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CUGA Newsletter (1990-1992)

CUGA Newsletter (1990-1992)

©2013 by Dallas Denny

By the time I moved to Atlanta in 1989 the home computer craze was on the wane. I nonetheless looked up a Commodore users group in DeKalb, my home county: The Commodore Users Group of Atlanta. I remained a member and sometimes board member as we all slowly moved (most of us reluctantly) from our beloved C-64s to Macintoshes and PCs.

The group lasted longer than it had a right to. We liked one another and enjoyed meeting for some years. We finally fizzed out in the mid-’90s.


Click the Tabs to Open


Sim City: A Review (1990)

This was, I believe, my first article for the CUGA newsletter—although it may actually have been published in the newsletter of the Nashville Commodore Users Group—my reference to Bob suggests the latter. I no longer have the issue—or perhaps it’s in storage, so there’s no pdf. I’m unsure of the date, but the article would have been published in 1990.

Source: Dallas Denny. (1990). Sim City: A Review. Newsletter of the Commodore Users Group of Atlanta.


Sim City: A Review

By Dallas Denny


There was trouble in River City. Disgusted with high pollution, crowded highways, lack of recreational facilities, and the high rate of unemployment, its inhabitants were moving out. Tax revenues had fallen, making it nearly impossible for the city’s planners to rebuild the sagging infrastructure. The City Fathers’ dreams of an airport and a seaport seemed unattainable.

And then a miracle happened. After a new bridge across the river eased the traffic blockage and highly polluting industries were razed and replaced by parks and waterways, the city began to grow again. More funds were poured into highways and the decaying inner city was bulldozed and replaced with pleasant malls and canals. A new residential area was built to the south, with homes tucked into the trees. The city coffers grew, and a seaport was added in a space formerly occupied by other industries.

As the standard of living increased, the population soared. Within five years the larger tax base allowed the addition of an airport. Most sectors of the city showed a high growth rate, unemployment was near zero, and the proud new highway system brought cars swiftly in and out of the city. City fathers looked South, to the still-undeveloped forests and plains, and thought, “We’ll be more careful this time.”

I’ve been describing a scenario from Sim City for the C-64 (there are also Amiga, PC, and Macintosh versions). The major difference between my description and the actual game is there were no city fathers, only me. I was the one responsible for getting River City into such a mess, and I was the one who finally saved it. At two in the morning, I finally went to bed, leaving the city running, confident the still largely uninhabited residential complex I had just created would absorb the growth that would happen while I slept.

Sim City is a city-building simulation. On terrain generated by the computer (an editing feature lets you design your own terrain if you must, but I consider it cheating), you lay down power lines, roads, parks, and waterways, and zone the city into residential, commercial, and industrial districts. As the city is developed, its inhabitants, the Sims, begin to move in and conduct their business. Buildings appear in the zoned areas, cars fill the highways, and tax monies are collected (hear that, Bob? The city will need an accountant). The accumulation of funds allows further building projects. As the population base increases, it becomes possible to add a seaport or an airport.

The Sims behave much like real people. If they become unhappy, you’ll know it. Growth will slow or stop, or actually reverse, especially if you allow power to the various zones to be interrupted. It’s easy to track the city’s progress via a series of graphs which show various economic factors over either a 10 or 40 year span, and via maps which show pollution, land value, and population density. Your city can be saved to disk and reloaded later; it’s also possible to load one of the pre-saved cities on the disk. Say San Francisco in 1906. Using the built-in disaster generator, you can simulate the big quake and then try to re-build the city (after, of course, putting out the fires caused by the earthquake).

Sim City performed flawlessly, except when saving or loading. There seems to be no error checking during saves and loads, and on one occasion the program simply shut down when I tried to load and typed in the wrong name. Other times, the simulation would behave erratically after a save, indicating that zones attached to the power grid were without power. Re-loading the simulation generally fixed the problem.

I had been wanting Sim City for a long time. It’s worth the $40 price tag, I suppose, but I have a policy of never paying more than $10 for a piece of software. I beat that, picking it up for $8 from Randy at the January CUGA meeting. Now I’m looking for a similarly-priced copy of Sim Earth.

