8 bit computers are great for learning about computer architecture, because they are simple enough that they can be fully understood, and they are great for learning to program, because they boot straight into a programming language. But 8 bit computers also have some annoyances like cheap, non-standard keyboards, TV-out and the reliance on floppy disks (or rather expensive SD card adapters).
Therefore, David is designing a new 8 bit computer in the style of Commodore computers like the VIC-20 and the C64, fixing the annoyances of retro computers by having:
VGA output (in addition to composite)
support for standard PS/2 keyboards (instead of a cheap built-in keyboard with a non-standard layout)
SD card for storage (instead of an additional floppy drive)
RS232 port for efficient cross-development
efficient modern power supply
From the software side, the Commander X16 feels like a Commodore computer. It’s ROM contains the “KERNAL” operating system derived from the C64 version, as well as an enhanced version of Commodore/Microsoft BASIC based on V2. (GIF above).
Consequently, the X16 can be considered a sibling of the computers from the Commodore 8 bit family (PET, VIC-20, C64, CBM2, Plus/4, C128 and C65). It is not meant to be fully compatible with any of these machines, but it is as compatible as a Plus/4 is with a C64: BASIC programs without PEEK and POKE as well as machine code programs that only use the documented KERNAL API (e.g. BSOUT $FFD2) will just work, but existing code that accesses hardware would have to be ported.
The fact that the X16 breaks compatibility with the C64 is what I find particular interesting. Most retro projects try to recreate a classic computer. Users will start their favorite two games and then get bored. The X16 is a new system, with new tricks to discover – but familiar to people who know the C64.
8-6-2021 (August 6, 2021) is the Snakiest day of the year and it’s also this year’s CircuitPython Day! The day highlights all things CircuitPython and Python on Hardware. See you there!
Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.