Games for your?

On the back of the Cassette 50 post, I thought I would share another set of retro ephemera from back in the day.

I am trying to get a full set of these, but they appear to be like rocking horse poop! – Extremely Rare!!!!

Games for your …. ‘Personal Computer of Choice’

All the major systems of the time had a book of games dedicated to it, that you could type in and run.

I recall, many of the games had small bugs that needed to be corrected, which helped you learn how to program.

Published by Virgin books in the early 1980s, They were all edited by Tim Hartnell.

They all originally retailed at £2.95 each.

After extensive research, I have determined that the following machines had it available.

The ones in large bold type below are my own copies!

ZX81


ZX Spectrum


TRS 80


Apple IIe


BBC Micro


Amstrad CPC


Atari 8Bit


Vic-20


Oric-1

In quite poor condition – The spine is ripped and missing print.

Commodore 64



Dragon 32

MSX

Atari 600 XL

Recently (April 2019) acquired via eBay

Sinclair QL


I need a better scan of this book cover! – Who has one?

Acorn Electron

I need a better scan of this book cover! – Who has one?

TI-99/4A

There was an additional series that followed on from the above called …

Wait for it …

Thats right!

MORE games for your …. ‘Personal Computer of Choice’

So far, I only have this for the BBC Micro

Its’ a HARDware life

I have finally got hold of a Tatung Einstein Hardware Reference Manual. A physical copy!!

Its huge! – 12 inches tall by 8.5 inches wide and about 100 pages.

As with many books from old book shops, there is a musty smell to it, but I have to say, this looks to have been lying around for a long time. It needs a damn good airing.

I never had this in the late 80s when I originally owned an Einstein, so this is a revelation! Sure, I have read it online in PDF format, but there is nothing like having the printed matter in front of you for reference.

This should allow me to tinker properly and diagnose why my Einstein is poorly!

Tatung Einstein Emulation

While I am waiting for a fix for my poorly Tatung Einstein, I thought I would get some emulation configured so I have refreshed myself for the actual hardware.

Here is how I did it.

  • My OS of choice is Windows 10 – Your OS mileage may vary!!!
  • Go to http://www.emulator-zone.com/doc.php/misc/mess.html scroll to the bottom of the page and download the preferred flavour of MESS. I am using the 64 bit version
  • Install it. I chose c:\software\mess as the installation directory
  • Go to http://messui.1emulation.com/ find the MESSUI download section (About half way down) and find the matching version for the MESS you downloaded in step 1
  • Extract this 7Z file over the top of your mess install folder and overwrite when asked
  • Open a command prompt (I did this as administrator)
  • Navigate to the MESS install folder c:\software\mess
  • Type mess -cc then press enter/return
    1. This will create a default configuration file (mess.ini)
    2. Using your favourite text editor, edit this file and change the file paths by adding the MESS install locations in front of the folder names IE: rompath c:\software\mess\roms
    3. Save the new configuration over the existing file and exit from the text editor
  • Go to http://www.tatungeinstein.co.uk/front/messmame.htm scroll to the middle of the web page and follow the instructions for downloading and saving the 3 files needed for the emulator
  • Run MESSUI64.EXE from the installation folder and you should be presented with the GUI to launch your system
  • In the top right search bar, type Einstein and you should have 3 systems listed in the middle of the screen
  • Ignore the no entry icon – this appears to be a bogus warning and is infact working!
3 Einstein machines available, floppy image selected and preferences set
  • Highlight Einstein TC-01, right click and select properties
  • In the Audit tab you will receive an error about the rom not being found, but this is a bogus error as the emulator will run fine. Check the settings for this machine an when you are satisfied, close the properties box
  • In the 3rd column of the main screen you have the option of inserting a disk image into the virtual floppy drive on the einstein. Click on the ‘Assist Edit’ button to the right of FloppyDisk1 and select Mount File
  • Choose a zipped Einstein disk file. I chose XBAS.ZIP
  • Double click on the Einstein TC-01 entry in the machine list and you should get the emulated machine booting
  • If the window is too small, maximize it like a normal window and it will scale properly to the correct aspect/zoom level. Be warned, the original Einstein screen was 280×216 pixels so the zoom will be excessive!
Too small
Maximised to full dispay
  • Press OK to access the emulated Tatung Einstein
  • To reboot the machine, use CTRL & left ALT keys – This performs a CTRL & Break sequence from the original machine
XtalDOS and XBasic loaded from disk image archive file
Demo.XBS loaded and run
The Einstein demo runs sweet!!!

And thats your lot! – You should now be able to properly emulate a Tatung Einstein TC-01. The same instructions should work with the Einstein 256, but I do not own the rom file for this version so haven’t tried it.

An old article I wrote

Doing the google 2 step recently for Tatung Einstein related sites (There are not that many available now) I came across an article in The Centre for Computing History’s pages .. Written by ME! – I had completely forgotten I had written it .. Happy days.

There is no indication when I wrote it but it must be at least 5 years now, if not much longer ago!!!

http://www.computinghistory.org.uk/articles/31.htm

Here is the page transcript;

Tatung Einstein

By MikeHalliday.

Ah, this brings back some memories. – I got one of these babies from an electronics outlet in Manchester in 1988. (I think they had been heavily discounted by then) – It came with XTal basic, CPM and a few games on 3″ disk 🙂 – These were a joy to use after the cassette trauma’s of the Speccy, but were riddiculously expensive at the time. Something like £15.00 for a box of 5. 🙁 – Imagine if blank DVDs were that price today, there would be an outcry!

Touted as being a BBC Micro beater for school work and business, its a shame it never caught on. By this time I think that Z80 cpus were becoming dinosaurs destined for the charity shop or car boot.

I remember the keyboard. It was the best keyboard I had ever used (Up until then, I had used the rubbery Spectrum keyboard and a data general terminal keyboard connected to a huge mainframe at college) – it had excellent travel and a re-assuring click. (I still use an original DELL 104 key UK PS2 ‘clicky’ keyboard from the early 90s connected via USB – the oldies are the best!)

Games on the Einstein were simple, but that was the era – no alpha mapping, voxels or texel engines, no realtime raytracing or internet multi player modes, just games that made you think and had you hooked for hours.

It wasn’t the fastest machine in the world either – 4mhz and I can’t remember if it had the same colour clash issues as the ZX Spectrum, but it certainly had the same tinny sound as the good ‘ole speccy.

What made it special for me was the external hardware spectrum emulator. A huge white box that dangled out the back of Einy and allowed me to load in some of my favourite spectrum games and play them. They ran at full speed because the little white box was an almost complete spectrum! 🙂

I also remember the 80 column card. An even bigger grey/off yellow box that allowed you to connect a ‘High res’ green screen monitor to the Einstein and run business apps (like a true professional). Then there was the printer!!! OH BOY. 132 column Epson parallel port DOT MATRIX monster that made such a racket that I never really used it – Ha ha.

Memories, memories! 🙂 – I’m getting old.

If you had an Einstein, you can (legally I think) re-live those memories at http://www.tatungeinstein.co.uk/ – I have tried the emulator and it is uber accurate. I was able to play all the old games from my late teens…

(Preservation of our history in any shape or form is essential for future generations to understand the stages of progress that have brought us to here and now)

Give it a go.. Re-live the late 80s, then go and see the real thing at the The Centre for Computing History, or on one of their many uk tours/exhibitions.

Thanks for all the work you do preserving our great I.T history. Without this museum British treasures would be lost for ever.

Mike Halliday