixes

Reformation will be a definitive set of Matt Gray C64 games soundtrack remakes, produced by the acclaimed C64 musician himself.

International Karaoke+

Interesting, this title – I haven’t really reported about “music” releases but this one is different. It’s a Christmas-themed affair with various favourites you have to select.

Not only are the musical renditions of these holiday favourites well executed, the application displays the words to sing along (in time) with the music. Something similar has been attempted before, but to my knowledge, not on this scale! (did you get the pun there?)

Dust layer Coding Tutorials

These are published tutorials on The tutorials sometime come with example code which can be downloaded using DUST or you clone the code from my github repository. The appropriate link is provided with each tutorial.

Digital Excess Tools

Digital Excess have released a number of tools recently:

Pic2spr V1.2E

Released by: Seanser (at the time of writing has hit version 1.2E). This program can take a picture (.png, .jpg,. bmp) and turn it into sprite data.

The to-be-converted picture doesn't need to be exactly 24x21 pixels in size; however, if the picture is too large it will be resized automatically.

HVSID Player Plugin v4b

20 September 2014, 23:00:00

Released by: Singular

Type: IDE64 Release

Attitude Issue 15

Attitude is a disk magazine released by Triad, now up to issue 15.

In this issue

MP3 Plugin v6 [IDE64]

The Singular crew have released an updated MP3 player plugin for the IDE64 and MP3 Module:

The docs say:

MP3 player plugin for IDE64+MP3@64

Please note that 32/16/8 KHz sampling rates are not supported by the hardware, and only silence is played.

Air Sea Battle Released

While you may criticize the 1982-style graphics and lack of sound output, Air Sea Battle is a simple game that has been developed for the C64 in the language of C. The same author has also released UFO Attack and Looter.

So, as these are programming exercises into C rather than just standard games releases, I will just point you to more information. And, while most will pull a face that C is used rather than machine code, the game does feel slicker and a lot faster than a similar game programmed in BASIC, and as C is a portable language, skills learnt can be easily transferred to other hardware.

Revolution V Released

Lord Crass has released Revolution V

R5 is a program designed to copy disks written in the V-Max! format. Only a C64 and 1541-compatible disk drive are required to use the copier. Extra drive RAM, parallel cable, or speed adjust are not necessary (or utilized).


Ultimate Opus V0.2

This program requires a 1541 Ultimate-II with the Ultimate Command Interface enabled.

The program is being developed by Lft and is used for managing files on SD cards or the USB connection.

SID Duzz' It V2.1.7

This is a music tracker system for the Commodore 64 written by Geir Tjelta and Glenn Rune Gallefoss.

Features: Sequencer, tracker and a sound editor. Load, Save, and Dump menu, DOS commands, vibrato, pulse, filter, arpeggio, and tempo.

Changes in this version: Improvements for the filter cut-off routine and the play routine had a problem with the gate timeout setting.

Audiotap and WAV-PRG

Two applications released by Fabbo that allow you to convert to and from TAP files using standard cables and a PC.

Audiotap 2.1

audiotap.exe, an application to read and write Commodore tapes.


WAV-PRG is a program for converting Commodore 64 tapes to PC and back.

It is designed so it doesn’t require any custom-built cables: transfers between PC and tape are done by means of a tape player/recorder connected to the PC's sound card by a standard audio cable.

VIC 20 News

The Real Vic-20 Prototype

The website says:

You’ll note in the photo that the Vic-20 prototype is styled similarly to the original Commodore PET from 1977, complete with funky calculator-style keyboard. Naturally, upon its actual retail release, the Vic-20 would receive its own, larger case, the iconic “breadbox” design and a full stroke keyboard, both of which would also be found in the best selling Commodore 64 just a few years later (and similarly found on all PET computers after the original models).

Head to the link for more information

C16 and Plus/4 News

YAPE Plus/4 Emulator Updates

YAPE 1.0.6 While 1.0.5 has become the Windows Vista of YAPE, this new release hopefully becomes its Windows 7.

YAPE is a plus/4 emulator. in development for 10 years its available in Windows as well as multi-platform editions,


Head on over to the official page for the download. Link:

Club Info 135

This is a German-language disk based magazine for the Commodore C116, C16 and the Plus/4.

The following articles are included: Tips and Tricks, Computer Spaß, Hardware, Termine, Szene, Ghost Town, Notepad +4, SD2IEC SID Player, Floodit, Indoor Soccer, Whack C16, Note Game, Shack, Saboteur C16, Total Eclipse, SVS-Calc 2.0 and other systems.

TedPlay V1.2.3 Released

TedPlay is a Commodore plus4/c16 music player for Windows/Unix written in C++ using WTL and SDL. The program supports the following formats: PRG, PSID/RSID and C8M, a new versatile 8-bit computer music file format. Changes in this version: Individual channel selection for SID tunes, improvements for the play list view and the elapsed time.