Sim Earth is much like Sim City, but one builds planets and creates life. It must be good for the ego, although it can be disheartening, too, when life, which has a nasty habit of doing its own thing, does just that. As a friend told me glumly, “I created a race of intelligent arthropods. They were just on the verge of space travel, but they invented nuclear weapons and blew themselves up.”

It’s difficult enough being a city planner. I don’t know how I would feel about being a goddess.

A Modest Proposal to Postpone the Inevitable (February, 1991)

CUGA Newsletter (PDF)

©1991, 2013 by Dallas Denny

Source: Dallas Denny. (1991, February). A modest proposal to postpone the inevitable. Newsletter of Commodore Users Group of Atlanta, V. 9, No. 2, p. 4.


A Modest Proposal to Postpone the Inevitable

By Dallas Denny

Secretary/Treasurer, Commodore Users Group of Atlanta

Associate Member, Stone Mountain Users Group


Like it or not, the C-64 is inexorably becoming an orphan computer. In its heyday, it was phenomenally popular (and inexpensive). But Commodore long ago forsook the home market in vain pursuit of a business market that had already been sewn up by IBM, and the proliferation of inexpensive MS-DOS clones and Nintendo game machines has left the C-64 without a source of new users. Software support has dwindled, and will continue to dwindle, and hardware has become difficult to find. As new and exciting products appear for other brands, and their prices continue to fall, attrition will thin the ranks of the Commodore faithful. The Commodore 64 is destined go the way of CP/M, the TI 994A, the Atari 800, and the Apple II; it will be used only by a diehard few.

I was a founder of the Nashville Commodore Users Group, a club which in its heyday had five meetings a month and more than 250 members. In addition to their availability at bonafide dealers, Commodore computers, accessories, and software could be found at K-Mart and Wal-Mart and Target stores, at Sears, at Toys-R-Us, Service Merchandise, and at other department stores. New users were everywhere. Other clubs throughout the country were in a growth phase, and it looked like the sky was the limit.

But things change. Commodore clubs are no longer growing, and except in the short term, they cannot grow. The horizons are no longer boundless. What existing clubs can do is to continue to serve Commodore users for as long as there is a need to do so, to plan for gradual decline in membership, and to adapt to changing needs (i.e., become MS-DOS or MacIntosh or Amiga groups), or, finally, to merge with other groups or disband with dignity.

The Metro Atlanta area has a handful of small Commodore users groups, all of which can expect in the near future to be faced with declining membership. All have meetings which are sparsely attended. None can hold out much hope for the future.

While the individual clubs could conceivably hang on for several more years, they could offer their respective members more by combining their resources to form a larger, more active and energetic club. Meetings would be more exciting, merged treasuries would allow for financial health, and the putting together of so many heads would result in a synergy and drive that would make Commodore computing in Atlanta exciting for the next several years.

I propose that the members and governing bodies of these clubs consider taking steps to merge the existing small Atlanta Commodore user groups into a larger, more healthy superclub.

GEOS Revisited (March, 1991)

CUGA Newsletter (PDF)

©1991, 2013 by Dallas Denny

Source: Dallas Denny. (1991, March). GEOS Revisited. Newsletter of Commodore Users Group of Atlanta, V. 9, No. 3, p. 6.



by Dallas Denny


Several years ago, at the first CASE show, the GEOS program was reviewed, and I won it as a door prize. Next to the Amiga computer system we gave away, GEOS was considered the prize to get. It had just come out, and everyone was hungry for it, and I won it.

I took the program home and tried it, and, as a result, wrote an article for the newsletter of The Nashville Commodore Users Group called “I Won GEOS—Big Deal!”

If you have guessed I was somewhat unenthusiastic about the GEOS program, you guessed right. I found it kludgy, obtuse, and counterintuitive. It was excruciatingly slow, filled with glitches, and it lacked many features which I considered critical. Yes, it would (finally) produce a nice-looking printed page, but oy! The effort! I promptly sold GEOS. Good riddance!

In the past several months, I have had the opportunity to watch two wonderful demonstrations of GEOS by John Taggart, a man who is enchanted with the program and who finds that it meets his needs. He is a wizard with GEOS, and was so enthusiastic about it that I obtained a copy of the latest version and again tried my hand.

