Wednesday, July 19, 2017

New Discoveries about the IBM Music Feature and Roland Sound Canvas

I have previously discussed both of these sound device families previous blog entries.  The Yamaha IMFC and FB-01 is discussed here : and the Roland Sound Canvas first generation modules here :  Rather than burying the information in those entries, I would like to add additional new information here.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Early Video Game Content Advisories - Who Needs Ratings Systems?

Prior to the formation of the Entertainment Software Ratings Board in 1994 there was no comprehensive content ratings systems for computer and video games in the U.S.  However, that did not mean that video games never provided warnings to potential purchasers and their parents or spouses.  Here let us explore the attempts to advise the public of adult-oriented content prior to and outside the eventual dominance of the ESRB.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Turbo EverDrive 2.x and the PC Engine - The Affordable NEC Experience

 Over two years ago, a friend of mine kindly let me borrow a Turbo Duo and a Turbo EverDrive.  I wrote about the experience here :  I had to give it back (and the Framemeister which came with it), not without a good deal of sadness.  I vowed that I would find a way to play NEC Turbo games again on real hardware/  Now, I have acquired an affordable, upgradeable solution.  Let me talk about it and about plans for future upgrades.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

SNES "Port"pouri

Space Invaders and the Super Game Boy

Super Game Boy Mode
Arcade Mode

Space Invaders was released for the Game Boy in 1994.  It indicated that it supported the Super Game Boy.  It did so in a unique way, when you selected the Arcade Mode, it launched a slightly cut-down version of the SNES Space Invaders port which had been previously only been released in Japan.  The only thing missing from the game as run transferred from the Super Game Boy and the game that was released on cartridge in Japan in 1994 and the U.S. in 1997 is the VS mode.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Official Variations of the Nintendo 8-bit NES/Famicom Console Hardware

Nintendo tried to get its 8-bit system into homes across the world.  It was most successful in Japan, the United States and Canada.  But it also distributed its hardware in many other countries, usually with the assistance of a local distributor.  Some of these systems are rather rare, but have been documented to exist.  In this blog post let I will attempt to identify every officially licensed variation of the 8-bit hardware Nintendo ever released.

Monday, June 5, 2017

The Ownership of and Issues with the ColecoVision Trademark

Courtesy of Wikipedia

A few blog entries ago, I described the current state of the ColecoVision.  In that blog entry, I identified Coleco Holdings, LLC, a subsidiary of Dormitus Brands and previously River West Brands as the claimant of the trademark to the ColecoVision name.  Given certain recent interactions between Coleco Holdings and certain ColecoVision homebrew developers, I believe it is worth exploring Coleco Holdings' trademark claims in some detail.

First, let me begin by summarizing the recent news which has caused interest in this topic, then go on to describe how a trademark is registered and finally the law and facts surrounding the ColecoVision trademark.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

NES and Famicom Controller Compatibility Issues and AV Famicom Microphone Mod

Prior to the NES, most controllers had a joystick and one or two buttons.  The Atari joystick was wired in parallel, where one wire corresponded to one button, and pressing a direction or a button completed a circuit with the common (ground wire).  The program would read these button presses in parallel, where reading from a single memory location would give the state of each of the five buttons at one time.

Nintendo's controllers were to come with a D-pad and four buttons.  These were originally hard-wired in the Famicom but would have required at least nine wires if wired by the traditional parallel standard.  Moreover, if they wanted to use other kinds of peripherals, they may have found that difficult.  To cut down on wires, Nintendo decided to use a serial method for reading buttons.  This also allowed for more varied expansion, as will be discussed below.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Guard to HD Nirvana : HDMI Licensing

The HDMI connector and cables are ubiquitous today for all high definition digital video devices.  The DVI port is essentially deprecated, DisplayPort has not really caught on at all outside PC Monitors and Thunderbolt is seldom used outside of Apple products.  All consumer HDTVs can be counted on having at least one or two HDMI inputs, and some even have an HDMI output for passing audio through to an audio receiver.

The HDMI connector is a consumer's dream, it just plugs in.  The connector is keyed and robust, you are unlikely to break any pins on an insertion.  The fit is snug enough that you don't need to fiddle with screws and cables can be hotswapped.  The connector and cable are thin enough to be mounted horizontally or vertically.  The cable carries audio and video, so it is as simple as you can get to hook up AV equipment.  Cables are cheap if you know where to shop, Monoprice built much of its business model on affordable HDMI cables.  Frequently, the HDMI connector is the only way to obtain HD input to your TV or monitor (apart from the digital TV/cable tuner using the coaxial screw, but the High Definition picture produced by this method usually leaves much to be desired).  HDMI is great but it is not free.  Let's take a look at the costs associated with HDMI and how some individuals and smaller, hobbyist and enthusiast-oriented retrogaming entities try to get around paying those costs.