July 22, 2011 | In: Software by fred

The “magic” in Paint Magic

You may now find more paint packages for the C64 than reasons to use them. Yet the one and only that ruled back in ’83 was Paint Magic (PM) by Mark RILEY.


The splash screen and the box cover art were a bit misleading by focusing on graphic effects that the poor thing couldn’t deliver but this piece of code had some real magic in it. Let me tell you some old jabbering about it.

PM Cover

As most of the “true” paint packages for the C64, PM was designed for a joystick. This ancient art of drawing with a 8-axis lever and a red fire button could be compared to some sort of Etch-a-sketch torture art… but it would be a mistake. Especially in lo-def 160 x 200, this input method was real “magic”. I personnaly used a Kempston joystick – an english brand that sold mainly to the Sinclair / Amstrad / Accorn communities – that was quality built around blade contact switches and had a semi-short stick with a round ball at the end and a perfect fire button setting (two large round flat paired buttons right next to the stick). This input system was efficient at drawing lines but was also very effective in laying halftone patterns of pixels.

One of the orthers bits of “magic” worth mentioning here is the interface itself. PM is a full screen paint package. To access the command selection panel, you just have to press the space bar once and the screen toggles from the canvas to the palette and back. This interface wonder was never reproduced later as most of the WYSIWYG gurus felt in love with their floating palettes. The core value of this setting was to reproduce the time organisation of the “painter”, switching from his box of colors to his work and back. Of course, shortcuts helped too by reducing the amount of screen switching but this spec induced some “intention” that could be useful to some (especially those who hate to have their work canvas surrounded by bits and pieces of interface).

I did a lot of PM and enjoyed it until I met with DeluxePaint on the Amiga. Both tools offered an approach for layout that current graphic package cannot offer. Lo-def, especially in 160 x 200 allowed to sketch a screen, usually in grey on black, and then lay the colors by applying details like on a regular IRL canvas. PM was an adorable paint box, allowing color selection by the Fkeys, saving quite fast. There were so few pixels that it was impossible to mess with edge effects or unwanted antialias. This fine art of the few dots was perfect for icons designers as it forced to apply light – translate “white” – at the very end of the creation process. Lo-res is painting by legos and has a great value in establishing simple composition rules and practices. Any good designer should try it.


Download: Paint Magic (.d64 file, works with Vice)

July 20, 2011 | In: Hardware by Stamba

Techni Musique Synthétiseur Vocal

Here is the Techni Musique Synthétiseur Vocal for Commodore 64. Built in 1984 by the french company Techni Musique based in Clermont-Ferrand. This unit has also been massively produced for the Amstrad 464/6128 and distributed in primary schools with the “Plan informatique pour tous”. Unfortunately the Commodore 64 hadn’t a big success in France so this Commodore 64 version seems to be quite rare! It plugs into the cartridge port of the Commodore 64/128 and features 2 audio outputs.

Here are the 3 files i’ve been able to backup from the floppy which came with the unit : RAR

It seems these files are only the demo disk but Yago from #c-64 on ircnet helped me to understand what the program do and what could be typed to input datas to the vocal synth.

It uses phonemes and I don’t have the phonemes list so it will be quite hard to find them out !
Have to check the list shown in the demo.. maybe it’s the phonemes list !

Here is what you have to do while running the demo to input your own datas :
[16:57] <yago> well, poke stores a value into memory, and sys and usr call machinelanguage programs
[16:59] <yago> after then program started, stop it, and try to enter e.g. line 24020 (without linenumber)
[16:59] <yago> then the cart should speak
[16:59] <yago> then fiddle with the parameters for poke2,X and a=usr(Y)
[17:03] <yago> then poke 2,65
[17:03] <yago> return
[17:03] <yago> then sys39000
[17:03] <yago> return
[17:03] <yago> then a=usr(50)+usr(0)+usr(0)
[17:03] <yago> RUN

And it works ! Thanks for this help

And finally…. here is a record of the demo !
Techni Musique Synthe Vocal Demo Commodore64-rec stamba by mycommodore64

Conclusion ? IT BLASTS ALMOST all other c64 vocal synths of this era.. Commodore Magic Voice is maybe the worst.. Currah Sound Speech is average.. but this Techni Musique one reach modern (2011! vocal synthesis) !

Q1 : HELP !! Do you have this unit ? Do you have the floppies ? The manual ? The box ! We need more informations about it ! .. Even the Amstrad 464/6128 version could be helpful !

July 19, 2011 | In: Hardware by Stamba

Passport Midi Interface

This is the Passport MIDI Interface model MH-02C.

“The Computer Connection for MIDI Equipped Synthesizers

Interface with Tape and Drum Sync Package includes :

– 1 MIDI Interface module with connections for MIDI-IN, MIDI-OUT, DRUM CLOCK, TAPE-IN and TAPE-OUT
– 2 – 6′ MIDI DIN Cables
– 1 MIDI Interface user’s guide”

The software included is “Master Tracks”  (1987).

According to the small book included, there is also a “Librarian Software” compatible with the Yamaha DX7!
(It would be great with my DX7 v1 :))

Manual is missing but here is the PDF file (source: c64midi.com)

July 18, 2011 | In: Hardware by Stamba

Midibox SID kit!

SID 8580  R5
LCD 16×2  (i’ll have to buy a 20×2)
Core kit
Pre-programmed PIC (BSL v1.2b – MIOS v1.9F – 2008 T.Klose – PIC18F452)
Din kit
SID kit
16 wires plug

July 12, 2011 | In: Other by Stamba

Commodore 64 @ labx (Bordeaux – France)

Compte rendu de la session labx.tk au sujet du Commodore 64 et de ses divers périphériques audio et MIDI
Pour l’occasion j’ai sorti quelques machines.

Commodore C64 (marron, le grand classique)

Commodore C64c (la version la plus récente – 1984, au design deja assez proche des Amiga)

Commodore SX64 (le 1er ordinateur transportable ayant un écran cathodique de 5″ couleur!)

Autant le C64 classique était destiné au grand public ayant un petit budget (on se souvient du slogan “Commodore, computers for the masses, not the classes!”), autant le SX64 était destiné aux businessmen, mais tout de même assez décontratés si on en croit la publicité de l’époque.

Apres un bref apercu de tout ca, place aux périphériques audio et MIDI:
– Synthétiseur vocal TechniMusique (un produit francais, fabriqué à Clermont Ferrand)

– Synthétiseur vocal Currah Sound Speech (UK, free poster included! de vraies têtes de développeurs de l’époque!)

– Synthétiseur vocal Commodore Magic Voice

– Sampler Commodore Sound Sampler (Je laisse les amateurs de flûte apprécier la blonde et son instrument sur la photo de la boite)

– Interface MIDI Moog Song Producer (une véritable bête de combat avec ses 4 sorties MIDI et 8 drums triggers, malheureusement affublée d’un soft obscur en ASCII et une documentation de 270 pages)

– Interface de reconnaissance et commande vocale Covox (avec son micro-casque)