I was ready to like GEOS, but found I could not. The same frustrations awaited me. Again, I concluded that GEOS was not for me— and for the same reasons that I had disliked it the first time. (I have similar problems with the MacIntosh. It drives me crazy.)

I have come to a conclusion about GEOS and the Mac. It’s not that GEOS is a bad program and the Mac is a bad computer, but rather that there are Type A and Type B computer users. If GEOS and the MAC are for type B, then I am Type A.

GEOS (and all this goes for the Maclntosh, too) is a graphics-driven environment, in which everything is more-or-less laid out for the user. The program, an analog of a desktop, is menu-driven. Files can be opened and laid on the desk, put away, or placed in a trash can (where they are retrievable until the trash can is emptied). This suits Type A users, who are visually-oriented and who can deal with pictures instead of words. The DOS prompt and the BASIC prompt drive them crazy, for words must be entered. But the GEOS arrow is like a friendly finger they can point.

The start-up screen on my 64, like MS-DOS, and like EasyScript, the word processor I usually use, is not menu-driven. There are many things I can do, limited only by the vocabulary of Basic 2.0, DOS, and EasyScript, respectively. I am able to do anything at any time, simply by typing in the command. There is no need to move through a variety of menus to finally get to the place where I want to be. There is no need to move my fingers from the keyboard to manipulate the mouse. I just type in the command, and it is carried out (and I type 85 wpm, so I can get things done fast). The interface is language-oriented rather than graphics-oriented.

Of course, I must know the command—and there’s the rub. Few computer users are willing to take the time and energy to memorize a plethora of commands. They would rather have it all laid out for then (via menus).

For the computer novice, Type A programs like GEOS are a godsend, because they enable the person to immediately start to use the computer.

If you are very frustrated with your Commodore or Amiga, then ask yourself—am I a Type A or Type B person? Am I using a Type A or Type B program? It might save you some hassle.

Writing Reggie (April, 1991)

CUGA Newsletter (PDF)

©1991, 2013 by Dallas Denny

Source: Dallas Denny. (1991, April). Writing Reggie. Newsletter of Commodore Users Group of Atlanta, 9(4), 5.

Writing Reggie

By Dallas Denny


‘Way back in 1983. about the time the Nashville Vic Users Group and a forming C-64 club merged to become the Nashville Commodore Users Group, peculiar things began appearing on the screen of my brand new 1701 monitor. As I was not sure I wanted my name associated with such nonsense. I searched about for a pseudonym. The name Reggie Ramloose manifested itself, and I became a psychic channel for his twisted and sometimes biting sense of humor.

I’m not sure why I chose a male pseudonym. Sometimes I think Reggie chose me, rather than I choosing him. Certainly, he did all the work. I never consciously thought about what I was going to write. I just sat down at the keyboard, and an hour later, a column had appeared.

By 1986 or so, Reggie had disappeared, most likely to haunt someone else. But in the three or four years of his existence, he had lots of things to say. He lampooned Alexander (I’m in charge) Haig’s appointment to the Board of Directors of Commodore Business Machines. He parodied Siskel and Ebert’s “At The Movies” television show. a Compuserve feature which was written by a man (I forget his name) who was traveling around the country on a tandem bicycle with a Tandy portable computer mounted on the handlebars, and Fred D’Ignazio’s column in Compute’s Gazette.

Reggie was not shy. In fact, he sent his column to poor Fred. who reprinted it in his column in the Gazette.

But the reason Reggie will live in infamy is a column called “How to Double-Side Your Notebook Paper.” It has been reprinted in dozens of user group newsletters, in Torpet (the magazine of the Toronto Pet Users Group), and, I’ve been told, may have even found its way into the pages of Compute! or the Gazette. Every time I think it has died a natural death, there it is again, rearing its Reggie head. It has been seven or more years since it first appeared, but it just will not die. At the CUGA board meeting earlier this month. I was leafing through some newsletters and stumbled across it. Seeing it gave me the inspiration for this column.

For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the article, or who may have read or not understood it, it was a disguised discussion of the merits of formatting and using the back side of a 5 1/4” diskette.

I doubt I will be inspired to “write Reggie” again, but as long as that column continues to surface from time to time in the pages of a user croup, Reggie Ramloose will continue to live.

