Author Topic: The Commodore 256  (Read 7401 times)

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Online BrianHG

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Re: The Commodore 256
« Reply #25 on: September 27, 2018, 08:44:47 am »
Anything else of comparable price you mean, I was working on clustered Silicon Graphics Indigo systems at a synchrotron facility back then...
Ok, I agree with that line completely.  I do know that truly high end monster specialist graphics specialty above 6 figure cost machines did exist...
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Offline CJay

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Re: The Commodore 256
« Reply #26 on: September 27, 2018, 09:33:25 am »
Anything else of comparable price you mean, I was working on clustered Silicon Graphics Indigo systems at a synchrotron facility back then...
Ok, I agree with that line completely.  I do know that truly high end monster specialist graphics specialty above 6 figure cost machines did exist...

The SGI machines were eyewateringly expensive and as fantastic as they should have been for the price however, I agree the Amiga with the Video Toaster was a revelation, I so desperately wanted one.

Was it Babylon 5 that had the CGI done on an Amiga/Newtek Toaster combo?
 

Online Kleinstein

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Re: The Commodore 256
« Reply #27 on: September 27, 2018, 04:17:34 pm »
People here seem to forget the Amiga 1000 was developed in 1984-85, do you have a clue how f----en expensive ram was then?
.....

RAM was initially quite expensive, but the price in fast decline. This is why the first came with so little RAM (e.g. 512 K maybe even 256 K) and very soon a RAM upgrade was very common, when it got affordable ( e.g. $1 per kbyte). When the A500 came out one was really thinking why they could not put 1 M inside from the beginning as essentially everybody did the upgrade.

It was a difficult, challenging time to design a new computer, as quite a lot was changing at that time: Monitor horizontal, going monochrome to color, the mouse got common, memory prices in fast decline, going from mask ROM to EPROM, EEPROM came up, Hard discs came up - though expensive,  RAM speed got critical, RAM started to need parity check, start to go beyond 8 Bit CPUs.  So it was easy to get it wrong at one aspect or the other:
The first Macintosh missed out color and had little memory (but supposedly upgradable)
The IBM  PC essentially required the HD to be useful and was quite expensive. MSDOS from floppy was  :=\. Later came the 640 K limit.
The Amiga missed out on faster monitors / flickering.
The C128 was still very limited in memory, too small a step up.
The early PC's has that 640 K memory limit
The Atari ST, was not very expandable and a little split in BW / color mode.
 

Offline drussell

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Re: The Commodore 256
« Reply #28 on: September 27, 2018, 05:40:07 pm »
Was it Babylon 5 that had the CGI done on an Amiga/Newtek Toaster combo?

No, it used LightWave 3D, not the Video Toaster. 

The Amiga link with B5 was that they did actually use Commodore hardware for the first season.
 

Offline CJay

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Re: The Commodore 256
« Reply #29 on: September 27, 2018, 05:46:28 pm »
Was it Babylon 5 that had the CGI done on an Amiga/Newtek Toaster combo?

No, it used LightWave 3D, not the Video Toaster. 

The Amiga link with B5 was that they did actually use Commodore hardware for the first season.

Umm, OK, I thought Lightwave 3D was bundled with the toaster and the combo was used. Memory is a fickle thing, it's been a long time
 

Offline drussell

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Re: The Commodore 256
« Reply #30 on: September 27, 2018, 05:53:16 pm »
Earlier versions were bundled with the Toaster and it is possible they used actual Video Toaster stuff on the first season...  Someone with more specific knowledge would have to chime in on that one, I'm not a Commodore expert.
 

Online BrianHG

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Re: The Commodore 256
« Reply #31 on: September 28, 2018, 09:04:56 am »
Was it Babylon 5 that had the CGI done on an Amiga/Newtek Toaster combo?

No, it used LightWave 3D, not the Video Toaster. 

The Amiga link with B5 was that they did actually use Commodore hardware for the first season.

