Re: 33 month update !! Sooooo close to 3 year mark :)

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Posted by Yadgar (other posts) on February 07, 2017 at 14:05:45 Previous Next

In Reply to: Re: 33 month update !! Sooooo close to 3 year mark :) posted by Patrick Brands on February 07, 2017 at 11:13:32:


: : : Awesome! May I AtariSTize or Commodore64ize your photo and repost it here?

: : Huh?

: I agree :) Not sure what that means either? hehehe

O.k., let me explain:

I don't know how old you are, Patrick, but I estimate that you may be born around 1990, which would be about 20 years younger than me (I'm 47 now). So possibly the informations I give you here may be unfamiliar to you, as you could not experience the achievements in computer technology to be mentioned here as a contemporarian.

Back in the 1980s, long before the ascent of Microsoft Windows as the leading operating system in the world, even before the invention of the World Wide Web, the world of desktop computing was essentially divided into three major domains, which each had their own philosophy, their own cultural approach to computing and often mutually frowned upon each other.

First domain was the Apple Macintosh world, from 1984 on the very first commercially really successful (albeit rather expensive) computers equipped with a graphical user interface accessible via a mouse (there were predecessors, most notably Apple's Lisa of 1983, the Xerox Star system of 1980 and even the very first GUI computer, the Xerox Alto of 1973, but none of them made it onto the mass consumer markets). Macintoshes were very prolific in the computer graphics and desktop publishing business, but retained an elitarian, if not snobistic air around them much into the 2000s.

Second domain where the original IBM desktop computers (since 1981) and their more or less compatible imitations built by competing manufacturers (since about 1983). All these computers used MS-DOS as operating system, with a non-graphical, command line-based user interface. During the 1980s, this operating system, which was the original foundation of Microsoft's later success, gradually replaced the older CP/M. During the 1980s, MS-DOS computers were mostly used for standard office tasks, with no or very limited use of graphical features, let alone audio or video. There image back then was that of somewhat dull, uninteresting "office servants", at least among the aficionados of the third computer domain to be introduced here.

This third domain where the 16-bit successors of the 8-bit home computers of the early and middle 1980s. Originally, these machines were marketed as cheap (compared to the Macintoshes and IBM compatibles!) entry-level multi-purpose computers, but they soon turned out to be used mostly for gaming and amateur programming, which made them popular with teenagers like I was back then. By far the most popular of these 8-bit home computers was the Commodore 64, which I mentioned in my orignal post ("Commodore64ize") - estimations of the units ever built between 1982 and 1994 range between 16 and 22 million, which makes the Commodore 64 by far the commercially most successful computer model in history.

By the year 1985, CPU prices had dropped deep enough to replace this comparatively primitive machines by more advanced computers which, like the Apple Macintosh, used the Motorola 68000 CPU family. Most dominant were once more the Commodore Amiga, which was the first full-fledged multimedia computer with photo-quality high resolution graphics, video and audio capabilities, and the Atari ST, a somewhat modest version of the Macintosh (therefore also nicknamed "Jackintosh" after CEO Jack Tramiel, who changed from Commodore to Atari in 1985) with less advanced graphics, but with a very accurate built-in MIDI interface which made the ST a long-time favourite among musicians.

Many of these 1980s/early 1990s computers, regardless of being out of production since many years, have their enthusiastic fan communities up to this very day, a phenomenon summed up as "retrocomputing".

And as I'm such a retrcomputerist myself (I own a Commodore 64 and an Atari 1040 STFM) I started writing programs to convert modern-day digital images and videos to look like (and, later on, in fact run on these ancient computers) they would have looked on these two machines.

So, "Commodore64izing" means: scale the picture down to a maximum of 320 by 200 pixels (depending on its actual x-to-y ratio), then compress its width to 160 pixels, apply a 16-color palette gleaned from VICE, the currently most popular Commodore 64 emulator (available for both Windows and Linux!) using Floyd-Steinberg dithering, then rescale the width to 320 pixels (this is because in Commodore 64 multicolor mode, pixels are elongated rectangular rather than square) and afterwards unformly increase picture size to 200 or 300 % for better visibility on modern-day monitors. But there is a special restriction with the multicolor mode: although the Commodore 64 has a palette of 16 colors, within each section of 8 by 8 pixels only 4 colors may be used! Correcting this manually is very time-consuming, I yet have to write the corresponding program routines.

Therefore I firstly would do a simpler form of Commodore64izing: block graphics, 25 by 40 "pixels", without any color limitations (of course scaled to 800 % to make the image properly visible).

Also already feasible is the black/white mode of "AtariSTizing": 640 by 400 pixels using Floyd-Steinberg dithering. There also exist a 640 by 200 (non-square) pixel mode using 4 (of 512) colors and a 320 by 200 pixel mode with 16 of 512 colors. These 512 colors, however, use only eight brightness levels per channel (red, green and blue), which correspond to the 8-bit values 0, 36, 72, 109, 145, 182, 218 and 255, which would take not too long (a few minutes per picture) to do this manually.

So, would you allow me to do such transformations to your photo and re-post these versions here?

See you in Khyberspace!


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