Clark: Part I (July, 1991)

CUGA Newsletter (PDF)

©1991, 2013 by Dallas Denny

Source: Dallas Denny. (1991, July). Clark: A Reminiscence, Part 1. Newsletter of the Commodore Users Group of Atlanta, V. 9, No. 7, p. 2.


Clark: A Reminiscence—Part 1

 By Dallas Denny


Note: I couldn’t possibly have done my work with Clark without the help of Wendy McAmis and Joyce Moore, who worked with him every day for ten years. Wendy was Clark’s program coordinator, and went above and beyond the call of duty to make sure his computer was “on line.” Joyce is a speech therapist, and trained Clark not only to use the computer, but in basic language skills as well. They are warm and caring people, and I cannot say enough good about them.

Last month, at the Commodore Users Group of Atlanta Executive Committee, we were trying to pick a topic for the upcoming main membership meeting. CUGA having been around for a long time, we’ve done just about everything at least once. I had what I thought was a not particularly good idea—Nostalgia and Brag Night. Members would bring in obsolete equipment and explain why it was once important, and would show off old programs or tell about their peak experiences with Commodore computers. The idea having been thrown out and duly accepted by the board, I hoped it would work.

Despite my misgivings, the meeting turned out to be one of our better ones. I told the following story, which Newsletter Editor Gene Smith asked me to put onto paper.

All my adult life, I have worked with people with mental retardation, in residential centers.s In those centers, there are a few men and women who are not retarded. They are there because their bodies have betrayed them. They cannot control their arms and legs, and in may cases, they do not even have enough motor control to talk—although they know how, and have much to say.

Clark was such a man. In his early fifties, he had a quiet dignity. Although his life must have been tremendously frustrating, he bore his physical burden with good humor and resignation. He would help feed and clothe himself as best he could, and would patiently try to force his mouth to say the things he wanted to say.

At the time, there were commercially available augmentative speech devices, but they were very expensive, and Clark, with his limited income, could not afford one. As it was 1982 or 1983, and VIC-20s were plentiful and cheap—and powerful, for the time—it occurred to me that a $49 computer with a tape drive would do just as much as a $1700 dedicated speech device—and Briarwood Cottage, where Clark lived, happened to have a VIC. I set out to write a program to help Clark speak.

I called the program Six Bits, because it took six presses of a digital switch (six bits of information) to select a single character from a field of 64. Sixty-four characters were enough to give Clark the letters of the alphabet and the numbers, punctuation marks, and even an electronic alarm, which would summon help.

I sacrificed a joystick, cutting off the cord, fitting the ground sire and the wire for the fire button into a Radio Shack jack. Clark used a custom-made foot switch. He would position himself in his wheelchair, and work the switch with his foot. It took him all his concentration and control, for he had to make the selection within a window of time (which was adjustable). Six presses, and the letter selected would appear on the screen. He could erase mistakes, or the whole message (he had to confirm to erase), and could save a message in memory while he worked on a second. When a message was complete, he could route it to the printer, or to a Votrax speech synthesizer, or just leave it on the screen for an attendant to read.

It turned out Clark had a lot to say.


Next Month—Part II: Clark Speaks

Clark: Part II (August, 1991)

CUGA Newsletter

©1991, 2013 by Dallas Denny

Source: Dallas Denny. (1991, August). Clark: A Reminiscence, Part II. Newsletter of the Commodore Users Group of Atlanta, V. 9, No. 8, p. 2.


Clark: A Reminiscence—Part II

By Dallas Denny


My Favorite Things


I like cars, trucks

     and trains

I like bacon, ham

     and sausage

I like strawberries, blackberries

     and apple pie

I like country music, pop


And I like gospel

     but I don’t like rock n roll

It is too loud.

I like the Lawrence Welk Show

     and the Boston Pop

My favorite color is

     red white and blue

I like the flag

     of the USA.


—written by Clark, using a Commodore computer and a foot-operated switch.


Last month, I explained how I came to write a computer program called Six Bits for a physically handicapped man named Clark. Next month, I will tell how Clark came to appear before the national meetings of the Civitans Clubs of America and the Association for Retarded Citizens to give an invocation and a speech, using his computer-generated voice.

