• BroBryce64

  • by BroBryce

My name is Bryce L. Tomlinson. Back in the 80's I became "almost famous" by writing a little program to make keyboard graphics on the Commodore 64 for all of the Color 64 BBS services that were popping up all over Portland Oregon and the USA. Today I'm a filmmaker and social media expert, but my memories haunt me, and I long to bring the fun and adventure of the C64 back to my living room. Join me in my quest, and I'll try to share what happens as I rebuild my 8-bit past in the 21st century.


Maverick 5.0 -ON- the 1581? A Tricky Way to Archive Disks

In the beginning, the earth was void and without form... and so was the technology to archive 1581 disks for future use.

For those of you who knew me (or knew of me) in the late 80's, you'd know my track record was sketchy.   I had made a name for myself by being the graphics op on several of the Portland BBS's, some dubious demos I made as a teenager dissing my peers (most of which I have had some miraculous experiences making amends with), a bit of clever programming, both in basic and ML, and for being a notorious pirate and cracker.  Attention NSA:  I am now fully reformed and use my skills for the good of mankind.  Thank you.   Hopefully this post won't end me up in a FEMA camp somewhere.

After the source code for my Kaleidoscope V4 project was stolen and leaked all over elite BBS's in the Pacific NW while I was still working on the program, I kinda dropped off the planet out of lost hope.  All that talk in Galatians about reaping and sowing, yeah, it came around.  People I thought were my friends turned out to think horribly of me and had plotted against me to sabotage the commercial release of my latest program.  It turned out that it was motivated by revenge over a piece of clip art that I'd naively plagiarized, modified and included in my Kaleidoscope library.  Like I said.  What goes around comes around.   My way of getting back at them was to finish the program with way more polish and features than whatever bootleg versions they'd be circulating, and release it as shareware (which, let me tell you, is a terrible plan if you want to make money).  It's true, though.  The best revenge is sometimes to simply live well.  Still, I was pretty raw, and didn't really trust anyone for a long time.

After a year or two, I got the itch again, and looked up where folks might be getting together to chat about the world's greatest computer.     Turned out there was a whole new crop of wholesome folks hanging out at the Round Table Pizza on SE 62nd & Foster, same place, new faces.  It was great, and I was welcomed back by people who seemed to know who I was, and I was even able to buy back a few pieces of my own hardware I'd sold off.  

One of the things I'd lost along the way was the disk that had the source code for Kaleidoscope V3 & 4 on it.  I was hoping that someone in the scene maybe knew someone who had copied the original disk from my stolen copy.   Nobody came forward, and while everyone was super helpful at trying to track a copy down, it was a bust.   But in exchange for the help, I was willing to help out folks with some of their more complicated tasks.

One of those requests was pretty unique.   Someone wanted a version of Maverick V5 that would run from a 1581.   Now, if you google this, you'll probably find a hodge podge of people who've taken the file copier or disk copier out and put them on the 3.5" format, but nobody had converted the whole package to boot natively and run all the applications from one disk, and use the fastloader, too.  This would have been cool, because everyone hated having to switch disks and flip and flop them over every time you wanted to do a different task.   Some of the more common tasks would be less frustrating had they been on one side of the first disk.   But that never happened.   Well, it sort of never happened.  

I began by looking at all the disks.  I figured out right away that the parameter disks would just be stupid to put on the 1581, since they don't work on the 1581 anyway.   Not to mention you couldn't fit them all on one disk anyway.   To complicate matters, many of the different programs have the same filenames on different disks.  There's also the matter of the crazy loader than runs a couple of ways... Firstly, it uses a fastloader and some funky code to launch via ",8,1" etc.  Secondly, a 128 will auto-boot from the disk, putting it back in 64 mode to launch the loader.  By figuring out the coding of the boot block, snapshotting the menu at JUST the right moment, and disassembling and sector editing the living tar out of everything else, I was able to get it working 100% -- well, that is, unless you count the parameter disks, but again, I felt that was moot.   You have to keep in mind that this was some 20+ years ago, so if you were to ask me any further detail on what I did to get it working, it's pretty fuzzy.   They say if you remember the 90's, you probably weren't there.

Anyways, there finally came a time when I decided to part ways with pretty much every bit of software and hardware I had.   I decided to keep a 64, 1541, and 1702, just in case I ever wanted to dig up the past.   Before I sold my 1581, I had this small stack of disks left, and looking at them, there was that Maverick 1581 disk.  I was still pretty proud of that project.  In fact, I kind of still am.  I wanted to figure a way to preserve this one thing, but while Zip-a-Disk (1!,2!,3!,4!) and D64 had recently come into the picture, D81 and any other tangible way to archive 1581 disks was still non-existent.    However, I'd gotten pretty handy with the Amiga, so I decided to try to archive it using an army of different copy programs.  Project X, X-Copy, all the greatest hits.   Nothing seemed to work.  Then I came across WarpMFM.   Not only would it copy a disk, it could archive it to one huge file (back when 900+k was REALLY HUGE!).  After putting it in Nibbler mode, I successfully made an image file and copied Maverick 1581 back to another disk.  I don't remember exactly how I copied the files to my PC from there, I think at the time I used a CD burner.

All these years since then, it's remained on my PC hard drive.  I've migrated my PC to new systems or new hard drives about 20 times.  It's come up in conversation among the geekiest of my friends, but since none of them owned a real Amiga anymore, and I didn't have a 1581, it was always just mentioned in passing, on the way to another subject.

But today, I'm not only aspiring to have a 1581, but also an Amiga 1200.  These days, there are CompactFlash and SD card adapters to bring the Amiga up to speed with the latest in storage media.  None of that matters for this project.   I just need a real Amiga with a real floppy drive.   

If you've got an Amiga and are interested in "helping a brother out," I would love to hear from you!   Personally, I think this would be a great addition to Lemon64 or CSDb!   Don't you?



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Baracuda of Smash DS 10/10/2013

anyway, 1581 Lovers should found something useful here..