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November 13, 2008 10:32 AM   Subscribe

The story of an easter egg in Commodore PET BASIC V2, and other bits of computer archeology from fantastic pagetable.com.
posted by Wolfdog (23 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
The TSR-80 Color Computer (1980) also has an easter egg in BASIC: If you type “CLS9″ (or any higher number), it will clear the screen and print “MICROSOFT”.

Aw, I totally remember doing this! We thought that was so cool.

We wanted an Atari, but dad said a computer was "more practical" Don't you hate it when you realize your parents were right?
posted by JoanArkham at 10:41 AM on November 13, 2008

The TSR-80 was never practical. It was fun, though.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:43 AM on November 13, 2008

Pfff. When I was a kid the TRS-80 was monochrome AND WE LOVED IT. It was also cassette-driven which we also loved. Oh and we also also loved line numbered programs.
posted by DU at 10:57 AM on November 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

Myy first computer was a Commodore 16 my grandma got from looking at a timeshare. It had no storage at all (not even the casette drive), so any program I wanted to run, I had to type in in BASIC every time I wanted to run it.

God, those were the days.
posted by Laen at 11:39 AM on November 13, 2008

There was a Commodore 16? I didn't even know. The greatest game ever on the C64 was M.U.L.E. We used to get drunk and hook up the Commodore in the 90s, just to play it. I mean, we didn't get drunk just to play the game, you follow me.

Here is a bloggish site dedicated to M.U.L.E.–appropriately enough the first entry deals with a M.U.L.E. easter egg in Spore. Circle of Life, my friends.
posted by Mister_A at 11:50 AM on November 13, 2008

Oh you want the link.
posted by Mister_A at 11:51 AM on November 13, 2008

Man, the TI 99/4a was where it was *at*. sixteen colors and a speech synthesizer!

posted by notsnot at 12:04 PM on November 13, 2008

Kids Old People these days! I was coding in diapers while you all were on your second marriages. Get off my lawn myspace!
posted by backseatpilot at 12:30 PM on November 13, 2008 [2 favorites]

That was the single most boring article about easter eggs ever. Museum curator approach, indeed.
posted by team lowkey at 1:02 PM on November 13, 2008

My rural public school with about 120 kids had 3 or 4 PETs c.1980, which seems amazingly progressive to me now. Although all we did on them was play some sort of driving game with too many curves.
posted by Paid In Full at 1:11 PM on November 13, 2008

Want a game, kid? Go break out the phone book sized BASIC program manual and type it up!

Or write one yourself. It was such typing on Commodore 64s that first got me to thinking about game design. The big problem is that there's really nothing similar for kids these days to learn from.

(Or maybe more accurately, there's a wealth of choices, but none are obvious enough to definitely go with. I'd probably try to get a kid started now with Python coupled with PyGame.)
posted by JHarris at 1:53 PM on November 13, 2008

Man Commodore Basic sucked next to the joy of BBC Basic.
posted by bonaldi at 2:00 PM on November 13, 2008

bonaldi: Well, C64 BASIC, the one I learned to program on, definitely DID suck. Microsoft BASIC, as reported accurately by many of the articles at pagefault, was extremely bare-bones since it was written as a general interpreter that used OS functions for I/O, so it couldn't use any of the computer's interesting features.

So on the C64 we had to POKE everything. POKE, POKE, POKE. POKE, for writing arbitrary values into memory, and PEEK, for reading them. And SYS, for transferring control to a machine language routine. Those were the best; to do nearly anything really professional on a C64 you had to do it in ML (not having access to an assembler for much of my C64 days I wrote a number of routines using only the opcodes in the 64's Programmer's Reference Guide).

Because there were no commands for using the system's graphics hardware or sound features, we had to use POKEs to utilize them. Because of this, a few numbers are indelibly imprinted on my memory, as they are on all Commodore programmers. It's been over a decade since I touched Commodore BASIC, but I can still tell you 53280 and 53281 are the locations that control border and background color.
posted by JHarris at 2:45 PM on November 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

I bet if anyone asked you for the value of $C000 in decimal you wouldn't even hesitate, either.
posted by Wolfdog at 2:52 PM on November 13, 2008

We always referred to it as "TRASH-80".
posted by mike3k at 3:47 PM on November 13, 2008

49152-- gah

posted by JHarris at 4:10 PM on November 13, 2008

(And the cassette buffer's at 828, screen memory, by default, begins at 1024 but will probably be moved, color memory's up at 53248, BASIC ROM begins at 40960....)
posted by JHarris at 4:12 PM on November 13, 2008

ah yes, and I still remember that address 16514 was where you could start POKEing machine code into a REM statement at the beginning of a ZX81's program. The things one remembers...
posted by hattifattener at 5:14 PM on November 13, 2008

Sometimes I think I'm geeky. Then I read Metafilter. Is there nowhere I belong? I'm just jealous of those in my generation who actually went from playing games to developing skills, and then made money.

Nonetheless, I too wax nostalgic for. . .

Bard's Tale on the Apple IIe's after school.

20 GOTO 10

"Avatar"--a Nethackish multiplayer ASCII game on NovaNet (a pre-Internet internet).

Playing Eamon at the library. Stopping the game to rewrite the line that generated character attributes.

My C64. To survive childhood, it's almost all one needs. That, and a cat.

Dialup BBBses. Naughty things on dialup BBSes.

finger. talk. ntalk!

Violating the computing policies of various colleges. eg, sending an all-campus e-mail inviting EVERYONE to a HAPPENING on STONE HILL. Having discovered drugs, by this point. My friend actually wrote the hack that made this possible.

Sneaking into the computer lab late at night to swap the processor from my 1st gen iMac with a spiffy 2nd gen iMac. (Yay, now I could watch DivX episodes of the Simpsons!)
posted by flotson at 6:29 PM on November 13, 2008 [1 favorite]

There was a Commodore 16? I didn't even know.

Yeah, it wasn't related to the commodore 64 though - it was actually a plus/4 with only 16k of ram (instead of the plus/4's 64k) and without the included office suite in rom.

It was kind of terrible...
posted by jaymzjulian at 1:24 AM on November 14, 2008

posted by not_on_display at 11:02 AM on November 14, 2008 [1 favorite]

Languages, applications, even operating systems had the mark of an individual back then.

I can't imagine programming Microsoft BASIC or anything on the PET's abysmal original keyboard.

We had a roomful of PETs at my elementary school that were used to play Lemonade Stand.
posted by Chinese Jet Pilot at 12:38 PM on November 14, 2008

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