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Added an Amstrad CPC-464 to my collection

My brother Matthieu just offered me an Amstrad CPC-464 for my computer collection.

Writing this, I realized that this may be the first time that I actually mention this collection on the blog. I have about 25 computers, and about the same number of calculators, the vast majority more or less in working order. I have to write more or less, unfortunately, because it’s not infrequent for one of these old machines to break.

It works, but it’s so slow

Anyway, the Amstrad is in perfect working order, as you can see on the picture above. I had forgotten just how fast these machines booted, and just how slow the BASIC was after that. Old memories kicked in, as I tried to practice the horrid program editor of these machines “EDIT 30” would bring a line editor for line 30. You could also move the cursor around, and it looked like you were editing, but you really weren’t. You had to use the magic “COPY” key to copy one character at a time for editing. Totally idiotic if you look at it from today’s perspective.

My kids were unimpressed. We tried to load a few games, but it was really boring, even to me. Load the cassette tape, wait 5 minutes for something to load, that asks you whether you want to play part 1 or part 2 or part 3 of the game, then load again for 5 minutes, and so on. Today’s kids just have no idea how lucky they are to have instant access to a gigantic library of games from the Internet. But even if I grew up with this kind of boxes, I must admit that my memory of how bad this was had somewhat faded.

At some point, I tried to write a little program to draw a Lissajous curve. This was the kind of thing that we thought were cool at the time. Except that it took minutes to draw the curve! I simply had forgotten that. My oldest son, Tanguy, looked at this, and while the curve interested him, I can’t say that the BASIC moved him a bit. We ended up discussing Lissajous curves on the remarkable Apple Grapher application. So much for old times…

On the lookout for other machines…

At some point, I have to spend a little time on e-Bay trying to look for the missing pieces in the collection, but for the moment, I’m simply looking at random, and picking up things when I think they are interesting. Right now, one of the few pieces left that I’d really like to have is a TI-99/4A. That’s just because I spent so many hours programming it at a friend’s house as a kid…

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