Design for a portable Commodore 64

There have been modern designs for portable Commodore 64s, and the official portable Commodore 64 you perhaps didn't even know about, but none of them are as handsome as Cem Tezcan's.

The Adafruit Blog:

As a part of my monthly product design practice, I decided to make an handheld Commodore 64 that uses “mini cassettes” to load programs or games.

I inspired by most of the old Commodore electronic products to create this dream device

All it needs is a giant leather holster. Read the rest

108 rare and bizarre information storage media types

In this episode of the 8-Bit Guy, David does a video survey of 108 types of storage media that we modern humans have used to store information.

He divides the media into three categories: mechanical media, magnetic media, and optical media. He starts at the Edison Wax Cylinder and ends up at Bubble Memory.

This whole episode brought back fond memories of Bruce Sterling's dead Dead Media project.

Image: YouTube Read the rest

How Susan Kare applied embroidery skills to create the iconic Macintosh icons

In the early 1980s, Susan Kare joined Apple Computer to design fonts and user interface graphics. A legend of pixel art, Kare created the look of the original Macintosh, from the Chicago typeface to the Trash Can to the Happy Mac icon. She's currently creative director at Pinterest. David Kindy profiles Kare in Smithsonian:

Pioneering designer Susan Kare was taught by her mother how to do counted-thread embroidery, which gave her the basic knowledge she needed to create the first icons for the Apple Macintosh 35 years ago.

“It just so happened that I had small black and white grids to work with,” she says. “The process reminded me of working needlepoint, knitting patterns or mosaics. I was lucky to have had a mother who enjoyed crafts..."

Designing the icons proved to be more of a challenge (than the typefaces). Reproducing artwork on those primitive CRT surfaces, which used a bit-mapped matrix system with points of light, or pixels, to display data, was a designer’s nightmare.

However, the friend who recommended Kare for the job—-Andy Hertzfeld, then lead software architect for Macintosh-—had an idea. Since the matrix was essentially a grid, he suggested Kare get the smallest graph paper she could find. She then blocked out a 32-by-32 square and began coloring in squares to create the graphics...

After leaving Apple in 1986, Kare became creative director for Apple cofounder Steve Jobs at the short-lived NeXT, Inc., an influential computer startup that was eventually acquired by Apple. She founded her own eponymous design firm in 1989, which created graphic designs for hundreds of clients, including Autodesk, Facebook, Fossil, General Magic, IBM, Microsoft and PayPal.

Read the rest

Deck of cards with pixelated 8-bit style designs

The 8bit Deck is a standard 52-card deck with pixelated artwork using the Pico-8 pallette.

A few months ago, I began designing a few face cards for what, at the time, might have been an 8-Bit solitaire game or something similar. As the process continued, the idea of making these pixel art cards in to actual high-quality playing cards came to mind, and thus the 8Bit Deck was born. Each card has been crafted pixel by pixel, and the color palette was heavily inspired by the Pico-8 fantasy console

Here's the full set:

I'm going to be that guy and say that instead of rounded corners, there should be a singe-pixel-sized notch on each. Read the rest

Super Mario Bros accompanied by a live big band!

The 8-Bit Big Band is a jazz/pops orchestra that performs video game music. In this video, they're accompanying "Be More Chill" actor George Salazar as he plays through first two worlds of Super Mario Bros. "All sound FX performed live on drum pads!" Read the rest

This Volvo's door chime plays Toto's 'Africa' in 8 bit

It's gonna take a lot to drag me away from the door chime in this Volvo 240. Why? Because it plays an 8-bit version of Toto's "Africa."

This sweet mod was created by Chris NG, a fan of the YouTube channel 8 bit Universe. NG's currently got a Kickstarter going for custom vehicle door chimes.

Need more Toto?: -- Toto's "Africa" playing in an abandoned mall -- Toto's 'Africa,' as performed by a computer hardware orchestra -- The story behind Toto's 'Africa' -- Pop music genres illustrated with Toto's Africa on a lightweight portable keyboard

"I seek to cure what's deep inside, frightened of this thing that I've become"

(reddit) Read the rest

Pixatool turns images into pallette-perfect pixel art

You could load an image up in Photoshop, reduce the color depth and fiddle with the pixel diffusion slider a bit. Or you could get Pixatool, a brilliant app completely dedicated to tuning pixelated images to the finest and most authentic details. Line and contrasts are rendered so well there's often an uncanny suggestion of hand-drawing, and the dithering smokes what mainstream painting apps offer.

It's $30, with a free-of-charge demo version. There's more examples. Artists are sharing their work with the #pixatool hashtag.

Update: check out the new version. Read the rest

Java ported to Commodore 64

Back to the Future Java is a Java Virtual Machine planed down until it fits on 8-bit computers (i.e. the Commodore 64). It's based on a port of Java made for Lego Mindstorms, lacks a few key features of the language (such as garbage collection), but is quite an astounding feat. Previously: Java on a Sega Genesis; Java on Apple II. Read the rest

ZX Spectrum Next is an advanced version of the original 8-bit monster machine

ZX Spectrum Next is more than just a cute retro-looking box or a glorified emulator. It is a new 8-bit computer, backwards-compatible with the 1980s' original, yet enhanced to provide a wealth of advanced features such as better graphics, SD card storage, and manufacturing quality control. It's made with the permission of IP owner Amstrad and has already blown past its crowdfunding target.

