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11006 - A Stroll Down Memory Lane (8 March 1999)

by - Joseph Ganci

I ran into an old buddy of mine the other day, and he showed me his mint-condition PET, with original "Tron-Cycles" program (in assembler code) that he wrote for his final project while we were in high school together (1983). Talk about a blast from the past!

Yep. Me too. With all the successful projects that have brought in a dollar here and a dollar there in my "adult" life, I'm not sure any success will come as close to the pride I felt in having my first VIC20 BASIC program, a bowling game, published in Compute! Magazine back in 1980 or so. My machine today has 256 MEGS of RAM, my machine back then had 3.5 K (yes, K, as in 3500 or so bytes) in it. Despite that, I was able to create a game that showed four players' scores on the screen, frame by frame, with a bowling alley, ball, and pins seen from above (from where the ball and pins looked perfectly natural as fat dots!). The VIC20 article and game netted me 100 bucks, but after that Compute translated it for the IBM PC, Apple IIE, and TI99/4A computers, rewrote the article for each, reprogrammed it for each, published each article in a magazine and in a book, and kept sending me money for no extra work on my part. In the end, I got a cool $750 for that work. Woo-hoo! Not bad for a poor college student. The most interesting part of the program for me was to figure out how to keep all the frame by frame scores stored in that little memory. In the end, I realized I could just use the screen's memory where I was already outputting all the symbols and numbers. Even today that makes me feel good. That's it...who needs all this RAM in this computer? I'm pulling it all out except 64K. Who needs more?

Gosh, now see what you've done! You've got me started. Forgive this old timer...

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