Umm, OK, I thought Lightwave 3D was bundled with the toaster and the combo was used. Memory is a fickle thing, it's been a long time

Yes, Babylon 5 used LightWave, which at the time required the VideoToaster as it's key to enable the tool.  They also used the Toaster for the video frame generation, single frame recorders for the 3D scenes, and some of the 2D Fx scenes.  You can clearly see this if you get the remastered episodes of B5 on DVD where the film only scenes with actors are a clear 16:9, crisp and clean, progressive video source, but when the 3D graphics or video FX scenes come along, you see the 4:3 stretched to 16:9 and the de-interlacing effect where they used crummy scan rate converters when mastering the DVDs.  I wish at the time, I know many Americans would bitch, that for these scenes, they left the images at the original 4:3 so we wouldn't have the zoomed in blurrier pixel effect.  That annoying 4:3 interlaced mode and video effect is in all seasons on the remastered DVD boxset.

Babylon5 had a render farm with a ton of Amiga 2000s with RCS Management's Fusion 40 - 33Mhz which just prior to that time, I was contracted locally here by RCS management to solve their overheating issues which allowed them to jump from 25Mhz to 33Mhz.  Competition PP&S 68040 40Mhz Amiga accelerators could not out perform RCS management's 33Mhz version when rendering in LightWave 3D since RCS had a smart adaptive ram controller with 31111-1111-1111-2 until a row change ras-cas cycle low wait-state which meant around 25% faster rendering than other 40Mhz 040s.  Any code fitting inside the 040&40Mhz cache would outrun the 33Mhz version obviously, like, CPU dhrystones tests, but, we know that there aren't many real world applications which fit in the puny size of the 040's cache...

The separation of LightWave 3D from the toaster first was done with a hack called 'LightRave 3D'.  Then, NewTek finally took the plunge and made a separate LightWave3D package with the new feature to render at film resolution, ie 2k, 4k, and output to deep color 35mm and 16mm film recorder formats of the time.  (Yes, at the time, they ran a miniature B&W CRT with spinning RGB color wheel, scanning at below something like HORIZONTAL 100hz, vertical at a minute or so per frame and they achieved this insane resolution on super low grain 25 or 100 ASA film, which was like a movie film camera mounted on the other side.  After repairing one, I never saw a CRT soooo slowly and smoothly perfectly scan an image, exposing 1 color at a time, 1 frame at a time.)

« Last Edit: September 28, 2018, 10:07:21 am by BrianHG »
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Offline CJay

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Re: The Commodore 256
« Reply #32 on: September 28, 2018, 11:42:37 am »
After repairing one, I never saw a CRT soooo slowly and smoothly perfectly scan an image, exposing 1 color at a time, 1 frame at a time.)

Snipped a load, fantastic to read, thank you :)

 
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Online BrianHG

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Re: The Commodore 256
« Reply #33 on: September 28, 2018, 12:34:48 pm »
For those who want some old Amiga game music:


Now, it is not well known, but, for accelerated Amigas, there is a software audio DSP which locks the Paula to it's highest sampling frequency, using 2 channels on each side, 1 at 1/64th volume, the other at full volume making a dumb true stereo 14 bit DAC.  These software DSP operate with 16 true stereo channels 16 bit source audio at 48Khz, they mix surround and pitch shift/bending/full echos with reverb playing MIDI files, obviously rendered by the 68030, or, 64 channels by the 68040 without any aliasing.  Here is an example Amiga software Audio DSP synthesized output:


« Last Edit: September 28, 2018, 12:52:35 pm by BrianHG »
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Offline Rasz

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Re: The Commodore 256
« Reply #34 on: September 28, 2018, 10:26:31 pm »
Now, it is not well known, but, for accelerated Amigas, there is a software audio DSP which locks the Paula to it's highest sampling frequency, using 2 channels on each side, 1 at 1/64th volume, the other at full volume making a dumb true stereo 14 bit DAC.  These software DSP operate with 16 true stereo channels 16 bit source audio at 48Khz, they mix surround and pitch shift/bending/full echos with reverb playing MIDI files, obviously rendered by the 68030, or, 64 channels by the 68040 without any aliasing.  Here is an example Amiga software Audio DSP synthesized output:

