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Old 24 December 2014, 02:02   #1
tarr
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Hooooo How did 90's coders learn Amiga Assembly?

I've always wondered on which books amiga coders and demosceners of the golden age learnt to code the Amiga.
At that time there was non internet to browse.

Were there "official" books? How did those great coders from Great Britain, Germany, Sweden, Norway and Italy learn coding the Amiga?
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Old 24 December 2014, 02:08   #2
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There were many books to choose from. The Amiga Hardware Reference Manual was probably mandatory to get to know the Amiga hardware. That, combined with a book on 68000 assembly (does not have to be Amiga specific) could probably get you quite far.
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Old 24 December 2014, 02:14   #3
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That is more or less how I've learned it recently. Online version of the hardware ref manual alongside a paper-based reference work on 68K asm.

Internet helps to get any questions answered, though!
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Old 24 December 2014, 03:34   #4
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many coders also lerned from the very first source codes spread around in 86/87, intro sources from hqc,tlc etc.... besides the early books which were available...
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Old 24 December 2014, 23:37   #5
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I can't remember how I learnt 68000 but I had previously dabbled in 6502 and z80 on previous computers so that have me a solid base to work on. As for the Amiga specific stuff the hardware reference manual was a must read. My copy was very well read. I also invested in the Rom kernel reference manual (a must read for developing os friendly apps) and Amiga disk drives inside and out taught me about the mfm and disk hardware (although it's a shockingly bad book)
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Old 25 December 2014, 00:21   #6
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I too had the Amiga disk drives inside and out, but found it mostly an introduction on how NOT to code on Amiga.

As for 68000 programming, i'm entirely self taught. Never once picked up a 68000 manual for any machine.

I learnt by using Action Replay MK1 and basically pissing around with its in built assembler and stepping through programs to figure out how the code worked.

Other than a couple of pointers early on about how the Amiga makes up its screen, the rest was learnt by looking at other peoples code.

The system friendly stuff was by looking at example code.

Its part of the reason I still do Amiga stuff, its a lot of information i've learnt and I don't feel like losing it.
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Old 25 December 2014, 00:27   #7
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i had a hard time in the mid '90s because the internet was still not yet common and yet a lot of the Amiga programming books were already out of print and very difficult to find.

i had to get by on Amiga Machine Language from Abacus, and Mapping the Amiga (Thompson & Anderson). I also eventually managed to find a copy of Amiga System Programmer's Guide (Abacus).
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Old 25 December 2014, 09:38   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Galahad/FLT View Post
I too had the Amiga disk drives inside and out, but found it mostly an introduction on how NOT to code on Amiga.

As for 68000 programming, i'm entirely self taught. Never once picked up a 68000 manual for any machine.

I learnt by using Action Replay MK1 and basically pissing around with its in built assembler and stepping through programs to figure out how the code worked.

Other than a couple of pointers early on about how the Amiga makes up its screen, the rest was learnt by looking at other peoples code.

The system friendly stuff was by looking at example code.

Its part of the reason I still do Amiga stuff, its a lot of information i've learnt and I don't feel like losing it.
You never thought to make a book ?
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Old 05 January 2015, 00:38   #9
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speaking of M68K hardware and programming manuals - in mid 90's was possible to order from Motorola free (paper) books via his site/email.
still have and sometimes using "M68000 Family Programmer's Reference Manual"
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Old 05 January 2015, 17:53   #10
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I learnt / was inspired by Jolyon Ralph's series for amiga computing...
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Old 05 January 2015, 22:06   #11
Mrs Beanbag
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speaking of M68K hardware and programming manuals - in mid 90's was possible to order from Motorola free (paper) books via his site/email.
still have and sometimes using "M68000 Family Programmer's Reference Manual"
indeed, i have a full set of these, including Coldfire. in fact i believe it is still possible, i got the coldfire one only a few years ago out of curiosity.
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Old 06 January 2015, 04:24   #12
Mark Wright
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I learnt / was inspired by Jolyon Ralph's series for amiga computing...
Ahhh.. putting the source of that "classic" Comrade J/SAE sine scroll intro on the coverdisk created a (thankfully short-lived) monster. I can remember my "lamer" radar detecting various rip-offs at the time, ready to pounce on those who passed off their minor modifications as their own work. But thinking back, with the benefit of hindsight, cobbling all of that together in Genam for the uninitiated would've been no mean feat. I should've been applauding them.

After all, it's how I learned. I don't know how widely spread the couple of disks were that I had back in late 1988, but this might jog some memories.. They were filled with sources and binaries for crude intros/routines by the likes of HQC, Champs, Mike IoW, Public Enemy, Il Scuro/Defjam, TLC, Hotline and so on. Real rudimentary stuff. I can't recall how I came by them.