Clark had been using an electronic device called a Trace II, which used Morse input to scroll LED letters across a screen. The device was no longer being produced, and it broke regularly. Each time it quit, John Dolan, one of Clark’s technicians, had managed to locate the man who had designed it, but only because they had a mutual interest in ham radio. The Trace II had served honorably, but it was time to retire it.

The VIC-20, with its large characters, was a good choice for Clark, for his eyesight was not so good. Even so, he could not use the computer right away. He had to be trained, and we had to provide him with a switch he could use without tiring. Joyce Moore and Wendy McAmis, working together, experimented, finally deciding that foot operation was best. They had the carpenter ship build a special switch which would remain stable on the floor when Clark used it.

Clark caught on fairly readily to the operation of Six Bits, but then another problem became apparent. Although he had heard sentences all his life, he had no experience in making them. Joyce began teaching him sentence construction and grammar.

Clark was soon using his computer every day, and what he had to say was amazing. He was quick to praise, but he was also quick to point out problems. The Cottage Manager, the Team Leader, and even the Superintendent soon began to receive his short but to-the-point communiques. And biographical information began to emerge.

Joyce and Wendy compiled this information into a biography; Clark had written his first book!

I was born normal (I was normal) until I was eight years old and then had a long sick spell. My dad and mom was worried sick. They had an old time doctor. Dad had to go catch a train to get the doctor.

Next Month—Part III: Clark Makes the Big Time

Clark, Part III (September, 1991)

CUGA Newsletter (PDF)

©1991, 2013 by Dallas Denny

Source: Dallas Denny. (1991, September). Clark: A Reminiscence, Part III. Newsletter of Commodore Users Group of Atlanta, V. 9, No. 9, p. 2.


Clark: A Reminiscence—Part III

By Dallas Denny


Clark worked away at his VIC-20, using it to communicate in his everyday life. It took him laborious minutes to make it say even the simplest things. Wendy McAmis and Joyce Moore and I dreamed about upgrading Clark’s system, but where would we find the money?

In 1984, I moved to Nashville to go to graduate school. One day I told Dr. Floyd Dennis, my advisor, about Clark and our wish to get him a Commodore 64 with a disk drive and a color monitor. Floyd had an idea, and set up a lunch meeting with Roger Blue, the director of the Association for Retarded Citizens of Tennessee. Over moo goo gui pan, we made our pitch to Roger: could the ARC-T help us find a computer for Clark? The deck was stacked, for I had been doing a lot of favors for the ARC-T: setting up a database system to allow them to track the registrants for the upcoming national conference of the ARC, which was to be held at the beautiful Opryland Hotel, as well as appearing as an expert witness in various court cases and due process hearings. Soon, we had a $500 check from the ARC.

Back in East Tennessee for the summer, I took the ARC’s check to Marjorie Nell Cardwell, then the superintendent of Greene Valley, Clark’s home. I shamelessly asked her for matching funds. She met with the Parents’ Advisory Council, returning with a check for a bit more than $200.

Clark’s fund bought hin a C-64 computer, a Commodore 1541 disk drive, a Commodore 1702 color monitor, and his own Votrax speech synthesizer (he had been using mine). We even found a plug-in cartridge that would make the C-64 autoboot. But there wasn’t enough money for a printer. However, luck was with us. Joyce Moore, Clark’s speech therapist, told his story at a meeting of a local computer club, and a 1525 printer was donated. Clark was in business!

Joyce began training Clark in the use of a new program I had written. The program had more than 700 built-in words and phrases. Clark used some of them, ut his failing eyesight kept him from using the full potential of the program. Still, he was “talking,” and it was no longer necessary for Wendy McAmis, Clark’s program coordinator, to manually load his program every morning (something she had been driving to his cottage on Saturday and Sunday mornings for several years to do).

Payback, they say, is hell, but not in this case. Back at Vanderbilt in Nashville, I got a call out of the blue—from Roger Blue. It seemed the ARC-T had been asked by ARC National to provide a disabled person to give the invocation at the ARC national meeting. Would it be possible for Clark to come and speak with the aid of his computer?

Indeed it would. With Marjorie Nell’s approval, Wendy and I and a male attendant loaded Clark into a van with a life and headed for Music City. There, on the stage in front of delegates from all over the country, he gave the invocation he had been preparing for weeks. I had rigged the computer to begin speaking automatically when Clark pressed his foot switch. We were given the high sign, I signalled Clark, he reached for the switch with a trembling foot, and the amplified voice of Sam, the Software Automatic Mouth (we had left the Votrax behind) boomed across the ballroom.