What you are really saying is Commodore was so dysfunctional they didnt even manage to upgrade Paula to 16 bit output despite 7 years between A1000 and A1200/4000. Forget more channels, there was no hardware panning resulting in this unique Amiga all or nothing sound "quality". Speaking of Paula, high density disks anyone? naaah its only been on the market for 10 years, who'd want unproven technology?
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Online BrianHG

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Re: The Commodore 256
« Reply #35 on: September 29, 2018, 02:58:33 am »
Now, it is not well known, but, for accelerated Amigas, there is a software audio DSP which locks the Paula to it's highest sampling frequency, using 2 channels on each side, 1 at 1/64th volume, the other at full volume making a dumb true stereo 14 bit DAC.  These software DSP operate with 16 true stereo channels 16 bit source audio at 48Khz, they mix surround and pitch shift/bending/full echos with reverb playing MIDI files, obviously rendered by the 68030, or, 64 channels by the 68040 without any aliasing.  Here is an example Amiga software Audio DSP synthesized output:

What you are really saying is Commodore was so dysfunctional they didnt even manage to upgrade Paula to 16 bit output despite 7 years between A1000 and A1200/4000. Forget more channels, there was no hardware panning resulting in this unique Amiga all or nothing sound "quality". Speaking of Paula, high density disks anyone? naaah its only been on the market for 10 years, who'd want unproven technology?
Yes, if you look at my first earlier post, the A3000 was supposed to have Motorola's true 48Khz, 16bit stereo 64-128 channel DSP, with sampling line input replacing the Paula Audio.  (It was also supposed to have the AGA chipset running at 2x speed compared to what we got in the A4000&A1200, this also meant a 56Khz audio Paula and true HD floppy drive access without slow special disk motor)  But, like I said on that post, the execs at Commodore saw cheap A500 game machine sales in Europe skyrocket at the time of the beginning of A3000 development, so they said, lets place our budget on a gaming a CDTV machine and make the A3000 the same as the latest A2000, with a flicker fixer and entry level 68030.

They didn't want to invest in computing or it's advancement, they kept the old Fat Agnus, 2mb limit, with that, there isn't a lot of memory for better audio anyways and games came on 880k discs.  Like I said before, it's a shame.  Commodore had a great compact effective OS and locked themselves into an underfunded locked-down hardware infrastructure which should have been recognized that they would crash hard very quickly as all the big corporation developing new graphics and sound capabilities would leave them as a fan collectable and footnote to history.
« Last Edit: September 29, 2018, 03:02:18 am by BrianHG »
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Online BrianHG

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Re: The Commodore 256
« Reply #36 on: September 29, 2018, 07:48:03 am »
You want to know why the Commodore Amiga never advanced graphically and audio, here is the Commodore Amiga's full behind the scenes story, full 2 hours: https://www.eevblog.com/forum/vintage-computing/the-commodore-amiga-story-complete-full-2-hours/
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Offline Alex Eisenhut

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Re: The Commodore 256
« Reply #37 on: September 29, 2018, 08:23:01 am »

What you are really saying is Commodore was so dysfunctional they didnt even manage to upgrade Paula to 16 bit output despite 7 years between A1000 and A1200/4000. Forget more channels, there was no hardware panning resulting in this unique Amiga all or nothing sound "quality". Speaking of Paula, high density disks anyone? naaah its only been on the market for 10 years, who'd want unproven technology?

Scarily accurate. They snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Commodore only survived on the goodwill of a dedicated user base and the skill of programmers that could squeeze things from the hardware that Commodore didn't (or couldn't) be bothered to design...
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Offline Rasz

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Re: The Commodore 256
« Reply #38 on: September 29, 2018, 09:56:50 am »
Commodore saw cheap A500 game machine sales in Europe skyrocket at the time of the beginning of A3000 development, so they said, lets place our budget on a gaming a CDTV machine

budget you say? it was stock A500 with additional 512KB ram and off the shelf Mitsumi x1 CD drive in a fancy Amplifier case :( 6 years and all they managed was ram and price doubling. Its like no one was doing anything at Commodore for all those years. Jay Miner did whole Amiga architecture in under 2 years, plus one more year for a tapeout, and then nothing....
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Online BrianHG

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Re: The Commodore 256
« Reply #39 on: September 29, 2018, 10:21:30 am »
Commodore saw cheap A500 game machine sales in Europe skyrocket at the time of the beginning of A3000 development, so they said, lets place our budget on a gaming a CDTV machine

budget you say? it was stock A500 with additional 512KB ram and off the shelf Mitsumi x1 CD drive in a fancy Amplifier case :( 6 years and all they managed was ram and price doubling. Its like no one was doing anything at Commodore for all those years. Jay Miner did whole Amiga architecture in under 2 years, plus one more year for a tapeout, and then nothing....