I spent hours and hours pissing around in SEKA trying to understand what was going on - just in order to assemble and run them. No INCBINs in those days, just a few blk.b's and the odd comment in German. I eventually self-taught myself enough to be able to pick 'n' mix enough bits from each to set-up (and cleanly exit) a 2-bitplane screen (without mouse pointer) showing a raw bitmap logo with topaz scroller and starfield. I must've wept with joy when I was finally able to successfully save it as an executable and load it back.

My very own 1986-vintage intro, ready for 1989.
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Old 06 January 2015, 17:27   #13
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Just that Mark, just that... 1986 intros in 1989 was exactly what I wrote
I didn't have access to much other source, but there were a few I'd seen. I think Comrade J at least tried to be somewhat system friendly - in fact didn't he also follow up whilst at Almathera with a how to code series? Or am I imagining that?

Not imagining it: http://www.amigacoding.com/index.php/680x0:How_To_Code
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Old 07 January 2015, 10:15   #14
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https://web.archive.org/web/20120905...s.co.uk/amiga/
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Old 07 January 2015, 10:17   #15
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Just that Mark, just that... 1986 intros in 1989 was exactly what I wrote
I can easily write a 1986 style intro on the 64... On the Amiga? No chance. I've tried many times to understand programming the hardware but I just don't get it. It's an incredibly complicated machine to code for.
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Old 07 January 2015, 13:21   #16
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Since I got my A500 in '88 I started 'learning' 68k assembler somewhere around 1989. Seka was the first assembler and since I didn't have a manual there was much frustration. On the other side there were moments of big fun when the first lines worked, something like:

Code:
mouse:
   btst #6,$bfe001
   bne  mouse
Or switching off the LED ...

My first deeper insight in Assembler on the Amiga was the Assembler course in the german magazine 'Amiga Special' . Anyone of the german speaking guys here remember that? The course was quite good, showing how to enable interrupts, manage the blitter and so on. There was even an issue showing how to trackload. Not everything was 'clean', even not from a hardware banging perspective (using absolute addressing with 'org/load' and stuff) but anyway, it showed me how to code with Seka and the Amiga (and geee, finally I knew how to actually safe a program with 'wo' ) .

No, there were no sources, no books (no money for it). I remember reading an M68000 book lend from the public library. Searching for (cheap) sources of information was part the fun I had back then. Snooping around on some doc-disks our swappers gathered and so on. Later, in the 90s things went much better when I made friends with some friendly coders out there (shouts to Lynx/Panic and Calypso/Vanish) and learnt a lot of them. Talking about friendly coders: most of the time when I met other coders they showed themselves as arrogant assholes. That led to my decision to ignore other coders completely on copy parties etc. (which maybe made me looking like an arrogant asshole to other people
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Old 07 January 2015, 16:46   #17
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Around these here parts there were LOTS of Amiga coders. Learning usually consisted in learning about the internals of the Amiga from stuff like the Reference Manual and other sources, then using whatever free time you had having the experienced coders tutor you when they and you had time. Plus studying whatever source code they could provide you with.
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Old 07 January 2015, 17:22   #18
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I learned mostly through books and magazines. But I already had some 6502 assembler experience from the VIC-20 and C-64 when I got my Amiga 1000 in January 1987.

Two or three years later I bought the Commodore ROM Kernel and Hardware Reference Manuals. Since 1989 I had also access to all Motorola reference manuals in my University's library.

I was never really part of the scene or wrote commercial software for the Amiga. It was always important to me to see Amiga as pure fun and hobby, and only do what I want to do. So I'm still here. Nothing changed.

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the Assembler course in the german magazine 'Amiga Special' . Anyone of the german speaking guys here remember that?
Yes, I have vague memories. I also remember assembler courses in the german "Amiga Magazin".
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Old 07 January 2015, 18:58   #19
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The hard part of learning the Amiga was never the hw, it was how to start up and exit while still having an environment that was alive.

I had a slim 68000 3rd-party reference thing with a metal spine so it would keep open nicely, and I had the Prentice Hall 68000 book. Plus the HRM ofc.
Knowing 6502 made it more or less straightforward to jump ship. A few finer details took some time to get an understand for, but it wasn't exactly a quantum leap (I know, that is not what it means, but can't we just use the inverse meaning that people seem to mistakenly exercise?).
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Old 07 January 2015, 20:15   #20
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After all, it's how I learned. [...] couple of disks [...] were filled with sources and binaries for crude intros/routines by the likes of HQC, [...]

I spent hours and hours pissing around in SEKA trying to understand what was going on - just in order to assemble and run them.
Exactly this.

No books. No documentation. An A500 the day it was released. A disk with SEKA. A few HQC sources. A lot of guessing. A lot of wondering. A lot of reverse engineering. A lot of fun.
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