There wasn’t a dry eye in the place, including mine, and Wendy’s, and Clark’s.

Again with Wendy and myself along, Clark repeated his performance, at the request of Al Abeson, ARC’s Executive Director, in front of the national meeting of the Civitan Clubs of America—this time delivering a speech instead of a prayer. That night we stayed at the Opryland Hotel. The next morning, Clark spent two hours on the balcony which overlooked the hotel’s wonderful conservatory, just drinking it all in.

Clark’s two trips to Nashville were the high spot of his life—and mine. Wendy and I were lucky to be able to share in his triumphs. And when Clark’s artificial voice was booming across that ballroom, I looked at Clark and thanked God and Commodore founder Jack Tramiel and the ARC-T for the miracle of his C-64.

My Last Commodore Column (November-December, 1991)

CUGA Newsletter (PDF)

©1991, 2013 by Dallas Denny

Source: Dallas Denny. (1991, November-December). Newsletter of Commodore Users Group of Atlanta, V. 9, No. 11, p. 5.


Denny, D. (1991, November-December). My last Commodore column. Newsletter of Commodore Users Group of Atlanta, 9(11), 5.


My Last Commodore Column

By Dallas Denny


I’m lying on the floor in my living room, writing this, my last Commodore column, on an acquaintance’s IBM Model 25. On my right are 8088 parts which I’ve been trying to assemble into a working semi-computer (sorry—it doesn’t make the grade as a real computer. Never did) The Model 25 barely qualifies, handicapped as it is by lack of a hard drive and floppies that hold only 720K. In front of me is my friend Margaux’s Mac Plus, another obsolete model. In the corner is a Toshiba MS-DOS laptop with a bad battery, which belongs to the same person who owns the Model 25. In my bedroom is my Tandy Model 100 laptop, my SX-64, and my desk model C-64.

I live in a house full of obsolete computers.

In 1986 or so I was on the cusp, ready to buy a new computer, but undecided whether to go IBM, Macintosh, Amiga, or C-128. I had more ideas for articles about home computing than I could fit in any five newsletters, and I was publishing prolifically. Five years later, I’m still trying to decide on a computer, although I have managed to drop the C-128 from consideration, and (reluctantly) the Amiga as well. That leaves Apple and PC. I teeter on the brink, unable to bring myself to decide on a machine and a standard. I like the idea of the Macintosh, but using one makes me crazy. I want to stomp the mouse and banish the user interface to some distant Lovecraftian dimension. I like using the IBM, but the thought of caving in to the Big Blue standard makes me quite literally ill. And all my ideas for articles have dried up.

I’m not sure what computer I’ll end up with. Probably, eventually, both a Macintosh and a PC. I will make that decision with regret, for the computer that intrigued me was the Amiga, and at some level, I still want one. It will compute circles around a 486, and probably a 986, should one ever come along. But few people in the business community are using Amigas. The world has gone MS-DOS, with the Macintosh a distant second; Apple and IBM are working towards a new operating system which will make the PC and the Mac essentially one machine.

And so I find myself slouching inexorably toward the future.

Computing used to be fun, damn it. In 1981, when I bought my VIC-20, Jack Tramiel seemed committed to putting a computer into every household, and likely to manage it. Machines for recreational computing were as powerful (and sometimes more powerful) than business machines, and had the advantages of graphics and sound capabilities the business models lacked. As computers—as all-purpose machines, which is what computers should be—the home models actually surpassed the business machines. The future of computing promised wonderful all-around machines—powerful machines.

But some time around 1983 or 1984 the computing world went Jobs instead of Wozniak. IBM announced its kludge, a computer that was deliberately crippled, a computer that shot computing in the foot, and other computer companies abandoned the hobbyists and rushed to kiss up to the business world. Apple debuted the stillborn Lisa, and then the Macintosh, and Commodore, split between the Tramiel loyalists and those who would make business computers, hesitated, finally introducing the Amiga and the C-128 and a host of IBM kludge klones almost simultaneously.

