New Old Books

I received two books today that I'd had on order for a while:

Microcomputer Displays, Graphics and Animation
Applied Concepts in Microcomputer Graphics

Both books are by Bruce Artwick and both published around 1984. Bruce Artwick was president of the subLOGIC Corporation, then based in Champaign Illinois. Sublogic produced a flight simulator for many 8-bit home computers, originally FS1 for the Apple II and TRS-80 and then FS2 which was supplied for the Apple II, Commodore 64 and Atari 800, then in a third generation for the Amiga, Atari ST and Macintosh. The Microsoft Flight Simulator series was a port of FS2 to the IBM PC. See the wikipedia entry for more info (I also notice that Bruce went on to develop Microsoft Space Simulator - I may have to get a copy and have a play!)

My first exposure to FS2 was seeing it in the window of the local Commodore supplier. I was well into flying in general as a kid, went to lots of airshows, read all the books etc, and FS2 just looked good. Having saved my money, I bought FS2, then a CBM 1541 disk drive (the software came on 5.25" floppy) - I had the game for a good few weeks before I could afford the disk drive to load it with. By the time I'd got the drive I had read the manuals several times! I still have that copy of FS2, although I doubt if the floppy has survived being readable! In the same box is a little log book I kept of the flights I'd made. Suffice to say they weren't always successful! I went so far as to create a template form using my DPS-1101 daisywheel printer to stick in the book. I spent hours on that simulation, and as a result of that (and possibly watching the American Football on Channel 4) I fell in love with America, and funnily enough, the four areas of America simulated by FS2. I think it's fair to say it was an obsession. I wrote to subLOGIC (I think I still have the letters somewhere) on a couple of occassions I forget about what (probably asking about expansion areas or duplicate maps or something), and always got a response (and, I might add, the American Letter paper size always seemed really odd compared to A4).

Anyway, I came across 'Applied Concepts in Microcomputer Graphics' at some point later, probably either during 6th form or University (it may be they had a copy in the University Library). It's an excellent introduction to both display technologies and a good 2D and 3D graphics primer. The other book concentrates more on the low-level aspects of generating graphics, down to colour TV standards, graphics generating circuits etc (although I noticed that both books contain identical content in sections).

Last night I was quiet because I was writing some code in Java to do Lunar Lander. The plan is to port this over to Modula-3 when I get a working system. I got an email out of the blue a few days ago from Daniel in Columbia offering help in getting Modula-3 working on my Alphaserver 300 running Digital Unix 4.0G and have the support of the guys at http://opencm3.net - the most recent incarnation of Modula-3. It would appear that I'm not completely wasting my time trying to get the software running on such an ancient operating system, but there may be quite a few hurdles yet. I haven't given up hope. I wanted to write the game/simulation in an Object Oriented language, ideally, as the concepts translate well. I have a Moon class, LEM class, Ascent & Descent stage class, Weight interface, Engine interface, etc. etc. It should be fairly trivial to port the code between Java and Modula-3.

I leave you with a few pictures from the books.

Ah, actually, just noticed the comment on the front page of the 'Microcomputer Displays, Graphics and Animation' that it was 'previously published as...' the other book. Looked at the contents of both books, and, yes, they are the same book. How weird is that! So I've got two books exactly the same! Who wants one?