Radical Brad wrote:Sure, it will be cool to see a stock VIC-20 kick Amiga's ass 10x over, but it comes at a large investment in time. I am doing this because when I was 12 years old, I said I would. [...]
At that time, there surely was a discrepancy to be felt between the (graphic) capabilities of the VIC-20, and what could be seen in arcades, movies like TRON and War Games, and the first computer animations in TV (network jingles/intros).
I also had those ideas of having a 'bombastic' intro on power on, instead of the 'drab' start-up screen with a "READY." prompt. At least the intro screen of my CAL 'compiler'
(really, an interpreter of a self-invented toy language) was something that hinted in this direction.
These thoughts got outgrown partly because I didn't stuck with the VIC-20: rather the upgrade path went with the C116 and C128 - and directly after that, I *skipped* Amiga, Atari and other 16-bit machines and bought an Acorn Archimedes! With the ARM CPU, a flexible videochip, a built-in BASIC with in-line assembler, and an extremely fast OS (100% machine language!) this machine left all contemporary micros in the dust. At first, I programmed the ARM like a 6502 - then I released the mental brake and learned to use the full potential of the ARM CPU. I also learned C on this machine.
When I found the Denial forum back in 2004, I had already begun to retro-fit all that programming knowledge for use on the VIC-20 - mostly in emulation, since what was left from that time was just the base unit and a +3K RAM expansion. No tape, no disk drive. Emulation just had gotten fast and accurate enough.
I then began to continue those projects I couldn't complete at that time, because:
- a defective PSU made me think the VIC-20 was itself out of order (yet it was O.K.!), and
- lack of knowledge then would mean I was not yet able to put my ideas in code.
My first post here was such a realisation of an old idea I had at that time, having TI$ in the border
. My interest in computer graphics also led to a re-instantiation of a BASIC extension I used at that time, now with a higher screen resolution: MINIGRAFIK. A quest, together with another forum member, for the maximum possible resolution and colour depth on VIC-I led to the series "New Frontiers in VIC-Hires-Graphics
". I also enhanced the hardware of my VIC-20 with the VFLI mod, an own variant of the S-Video mod, and I use it with Mega-Cart and SD2IEC.
So, while I use much more capable computers for the daily work, and with the Archimedes also had a great system as main platform in the 90'ies and 2000's decade, the VIC-20 has that special place, because it's the first micro I owned. I still find it funny, that it only needs a 1K sized program to transform it into another machine!
VIC-20 changed my life, so I am paying it back now.
The journey is its own reward - but sometimes it also feels good to return home.
P.S. the most intriguing aspect of your project, for me, really is that simple approach of using an address counter with a RAM chip that contains both frame buffer and sync signals, together with a DAC, to build a video generator. That could surely be realised on the size of a standard VIC-20 cartridge - without resorting to some old difficult-to-source video chip (like the 6845, etc.) ...