[Coco] CoCo Video Player

Aaron Wolfe aawolfe at gmail.com
Fri Mar 18 00:51:46 EDT 2011

In today's CoCo community, most of us are doing project for the sheer
joy of exploring what we can do with the machine.  Not every project
needs to explore new ground or push the CoCo to the edge, sometimes
instead it's great fun to explore the limits of our own knowledge and
personal skill.

It's sort of like hunting with a bow and arrow, sure there are more
efficient and more accurate ways to hunt, but there is a pleasure in
developing one's skill to the point where you can be accurate with the
simple weapon.  Even hunting with modern weapons is (usually)
constrained by the concept of being "fair" and success that comes from
one's own skill is prized over results that come from advanced

In the commercial environment of the CoCo's heyday, it made sense to
use any tools available.   The boss doesn't care if you wrote amazing
code, he cares if you turned out something that will sell.  Sometimes
the two can be combined, but often due to time and budget constraints,
it would make good sense to take advantage of any tool, any other
computer system that can do anything useful that you can get your
hands on, even if the results are not perfect. There is little desire
for a product that is optimized beyond the minimum to sell.
Programming is seen as an expense, a cost to production, not as an art
or even as a skill in many cases.

In my own CoCo projects, I am often faced with a choice of "Do it real
quickly on a modern PC" or "Do it the hard/right way on the CoCo".
Where to draw that line can be a difficult decision, but I almost
always find it more rewarding in the end to keep everything on the
CoCo that can be done there even when it takes more "work" (if playing
on a CoCo can be called work :)  For John's video player, some aspects
like encoding the video just can't be moved to the CoCo side, or
rather they probably could be but it would take some years to run,
making it impractical.  That's where modern technology can still be
used to "play fair" in my opinion.. the challenge wasn't to encode
some video, it was to be able to play any full screen video,
regardless of format.


On Thu, Mar 17, 2011 at 2:34 PM, Steve Bjork <6809er at srbsoftware.com> wrote:
> First, I never put down John's coding.  I said...
> "Not saying you (or any one else) could do better.  It's just that the CoCo
> can't do video. "
> As others have noted, this "video" could not been done back then.  The
> source data for this "video" is stored in modern SD card.  A stock CoCo 3
> with parts sold in Radio Shack stores could play only about a minute of this
> type of " video".  I had a Tandy 5 MB drive (special order) and even that
> would only hold a few minutes of "video".
> As for "revolutionary", I don't think so.  The Apple ][ was doing short
> little "video" before the CoCo hit the market.  Most of the coders used a
> smaller video window to get better quality of "video".  (Maybe John should
> redesign his player to use a smaller window to overcome the limits of a
> 8-bit system.)
> If we go back to when the CoCo 3 first hit the market, there were many
> computers that where doing real video.  Both the Mac and Amiga where playing
> real full screen video that any consumer would want to watch.  Move forward
> to the early 90's and you got the Amiga/Video Toaster, a video studio on
> your desk.
> As for your statement ...
> "If that was done in the late 80's or early 90's it would be classed as
> revolutionary for a 8bit system no matter what the video quality was like."
> Either you are looking back in time with rose color glasses or you only had
> CoCo and never seen what other computer systems where doing back then.
> We talked earlier about John's program needed a modern storage system to
> hold the video, but there is more then that here.  John needed modern
> computers to digitize the video and convert it into a format that his video
> program on the CoCo 3 could use.  Once again, this is stuff the CoCo 3 just
> can't do.
> Even when I was creating games for the CoCo, I need other computer systems
> to get the job done.  Mac, IBM PC and Amiga where just a few of the
> computers I used to create the Graphics, sound, music and level design of
> the final product.  Why? The CoCo was falling behind other systems of the
> day.
> Don't get me wrong, I loved the little CoCo.  It was a simply designed a
> computer that was easy know and control.  The 6809 was a true programmer's
> CPU that never got in the way of writing code. (The last great 8-bit CPU.)
> But with a simple design came limits to what the computer can do.  There is
> a maximum limit to the speed that memory could be access.  Even if the video
> image was DMA into memory, you could only do 1/2 the frame rate since only
> 8-bits of 16-bit memory bus access per cycle.   The simple designed was also
> the wall that kept me from creating better games for the CoCo.  (I went on
> to creating games for Sega, Nintendo and Sony with better graphics and sound
> systems.)
> As for the 6309 being that much better than the 6809 and would have saved
> the CoCo 3...
> 1) The 6309 was not available at the time the CoCo 3 was being designed.
> 2) The only reason that we got the CoCo3 was it cost less to manufactured
> than the CoCo 2.  (The 6309 was too costly.)
> 3) The 6309 is a bit better than a 6809, but not by a factor of 10.
> One more thing, did you what to say to John....
> I Congratulate John on even attemp"ting such a demo lol?"
> The lol is "Laughing Out Loud".  Do you really what to laugh at him?  While
> some use it for "lots of love", most do not.  Since you are using a keyboard
> then maybe you should stick with "King's English" and not use abbreviations
> that can be taken the wrong way.
> Steve (6809er) Bjork
> --
> Coco mailing list
> Coco at maltedmedia.com
> http://five.pairlist.net/mailman/listinfo/coco

More information about the Coco mailing list