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Questions tagged [8-bit-microcomputers]

For generic questions about 8-bit microcomputers. For specific computers please use the appropriate specific tag.

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80 votes
14 answers
19k views

Back in the late 1980s, how was commercial software for 8-bit home computers developed?

When hobbyists wanted to write software for e.g. the Commodore 64, they either used the built-in BASIC interpreter (with all its limitations) or some native tools, like compilers for other languages ...
Felix Palmen's user avatar
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26 votes
6 answers
12k views

Can x86 processors run 8-bit applications?

I was wondering if it is possible to run 8-bit applications within QEMU. I know that the x86 architecture can run 16-bit applications, but can it also run 8-bit applications?
Retro Gamer's user avatar
  • 2,435
24 votes
3 answers
8k views

Wiring a Zilog Z80

I've recently got hold of an old Zilog Z80 microprocessor and I know how to clock and test it. I do not however know how to connect RAM, I/O ports, control switches (for programming instructions into ...
DevelopedLogic's user avatar
27 votes
8 answers
6k views

Why did 8-bit Basic use 40-bit floating point?

Nowadays floating point is usually either 32 or 64 bits, sometimes 16, occasionally 128. But of course, the Basic interpreters on the 8-bit machines, having to implement floating point in software ...
rwallace's user avatar
  • 61.5k
21 votes
9 answers
7k views

Intel 8080-based home computers

I'd like to build an FPGA replica of a home computer based on the Intel 8080. I am not looking to design my own computer, since I would like to tap into an existing software base. Were there any ...
Cactus's user avatar
  • 2,750
53 votes
12 answers
13k views

How was the first assembler for a new home computer platform written?

How did the 8-bit computers (Spectrum, Commodore, Atari, Amstrad etc) typically "bootstrap" from bare electronics into a platform with a working assembly language and OS? What I mean: An assembler is ...
SF.'s user avatar
  • 7,105
33 votes
1 answer
8k views

Did John Carmack really invent "Adaptive Tile Refresh"?

John Carmack is credited with making fast-paced arcade games like Commander Keen possible on an IBM-PC that had no specialized graphics controllers suited for those, thanks to the "Adaptive Tile ...
scrØllbær's user avatar
  • 1,109
33 votes
1 answer
2k views

When and where did the $ convention for hexadecimal literals originate?

I found this question asking about the origin of 0x to denote hexadecimal to be interesting. However, when I cut my teeth programming on 8-bit 65xx systems in the early 80's everything I saw used a $ ...
Geo...'s user avatar
  • 10.2k
30 votes
2 answers
5k views

Zilog Z80 freezes while binary counting up to 65 536 (2^16)

A few days ago, I got Z80A CPU from eBay. So I tried to run it with classic 555 timer as a clock signal generator. I connected the 8-bit data bus of the CPU to the ground to "simulate ROM" (00 for NOP)...
Nogard's user avatar
  • 533
28 votes
10 answers
7k views

Why did 8-bit computers choose BASIC dialects as "de facto" command-line interface, instead of contemporary Shell/Lisp dialects?

While all three clans of languages predated 8-bit computers, they shares features like 1) imperative programming, 2) English-alike keywords, 3) Prompt-Command-Parameters pattern interface. Why was ...
Schezuk's user avatar
  • 3,754
24 votes
4 answers
2k views

Which (micro) computers were dominant in Australia and New Zealand in the 1980s?

Australia and New Zealand are somewhat unique among large, developed, economies because they bridge the culture of (mostly) the West with the geography of the East. I am curious how this may have ...
Brian H's user avatar
  • 60.8k
21 votes
3 answers
4k views

What LISP compilers and interpreters were available for 8-bit machines?

What LISP or LISP-like language compilers and interpreters were available for 8-bit microcomputers? Criteria for "8-bit" include that it should certainly run and execute non-trivial programs given no ...
cjs's user avatar
  • 26.6k
20 votes
4 answers
6k views

Were there any 8-bit CPUs with 24-bit addressing?

Or was that something that didn't appear until later CPUs (around the time of the 286 maybe)? Also, how would I go about researching this on my own? It's not exactly something I can look up on ...
Anthony's user avatar
  • 455
13 votes
14 answers
3k views

Emulators running on 8-bit personal computers

Were there emulators running on 8-bit computers (preferably "mainstream" personal ones), available to general public (as opposed to in-house developers only)? I am mostly after emulators ...
Radovan Garabík's user avatar
10 votes
2 answers
978 views

Did any 8-bit CPUs use dynamic memory for registers?

According to https://jamiestarling.com/project-8088-the-8088-cpu-pinout/ One thing to note – the 8088 registers are made from dynamic memory cells – they have to be refreshed. The minimum clock speed ...
rwallace's user avatar
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5 votes
4 answers
3k views

How does memory addressing/mapping work in 8-bit systems?

If I attach a 16 KIB EEPROM to a 6502 or similar, and put some kind of operating system on it, it will run fine, but won't have access to any other chips. So, when a Commodore VIC20 had 5k of ram and ...
user10868's user avatar