Computing has failed to materialize into what it should have been, and I grieve for what might have been. If Commodore had released the C-128 and waited a year before introducing the Amiga, I would have both machines today, or, more likely, an even more powerful machine that would have replaced the Amiga. Their simultaneous release effectively paralyzed me—and I wonder how many other hobbyists.

Something exciting, a revolution of promise, died in the mid-1980s. And so I sit here, writing, on an obsolete computer, my last Commodore column.

The Column After the Last... (January, 1992)

CUGA Newsletter (PDF)

©1992, 2013 by Dallas Denny

Source: Dallas Denny. (1992, January). The Column After the Last Commodore Column or The First Game Machine Column. Newsletter of the Commodore Users Group of Atlanta, V. 10, No. 1, p. 5.


Column After the Last Commodore Column

Or The First Game Machine Column

By Dallas Denny


Like bad pennies, my columns keep turning up. In last month’s newsletter I wrote about the death by obsolescence of the dozen or so computers in my house and of my ten-year paralysis in selecting a new machine (I have been unable to decide whether to buy a PC clone, a Macintosh, or an Amiga).

I’ve still not bought a computer, although I seen to be closer than ever before. I appear to be moving toward MS-DOS. Why? Because it’s better? No— the Amiga is better. Because it’s more powerful? No— the Amiga is more powerful. Because it’s easier to use? No— the Macintosh is easier to use. Why, then?

Well, for several reasons. First, because everyone keeps sending me diskettes in MS-LOS format and I can’t read then on my Commodore. Second, because I found an IBM PS/2 Model 50 unused at work and dragged it into my office and read the DOS manual until I could format the hard drive and install WordPerfect. I started writing and haven’t looked back at EasyScript, the C-64 word processor I used for almost 10 years. And lastly, because I find myself in possession (free of charge) of a Toshiba 71100+ MS-LOS laptop and most of the parts I’ll need to put together an XT machine.

There are also reasons to buy a Macintosh. The biggest one is that I publish a magazine. and it’s laid out on the Mac, using Quark XPress. Macifying myself will make me less dependent upon my graphic art people, who are notoriously slow in delivering product.

I’ve even looked at the Amiga again.

A prime consideration for me is price. I don’t have much money, and I have power user needs. I want the most bang for the buck. A thousand dollars is a lot of money to me, and represents the most I can reasonably spend. And so, the bottom line— which is cheaper?

When l heard the Amiga 500 cost only $399, my eyes lit up. But soon found I would need at least 1 meg of memory(at $150), and that hard drives cost nearly $500. Total: $1050.

I can buy a full 386 system with VGA monitor for just a little more than that. And a Mac Classic II with a 40 mb hard drive and 2 mb of system memory is only $1350 (and it has a built-in monitor). Decision, decisions.

Until I make up my mind, I have, PC on my desk at work and a PC at home, and I can transport disks back and forth. But I still have my SX-64, which I plan to sell, and my plain vanilla C-64. What am I to do with it? Sell it? No! It has been too much a part of my life.

I recently moved, and as I carried box after box of 5 1/4″ diskettes, most of which contained games, the idea hit me— why not set up my C-64 solely as a game machine?

Indeed. Why not?

The C-64, which is still in a box after my move, will be set up in the dining room, which (we having no fancy dining table) is empty. I will be unpacking my collection of magic peripherals (radio controlled joysticks, a track ball, a Votrax speech synthesizer, a voice recognition unit, an environmental control device, a Koalapad). I’ll route the audio output to an amplifier, and then I’ll be rediscovering those C-64 games I used to spend so much time with: Silent Service, Jumpman; Lode Runner; Space Taxi; Boulderdash; Zork. And I’ll be writing about then, here, in this space. I’m going to use the PC for the kludge work it’s made for, and have fun with my Commodore. That is, after all, what computers are all about.

Game boy, watch out!

Macintosh/MS-DOS SIG? I’m interested in learning more about MS-DOS and Macintosh computers. If there is sufficient interest, we could start a special interest group or groups. Please see me (Dallas) at the CUGA main meeting and let’s talk treason to Commodore.

SX-64 for Sale. Very Good Condition. $300 includes suede carrying bag, cables, modem, owner’s manual. Drive has been permanently fixed. No alignment problems in 5 years. Also Tandy Model 100 laptop & all accessories, $325.