Tag Archives: user interface

Introduction to my 2-XL toy robot from 1978

I created this 20 minute video to introduce you to my 2-XL toy robot that I played with when I was 8 years old.  It still works!

Apparently the manufacturer is pronounced “meego”. Oops!

Here’s the website that I got the image of the internals of an 8-track tape from that I used in the video.

And here is a full resolution map of the 2-XL General Information user experience (click thumbnail):


I love this 2-XL commercial!  “Can be used to play any 8-track cartridges!  Teenagers love it!”

Thanks for your interest!


My Apple IIe: A simple text based arcade game in Applesoft Basic


If we type this simple 8 line Applesoft Basic program into my working Apple IIe computer, we will end up with a cool little text based arcade game!  Watch the video below to see the game in action!

This small Applesoft Basic program was published in one of my Beagle Bros Apple Software Catalogs from 1987 (volume 0, number 10).  This little program was credited as being submitted by Beagle Bros customer Tim Boehme, who received a box of Beagle Bros magnetic write protect tabs for his efforts!

Wow!  Write protect tabs!  Amazing!  🙂

Applesoft Basic

Applesoft Basic is the programming language of all the early Apple computers and was provided in ROM (memory) to make it available to the user without the need for a startup disk or the need to load it into memory from a cassette tape.

Applesoft Basic was actually created by Microsoft for Apple.  Hence the name.  It is interpreted and not compiled, so it is not very fast.  And it can throw syntax errors at runtime if it’s unable to interpret a line of code.

One sort of funny feature of Applesoft Basic is that variable names are only significant to 2 letters, although it allows more.  So if you initialize a variable named “KURT” to a value of 10, you can PRINT the variable “KU” and also the variable “KURT” and also the variable “KUPP” and they will all three show a value of 10.  They are all three pointing to the exact same memory location.



Here’s the source code:

20 TEXT: HOME: H = 20: PRINT CHR$ (21): POKE 35,22
30 K = PEEK (49152): ON K < 128 GOTO 40: H = H + (K = 149) - (K = 136)
40 POKE 49168,0: IF RND (1) * 10 < 1 THEN VTAB 20: HTAB RND (1) * 20 + 10: PRINT "@": GOTO 70
50 VTAB 22: HTAB RND (1) * 39 + 1: PRINT CHR$ (46)
60 IF PEEK (1535 + H) = 192 THEN S = S + 1: VTAB 5: HTAB H: PRINT "#"; CHR$ (7): VTAB 23: PRINT "MUNCHED: ";S: GOTO 80
80 T = T + 1: IF S < 10 THEN 30


If you don’t have a working Apple IIe of your own to try your Applesoft code on, you can first try it in a JavaScript implementation of Applesoft Basic.  There are some things that this emulator cannot do, though.  It’s just not terribly robust.

A very robust option is the standalone Apple II emulator program that you can install onto your Windows computer.  It’s called AppleWin.  Just scroll down to the bottom of the Github page and download the latest release.  It’s in a zip file, so just unzip it and run the executable.

Once it starts, just click on the floppy disk 1 icon and choose the master disk file that comes installed with the emulator.  Then reboot with the Apple button and it will boot to Applesoft Basic.  Or, you can download ROMs for various Apple games and programs from the Internet and boot those instead.  It emulates the speed of the processor, so it’s a very realistic emulation of the Apple IIe.  Including several monitor types to choose from.


I hope you found this post informative and/or entertaining!  Thanks for your interest!  And feel free to leave comments or questions below!


Sans BPA Free?

I know what the word “sans” means.  I also know what the word “free” means.  So what does this label mean that I saw recently on the side of this coffee mug?  This coffee mug is very proudly not free of BPA?


Typically when a label repeats a word in a different language, it it a smaller or italic font or is underneath the English version.  This is an odd choice, to me.  Plus, I think it’s safe to say that most Americans hear the word “sans” enough to know what it means and many people who see this label will not realize that the word “sans” in there for Spanish speaking readers.

I just thought this label layout was an odd choice.  Feel free to discuss below in the comments.

My awesome video game watch from 1981 – Nelsonic Space Attacker

This watch was made in 1981, so I was probably 11 or 12 when I first got it.  It’s a Space Attacker video game watch from a company called Nelsonic.  I loved this watch and so did just about everyone I encountered … both kids and adults alike.  This watch made the junior high version of me pretty popular!  Ha!  🙂

Nelsonic space attacker video game watch

(click for full size)

Nelsonic space attacker video game watch - close up

(click for full size)

The game is quite addictive for as simple as it is.  It’s basically a simplified version of Space Invaders.  One button changes the direction of the cannon launcher and the other button fires.  The invading space ships march across the screen and get closer if you don’t shoot them down.  They shoot at you too.

Here is a video that someone posted of the game on their watch:


This watch is built very well and it stood up to lots of junior high abuse. Please leave a comment below if you remember playing with my video game watch in junior high!

Here is a nice web article on the watch, complete with a tear down:



My pocket computer from high school – Sharp EL-5500 III

Yep.  I was the kid who had a “pocket computer” in class when all the other kids just had a simple calculator.  I was recently going through some old moving boxes and found this beauty:

Sharp Scientific Computer

(click for full size)

It’s a nice scientific calculator on the one hand, but on the other hand it’s a pretty capable programmable computer.

I loved this thing.  I used it in high school and junior college and also during my first year in a 4 year engineering university.  I remember using it at the university during my first year there because it actually got stolen by a kid a few doors down in the dorm and the campus police found it in his backpack and returned it to me because my name was etched into it with an X-ACTO knife.  I etched my name on the back and also etched my initials in underneath the glass display cover so it could not be easily removed or rubbed off.  I’m awesome that way.  🙂

So I used this thing for probably four years between about 1987 and 1991.  About that time, the HP RPN and graphing calculators were all the rage at the university and this old workhorse was put away in a drawer.

This thing used BASIC for it’s programming language.  So it was pretty easy to program.  One limitation was the single line output screen.  Because of the single line, I had to get creative with my output formatting, sometimes, in order to push a lot of information to the screen at one time.  The other thing I remember is that it only stored one program, and I did not have a means to transfer programs to and from it.  So I always kept one giant program on the thing with a start-up menu that allowed me to run a different part of the program based on what I wanted to do.  So I merged many different programs into one and every time I thought of a new program to add to it, I had to add it to the start-up menu so I could select it to run.

One really nice feature that was built into this device was the matrix math capabilities.  I could create very large matrices, and it would step me through filling in the values then it could perform transformations and math functions on those matrices.  I used this feature a lot during some of my engineering and math classes.

Here is a short web article on it:




And here is a guy who figured out a way to record the program dump from it to his Laptop as an MP3 file, rather than the standard means of recording it on a cassette tape player:




Cool stuff.