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For questions about the software development process on retrocomputing platforms

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8 votes
1 answer
542 views

Why does the boot-up screen for Cruis'n USA (arcade version) display this strange text?

(I originally asked this in the "gaming"/Arqade section. However, it was suggested by a commenter that I should instead migrate it here. Since I don't know how one "migrates" a ...
10 votes
2 answers
1k views

How were analytics gathered on software built for retrocomputing platforms?

In modern software development, it is a common practice to include some kind of analytics tracking software to see how customers are using your software, what a typical user flow of the application is,...
85 votes
11 answers
29k views

How were the first ZX Spectrum games written?

Being a child of the 80s I loved my ZX Spectrum, did my best to learn BASIC but I felt like the games I was playing (Jetpac, Dizzy, Renegade etc) were perhaps not written using BASIC. I wondered: how ...
19 votes
9 answers
2k views

Developing an application in the era of cassette tapes (audio-tapes)

My colleague and I have just had a conversation and we were wondering how the process of developing an application was done in the era of cassette tapes. Today we have HDDs, backup HDDs, FTPs, ...
17 votes
2 answers
3k views

What contemporary hardware was available for the development of Atari 2600 (or other 2nd gen) games?

The Atari 2600, along with others like the Odyssey 2 or Intellivision, were among the first programmable home game consoles. They existed alongside personal computers like the Apple II and Commodore ...
19 votes
3 answers
2k views

What is the history of the PDP-11 MARK instruction?

The PDP-11 MARK instruction was intended to be used as part of the standard PDP-11 subroutine return convention. MARK facilitated the stack clean up procedures involved in subroutine exit. To use it, ...
19 votes
10 answers
4k views

What caused the demise of BASIC/BASICA in the late 1980's?

While not strictly adhered to, this is somewhat of a generalization of computer listings found in the more popular magazines of the time - BYTE, Kilobaud, PC Computing, etc. This explains the ...
41 votes
12 answers
8k views

When did assembly source code begin to be written in lowercase?

In nearly all the assembly source files and published listings I read up to the early 1980s, the labels, mnemonics, and operands were written in all uppercase. Just a few years later, I noticed 80x86 ...
5 votes
1 answer
326 views

A SunOS kernel configuration file in the CSRG ISOs?

Does anyone know why there is a SunOS kernel configuration file in the 4.1c.1 BSD directory tree in the CSRG ISOs? How to see that this file exists: McKusick sells the CSRG ISOs. But let's face it, ...
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 ...
10 votes
2 answers
938 views

What HyperCard extensions did Myst use?

The original Macintosh version of Myst was written in HyperCard. According to https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=20549685 Adding useful features, such as uploading those HTML files to a web server, ...
5 votes
5 answers
855 views

Are there any statistics or data showing how much more productive the C programming language is compared to x86 assembly language?

I found out today that a large project like Microsoft Windows 1.0 took 80 man-years to develop. And this one was written in x86 assembly language. Is there a form or rule of thumb that states how much ...
21 votes
7 answers
4k views

References for the complexity of the COBOL language

One thing that struck me about the design of COBOL was that it was surprisingly complex, particularly for the era. As in, if I were trying to squeeze a compiler into a few tens of kilobytes of memory, ...
17 votes
8 answers
3k views

Tool used to develop videogames with an Atari ST

I am a owner of Atari ST, and I would like to know software and tools used for the programmers for this computer to program mainly video games. For example: IDE used Language (I think it was Basic, ...
39 votes
4 answers
22k views

Who is credited for the creation of Assembly Language?

The C Programming Language was originally developed by Dennis Ritchie who also co-designed the Unix operating system with which development of the language was closely intertwined. Is there a ...
23 votes
8 answers
3k views

Which BASIC interpreters support techniques for hybrid programming in Assembly?

It was common with Commodore BASIC (and others, I'm sure) to have machine language encoded in BASIC programs using POKEs or READ/DATA. This was needed for both performance and to access certain ...
10 votes
1 answer
544 views

What were the typical game development toolchains for the pre-i386 IBM PC era

On i386 and beyond (assuming MS-DOS as the target OS and IBM PC as the target platform), my impression is game developers most typically used Watcom C / DJGPP plus one of the DOS extenders (DOS4GW, ...
15 votes
1 answer
942 views

Why would an implementation of getwd call mktemp?