Amiga News

Petro Tyschtschenko's Video from Saku 2014

Over One Hour of Amiga Memories

Finnish Amiga User's Group hosted the traditional Saku 2014 retro and vintage computer event in Tampere, Finland on September 20th, 2014. International guests of honour were former Commodore/Amiga president Petro Tyschtschenko from Germany and Cloanto/Amiga Forever's Michael Battilana from Italy. Over 200 people attended the successful event. Petro (and Michael) were interviewed in front of the audience by Finnish Amiga Users Group's Janne Sirén and the video is now on YouTube.

New Design Mugs and Mouse Mat Available

The new official mugs are now in stock and available from now (and other authorised A-EON Technology resellers very soon).

The mugs are available in two designs: the blue mug, and the special-edition white mug with the anniversary notation.

New Mouse Mat Available

The new official mouse mat is now in stock and available from now (and other authorised A-EON Technology resellers very soon).

Commodore Amiga: A Visual Compendium

After the successful C64 Kickstarter, now the Amiga is about to receive it's own book.

It was successfully funded within 12 hours!

A book that celebrates the beauty of the Commodore Amiga. Full of pixel art, iconic box art, and contributions from industry legends.

New Wazp3D Driver – Beta56

Wazp3D is a library intended to be compatible with the famous Warp3D.library (AmigaOS 68020-40 or OS4-PPC or AROS or MorphOS)

Most important features

Full Documentation, FAQ, and grabs at

Demo-program to use with Wazp3D

AROS Vision 2.8.1 Uploaded


Conditions for download:

Direct download-link:

ARES II Available Now

The Ares II is available now and is more or less a Raspberry Pi on steroids.


If you have a Pi (not "B-Plus") the price can be reduced by 25€.

(The video shows an older beta, AEROS for Pi has 2d acceleration)

New Game: Voxelnoid (AmigaOS4 and MorphOS)

VoxelNoid 3D – Duel Edition

The 3D break-out game with that extra twist!

This non-stop action arcade game will challenge your reflexes and nerves. Or play the unique duel-mode and challenge your friends. VoxelNoid takes the classic break-out theme to a new level by integrating an amazing 3D voxel appearance into the game-play.

Use your bat to deflect the ball and destroy all the voxel-bricks. Destroyed bricks break into lots of voxel debris which charge your laser-beam when collected by your ball. Use the laser to blast away even those harder bricks that would withstand a hit by your ball. And punish your opponent in duel-mode by sending penalty-bricks to his playfield whenever you blast away 2 of your own bricks...


Amiga System requirements

The game is free, however donations are welcome.

REV'n'GE – Retro Emulator Vision and Game

REV'n'GE! is a small PDF Retro Magazine (Italian-language only) about any kind of games and platforms from the Acorn to the arcade machines.

The creator says his preferred platforms are Amiga, PC, and Atari ST.

He also says:

From my Facebook page

You can download the first 16 issue in a zip archive and download the new Issue 17.

ShowFiles (sf) 0.960 Released

28 September 2014, 22:25:35 | amoskodare

New version of ShowFiles (sf) now released for AmigaOS 4.

ShowFiles (sf) is a DIR command (written in C). It displays a sorted and text-formatted list of files, drawers (dirs) and soft/hard-links on disk or other storage medium. It displays additional information such as size, date, possible comment, executable header type (68k or PPC program), protection-bits, etc., etc.

It supports a number of different options/switches, after installation in the Shell, please type "sf HELP" (or "sf --help") for listing all options/switches. Or look in the .doc-file in the archive.



Melbourne #Commodore Club Meeting

COMMODORE FREE: Yep... its outdated, but I left the text here for reference. It is, however, advertising yet another club, so if you are in the area, why not check them out!

CommodoreClub – Melbourne meeting tomorrow (Sun 21st Sep)

The Group meets at the Wadham House Craft and Hobby Centre, 52 Wadham Parade, Mount Waverley. (It's the double-story, pale grey, weatherboard building.)

The meeting starts at about 2pm and lasts until about 6pm.

There is ample parking at the rear.

Fee: $2.00. (This is to cover some of the rental costs.)

Hope to see you there.... BYO gear, anything Commodore goes :-) AUG – Where We Meet

The Amiga User Group meetings are held on the 3rd Sunday of every month of the year.

AHX Plug-in for Hollywood Released

Airsoft Softwair is proud to present an AHX plugin for Hollywood. Once this plugin is installed, Hollywood will "automagically" be able to play these stylish AHX (Abyss' Highest eXperience) and HivelyTracker modules. The plugin is based on HVL2WAV by Xeron/IRIS, source code is also included.

Additionally, there is a demo applet which demonstrates the playback of an AHX module. This applet can also be run using the freely available Hollywood Player so people who don't own the full version of Hollywood can check it out as well.

You can download the plugin from the official Hollywood portal. Thanks to Hollywood 5's cross-platform plug-in system versions for AmigaOS3 (Classic), AmigaOS3 (FPU), AmigaOS4, MorphOS, WarpOS, AROS (Intel), Linux (PowerPC), Linux (Intel), Mac OS (PowerPC), Mac OS (Intel), Windows and Google's Android platform are provided.

