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Comment Re:TRS 80 Model I (Score 1) 623

Sorry if I threw you for a loop on this one... I remember hardcards going into expansion slots, of which the Tandy 1000 series had (early ISA bus). My uncle had me put a 40MB hardcard in his Tandy 1000 back in the day. I thought they were the greatest thing to be invented because the entire hard drive system resided on a single card and not spread around the innards of the computer in a mass of cabling.

The Model IV didn't have conventional expansion slots. Nearly everything data I/O related, other than floppies, was done externally. Starting with page 23 of this online copy of a TRS-80 catalog, you'll see what was made for Model IVs

Comment Re:C64 (Score 1) 623

My parents bought me one of those new VIC-20 computing machines back when they were newly released.

Having never really been exposed to BASIC programming, except for many long sessions in front of TRS-80's, much to the chagrin of Radio Shack managers, I found the VIC-20 user manual rather... "light"... in its content.

Later, I bought the Programmer's Reference Guide, which was an explosion of useful details and information about the VIC-20!!! There was an entire section on memory maps and detailed 6502 assembler codes. Using just that book, I started learning to write and hand compile machine language routines. I would enter the programs via PEEK commands and DATA statements.

Comment Re:Timex Sinclair 1000 (Score 1) 623

you could use the inbuilt PI value to express 0 as PI - PI or 1 as PI / PI which only took 3 bytes.

Awesome trick!!! I never even realized that until now and I had access to a TS1000 when they first came out. However, I would think it's only a speed for space tradeoff. At 1MHz, I wouldn't have relied on that too much for repeated use in loops!

Then again, I used a VIC-20. At least I had 75%-250% more RAM to work with, depending on the stock Sinclair variant.

Submission + - Encouraging a child's new-found interest in robotics

SomeoneGotMyNick writes: With the holiday season coming around, I have to consider what's best for my Son, who is in his early teens, when it comes to giving gifts which are fun, challenging, and career oriented. In the past, racing style video games were popular choices, but I don't want (expect) him to be able to play video games as a career.

He is currently taking courses in school which are introductions to computers and programming. He is familiar with programming concepts from playing around with Scratch for many years. He also likes the idea of tinkering with robot like devices, even though there is little he has available to do so right now.

When I'm doing stuff with my Arduino and Raspberry Pi boards, he always develops an interest, but doesn't quite "get it" when I try to explain the details of what I'm doing with them. Maybe I'm explaining it wrong, or maybe he needs to learn it a different way, perhaps with a collection of hardware add-ons and project documentation which I normally don't use myself.

I would like to encourage the interest he develops, without initially overwhelming him with too many details. Either that, or he is a lot like me when I was growing up, and needs to do a little discovery on his own using these microprocessor based systems, which could lead to a more positive self esteem and appreciation for learning.

What I'm thinking of doing is finding something which merges robotics and computer programming. My first thought is Lego Mindstorms, but I don't know if/how powerful that system can become. I'm hoping to find something that can start off easy, but at the same time, the major investment in components doesn't go to waste because it can be outgrown too quickly.

I've checked on Arduino and Propeller based robot kits, but unless someone else can provide details on their personal experience with them, I think they may have a discouragingly steep learning curve to get started.

Any information will be useful. Are there relatively unknown, but useful kits out there. Is a "piecemeal kit" a better choice, with certain book purchases and a collection of individual components ordered from SparkFun, Jameco, etc? Are Lego Mindstorms a powerful and really good value kit for the money?

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