Monday, June 4, 2018

Legal Remedies for Copyright Infringement of Open Source Software & the Trouble with Temporary Copies

Clone consoles are nothing new, clones have been made since the Atari 2600 became successful.  During a console's market life and for years thereafter, clones were usually illegal because they infringed on the maker's patents.  But patents expire, usually after twenty years, and after the consoles that utilized those patented chips and technologies could be freely recreated.  For successful vintage consoles, hardware clones usually follow their patent expiration.  Early clones used reverse engineered ASICs to replicate the functionality of an Atari 2600, a NES, a SNES and a Genesis.  But newer clones frequently use ARM processors and run emulators to cut down on costs and improve features.  One such clone, the Hyperkin RetroN 5, caused a great deal of controversy when it was discovered to have used emulators without permission from their original authors.  Let's dive into the legal ramifications of the this behavior.

Friday, May 18, 2018

The Search for Artifact Color on the Commodore 64

NTSC composite artifact color is something typically relegated to computers with off-the-shelf graphics hardware.  We associate it with the Apple II mainly, which used it in its high resolution modes.  TRS-80 Color Computer fans also know it very well, because it was the only color available in that computer line's graphics until the Model 3.  IBM PCs also used with more frequency than was commonly known in the early days in CGA graphics cards.  But Commodore didn't rely on off-the-shelf 74-series logic to drive its home computers' displays.  It had bought the MOS company and all its chip fabrication expertise.  Its computers used real graphics chips and they displayed real color.  They didn't need the composite tricks to get their graphics working and they didn't need boards devoted to graphics either.  But I have come across some information which suggests that the assumption that the Commodore 64 did not support composite artifact color may not be supportable.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Gaslighting a Historical Event? - Billy Mitchell and His Perfect Pac-Man Game

On July 3, 1999, Billy Mitchell made history by playing the first verified perfect game of Pac-Man.  This was major news at the time and Mitchell was celebrated for his achievement.  He not only became something of a celebrity in the video game world but also helped to raise the visibility of Walter Day's Twin Galaxies, an entity devoted to keeping records of high scores and other video game achievements. For nearly twenty years that achievement was generally accepted and unchallenged. Recent developments, however, have called this historical event into question. Allegations of cheating by Mitchell have caused Twin Galaxies and Guinness World Records to no longer recognize his achievement.

We will discuss the game, give an overview of Mitchell and Twin Galaxies, recount the story behind the event and the incidents which gave rise to allegations of cheating and the effect they have had on high scores and records of the past.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Expanding Vintage IBM PC & Compatible Display Options - the GGLabs CGA2RGB Converter

GGLabs' CGA2RGB (courtesy of GGLabs)

Getting a high quality and proper video signal from an IBM CGA or EGA card or an IBM PCjr or Tandy 1000 without their specialized monitors can be difficult.  These computers used specialized RGB monitors to give a high quality solution using digital signals to tell the monitor which color to display.  Unfortunately this standard was not really adopted outside of the expensive PC compatibles and most RGB monitors only accept an analog signal.  When VGA and its analog RGB signal format became standard, support for the older digital RGB format went away.  In this blog entry I am going to examine an inexpensive converter that can help you adapt your vintage PC compatible's digital RGB video output to the more accessible analog RGB video output.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Compatibility Issues within the Game Boy Line

In the beginning, Nintendo released the Game Boy and it took the world by storm.  Since 1989, Nintendo has released no less than 9 major followup products in the Game Boy line sold to the public in the eighteen years to follow.  The Game Boy line has a reputation for rock-solid backwards compatibility, but here we will explore issues with backwards compatibility in as much detail as I can find.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Super Nt - Testing and Capturing

I had not planned on publishing a second blog entry on the Super Nt, but there were one or two issues I wished to address and the first blog entry was becoming very long.  So here is another blog entry discussing testing and capturing games on this increasingly wonderful device.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Super Nt Review - The Ideal FPGA Console?

In the four months since the announcement of the Super Nt, there has been a lot of anticipation over the final product.  Will it ship on time?  Will it be as good as the Nt Mini?  Is it worth the money?  Can I put my original hardware away?  Now that I have had mine for about four days by the time this blog entry posts, I can try to answer those questions and give my own impressions of the system.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

StarTech USB3HDCAP Review - A Jack of All Trades?

The StarTech USB3HDCAP (courtesy of
Capturing real hardware has always been something of a challenge, especially when it comes to retro video game consoles and computers.  I have been seeking an affordable "all-in-one" capturing solution for some time.  Recently I read about the StarTech USB3HDCAP and remarked that it could handle odd inputs like 15KHz RGB, 240p Component video and even 320x200 70Hz VGA.  I also read that the StarTech uses the same hardware as the more expensive Micomsoft X-CAPTURE 1 and the less-featured Elgato HD60 S.  I purchased a card recently and found that getting the best out of it is not quite as straightforward as I expected.  Here let me discuss what I have tried and how well it works.