For more information on HivelyTracker and AHX visit and

C64 Book Announcement

Hello Nigel,

Hope this email finds you well.

I have some updates about the book I'd like to share with you.

According to the latest news from Springer, "Ready. A Commodore 64 Retrospective" should be available by January 2015. While the price has not been fixed yet (the one currently listed on Springer's website is a placeholder, I'm doing everything I can to have this priced like similar books in the market and not as a high profile academic book like the placeholder price suggests), the cover has been finalized and is attached here as a preview.

This will be the introductory text printed on the back cover:

How did the Commodore 64 conquer the hearts of millions and become a platform people still actively develop for even today? What made it so special?

This book will appeal to both those who like tinkering with old technology as a hobby and nostalgic readers who simply want to enjoy a trip down memory lane. It discusses in a concise but rigorous format the different areas of home gaming and personal computing where the C64 managed to innovate and push forward existing boundaries.

Starting from Jack Tramiel's vision of designing computers "for the masses, not the classes," the book introduces the 6510, VIC-II and SID chips that made the C64 unique. It briefly discusses its BASIC programming language and then proceeds to illustrate not only many of the games that are still so fondly remembered but also the first generation of game engines that made game development more approachable - among other topics that are often neglected but are necessary to provide a comprehensive overview of how far reaching the C64 influence was.

Written in a straightforward and accessible style, readers will relive the dawn of modern technology and gain a better understanding of the legacy that was built, bit by bit, in those pioneering days by computers that had only a tiny fraction of the power modern machines have and, yet, were used to create the technological world we are now living in.

Feel free to use the cover, publishing date and the above back cover text for the news section in Commodore Free, if you like (but simply say that list price has not been finalized yet. I'll let you know when it gets defined).



Creating a GEOS File Icon

By Terry Raymond

To create a file icon, there is an easier way other than using icon editors. When I was learning this Werner Weicht of Denmark (a GEOS/Wheels programmer) created a simple icon template (which is what I would like to demonstrate here) for Commodore Free readers. I am working with someone on a website and I might be able to have this icon for download. (Currently I don’t have a website or even a domain. However, I will talk you through the process).

Okay. So to get started, we need to make sure you have the Icon Template copied to your GEOS/or Wheels work disk etc.

Start the process by Boot the GEOS or Wheels operating system:

Then you need to load GeoPaint:

Then you need to Load an existing document: in this case it's called “Icon Template”

Only the black marked area can be used for a file icon:

****Include the black border only****

To copy the icon into a photo scrap mark the entire GREEN marked area and no more, don’t get into the bottom part that is outside the black border because this is reserved for the text info for your application.

On the upper top left-hand side of the screen click on the broken-lines icon box. This will select the black border; your cursor is on now a cross-hair icon. Select the border now:

Then select CUT. Now the entire template is gone and is saved as a GeoPaint Scrap image file:

Now you need to Run GeoWrite:

Once in GeoWrite, you now need to open your header file code as an existing file:

Now PUT your icon in the header file code here:

From within GeoWrite, go to the TOP MENU and then select EDIT:

Then select PASTE and PICTURE:

The image is then placed in the header file code:

Now your header file is ready, so you can also test all the header file code to see if the icon image looks okay. If it doesn’t, then you did something wrong and that means you need to keep tinkering with the template border.

Once it all looks right you now need to assemble the header file code. This is done with GeoAssembler or Concept or Concept+. In GEOS 8-bit code the assembled code; once assembled is now “Relocatable Object Code”. This is in the GeoProgrammer user manual in Appendix-A.

Once the code is assembled you can then create small link files; in this case a link file for now (for the header file). Use the file name that is assembled: MYAPP.LNK

I won’t go into that in this article (this will be another small article), but you have an idea. Now run the linker and load the header file object code file, then press the icon to start the linking process. Hopefully you won’t get any errors, but if you do look, it's best to first look for simple typos, etc., but it should be okay!

Now you should see your icon assembled, so at this point you can see if you’re happy with how you edited your app file icon. This may take a few tries (it did when I first tried it).

The icon size for the code is:

(this is in the header file code at the beginning)

;icon width 3
;icon height 21

I may write another article for creating a link file. If anybody has any questions please feel free to ask me by email:

Thank you and have fun with GEO or Wheels programming.

Terry Raymond

Interview With Alex Smith

Creator of the TherapSID

SID under full control

Named after a vicious dinosaur, its sound is no less aggressive. TherapSid has evolved to create roaring noises that will cut through your mix like razor-sharp claws through a mammoth steak. So why do you need another synth, since they already take 90% of the space in your room and your girlfriend keeps complaining about it? Well, what sets TherapSid apart from other SID based synths is its focus on control. Instead of getting confused by LCDs and damaging your eyesight trying to read tiny sub menu fonts, this instrument features no less than 35 knobs and 31 buttons to give you full power over your sound.