As mentioned here the book Expert C Programming contains the claim that there was a bug in SunOS 4.0.3's version of lpr, (a printing program) caused by a custom mktemp function overriding the library ...
18 votes
3 answers
795 views

When and where was the ‘dotted sequence of integers’ version numbering scheme invented?

Probably the most widespread software version numbering scheme in use today takes the form of a dotted sequence of integers. Variants of this scheme usually share the following characteristics: ...
3 votes
0 answers
227 views

What would "Special Makeup" design have been in the 1988 arcade game, Splatterhouse? [closed]

Upon beating the Namco arcade game Splatterhouse, released in November 1988, the following is shown in the credits along with the expected programmers and artists: SPECIAL MAKEUP DESIGNED ...
16 votes
3 answers
2k views

Are there any public tools for the TMS34010?

I am interested to learn about the Texas Instruments TMS34010, a 32-bit fully functional CPU with built-in graphics manipulation capabilities, which appeared in Atari's Hard Drivin' arcade boards ...
10 votes
4 answers
1k views

Anecdote in Weinberger's Psychology of Computer Programming: is it ARPANET?

Gerald Weinberger, in the 1971 book The Psychology of Computer Programming, gives the following anecdote: The numerous stages [of reporting?] can produce interesting effects, as a result of filtering ...
45 votes
4 answers
8k views

How did Woz write the Apple 1 BASIC before building the computer?

According to his 1984 interview with Byte magazine, Steve Wozniak created the BASIC for the Apple 1 computer before he actually built the computer: I sat down and wrote the BASIC first, and that took ...
7 votes
2 answers
3k views

What was the dithering algorithm used in Sierra and LucasArts games?

I am trying to write a program in C# that will re-create the type of dithering used in many of the old Sierra and LucasArts games. I have looked up many different dithering algorithms and none seem to ...
15 votes
1 answer
1k views

Was there a 'git' in the 1990s?

I seem to remember using a source code control system back in the early- to mid-1990s called git. Am I nuts? I used to work at IBM way back then. We didn't use it for a big project, but I distinctly ...
20 votes
8 answers
2k views

Retrocomputing software development process/methodologies

This is a test question based on this meta post. If the question can be reworded to be more on-topic, please feel free to suggest improvements. This is an open ended question about software ...
5 votes
2 answers
564 views

ResEdit Decompilers

What de-compilers were available for ResEdit? A friend used a de-compiler to break the copy protection on F/A-18 Hornet and I remember having one to examine how programs worked. To clarify by de-...
18 votes
1 answer
7k views

Which original retrocomputer OS's are still maintained and updated today, for original hardware?

I would like to know which original Operating Systems that run on retrocomputers are still being actively maintained and updated. This only applies to retrocomputer OS's that may still be used on ...
94 votes
7 answers
29k views

Why would a NES game use an undocumented 1-byte or 2-byte NOP in production?

Reading the NESdev wiki page on CPU unofficial opcodes, I see a few games use an undocumented 2-byte NOP instuction in production: Puzznic, F-117A Stealth Fighter, and Infiltrator use $89 #i. Beauty ...
11 votes
5 answers
1k views

Belated ascendancy of dynamic linkers

Old computer systems were supplied—by our present notion—with very little memory, thus conservation of both RAM and storage room has been tremendously important during those years of austerity. ...
4 votes
1 answer
187 views

How do I detect if AmigaDOS dos.library/CurrentDir() fails?

It seems that the primary system call to change a new directory within an Amiga process is dos.library/CurrentDir(lock) but the documentation does not tell me how to detect if it succeeded. Quoting ...
6 votes
1 answer
555 views

What size was the Microsoft Internet Explorer team?

According to Joel Spolsky, I will give the Internet Explorer team credit. With IE versions 3.0 and 4.0 they probably created software about ten times faster than the industry norm. This had nothing ...
3 votes
1 answer
253 views

Porting of software from the m68k family architecture to the DEC VAX

I am looking for impressions, memoirs, articles, guidelines - everything that is possible about the unusual direction of software migration. I am interested in non-Unix related code, and preferably ...
22 votes
5 answers
5k views

Was it feasible to create Win16 software using pre-existing DOS development tools?

