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June 20, 2014 3:23 PM   Subscribe

8088 Dominion is a production by demoscene programmer Jim Leonard (a.k.a. Trixter) displaying full-motion color video with audio on a 1981 IBM PC 5160. The production is a followup to a similar 2007 demo, 8088 Corruption, but with improved graphical fidelity.

A technical postmortem on how the feat was achieved is available: Part 1, Part 2
posted by figurant (12 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
Minor correction: The demo was built for a IBM 5150 (essentially the first desktop PC, although some may quibble) first introduced in 1981, but is running on a 5160, which came out in 1983.
posted by figurant at 3:28 PM on June 20, 2014

is that some a that touhou at the end there
posted by Our Ship Of The Imagination! at 3:40 PM on June 20, 2014

Oh this is awesome!

Back in the '80s I wrote some educational physics software that pushed the CGA modes pretty hard for animating particle and wave simulations, targeting the 4.77MHz 8088, and then in the the mid '90s I wrote the Windows platform codecs for Pixar's Toy Story Animated StoryBook and Toy Story Activity Center, targeting a 486SX/25.

The Pixar data had to be cross-platform (Macs were PPC then, and we may have even supported 68k Macs, I don't remember) and load off of some pitifully slow CD ROM interfaces (and packed that CD completely full), but now I'm wondering if we could have taken that compression scheme and generated code for it...

In both those cases I was cycle counting and shaving exactly this way and this took me right back to that. I remember one frantic week in the final days before ship where we had one movie that for some reason was playing back really slowly, the data tweaked some pipelining exactly wrong, and I spent a week sleeping under my desk, when I slept, until someone said "duh, we can just tweak the compression parameters on that movie and make up the disk space somewhere else."

Good times.
posted by straw at 4:02 PM on June 20, 2014 [7 favorites]

That is damn impressive work for such an antiquated computer. Now lets see him get it to run DOOM.
posted by mediocre at 4:02 PM on June 20, 2014

IBM PC 5160 is better known as PC XT, at least for people who were around back then. The original IBM PC with a 10 MB hard disk, basically. Still using an 8088 processor running at 4.77 MHz, and the demo uses crude CGA graphics in 160x200 pixels / 16 color mode. A pretty horrible machine, but I guess it suited the target audience well.

I'm not surprised by the techniques used to achieve this (a bunch of standard tricks, carefully combined), but we're talking about a machine where less competent people had trouble writing code that filled the screen with 25 lines of text quickly (despite the actual rendering of characters being done by hardware), so fun to see someone pushing it to the limits.
posted by effbot at 4:07 PM on June 20, 2014 [2 favorites]

Now lets see him get it to run DOOM.

Or Minecraft. But I guess the problem there is getting Windows to work with it. I'm guessing the frame rate would be measured in frames per hour.
posted by crapmatic at 7:30 PM on June 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

Even the audio is a feat.

At first it was surprising to me that he was able to use a SoundBlaster 2.0 (released in 1991) on an XT (1983) which only had 8-bit expansion slots. But the pictures of the 2.0 on Wikipedia only show the one row of pins, so I guess it was compatible.

Even so, he still had to feed samples to that sound card on a machine made before sound cards were even a thing, at the same time as pushing full motion video!
posted by mubba at 7:47 PM on June 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

is that some a that touhou at the end there

It is. Cripes what a rabbit hole. A guide for the befuddled.
posted by Western Infidels at 9:02 PM on June 20, 2014 [2 favorites]

Cool stuff. Makes me wonder what computing tasks that will be commonplace in 30 years time are actually possible now if we pushed the hardware hard enough.
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 11:05 PM on June 20, 2014

I had no idea that anime thing wasn't made custom for this. It seems amazingly well-suited to this, since it never has even a single discontinuity, like a cut or the screen flashing or whatever.
posted by aubilenon at 5:50 PM on June 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

irrelevant fact: In the 1980s Parisians referred to break dancing as "smurfing"
posted by Bonzai at 7:07 PM on June 21, 2014

Yeah, but did they call everything that?
posted by aubilenon at 7:21 PM on June 21, 2014 [3 favorites]

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