Q. Please, would you introduce yourselves to our readers?

Hello Commodore Free readers, I'm Alex Smith. I am UK. born and currently living in the south of France. I spent the last 5 years working as a sound engineer in LA. I have been very passionate about music for as long as I can remember. I Began as a choir boy at the tender age of 10 and have loved music of all genres ever since. I currently have a particular obsession for old video game music/sounds, (nostalgia?!)...

Q. Could you give our readers a little history about yourselves and how the company started, and why?

I got into electronics in the early 2000s when I discovered the midibox platform ( and became obsessed with hacking random devices into midi controllers (old toy pianos, speak and spell, etc). I was introduced to CAD, the CO2 laser cutter and various other cool tools by my fellow hacker friends at the CrashSpace hackerspace during my recent years in LA and that was a game changer for me, as I found myself able to produce instruments of commercial quality.

Q. How many staff do you have, and is this a full time project?

I design and program the machines myself, but my father works with me at the assembly line. I'm grateful to say it’s currently a full time project!

Q. Of course you make other items as well as THERAPSID. Can you quickly explain what services you do provide?

I currently also have the AY3 synth available. It is a stereo desktop synth based on the AY3-8912 chips found in the Intellivision and Vectrex video game consoles ( I also have a variety of iPhone/iPad synths in the app store.

Q. The Commodore Free readers will be really interested in THERAPSID. So, the main selling point of the device is the knobs and buttons?

Yes, indeed I made TherapSID to provide the hands-on control. There are several good SID-based synths out there, but they all send the user digging through LCD menus/submenus. The idea of the TherapSID was to make these menus “hands on”.

Q. Why a physical machine and not a soft synth, or virtual machine? A virtual machine could have virtual buttons, so why a physical machine?

The SID chips are very cool and are becoming increasingly rare. They have so much sonic character (mainly because of their flaws) which could not be fully emulated in software. Also the physical machine is something you can feel and physically twist and turn knobs in real-time

Q. Can the device record the knob twiddling over midi, and therefore play it back during recording sessions?

Unfortunately not, as the TherapSID has no midi-out as of now.

Q. So with the SID chips so rare, do you find it difficult to obtain SID chips for the device, and does it just use one SID or can multiple SID chips be installed?

It is indeed difficult to find SID chips; in fact my supplier has run dry. My small stash is all that I have left :/ TherapSID just uses one chip as of now, although I have been considering a stereo mod ,as I have had many requests. You can, however, install any type of SID and the necessary parts for all types are provided.

Q. Some readers coming from Other Commodore hardware may not be aware of the SID chip. Could you enlighten them on why this chip is such a classic item?

Yes, of course. The SID chip is the voice of your Commodore C64 to whom you owe the music you love! If you are really interested: here is an Interview with Bob Yannes Bob created the SID chip 33 years ago, and later he co-founded the synthesizer company Ensoniq.

Q. You sell the device without the SID chip. What are the cost differences and how difficult is the device to open and install the SID chip?

TherapSid currently retails for 399 Euro with SID (while limited supply lasts) and 333 Euros without, worldwide shipping included.

Q. Can you tell our readers about other devices you supply (or are in the pipe line)?

The AY3 is a fun little device that is a cheaper alternative to the SID. You can hear some demos on my website ( I'm also currently working on an 8-bit chip tune-y drum machine/groove box, and a desktop FM synth.

Q. You list the device compatible with All SIDS. Would you personally consider one SID chip superior to another and if so why?

This is a matter of taste, but my personal preference is for the older 6581. I really like the sound of the filter, especially for basses. It has tube-like distortion to it. However I know many people prefer the later 6582 for its cleaner sound, higher filter resonance.

Q. How many have you sold, and what sort of feedback from people have you had? How would our user order one, and what are the delivery times?

I hadn't intended to make more than 100 units but am getting close to that goal. The feedback has been very positive and constructive. It's really fun to be able to release new firmware updates based on the user's feedback. It is available online (, hand-built to order with a 20 day lead time.

Q. Do you have any other comments you would like to add?

Thanks Nigel for sharing this info with your readers! Have fun.

See it here being tweeked:

Transfer SEQ Files to Evernote Over RS-232


Thanks for your Commodore Free efforts. I really enjoy reading C=Free using my ebook reader, and thanks to this current lively Commodore scene/atmosphere my commodore-enthusiasm was resurrected through inspiring articles...

Therefore, I've attached a tiny article for your consideration.

Recently, I was trying something new with my Commodore computers and I came up with this idea:

Transferring my text files in Commodore to Evernote in real-time. The following article deals with this idea.

Best regards,

İlker Fıçıcılar

This method helps transferring PETSCII text from a running Commodore platform to Evernote over an RS-232 connection. Evernote is a nice multi-platform application to organize notes that I use actively. It is also compatible with Linux under the Wine emulator. In addition, there is an Evernote-compatible NixNote program, and Evernote apps. for Android, iPad etc. I do use Evernote to keep my notes and tips on Commodore as well. And, I've just found a practical way to transfer old notes in sequential files kept in Commodore diskettes.