If you watched the documentary I posted above, you'll see the engineers had a 0$ budget to advance the hardware, and only 2 or 3 original engineers on hardware.  As a computer hardware company, it was a joke.  The first Amiga chipset was mainly the work of an enthusiastic engineer who once worked for Atari (Jay Miner).  For some f....ed up reason, Commodore snagged him, finished the already partially functioning Amiga 1000 prototype which had the custom chipset designed in TTL logic gates, and then Commodore did zip-all to the hardware as the fat-agnus upgrade was a joke since it had nothing new.  The the newer ones had just an additional address register in the blitter for expanded chipram, rest is history.  The enthusiasm of the original team wasn't gone and they weren't lazy, Commodore crushed them to a pulp with no money, no hardware tools, loss of the original designer, and orders just to f..k around with making cheapest possible toys with existing IC designs.

At one of the trade show towards the end with one of the owners of RCS Management, A Commodore exec was told to get out of the hardware business and port their OS to x86 immediately while Windows still had a bit of vulnerability, otherwise they would be dead in under a year.  You know what happened next. (ok, they lasted a few more years, but, look at what happened to the top end graphics card hardware companies, during the same time...)
« Last Edit: September 29, 2018, 10:40:49 am by BrianHG »
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Offline Towger

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Re: The Commodore 256
« Reply #40 on: September 29, 2018, 09:22:01 pm »
I have vague memory Commodore were also selling pc clones towards the end.
 

Online BrianHG

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Re: The Commodore 256
« Reply #41 on: September 29, 2018, 11:35:21 pm »
I have vague memory Commodore were also selling pc clones towards the end.
Yup...
If they forgot hardware completely and ported their OS to PCs early enough, they might have had a slim chance of still existing.  The concept of selling a 50$-100$ CD which had no development and manufacturing costs of the Amiga hardware for machines people were buying in the 10-100x millions, with all those fans of the OS to add product value completely baffled them as a concept.
« Last Edit: September 29, 2018, 11:41:23 pm by BrianHG »
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Online Kleinstein

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Re: The Commodore 256
« Reply #42 on: October 03, 2018, 08:10:31 am »
I have vague memory Commodore were also selling pc clones towards the end.
Yup...
If they forgot hardware completely and ported their OS to PCs early enough, they might have had a slim chance of still existing.  The concept of selling a 50$-100$ CD which had no development and manufacturing costs of the Amiga hardware for machines people were buying in the 10-100x millions, with all those fans of the OS to add product value completely baffled them as a concept.
There would still be some development costs to adapting the OS to a new hardware. In addition the PC hardware would need adapted drives - so also some maintenance costs to get at least some drivers working. Another point would be support for the MMU - there was some 3rd party virtual memory support using the MMU of the 68030/40, so it should no be that difficult.  Some parts of the OS were really nice: especially the honest hour-glass and very responsive UI - no odd delays that we sometimes see with Windows 8.x  despite of much more powerful HW.
So I don't think it would be just the fans - it could have been a serious competition to Windows 3.x or Win95 / OS2.

Yes Commodore build PCs, but this was in the early days (e.g. 8086 / 80286 based).
 

Offline TheBay

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Re: The Commodore 256
« Reply #43 on: October 16, 2018, 11:17:34 am »
I have vague memory Commodore were also selling pc clones towards the end.

Atari also sold PC clones, I remember seeing a 286 with Atari branding being retired in collage many years ago, I asked if I could have it but they said it
had to be disposed of :(
 

Offline Rasz

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Re: The Commodore 256
« Reply #44 on: October 16, 2018, 07:08:08 pm »
Atari also sold PC clones

John Connor used one for mobile banking.
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