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on Microsoft Windows, its key system is key sequences. Now, this is real interesting. Anyone know who's the guy who designed the Microsoft Windows Alt key system?

Banish Key Chords
Nick Alcock's profile photoBrennan Young's profile photoDan Lentz's profile photoErgoEmacs's profile photo
Ah, I see you have a copy of emacs 0.03a still...
I remember VTs terminals before the micro$oft stuff...
Sinclair ZXs where funny with their key combination too...

In French we call this sort of keystroke a "alt shift control pédale queue de singe"... 'pédale' as an hypothetic key under the foot and 'queue de singe' (monkey tail) the @ sign....
Xah Lee
+Dan Lentz how's i have emacs 0.03a? i lost the joke or reference.
+Ivan Pierre, ZXes were also the only keyboard I've ever seen (since I haven't seen a Lisp Machine keyboard) that had really weird characters printed next to each key, and the only one I've ever seen that had keywords printed on each key. A most unusual scheme, but it made typing in programs fast and meant the thing hardly even needed a lexer. I've often wondered why editors junked the idea -- obviously it's not valuable in that precise form in other languages with sane numbers of keywords, but still. Emacs of course has kept them, with abbrevs, but it's not printed on the keyboard and it's not context-sensitive the way the Sinclair machines were, so it takes either a key chord or sequence, while you needed neither with a ZX81. (The machine knew when keywords were syntactically valid and switched into keyword mode for you. I am mildly horrified that I can remember this, nearly thirty years later...)
My first commenting disassembler on this with 16kB mem... :D
what did the boxes do (some keys have these various graphics chars)? was that just essentially line-drawing etc?
Yes that was hard coded graphic chars in ROM.... like the graphic char in old DOS programs. But a teenager wrote a little program using the modification of a GPU register to change the char address in RAM, and so making possible to do "high-resolution" graphics...
 you can define the 256 chars with bitmap representation of chars....
One nice thing that changes programming thinking of young programmers of this time, was that the base code in rom was a FORTH like language whose code can be launched by an interrupt machine code instruction, so the whole basic was written with this language (short and efficient), so a lot of little game makers could make machine code programs, in the short memory space, using floating point function directly in assembler... but there was no Internet, and we were discovering it by disassembling the ROM.

A better exercise than for TRS, CMB, PET users... even if we used them too, disassembling ROM too and being very disappointed by the low quality of the code... :D
+Ivan Pierre, oh, it was such a disappointment going from the wonderful design of the ZX81's ROMs to the horrible repetitive halfwitted space-wasting grot of the C64, where the best thing anyone could find to do with it was turn it all off and write their own OS in the underlying RAM. What Sinclair could have done with that hardware... (would probably have been to bring us something like a better BBC B. And look where ARM is now!)

The real shame is that Sinclair had the chance to produce a machine better than anything else in its sector, and did it: the QL. Its high price and continued inexplicable reliance on the horrible microdrive did it down.
Xah Lee
i wish i have time to dig. now with job, and out of industrial coding for almost a decade... so busy with the hundred libs and frameworks i never used.
These machines seem to have been more popular in Europe than the US? It seems as though I had similar experiences but using apple 2 plus. From there I did move on to Z80 but as an expansion card and cpm.
+Dan Lentz, they were certainly popular in the UK: Sinclair was a widely-regarded UK "industrial hero" in a way that e.g. the guys behind the BBC never really were. Probably he was the "right sort" of publicity-hungry eccentric nutter for the UK media :) the Acorn guys were much more self-effacing.
ZX Spectrum (the 1982 model, not ZX81 discussed above) was all over the former Soviet Union. Many clones and modifications were developed and sold as DIY kits. This was the computer that got me into programming.

In addition to its unique keyboard, it used audio cassettes as external storage, encoding 0 and 1 bits as half-waves of two fixed frequencies. The sound was very much like an acoustic modem connecting.
+Yuri Khan, I suspect it got more people into programming in the UK too. It was hugely popular, despite some models having the keys fall off the keyboard the first time the machine got hot (they used a thermosetting glue by mistake).

The right way to describe the sound of its tape is to say that an acoustic modem sounded very much like a ZX saved program, not vice versa :P
+Nick Alcock I first heard ZX at about the same time as I read a book that mentioned modems as a technology, which means they already existed. But +1 nevertheless.
At this time it was nor the pc against mac war...
But the Z80(ex 8080)(TRS, Sinclair) against 6502(apple, cbm, BBC(before the ARM))... :D
The tremendous war of giants of the 8bit processors

Time we've read Wozniak's book on microprocessors...

Well there was the 6800...too but... it would be another story... :D
Xah Lee
wow, i didn't know this ZX computer had so much history!
before this discussion, i know nothing about it, except once or twice saw it in Google Search when research on keyboard.
Of course. Mr Acorn always shunned publicity, however.
Well Mr Acorn was a "gland" in french part of the world... (in french acorn is 'gland' => glande at the end of the dick ;))

Oh, I had a beeb too :D
Xha, just take the charts of the processors history and witch companies endorse them... you'll see all a story in computing and the future evolution for the 30 years after and even now.... Raspberry pi ARM processor is the successor of the BBC acorn one (second generation)... :D

PS : and is compatible, you can make Acorn os run on rastberry pi, yes, yes... :D
Oh splendid!

Yes I had a beeb too, and I still miss the inline assembler, even today.

In those days, the pointless schoolboy argument about the acme of British culture was not Liverpool vs. Manchester United, nor The Beatles vs. The Stones, but the Spectrum vs. the Beeb.

We used to envy the Spectrum's range of games﹡, though we were loathe to admit it and preferred to ridicule the silly 'toy' keyboards of the zx range. Though we no doubt would have appreciated a ROM-based set of character graphics to be accessible from our 'real' keyboard.

The Acorn 'copy' key was a pretty nice innovation in those pre-clipboard days. Something similar appeared in the (obscure) Oberon OS (which features up to four cursors on screen simultaneously, and ingenious mouse button 'chording' to handle cut/copy/paste/delete.)

﹡Ah, but we got Elite first.
+Ivan Pierre, second generation? It's an ARMv6, i.e. seventh generation if you consider the BBC to be 'ARMv0' :) though of course ARMv1 never existed, so maybe sixth is more "correct".

Getting Elite early excused a lot of failings.
Interesting... What generation was it that DEC took over ARM development?

I feel like I must have missed our on some of these rivalries! My path was apple2 -> IBM 3081D -> VAX (BSD 4.2)!
+Nick Alcock I spoke of the 1st generation of beeb with ARM processors, the second generation of beebs... :D I've lost them of sight about the 90'... ;)
Sorry, +Ivan Pierre, but I consider Elite Dangerous to be throughly non-Elitelike, even less like Elite than Elite Frontier, which managed to make combat boring (!). Oolite, now, Oolite has the true Elite spirit. Plus it actually exists. :)
Just saw the vids some time ago... That makes me rush back on 'souvenirs'.... I'm no more player now... but I liked some hi-res of my 'souvenir', especially my first docking... ;)
I'm lost... are we still speaking English? ;)
+Dan Lentz, we are speaking whatever it is they speak in the Galactic Cooperative of Worlds (so called because they barely cooperate and piracy runs rampant -- to be honest, the society shown in Elite is sick and is likely only a few years from major social collapse.)
Anyone remember "Leather Goddesses of Phobos"?
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