That is to say:

* Evernote has an "Import Folders" option. First, we select a directory for this. I used, /home/ilker/cbm/ .

* Then, I connected C64 and Linux using a null-modem** cable (with 3 wires: RX, TX and GND).

* I added the following line to Linux's /etc/inittab to be able to use Linux through C64. and, I executed 'init q' command in Unix shell (as root) to activate this new inittab that makes Linux to listen the serial port.

S0:123:respawn:/sbin/getty -L ttyS0 1200 dumb

* In the C64, I opened a RS232 port as in here: and logged in Linux:

100 open 1,2,0,chr$( 8 )+chr$(0):get#1,a$
110 print#1,chr$(10);:print#1,"USERNAME"+chr$(10);:fori=1to1000:next
120 print#1,"PASSWORD"+chr$(10):fori=1to1000:next:rem upper case PETSCII chars should be changed with ASCII equivalents
130 print#1,chr$(10);:print#1,"CD CBM"+chr$(10);:fori=1to1000:next

(This code segment is not included in the program below)

* I wrote a small program on the C64. The program finds the seq files on a diskette; opens them one by one; executes cat > FILENAME command in Linux over RS232; and, dumps this SEQ text file onto FILENAME through PETSCII-ASCII conversion. At the end of file, the program sends CHR$(4) character to notify Linux, and this EOF closes the CAT command.

* Program exits after repeating this procedure for all SEQ files in the diskette.

* And, NixNote synchronizes the files in that directory with Evernote servers.

* And, I can happily watch 20-year-old SEQ notes appear ('beamed' as in Palm Pilot terminology) in the Evernote in my tablet connected to Internet over WiFi.

* That's all.

I used the same program to transfer its own listing, as well:

10 rem seq2enote
20 rem sequential file to evernote
30 rem
100 open1,2,0,chr$( 8 )+chr$(16):get#1,a$:rem rs232 1200bps 8n1 open
110 dimi,a$,as(255),a,s$,d,ds$,z$,b$:z$=chr$(0)
120 gosub520:rem prepare ascii table
200 open2,8,0,"$0:*=s":d=0:ds$="
210 get#2,a$,a$,a$,a$,a$,a$:rem dir prg-start and disk name start
215 get#2,a$:ifa$<>"thengoto215:rem skip disk name
216 get#2,a$,a$:ifa$="goto260
220 get#2,a$,a$:rem number of blocks. we don't need this info here
230 get#2,a$
232 if(d=1)and(asc(a$+chr$(0))=34)thend=0:printds$:gosub570
234 if(d=0)and(asc(a$+chr$(0))=34)thend=1
236 if(d=1)and(asc(a$+chr$(0))<>34)thends$=ds$+a$
240 ifa$<>"thenprint";:goto230
250 get#2,a$,a$:ifa$<>"thend=0:ds$=":goto220
260 close2
270 close1
499 end
520 fori=32to63:as(i)=i:as(65+i)=33+i:as(33+i)=65+i:next
530 as(7)=7:as(13)=10:as(19)=10:as(17)=10:as(20)=8:as(29)=32:as(64)=64
540 as(10)=13:as(127)=8:return:rem petscii to ascii table
550 rem print#1,chr$(10);
555 fori=1tolen(s$):a=as(asc(mid$(s$,i,1))):print#1,chr$(a);:next
560 print#1,chr$(10);:return
570 s$="cat > "+ds$+".txt":gosub550
575 open3,8,3,ds$+",s,r"
580 get#3,b$:ifst<>64thenprint#1,chr$(as(asc(b$+z$)));:goto580
585 print#1,chr$(4);chr$(10);
590 close3:return
700 get#1,a$:ifa$<>"thenprinta$:goto700
710 return
800 geta$:ifa$<>"thenprinta$;:print#1,chr$(as(asc(a$)));
810 get#1,a$:ifa$<>"thenprintchr$(as(asc(a$)));
815 remget#1,a$:ifa$<>"thenprintasc(a$);" ";as(asc(a$))
820 goto800
5000 rem functions list
5020 rem 520: petscii to ascii table
5030 rem 550: send s$ string in ascii
5040 rem 570: save seq file over rs232
5050 rem 700: listen input channel
5070 rem 800: simple terminal
9999 end
10000 rem ============================
10010 rem =
10020 rem = seq to evernote
10030 rem =
10040 rem = sends seq files in a disk
10050 rem = over rs232 to a linux pc
10060 rem = for further import to
10070 rem = evernote via nixnote prg.
10080 rem =
10090 rem = (c) ilker ficicilar
10100 rem = ilkerf AT geocities dot com
10110 rem = version: 20141021b
10120 rem =
10130 rem ============================

I don't know how to perform this procedure in Windows. It may be possible in DOS mode using x/y/z modem transfers. However, a simple null-modem cable will not suffice (Windows requires RTS, DTR etc. lines).

