Skip to main content

Questions tagged [software-development]

For questions about the software development process on retrocomputing platforms

Filter by
Sorted by
Tagged with
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 ...
JAL's user avatar
  • 9,620
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 ...
Remy Sharp's user avatar
  • 1,097
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
  • 1,492
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 ...
Tom Kidd's user avatar
  • 863
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 ...
DrSheldon's user avatar
  • 16.3k
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 ...
Paolo Amoroso's user avatar
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 ...
jwzumwalt's user avatar
  • 4,489
36 votes
1 answer
6k views

How can I create a split-scroll effect in an NES game?

Games like Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario Bros. 3 were able to scroll the playfield but not the status bar: The status bars are clearly too big to be sprites, yet they don't scroll with the ...
NobodyNada's user avatar
  • 5,474
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. ...
Michael Stum's user avatar
  • 1,680
28 votes
9 answers
7k views

What was the first mainstream advanced debugger?

What was the first mainstream development toolchain that provided advanced debugging facilities? By "mainstream" I mean something that was available on home computers, not mainframes or super-...
dim's user avatar
  • 1,618
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 ...
Brian H's user avatar
  • 60.9k
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 ...
rakslice's user avatar
  • 918
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, ...
rwallace's user avatar
  • 62.8k
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 ...
JAL's user avatar
  • 9,620
20 votes
1 answer
999 views

When was the relocatable object module invented?

During the time when programming was done in machine codes, there was no need for object modules; it just wouldn't make sense. People would write the whole program they needed to run in "zeroes and ...
Leo B.'s user avatar
  • 19.4k
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 ...
jwzumwalt's user avatar
  • 4,489
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, ...
jacek.ciach's user avatar
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, ...
Leo B.'s user avatar
  • 19.4k
19 votes
2 answers
956 views

When did README files start showing up in software?

Everyone knows how important documentation is -- for a project to grow past a certain point, it's a must-have. However, almost every software project of any size nowadays comes with at least a README ...
tonysdg's user avatar
  • 693
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 ...
Brian H's user avatar
  • 60.9k
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 ...
Omar and Lorraine's user avatar
18 votes
3 answers
792 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: ...
user3840170's user avatar
  • 23.1k
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, ...
inane's user avatar
  • 467
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 ...
David's user avatar
  • 2,420
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 ...
jwzumwalt's user avatar
  • 4,489
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 ...
user3570736's user avatar
  • 1,802
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 ...
user avatar
15 votes
1 answer
941 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 ...
Ryan1729's user avatar
  • 525
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 ...
Jake's user avatar
  • 251
12 votes
3 answers
2k views

Did CP/M support custom hardware using device drivers?

MS DOS Ver 1.0 did not have OS support for device drivers. DOS ver2 added support for device drivers in the config.sys file during boot with the "DEVICE=[path][filename][parameters]". Did CP/M have ...
jwzumwalt's user avatar
  • 4,489
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. ...
Incnis Mrsi's user avatar
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)+. ...
Leo B.'s user avatar
  • 19.4k
11 votes
2 answers
2k views

What modern image editors support non-square pixels?

Almost all old home computers tend to offer non-square pixels, from wide-pixel graphics modes on the C64/CPC/BBC Micro to CGA's weird not-quite-square 320x200 mode with a pixel aspect ratio of 5:6. ...
hexwab's user avatar
  • 323
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,...
JAL's user avatar
  • 9,620
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 ...
Kaz's user avatar
  • 1,660
10 votes
2 answers
921 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, ...
rwallace's user avatar
  • 62.8k
10 votes
3 answers
702 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 ...
David Rubin's user avatar
10 votes
1 answer
541 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, ...
DmytroL's user avatar
  • 2,222
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 ...
jwzumwalt's user avatar
  • 4,489
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 ...
Retro Gamer's user avatar
  • 2,435
9 votes
1 answer
1k views

How was the Traf-O-Data 8008 simulator developed?

Traf-O-Data was the first business partnership between Paul Allen, Bill Gates and Paul Gilbert. In order to develop the software for their custom-built Traf-O-Data machine (Intel 8008 Inside™), ...
wizzwizz4's user avatar
  • 18.7k
9 votes
1 answer
881 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 ...
Liamm's user avatar
  • 91
8 votes
5 answers
701 views

How did software engineers test their code in 19xx? [closed]

There is a plethora of tools available for engineers to test their code these days. However, frameworks like Mocha.js came around only in 2011 with the ascent of NPM. So I wonder what were the ...
lmenus's user avatar
  • 181
8 votes
5 answers
982 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 ...
nabulator's user avatar
  • 929
8 votes
1 answer
184 views

cbm prg studio for the Amstrad

CBM prg studio is brilliant. I have searched Google for a version (or something similar) for the Amstrad CPC 464, to no avail. Does anyone know of one?
WonderWorker's user avatar
8 votes
0 answers
400 views

Who and how worked on games in 80's? [closed]

As a developer in a team, I am used to some techniques and workflow, like using git, issue trackers, linters, common ways to discuss the structure of the code, the ways to debug and refactor code. I ...
Sergei Basharov's user avatar
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 ...
Synaps3's user avatar
  • 171
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 ...
Maury Markowitz's user avatar
7 votes
1 answer
1k views

How was the Microsoft PDP-10 8080 emulator developed? [closed]

Altair BASIC, the first version of Microsoft BASIC, was developed using an Intel 8008 emulator, modified to emulate an Intel 8080, running on a PDP-10 computer. This emulator was originally designed ...
wizzwizz4's user avatar
  • 18.7k
6 votes
1 answer
721 views

What is the title of this Macintosh programming book?

Back when Mac OS was called "System" and preemptive multitasking was a distant fantasy, I had a small collection of Macintosh programming books. For the life of me, though, I can't remember what one ...
David Rubin's user avatar