It seems that right from the outset, the plan for Windows development was that it would be done with a separate set of compilers specifically equipped for that purpose. The Windows SDK comes with ...
10 votes
3 answers
704 views

What source-code management tools were available for Classic Mac OS development?

I've been reacquainting myself with classic Mac OS programming (e.g. the Toolbox, MacsBug, THINK Pascal/C, etc.) and became curious how software engineering best practices were ...practiced... using ...
9 votes
1 answer
885 views

How did old car games, using "sprite illusions", function on a technical level?

Example: https://youtu.be/E9QJZSBpvg0?t=80 The road turns not only left and right, like in the classic Pole Position, but also goes up and down. Other than the cars and the road, there are numerous ...
2 votes
0 answers
134 views

Who did what exactly for the original Shadowgate (1987) Macintosh video game? [closed]

I primarily know Shadowgate from the wonderful NES port, which was ported by some Japanese company and whose Japanese musician composed the beautiful, iconic music which I frankly thought was there ...
6 votes
1 answer
636 views

Whatever happened to the Refal language?

Refal is a language from the 1960s that is based on the concept of pattern-matching with many features that could be considered advanced even today- it is functional, garbage collected, and supported ...
18 votes
2 answers
2k views

Is there a Commodore 64 emulator that can profile running code?

I am developing some software for the Commodore 64, and I am concerned about its runspeed. Is there an emulator that can report, after running my code, where exactly it spent most of its time? I'm ...
68 votes
12 answers
19k views

Did Apple not originally allow anyone to develop software for the Macintosh?

This probably nearly belongs on Skeptics.SE but here goes. Within the last few years I've become an Apple convert for the most part, which occasionally brings me into (usually) good natured conflict ...
9 votes
2 answers
1k views

Has any major corporation ever successfully sued Microsoft for intellectual property theft?

It is generally agreed that Microsoft stole parts if not entire blocks of intellectual property from Digital Research, Xerox, Apple, and several other major corporations. To keep it simple, lets ...
14 votes
12 answers
5k views

Late 1970s and 6502 chip facilities for operating systems

I'm quite unfamiliar with how operating systems used to be written but its clear to me that operating systems were clearly written for these systems. I'm particularly interested in how operating ...
9 votes
3 answers
4k views

How to develop software for the Commodore 64 with VICE?

I see a very large fan-base and hear a lot (especially here on retrocomputing) about how great the Commodore 64 was. Growing up in the Windows 95/98 era, I seemed to have missed a great era for ...
11 votes
3 answers
1k views

Was the PDP-11 coroutine instruction actually used?

In a typical description of the coroutine mechanism it usually mentioned that the PDP-11 instruction set provided a way to effect the coroutine switch by a single instruction, namely JSR PC,@(SP)+. ...
5 votes
0 answers
385 views

Link N64 object file while preserving relocation data

The N64 SDK provides the makerom tool to create a ROM image given a file describing the ROM layout called spec and the various object files it refers to such as the N64 OS, RCP microcode, and the game'...
8 votes
5 answers
984 views

Source Code Archival in early Game Developement

During the latest gaming press release, Square Enix released remastered versions of all of the classic Final Fantasy games excluding Final Fantasy VIII. The alleged reason is due to the lost source ...
7 votes
4 answers
5k views

Library of MS BASIC programs in text format?

I am wondering if anyone has a pointer to a good source of "classic" BASIC programs, in text format. One would think this would be easy to find, but unfortunately VB so pollutes the results as to ...
2 votes
1 answer
308 views

ISVs in the mainframe and minicomputer eras

In the eighties, there was a vast flowering of small independent software companies. Business and productivity software for the IBM PC, all manner of novelties for the Macintosh, games for the ...
16 votes
4 answers
6k views

What was computer "Fuzzy" logic?

In the mid 1980's computers began to be advertised as having or being capable of "Fuzzy" logic. How was "Fuzzy" logic added to a computer and what was it suppose to do better than a computer without ...
35 votes
2 answers
7k views

How did people program for Consoles with multiple CPUs?

I'm specifically interested in the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis, which used a 68000 CPU, but also a Z80, mainly used to control the sound hardware and provide backward compatibility with the Master System. ...