In short, the procedure is as follows:


İlker Fıçıcılar

October 21, 2014

Bulletin Board System

A totally incomplete explanation for Commodore users

As the title suggests, this is in no way a full history of the BBS system (Bulletin Board); it's more a quick and dirty history guide. If you haven’t heard the term BBS then this document will provide you with enough information so you can see how the system worked. Other readers may find some information or history they hadn’t seen or heard of before – old-timers will class the whole document and indeed the magazine as LAME.

Way before the internet, and back in the midst of time, Commodore users would connect to Bulletin Board Systems. Some were commercial, and others were just people with a spare phone line and basement with some computer hardware lying around.

Ward Christensen apparently termed the phrase Bulletin Board in reference to the cork pin boards found in schools and colleges, where people would pin on messages or items for sale onto the cork board

The first public BBS was developed by Ward Christensen and Randy Suess, and went online on February 16, 1978 in Chicago, Illinois.

Quite simply, a bulletin board system, or BBS for short, is a computer with a phone line connection running software permitting users to connect with terminal software program running on their computer and with their modem connected to a phone line. The computer would “dial” the bulletin board and send information over the phone line. Depending on the system the user connected to, you (as the user) were able to upload or download files, post and read messages, and some of the more sophisticated systems even had “online gaming”. The systems were accessed only over a standard phone line using a modem. Problems on the system would be dealt with by the SYSOP (an abbreviation for system operator).

By the late 90s the systems had reached their peak, with the Internet threatening them and offering the same features, but with better graphical content and (some say) easier navigation. With the aid of web browsers and point and click, the days of old-fashioned typing and the traditional BBS were doomed.

Because a modem was used to connect to a BBS and the user had to dial a phone number, you would more likely to dial a local number, and so local communities would emerge, with people wanting to meet up and chat face to face. Some meetings would be arranged by the systems SYSOP in local pizza places or coffee shops, for example.

The BBS also gave way to something called ASCII art, where coloured characters would be arranged to form a crude picture. With the onward march of progress the humble modem started to reach faster and faster speeds, leading to larger, faster file transfers. Much of the BBS software was customised by the SYSOP to tailor it to their needs and add features and tweaks.

Popular commercial BBS programs were programs like Blue Board, Ivory BBS, Color64, and CNet 64. In the early 1990s a small number of BBSes were also running on the Commodore Amiga, with popular BBS software for the Amiga like ABBS, Amiexpress, C-Net, StormforceBBS, Infinity, and Tempest.

Commodore BBSes supported PETSCII. PETSCII was also supported by the nationwide online service Quantum Link. Due to character set customisation, dissimilar systems such as a Commodore 64 user calling into a DOS BBS would just see plain ASCII rather than the machine's native character set. Over time programs began using the ANSI standard, but could use their native character set if it was available.

Skyline BBS for the Amiga (1987) was the first software to feature a script mark-up language communication protocol called Skypix which was capable of giving a graphical interface, feature rich graphic content, changeable fonts, mouse-controlled actions, animations, and sound.

Since early BBSes were frequently run by computer hobbyists, they were typically technical in nature with user communities revolving around hardware and software discussions.

Although mostly monitored by the SYSOP for shareware rather than commercial software, some BBS systems were well-known for having warez or commercial software that had the protection removed (you would more commonly know this as pirated software).

BBS systems also had their own language (or slang), with new users being called LAMERS. Some systems could also route email through the Internet to other BBS systems (using Fidonet) via something called nodes, so a user could communicate with another user from the other side of the world. Although this doesn’t sound like a bid deal by today’s standards, I think the postal services became rather concerned about the potential demise of common snail mail (letters placed into the postal system). Of course BBS systems could send and receive email to other users on the same BBS.

Lamers were classed as anyone who came on the board but wasn't part of the 'scene' so a none (cracker, phreaker, supplier, sysops, etc) or only 'leeched' (that is downloaded warez or other software but didn’t contribute in any other way) they were considered a lamer. Also, you could just generally be annoying and be called a lamer. Standard BBSes, which were more like home town gathering spots, didn't have terms such as that for their users.

You may like to view this series:

BBS The Documentary its listed as being in 8 parts.

Interview With Brian Green

Particles BBS SysOp

Long Before the internet and way back in the midst of time, Commodore users from around the world were “dialing” into the BBS or bulletin board systems. One such system still running today is ParticlesBBS. I took some time out to talk to the SYSOP about his love of all things digital.

Q. Hi. Can you please introduce yourself to our readers?

Hi, my name is Brian Green, and I live in the US. Some might know me as Ice Breaker, icbrkr, IceB-[B], or something along those lines.

