A recent post by my buddy (and fellow evangelist) Larry Clarkin brought back a flood of memories for me. Larry mentions the Commodore VIC-20 as the inspiration for his spending many late hours typing in cheesy game code from the back of computer magazines during his middle school years.
Man, I was so there! I begged and begged and begged for over nine months before my parents finally caved in and bought me a Commodore 64 from the local K-mart. By then, I had already accumulated a backlog of magazines like C64 and BYTE! that always had the printed source code to some clone of a current arcade game - in machine language of course. It would typically take an all weekend sleepover for me and my friend, alternating between reading the code and typing, to get the entire program coded. If we were smart, we'd save the source before running it the first time. Inevitably, the programs never worked - even with checksums built into those damn streams of PEEKs and POKEs. The first time we ran them they would always self-destruct.
By then, I had caught the coding bug and was not to be discouraged. I managed to score a book on C64 BASIC programming somewhere and started my own quest to write video games. I had sprites of the starship Enterprise floating smoothly across the bottom of the screen firing at Klingon warships sweeping across the top of the screen and diving down Galaga style. Graphics were (and still are) a hell of a lot of fun to program.
I've been dying to share this since I saw it in PC magazine a few weeks ago. It's the ZPC-GX31 from Cybernet Manufacturing and it's billed as "the biggest advancement in desktops". I'm not so sure about that, but it certainly brings back long lost memories of my youth. I dare say it was my first mobile computer - I could throw it in a backpack and take it over to my friend's house for a weekend of coding madness. All we needed was a TV and an RF modulator. I just may have to break down and buy one of these.