Final Cartridge III Undocumented Functions

The “Final Cartridge III” has been among the most popular Commodore 64 extensions, providing a floppy speeder, BASIC extensions, a machine language monior, a freezer and even a (rarely used) graphical desktop. The major advantage compared to other C64 cartridges is the consistent way in which the Final Cartridge III extends the C64 experience. read more

Measuring the ROR Bug in the Early MOS 6502

The MOS 6502 CPU was introduced in September of 1975, and while the documentation described the three shift/rotate instructions ASL, LSR and ROL, the ROR instruction was missing – the documentation said that ROR would be available in chips starting in June 1976. In fact, the reason for this omission was that the instruction, while being present, didn’t behave correctly. Only few 6502s with the defect are in existence, and nobody seemed to have checked what was actually going on in these chips. read more

Why is there no CR1 – and why are control registers such a mess anyway?

If you want to enable protected mode or paging on the i386/x86_64 architecture, you use CR0, which is short for control register 0. Makes sense. These are important system settings. But if you want to switch the pagetable format, you have to change a bit in CR4 (CR1 does not exist and CR2 and CR3 don’t hold control bits), if you want to switch to 64 bit mode, you have to change a bit in an MSR, oh, and if you want to turn on single stepping, that’s actually in your FLAGS. Also, have I mentioned that CR5 through CR15 don’t exist – except for CR8, of course? read more

Who invented the computer?

  • In 1837, Charles Babbage designed a general purpose computer, the Analytical Engine, but never built it.
  • Between 1934 and 1937, Church, Turing et al. defined the general purpose computer, but didn’t design one.
  • In 1941, Konrad Zuse built the first general purpose computer, the Z3, but didn’t know it was general purpose and didn’t use it that way.
  • From 1943 to 1946, Mauchly and Eckert finally built a computer, ENIAC, that was designed to be general-purpose.

LOAD"$",8

Commodore computers up to BASIC 2.0 (like the Commodore 64, the VIC-20 and the PET 2001) only had a very basic understanding of mass storage: There were physical device numbers that were mapped to the different busses, and the “KERNAL” library had “open”, “read”, “write” and “close” functions that worked on these devices. There were also higher-level “load” and “save” functions that could load and save arbitrary regions of memory: The first two bytes of the file would be the (little endian) start address of the memory block. read more

Apple Copland Reference Documentation

The Copland project was Apple’s ill-fated attempt in the mid 1990s to replace the aging classic Mac OS with a more modern operating system that had a microkernel, virtual memory and preemptive multitasking. Information on Copland is scarce, therefore I have compiled 20 hard to find Copland reference documents, as well as the 359 page book “Mac OS 8 Revealed”. read more

Apple Lisa Operating System Reference Manual (PDF, 1983)

The Apple Lisa from 1983 was the first consumer-class computer with a graphical user interface and significantly more advanced than the 1984 Macintosh, which had a similar UI, but a comparatively primitive underlying OS. Here, I present a searchable PDF of the rare “Operating System Reference Manual for the Lisa” (1983), as well as a quick overview of the OS and how it compares to UNIX. read more