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Death of the PowerBooks
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Ben Pazolli's Vintage Computer Blog
Thursday, 19 January 2006
Odd Machine
Topic: Picture System II
I just thought I would make a quick post. I was browsing the Internet, and I was on a very good site, Anyway, I looked at one book 'Computer Graphics Primer', hoping to find some hints for creating graphics on the C64 or even the VZ200. The book was published in 1979, so it didn't have much of interest. It did have some profiles of old computers, so I had a look. All very interesting, but one system that stood out was one called the Evans & Sutherland Picture System II. According to it, it could display a staggering 4096x4096. It also said that last figure was x64 intensity levels, whatever that means. It also said it could display 5 colors. My modern Toshiba only supports 1600x1200. This could be a misprint, but it seems amazing, if true. The site describes it as follow:
The world's most advanced commercial graphics computer. Allows up to 436 ASCII characters on one line with variable point size from 4 pt to 76 pt.

If anyone can verify this or knows of any old computers with ultra hi resolution graphics, email me at

Posted by vz200 at 9:53 AM EST
Monday, 16 January 2006
Perfect Picture
Topic: Use a TV as a Monitor
It may be common knowledge to other people but just today I tried something with my VZ200. After receiving a terrible picture on my TV, whereby whenever there was an orange background all the characters would look black. I picked up a standard RCA cable (pictured left), and plugged it into my TV at one end and the monitor output at the other. It worked perfectly and I had a crystal clear picture to enjoy my games with. It may not work on all TVs though, I had a small problem on my other TV but that could be that it is breaking down.

Again, any comments about this post or anything, feel free to email me at

Posted by vz200 at 9:19 AM EST
Wednesday, 11 January 2006
MacWorld 2006
Topic: Death of the PowerBooks
It seems that it is the end of the line for the PowerBook product line. It must be one of the longest apple product lines ever (if not the longest), spanning over 14 years to date. What upsets me is when Steve Jobs says its not about Power anymore and therefore renamed it the MacBook Pro. I interpreted this as meaning it does not have a PowerPC chip so it shouldn't be called a PowerBook. While this is logical, it is not entirely correct, the first PowerBook was the 100 released in October 1991 with a Motorola 68HC000, the first PowerBook with a PowerPC was the 5300, released in August 1995. The first PowerMac did have a PowerPC processor and therefore I would expect it will change its name when an Intel one is released. The PowerBook has a lot of history and has been more or less a stunning success. With the original lately being called the best gadget ever. He also said that he wants every name to have Mac in it, I wonder what the iBook will be called, the "MacBook Home" or something. I also don't like the product line name having two separate words. Those are just my thoughts about the keynote.

This was also posted on the PCI PowerMacs list hosted by LowEndMac at

If you have any comments, email me at

Posted by vz200 at 12:35 AM EST
Tuesday, 10 January 2006
My VZ Data Recorder
Topic: The Origin
I had always thought that the Data Recorder which I had inherited was just a random cheap Data Recorder. Cheap probably, Random not. When searching for C64 Modem information. Something caught my eye, it was the Aquarius logo(left) and in the same image there it was my data recorder(right). The Aquarius had a strange cable for the data recorder, but mine just has a standard 2 mono plug to stereo plug, and it works except it is getting old.

A little bit of information about the Aquarius. It was a commercial flop, it was a Z80 computer, like the VZ200. Had a weird expansion bus. Came with 4KB of RAM, only 1.7KB available to the average user. It was released by Mattel Electronics.

Compared to the VZ200 it was released a year later. Had twice the number of colors. Same speed. More Expansion. Almost a quarter of the memory. For a year later, it was a pretty bad computer, and the amount of memory must of made it almost unusable.

Any comments, send me an email at

Posted by vz200 at 10:28 AM EST
First Entry
Topic: My Commodore 64
I know that this site is dedicated to the VZ200, but I thought I would take a moment to talk about my Commodore 64. I picked up a Commodore 64 with a SKAI-64 Floppy Disk Unit, a Commodore Tape Unit, original boxes, various manuals and some software for FREE in the Sunday Times.

The Unit came with in a non original case which was created by a third party, reminiscent of the C64c. This case made it easier to type, but it didn't look like a real C64. Luckily, they gave me the original case as well. I tried to resist the transfer for fear that I might destroy the computer, but finally I gave it a go. The transfer went effortlessly thanks to some instructions I found in the case. Though it is harder to type now with the thing being two inches off the table, I do believe that the keys now respond better, probably a case of dust collecting. Now it looks exactly like a C64-2.

There were two pieces of software that came with it, one was some drawing program which I haven't loaded yet. The other was a far more useful cartridge of Simons Basic. This wasn't even close to enough software to satisfy my appetite. So I started searching for ways to get games on it. As most of you will know it is not as easy as the VZ200 because it doesn't use standard audio inputs. I found a program and a number of times tried recording a program using a utility taping it on my VZ200 data recorder and then put it into the Commodore's data recorder, but I would always get errors.

After researching on the Internet I found that the only surefire way to get programs on it was to create a cable to interface with the drive, commonly called an XE-1541 cable. I sourced all the components from Alltronics and Dick Smith Electronics one Saturday morning. After a couple hours of work it seemed too easy. When I plugged it in though it would just not work. After another couple of hours of angrily realizing that I had wasted the whole Weekend on this and it didn't even work (I don't count Sunday as a day of the weekend because everything is shut because we have no Sunday Trading). I decided to open it up and have a look at what could of gone wrong, after analyzing the disk end of the cable I realized that it had completely ripped out due to hard to fit case. After completely re-soldiering it, I tried it again and it worked. For all of you thinking of trying the project, it is not hard at all, just don't put cases on till you know it is working. If you really don't want to do it you can email me and I can make you one.

After downloading a few games it came to my attention that most require a joystick, no key equivalent commands. So I hit eBay, and got one imported over from the USA. It arrived and I haven't looked back.

I currently waiting for an order from eBay for a Printer Interface, so I can connect the Parallel Printer that I use for my VZ200. I am also actively searching for a Modem, I believe that then I will be able to Connect to some local BBSes in the area. I have my eye on a Commodore Modem 1660. Though I could settle for any, including a Commodore Modem 1600 (VicModem). If anyone has a Commodore Modem out there email me at

If anyone has any comments about anything, they can again email me t

Posted by vz200 at 9:56 AM EST

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