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Found: C64 Utilink Cartridge & Sales Cartridge


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I picked these two guys up today. Have never heard of the Utilink before today. It was advertised in Compute Magazine #039 on page 58

 

 

From Compute Magazine:

"

UTILINK CARTRIDGE $29» TURN ON YOUR COMMODORE 64 WITH UTILINK AND INSTANTLY HAVE: • DOS SUPPORT * HI-RES GRAPHIC CONTROL COMMANDS • DEFAULT COLORS THAt RETURN AFTER 'RESTORE'• LISTINGS THAT ARE EASY TO READ 13031 473-8909 Missing Link Products P.O. Box 6460 Colorado Springs, CD 80934 DEALERS call or write for discount quantity prices 

"

 

Couldn't really find anything on them elsewhere. Digital Press Rarity Guide comes up empty. Does anyone know how this thing works?

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I saw you got a few responses on Lemon64. In case you wonder what those bullet points may mean in detail:

 

* DOS support probably means a resident wedge, meaning you can use @ or > to address the floppy drive instead of going through BASIC commands such as OPEN, INPUT#, LOAD and so on. Commodore shipped a DOS wedge with the 1541 floppy disk, and similar functions are available on most every utility cartridge you can find.

 

* Hi-res graphic control commands probably are what it sounds like, a BASIC extention to enter high resolution mode, draw lines and a little more. That is also something you'd find in Super Expander 64, Simons' Basic, Tool 64 and various other toolkits. The problem usually is that programs developed with one extention will require that particular one to work, which limits the ability to share your works.

 

* Default colours sounds like a routine that intercepts Kernel, or even copies ROM to RAM and dynamically changes the memory locations where default colours are kept and set when you press RUN/STOP + RESTORE. Not extremely useful, although I suppose i.e. Action Replay does something similar as it replaces default light blue text with white.

 

* Listings that are easy to read... no idea what they refer to, could be that an extra newline is added after each line which spaces out the listing, perhaps automatic adding of spaces around keywords like BASIC interpreters on many other computers do. It probably is of little use as well, and if lines are spaced out, you may find that you run out of space on a particular line. Indeed BASIC can handle lines up to 255 characters, but the editor normally only accepts 80 characters. There however are small routines to modify that to allow really long lines.

 

Without knowing more about the utility cartridge in particular, except for the wedge and possibly the hi-res commands, I would think it had little to offer vs competitors. Of course "easy to read" could also involve commands for RENUMBER, automatic line numbering and similar popular functions, in which it would sound very much like many other utility cartridges of that era.

 

Here is a likely incomplete list of cartridges for the C64, for comparison:

https://www.c64-wiki.com/index.php/Cartridge#Application

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Generally a ROM dump is the only realistic way to find out which commands are accepted.

 

For instance, here is the manual to Screen-Graphics 64 by Roy Wainwright, which differs in syntax both from Super Expander 64 and Simons' Basic.

https://computerarchive.org/files/comp/application/commodore/Screen_Graphics_64.pdf

 

Here are some more C64 BASIC extensions, some with support for hires graphics.

http://old.c64warez.com/files/browse/Basic/Extensions

 

I also just dug up the manual to Tool 64 (Handic/Micro Application) which seems quite un-scanned, so I might go ahead and scan that one some day.

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* Listings that are easy to read... no idea what they refer to, could be that an extra newline is added after each line which spaces out the listing, perhaps automatic adding of spaces around keywords like BASIC interpreters on many other computers do. It probably is of little use as well, and if lines are spaced out, you may find that you run out of space on a particular line. Indeed BASIC can handle lines up to 255 characters, but the editor normally only accepts 80 characters. There however are small routines to modify that to allow really long lines.

Maybe the text is colorized. This:

post-3056-0-14228700-1442935638_thumb.png


is much easier to read than this:

post-3056-0-65539800-1442935631_thumb.png

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Syntax highlighting can be a hot topic. I used to dislike it, but have grown to learn to accept it in situations where I can't be bothered to turn it off.

never knew there were people that disliked it. I find it useful for identifying typos before the code is even compiled - in this example the 2600's RESP0 register was mistyped with the letter O instead of the number 0:

post-3056-0-67020300-1412127452.png


It would be a first if a C64 cartridge from 1983 implemented syntax highlighting, but never say never.

Based on this, it probably didn't.

In 1985 Ben Shneiderman suggested "color coding of text strings to suggest meaning". The Live Parsing Editor (LEXX) written for the VM operating system for the computerization of the Oxford English Dictionary in 1985 was one of the first to use color syntax highlighting.

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Actually I used to call - and sometimes still may call - syntax highlighting the "Christmas tree mode", in the respect it makes the code shiny and sparkly just like a slightly over decorated Christmas tree. :)

 

As for the cartridge, we'll have to wait for the OP to return with a computer setup or lend it to someone else to determine what it does and whether it autostarts. It might be so that it masquerades a different, known utility cartridge but sold under this name. Once installed, a program like this would dump some content on screen for a quick review of strings and commands:

5 POKE 53272,23
10 FOR I=0 TO 15:PRINT"{CLR/HOME}"
15 FOR J=0 TO 511:POKE 1024+J,PEEK(32768+I*512+J):POKE 55296+J,1:NEXT
20 POKE 198,0:WAIT 198,1:NEXT

It would display the first 512 bytes as screen codes, so a lot of gibberish but with some luck parts of it could be readable text. After the first block, it would wait for a key, clear the screen and print the next 512 bytes until you have traversed the full 8K. Of course the cartridge may occupy more areas, but it would be some kind of a start. See also the thread about writing and loading blocks of data. This is a good example where you would use KERNEL routines to dump cartridge content to disk.

 

I went through a COMPUTE! issue with the mentioned ad, and while I didn't find anything more on the topic, I was refreshed by a number of other ads, ranging from how you could get a 24K memory expansion for the VIC-20 below $100 if you shopped around or $150 for a rather decked out 32K expansion. I also found both software houses and resellers offering the same products, and that resellers were significantly cheaper on the same products compared to the manufacturing software house.

Edited by carlsson
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  • 1 month later...

So I was able to get a c64 setup to test both cartridges and they both work great, however I have no instructions for the utilink cartridge and can't really guess any commands, I'll try some from the links provided. Here is a screen shot of the utilink boot screen

 

 

Sales Cartridge is now listed on eBay.

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What happens if you press F1, F3, F5 or F7? Does a dialogue open where you can select a colour A-P, or does it just toggle to next colour automatically? You might want to press a key in the dumping program to see the next page of gibberish, but you got a lot of readable text already on the first screen.

 

Hm, on second thought those seem to be texts within a program where "&" exits the program. It must mean there is a command or at least SYS to enter the colour selection part.

Edited by carlsson
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