Q. When and why did you become involved with Commodore computers?

I saw my first Commodore 64 in 1984 when I was 11 years old. My sister's boyfriend brought over an original bread-bin and 1541 one day and we spent it playing Spy Vs Spy, Pitstop, and other games. Unfortunately, at 11 I was broke. In 1988 I started saving my newspaper-route money and picked up a shiny new Commodore 64C from a Best Department Store. The reason I got into the C64 was a no-brainer at the time. Most of my friends had Commodores, they were cheap (mine cost $129 new), and for a few bucks you could copy all the games you wanted to onto floppy disks. It sure beat the $20-40 for an Atari/Nintendo cartridge.

Q. How, when, where, or why, was your first experience of a Bulletin Board System?

I called my first BBS in 1989, a Colour 64 board, on a lowly Vicmodem. It was terribly outdated even in 1989 – 300 baud, manual dial (you had to dial it on your phone, then disconnect the handset cord and plug it into your modem) and it dropped carrier constantly on a bad line. We didn't have clean lines back in the day, so some days you were able to download, some days you weren't because of the line quality.

Q. When did you set up your first system and how long did it run? What hardware and software did you run?

My first BBS board, which is surprisingly still backed up on disk here, was Arctic Games and put online in 1990 on a Commodore 64 running Ivory BBS software. Arctic Games was a sort of combination of the names of the two sysops who ran it.. myself and my friend Scott, Gamesmaster. It ran for maybe a couple of months since we were only able to run it during evening hours at his house as he only had a single phone line.

Q. How long has Particles BBS been running, and was that constantly, or have you had (should we say) Configuration breaks? Was it always called Particles BBS?

Well Particles! was put online May 25th, 1992. It ran constantly from 1992 to 2008 until my daughter was born. The birth of my daughter and some hardware failures made me take it down until my life was in a better spot to support it. It came back online in November 2013.

It's always been called Particles! though it's run on everything from a Commodore 64, to an Amiga 600, to a PC, and then back to a Commodore system again. The name 'Particles!' was a joke name thought up from my friend Scott. Back in the day, it was common to name your BBS, or Bulletin 'Board', with the word 'Board' in it. In my local area we had the Circuit Board, the Surf Board, etc. So the joke was to name it 'Particle Board'. We dropped the 'Board', added an 's', and the rest is history.

Q. What hardware and software does the Particles BBS system use?

The board is currently running on the following hardware configuration:

Q. Of course some will pull their faces at the mention of the Windows PC. Realistically, could the system still be run on Commodore hardware without the PC? If so, why use the PC -- what does it add to the system setup?

I'm sure there's other ways of doing it, but I use a Windows computer to run BBS Server 1.4a. BBS Server is a modem emulator and routes all telnet traffic to and from the BBS automatically. Also, the same box runs a web-interface so you can connect via an HTTP 5 enabled web-browser. Besides those two tasks, the Windows box doesn't do anything else for the BBS.

Q. You mention the system runs on Centipede BBS Software. Is this customised in any way and have you tried any other BBS software? If so, why have you stuck with Centipede BBS Software, and when was this software released?

Centipede BBS is based on the original Colour 64, but rewritten to take advantage of all the upgrades to the Commodore 128, such as expanded memory, networking, 80 column mode, etc. The version of the software that I run was released into he public domain in 2000 and is completely stock. Have I tried other software? Sure! Up until August, the board ran off of C*Base 3.1. However, I found C*Base to be a bit limited for what I wanted to do. I wanted to have a BBS that supported lots of download directories to support multiple computers, supported the expanded abilities of the 128, supported ANSI reliably so that anyone could connect into the board, not just Commodore users. Centipede fits the bill on this and much more.

Q. If you could have a custom piece of hardware or software made for the BBS what would it be and why?

There is a custom piece of software I wanted written for the BBS – so I'm in the process of writing it. I'm re-writing the Legend of the Red Dragon as a door (online game) for the BBS. Legend of the Red Dragon (LORD) was huge in the PC world back in the day, and is still played by thousands today. I'm probably about 80% done with the basics, and would like to say I'll have it done 'soon' but I know I'm pretty lazy. It's probably going to be a rainy day project that I finish next year sometime.

Q. Do you think (in Commodore realm) there is still a market for a new piece of BBS software?

Sure! As the time of this interview, there's over 30 active Commodore BBSes, and I think because of Commodore's push into the world of telecommunications back in the day, that more Commodore users are BBS-savvy than many other classic machines. A well written piece of software could bring more people back into the fray like Synchronet has done for the Windows world.

Q. Although the BBS were (back in the day) a dial up-only system, what would our readers need to connect to Particles, as you offer a host of connection options bringing the BBS more up to date?

Well, it depends on how you're trying to connect. If you want to see what it's all about, you can connect via the website's web-interface. The best way though is connecting via a real Commodore 64 or 128. To do this, you'll need to have your Commodore connected to the Internet somehow and have a piece of software (terminal software) to interact with the BBS.

While there are a LOT of ways to hook your Commodore up to the Internet, for someone who is new, the easiest way is to visit Alwyz page at: Alwyz offers the Strikelink userport to PC adapter, and Striketerm to connect to BBSes, as well as a 'how-to' page.

