Infocom: The Documentary

Infocom (1979-1989) is recognized as the all-time leader in Interactive Fiction, releasing top-selling games and products that dominated the sales charts and still extend considerable influence and memory on the gaming industry. At times they were half of the top ten games being sold and were considered a flagship of the game industry. And then they were gone.

As part of the 2010 documentary GET LAMP, director Jason Scott talked to creators, management, fans and academics about the Infocom story, and produced this 45 minute overview of this unique and wonderful company.

Jason Scott on Twitter;

Patreon for Jason Scott's podcast:

To purchase the DVD of this and the other GET LAMP features, visit http://WWW.GETLAMP.COM​.

The Oregon Trail for FORTRAN 77

The other day I’d been alerted to this fantastic port of the BASIC game to Fortran 77 by Kidon, bringing it to mainframe and midrange machines of the 1970s!

You can read more information at it’s home page here, along with getting the source code and building it out.

Naturally I had to build it using f2c, and QuickC for Windows. Just some minor tweeks and it runs!

Victory! …?!?

Although victory could have gone a bit better. I know it’s largely my fault trying to introduce a clean way to pause before exiting. Obviously there is tonnes of Fortran compilers out there, for many old platforms, so perhaps this will make the Oregon Trail the ‘DooM’ of machines with F77?! Give it a try, there is extensive build instructions, and a quick list of known good platforms, be sure to update with newer (older) stuff that is found to fun!

Presenting MacFlim

This is beyond super cool! Video has always been something of the realm of ‘high end’ machines, back when QuickTime became a thing it was lauded at running in a postage stamp sized window with absolutely incredible artifacting. And that was running with a Quadra (68040) back in the day, the transition from 68000 to PowerPC really helped with video on the desktop with much faster clocks and better caching.

The idea of video on any of the compact black & white Macs, even the ultra high end SE/30 68030 based Mac seemed something out of fantasy. But thanks to modern processors, massive storage and the ability to front process the video, it is now possible to do playback on a B&W mac!

Enter MacFilm 1.0 by Fred!

This is some super cool ‘impossible’ tech for the low end macs!

This is nothing short of incredible!

Of course the ‘downside’ is there is no audio.. And it’s directly blitting to the 512×342 B&W display so if you are not running on a 1 bit original display it’s not going to work or just blast seemingly junk to the screen.

Maybe if big 80’s media wasn’t so slow, or massive SCSI disks didn’t cost as much as a car we could have been enjoying an almost Brazilian future of black and white movies on tiny CRT’s.

Web Rendering Proxy (WRP) 4.5.2

(This is a guest post by Antoni Sawicki aka Tenox)

Pleased to announce WRP version 4.5.2. This is just a bug fix release however it also contains two frequently requested features:

UI customization via HTML template file. This has been requested by many users and it makes total sense. To use it download wrp.html from github, place in the same directory as wrp binary and edit to your liking. WRP will load built-in version if file is not present.

This should enable easy development of more modern UI for never browsers. Potentially with JS and CSS. Please send PR if you make something!

Second most frequently asked feature – re-capture (retake?) of a screenshot without page reload. For example if the page did not capture correctly or if something is changing on the page.

I have also updated Docker Hub and repos.

Sun IPX using WRP at VCF West

As usual please test and report bugs!

The next update will focus on issues with page size, viewport and rendering full length pages (h=0) which is currently very broken.

[TUHS] 4.4BSD sparc, pmax binary recently compiled

Well this came as a bit of a surprise, but also a great thing!

 I compiled 4.4BSD to get pmax and sparc binary, from CSRG Archive CD-ROM #4
source code.

    - Works on GXemul DECstaion(PMAX) emulation.
    - I used binutils 2.6 and gcc taken from Gnu ftp site,
      as 4.4BSD src does not contain pmax support part in as, ld,
      gcc and gdb.
    - Lack of GDB. I got rid of compile errors of gdb 4.16, but that
      does not work yet.
    - gcc included can not deal c++ static constructor. So, contrib/groff
      can not be compiled. Instead, it uses old/{nroff,troff,eqn,tbl..}.

    - Works on sun4c. I use on SPARCstation 2, real hardware.
      TME sun4c emulation can boot to single user, but it locks up in
      middle of /etc/rc.
 CSRG Archive CD-ROM #4's source code (just after Lite2 release) seems
have differences from CSRG's binary distributions before (2 times),
e.g. mount systemcall is not compatible.

 I used NetBSD 1.0/sparc, NetBSD 1.1/pmax for 1st (slightly) cross
compiling. NetBSD 1.0/sparc boots and works well on TME emulator.
SunOS 4.1.4, Solaris7 works too, but this 4.4BSD binary doesn't..


So this is a heck yes, let me boot this thing up! It’s been a while since I last messed with GXemul, but even this old version runs 4.4BSD!

