Sunday, March 26, 2023

IBM Composite Artifact Color Games and Related Topics

Top - Direct Colors Old CGA & New CGA
Bottom - High Resolution Artifact Colors Old CGA & New CGA

Back in 2013 I gave an overview of composite color usage on the IBM PC platform.  I included a list of all games I knew about or could find which supported composite color graphics.  Now, 10 years later, new information has made that list less than inaccurate and less than fully inclusive.  Let's talk about these games and give a new, more accurate list.  I will also talk about other topics related to CGA and color in more detail below.  

Friday, March 3, 2023

The Saga of the Color Brown in the Early Years of the PC

top left: RGB monitor without intensity bit, bottom left: RGBI monitor without brown correction, top right: RGBI monitor with 33% brown reduction (IBM 5153), bottom right: RGBI monitor with 50% brown reduction (EGA/VGA/Tandy)

In 1980-81 IBM developed a graphics card for its new IBM PC called the Color/Graphics Adapter.  This card was designed to display 16 colors on a compatible CRT monitor via a 9-pin digital video port.  IBM defined the colors in its Technical Reference Manual using a 4-bit binary code.  The CGA could also display colors with a composite video connector on the card.  It is the evolution of the display of one of those colors, color 6, commonly but yet simplistically referred to as brown, that we are interested in today.

Saturday, February 18, 2023

Tandy 1000 Gray and Peach Label Releases

When Tandy released its Tandy 1000 computer in November, 1984, it needed software to tell that would demonstrate the system's PC compatibility and its enhanced features.  Tandy had been both a software developer as well as publisher for its TRS-80 computers and its Color Computer, but those were computers that Tandy had brought into the world.  For the Tandy 1000, Tandy was entering into a market already established by IBM and already had a very large number of software developers publishing for that platform.  As the Tandy 1000 maintained a large degree of PCjr. compatibility and was essentially PC compatible, there was already a significant number of titles which could take advantage of the enhanced graphics and sound derived from the PCjr.  Companies like Sierra On-line and Spinnaker Software had invested heavily in PCjr. software and were eager to find additional avenues to sell their games, even more so once IBM announced it was discontinuing the PCjr. in March, 1985.  Tandy was happy to make publishing deals if they released Tandy 1000 specific versions of their games.  Let's look at those versions.

Sunday, January 29, 2023

CGA and "Intended", "Incidental" and "Just Plain Wrong" Graphics

When IBM released its Color/Graphics Adapter card as one of the two display adapters supported by the IBM PC Model 5150 when it launched in August of 1981, it offered two video output options, RGB video and composite video. RGB video offered much sharper text and purer colors than composite video but required expensive and special monitors. Composite video would work with any color monitor or TV and had the unique ability to offer more colors via artifact color. The CGA output both types of video at the same time. In a sense every game that supports CGA supports both RGB and Composite color, but that does not mean that every game will look the way the graphics artists intended the game to look. In this article we will discuss some examples of the "Intended" look versus the "Incidental" look of CGA gaming graphics. 

Friday, January 13, 2023

The X-Station Optical Drive Emulator : The Key to the Sony PlayStation's Library

The Sony PlayStation (PSX)'s impact on console gaming cannot be understated.  It was extremely successful, defining its generation of consoles.  It was the first truly successful gaming console to rely on optical discs.  It popularized removable memory card storage, which permitted progress or configuration data to be saved for virtually every game.  The controller design also saw improvements in the form of dual shoulder buttons for each side and later the dual shock analog sticks.  The movement to CDs allowed more games to be published, the US PlayStation library alone amounts to approximately 1,500 distinct games.  Exploring the vastness of the PlayStation library on an original PlayStation has now been made relatively easy thanks to the rise of Optical Drive Emulators (ODEs).  In today's blog post I am going to talk about the X-Station ODE, a modification which opens your PSX to the vastness of PSX gaming.

Thursday, December 29, 2022

Accelerating your Tandy 1000s

The Tandy 1000s have unique graphics hardware and sound hardware that was supported for a long time.  The number of Tandy 1000s was so large that many games from prestige publishers released after 1984 would have support for Tandy 16-color graphics and/or Tandy 3-voice sound.  While there were other graphics solutions which provided 16-color full screen graphics at a resolution of 320x200 pixels, only the Tandy 1000 series had any significant support in games.  Additionally, the Adlib and other expansion sound cards did not get PC gaming support until September of 1988.  During the lifespan of the Tandy 1000s, the system speeds were generally keeping pace with games, but by the end of the 1980s the 1000 line was not getting any faster, but games and applications were becoming increasingly demanding.  In this article let's talk about the benefits and drawbacks of installing CPU accelerators in your Tandy 1000s.

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

Drive your Neo Geo Pocket Color to its Limits - The NeoPocket GameDrive

The Neo Geo Pocket Color may not have been a success against the Game Boy Color, but it did put up a fight against Nintendo's mighty handheld system.  It had several innovative features for the time, a battery backed clock, a micro-switched 8-way thumbstick and hardware that was not held back by the need to maintain backwards compatibility with a large existing monochrome library.  Unfortunately the NGPC only had 90 games released across all regions, so the library is a bit thin.  Moreover it can be very expensive to buy many of the best games, some NGPC carts get real pricey.  Enter the subject of today's blog post, the NeoPocket GameDrive Flash Cart.

Friday, December 2, 2022

So Many Floppies! - Late DOS/Early Windows Era Installations

The CD-ROM format continually promised to make floppy disks obsolete.  First introduced in a usable form in 1986, the CD-ROM's 650MiB capacity was enormous when 1.2MiB 5.25" floppies were largest available removable media at the time and hard drives maxed out at around 50 MiB.  While CD-ROMs were standard equipment on current PCs by 1995 and the principal method for software installation by that year, the PCs reliance on floppy disks for operating system installation lasted for much longer than anyone anticipated.  How long you ask?  Let's find out.