Q. Would you consider yourself to be the best BBS?

Best BBS? No. Actually I don't think there is such a thing. Every BBS is different, and most sysops have different visions for their board. In the Commodore world we have boards that range from warez boards, to boards running on experimental BBS software, to boards running on emulators because the sysop is travelling the world and isn't able to take their Commodore equipment with them. Each board is a reflection of the sysop's personality. Originally boards were viewed as visiting someone's 'home'. There is no best 'home'.

Q. How much data is hosted by the system?

CMD's hard drive's operating system has a hard limit of '4GB' regardless of how big your hard drive or memory card is. So, while the memory card is 8GB, only 4GB is viewed. So by the numbers its '4GB'. That 4GB though is currently partitioned into a little over 100 file areas that hold files for the Commodore 64, Commodore 128, Vic-20, Plus/4, GEOS, CP/M and more. The file areas are constantly expanding. If I were to take a guess, I'd say we have well over 10,000 files online. Total space is something around 32 million blocks. I'd say less than a quarter of that is used currently.

Q. What does the system cost you to run and do you manage to recoup any of that outlay via the system?

Just the price of electricity and a lot of time keeping it updated and backed-up. I don't recoup anything monetarily unless you're readers are offering to send me cash...

Q. Why do you run the system?

Probably for the same reason why I collect old hardware and hang out on classic computer forums. I enjoy letting other people experience my little part of the world, and I also enjoy meeting other people who are interested in the same hobbies as me.

Q. What enhancements do you plan for the system?

I might customize Centipede some, but for the most part, I'm pretty maxxed out on what I can add to the system hardware-wise. I'll continue expanding the file areas to include more systems, and add more online games as I find time. There's been some talk about linking all the BBSes together through some sort of network, but that's in future quite a ways.

Q. Do you plan to keep the system just running on Commodore hardware, and how long (realistically) do you think the system can remain up?

Well I haven't any plans to emulate the system, though it would be infinitely easier if I did. I always like the feel of 'real' hardware.

Q. How long will this stay up or can remain up?

As long as people are interested, I'll keep it online. As it stands right now, we're fairly busy as far as boards go in 2014 and more new people are calling all the time. As for as long as it can stay up, I think it's fairly safe to say I'm in good shape hardware-wise. I have 3 Commodore 128Ds, a couple of C128s, 3 Commodore hard drives, and lots of parts. I haven't had a Commodore system die on me yet and I don't imagine that it will happen any time soon.

Q. Do you have any final comments?

Thanks for the interview and I hope people will give it a try! If anyone has any questions, you can reach me via the BBS or on Facebook at

Review: Alter Ego

By Commodore Free

RetroSouls is a small team based in Altay (Russia). Apparently the term “Team” is overstated as this is actually just one person – Denis Grachev. This game was first released on the Spectrum (by this developer) and then ported over to the C64. Other than that, I know very little history about the game; however, what I do know is that there’s a mobile version from the same developer for Android and Windows mobile phones or tablets.

Alter Ego is an addictive puzzle-platform game, and is a first release from this developer on the C64. It's exciting to see what else this developer will release, especially with an initial release of such quality. To play the game you need a joystick plugged into port 2. No instructions are supplied (the game is simple to pick up).

The game looks like a standard old-school, 8-bit “collect items” platformer. However, looks can be deceiving, and the clever part to this game is that you also control a phantom version of yourself on the opposite side of the screen. When the hero moves, the alter ego moves too, but in a mirrored fashion. In some levels the movements are mirrored horizontally; in others they are mirrored vertically. You can switch at anytime between the hero and his alter ego by pressing the Fire button. You are limited on the number of swaps on each level, and this number of swaps is shown on the bottom-right of the screen. There are evil skulls around, and you don't want to touch them or its life over, and do not fall into the water or outside of the level, or you'll also lose a life.

To complete a level, you need to collect all the pixel squares. Usually you can take them only with the hero, but on some levels there are pixels of another color; these can only be collected by the alter ego.

The game is simple but frustrating – you also need to avoiding the marauding skulls. The swap of characters between yourself and the phantom transforms the game into something more unusual than a standard platform game. Some of the levels require some extensive forward planning (remember, you only have a limited number of swaps). From a user the game's difficulty curve is just right, it nicely guides you in and slowly gets more difficult, with the hook to come back for more being intense. You will find hours “rolling by”, unable to pull yourself from the immersion into the game.

Simple, but perfectly executed, sound could do with a techno or even arty-styled new age SID soundtrack. This would lift the game further, as would a password system to start on further levels without having to start from Stage 1 each time. I would have preferred more of the screen real estate taken over on the Commodore 64 version, as it looks a little small on-screen. I do like the shadow effects on the platforms, and everything looks so cutesy.


Graphics 6/10
a bit small on-screen
lovely platform game, with a great hook
Sounds 3/10
some clicks and blips
Gameplay 7/10
frustrating but in a nice way