It has a real goddamn Z80 in it, clocked to a blazing-fast 7Mhz! (And an optional 1Ghz co-processor for those times you want to strap your vintage snow sled to an intercontinental ballistic Raspberry Pi.)

We love the ZX Spectrum. Why wouldn’t we? It was much more than just a computer: it was a machine that sparked a gaming revolution, neatly housed within its iconic design powered by sheer simplicity. ... Meanwhile hardware hackers around the world have expanded the ZX Spectrum to support SD card storage, feature new and better video modes, pack more memory, faster processor... Problem is, these expansions can be difficult to get hold of, and without a standardised Spectrum, no one knows what to support or develop for. ...

The Spectrum Next is aimed at any Retrogamer out there and Speccy enthusiast who prefers their games, demos and apps running on hardware rather than software emulators, but wants a seamless and simple experience contained within an amazing design..

They even got the original industrial designer, Rick Dickinson, to do the new case--and they based it quite wisely on the second-gen Speccy rather than the iconic but infuriating-to-type-on rubber-keyed original. Read the rest

Civilization ported to 8-bit Commodore 64

Civilization was one of the classic games of the 16-bit age, when computers with speedy processors and hundreds of kilobytes of RAM made it possible to model and memorize complex, culture-bound simulations of human history. Twenty years on, though, it's been ported back to a humble 8-bit system that predated it by years.

The genius behind the conversion is Fabian Hertel, and it's not just a mockup: a fully playable demo is available to enjoy. 8-bit Civ runs on Commodore 64 and, while reduced in scope, features cities, units, AI opponents, scientific advances and wonders of the world.

8 Bit Civilizations (working title) has understandably been reduced in scope from the original PC and Amiga versions. For example you can play against a maximum of 3 AI opponents (or 2 if barbarians are enabled), and the world map is not as large. However even in its current state, the game is every bit as fun as the original, and even includes some innovative new features. Such as you may chose the gender of your nation's leader, so if you choose to play the English nation, you be Henry VIII as well as Elizabeth I.

The game board is played from an isometric perspective, a feature which wasn't added in the original line of games until Civilization II (1996).

It clearly doesn't shy much from the game's complexity. Check out the traditionally numbing endgame going on in the screenshot below!

Read the rest

If Rogue One: A Star Wars Story were an 8-bit video game

Directed by Norwood Cheek with animation by Dilara Mundy.

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8-bit Bohemian Rhapsody

That Gamer created this lovely 8-bit rendition of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody," along with many of Queen's other greatest hits. Read the rest

Watch Stranger Things, the 8-bit version

Directed by David Dutton, music by Henry Dutton. (8-Bit Cinema)

Read the rest

Create logos using colorful vintage bitmap fonts

The dryly-named C64 Charset Logo Generator lets you do something old-school that the new school forgot years ago: type using colorful bitmap fonts, as found in old video games of the Commodore era. As the name suggests, it uses the gloomy Commodore 64 palette, but you can edit it with the provided controls, which also include kerning tweaks and many choices of lettering. [h/t Stijn Peeters]

C64 Charset Logo Generator

Idea and code by Chris 'Cupid' Heilmann (@codepo8) - ported from the original tool written in PHP using gd

Charset ripping and credit research by Dejan 'Nucleus' Petronijevic

Charset cleanup and transparency adding by Daniel 'Deekay' Kottmair

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8-Bit Cinema: great films reimagined as classic video games

We've featured David Dutton's 8-Bit Cinema many times over the past 8 years, but this astounding showreel demonstrates that his canon is wider, deeper and cooler that you might realize. Read the rest

Patio-stone Mario pixel-art

[[Source unknown]] Read the rest

Swiss Researchers solve side-scrolling immersion

Researchers at the ETH Game Technology Center of the Swiss national technical institute in Zürich, have applied their considerable talents to the critical problem of immersion in 2D side-scrolling, 8-bit era games. Witness in this video the splendor of a 360° projected Mario world that unrolls across the walls as players reveal each subsequent tile of the game map.

Robert Sumner, founder of the GTC explains:

 ...we observed that the 8-bit era of gaming had a huge collective influence on so many people, but the actual gaming experience was typically an individual one. We wanted to turn this idea upside down, and elevate the NES console experience into a group experience where the game surrounds a large event, allowing multiple people to play in a collaborative setting. The panoramic stitching and 8-way controller multiplexing hardware were the main ways we accomplished this task.

The group submitted the paper "Unfolding the 8-bit Era" to the European Conference on Visual Media Production, and then built the system to unveil at the Eurographics Conference. Utilizing a vintage 8-bit Famicom/NES system and a PC with a point-correspondence vision tracking algorithm, the researchers developed methods to detect the edge of each screen segment, adding it to a continuously expanding texture map in real-time. This panoramic texture is then seamlessly displayed on eight aligned projectors. The vision algorithm requires no prior knowledge about the game, so it is possible to play any side-scroller on this system, such as Super Mario Bros., Castlevania, Metroid, and the like. Read the rest

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