And yeah it’ll boot up! Exciting.

As mentioned it’s based off the CD #4 from the CSRG set. Really if you are interested in old UNIX, be it BSD or AT&T get this set!

Back of the set aka contents

On the back you can see it’s the last source dump including all the SCCS tags. This plus the extra “historic content” is what you need! Maybe it’s the emulation, maybe it’s the last cut of 4.4 but mounting a CD-ROM just works. So nice. Although the source on the CD isn’t directly buildable. There is some issue with the MIPS locore which needs a patch from mochid, but with the fixes in place it’ll build and run!

Obviously the unanswered question is where is the i386. And that is probably the greatest 90’s software bungle that is either conspiracy to profit or just incredible lack of vision when it comes to platforms. It’s certainly easy to have an off version of reality in University, especially with nice OEM hardware grants to see the world in one light, Just as the Amiga/Atari home computer wars both ignored the vastly inferior PC for it’s laughable beeper, CP/M like OS and woefully inadequate CGA graphics. But the PC was modular and it was an open platform, the industry didn’t have to wait for IBM to make a 32bit PC, instead you had people adding 386DX processors on 286 motherboards complete with 80287 coprocessors, and custom memory controllers to retrofit the memory bus.

CSRG had TAHOE dreams, HP 680000 plans, then SPARC. All the while missing out on the unwashed masses with their 386 and 486 machines. I haven’t tried it, but I bet BSD/OS 1.1 will patch in pretty well for i386. And why would it? Because that was the ticket to the pre pre pre .com bubble of commodity minicomputer UNIX on the desktop. But that blasted 1-800-ITS-UNIX ruined it all, and this ‘hey guys’ project took the UNIX crown.

I’ve been playing with updating the GXemul ‘port’ I did along with integrating SLIRP so I can telnet it. The timing is very shakey and I’m not too happy with it. And I want to redo the disks and sources to be a cleaner ‘merge’ so it just ‘makes’ in the normal places like a native build. If I had crazy people money I’d want to port this to the Loongson-3A4000, but that’d be crazy, instead it’d be more worth my while to try to make an Amiga or Atari ST.

But what do I know, my cellphone runs Mach/BSD!

Netscape 3.02 aka hiding in plain site

Much to my surprise, along with a few other people the partial source code to Netscape 3 has been found. But it’s been there since 2011.

Normally I look for ‘source code’ although that terrible movie overlaps the name making it hard to find. So the phrase for the last decade turns out to be ‘source tree’

Netscape Communicator 3.0.2 Source Tree

So who knew!?

The SDK stuff is missing, and it looks like the Windows stuff is intermixed with the Unix.

There is some CVS tags, but not the history. Lots of the crypto has been deleted, and the SDK stuff is missing. Also no cooltalk. SUN Java is there oddly enough.

I have no idea if it’s buildable as it looks like its expecting a magical config regarding paths and tools, and a quick glance looks like it’ll need some time to massage.

Could this be the dawn of the ‘will it run NetScape 3’?

Windows Dev VM

(This is a guest post from Antoni Sawicki aka Tenox)

I have been living under a rock for several years now when it comes to Windows development. Recently wanting to do some maintenance on couple of my projects I needed to download Visual Studio and Windows SDK. Poking around the download page I have discovered that Microsoft now provides a fully pre-installed VMs with Visual Studio, SDK etc. for VMware, Hyper-V, VirtualBox and Parallels. That’s actually super cool and handy. Thank you Microsoft!

Looks like this has been available for 3 or 4 years now. Oh well.

Yedit – The missing replacement for modern Windows

(This is a guest post by Antoni Sawicki aka Tenox)

I previously lamented about lack of a small text editor for Windows text mode console. Something simple to just edit a text, configs, .ini, .reg or .cmd/bat files. Kind of like in MSDOS and Windows 3.x/9.x. could even run under Windows NT up until XP inside NTVDM DOS emulator. I seen plenty of people use it this way. Sadly, instead of porting it to the modern Windows it was just whacked. While there are plenty of 3rd party editors to choose from none of them is perfect. They are either expensive, overly complicated, poorly ported from Unix, VMS or TOPS20, no longer maintained or require a steep learning curve for a casual Windows user.

My cries must have been heard in Redmond circles. Malcolm Smith aka malxau (author of Yori, a super awesome command line replacement for Windows) stepped in and made a brand new, text mode editor called Yedit. By default It comes as part of Yori installer however it’s easy to separate it to a stand alone exe.

Yedit on Windows NT

There really isn’t much to talk about Yori. It has no special features. It doesn’t try to be an IDE, word processor, hex editor or an operating system. It’s just a perfect replacement for Thank you Malcolm! I really wish that Microsoft just put it in Windows 10 now.

Yedit on Windows 10

While checking out Yedit you should also give Yori a try. It’s really a fantastic CMD replacement shell.