Blog posts and video from Steven as he “COMBS” through the minutia to discover tech, retro-computing, physical computing, gadgets and sci-fi.

retroCombs Playlist

Commodore Plus/4 Series

23 May 2020

retroCombs: Plus/4 User’s Manual, Chapter 0 - Open the Box

by Steven B. Combs, Ph.D.
tags: commodore - retro - plus4 - openthebox - unboxing - vic20 - 1980s

Today I unveil the first in a new theme of posts, retroCombs. This theme is devoted to my love of retro computing and gaming. I have a couple of retro posts on the blog, but now I have a brand theme to tie them together. The first post to receive the brand is part one of a new series on the Commodore Plus/4 computer.

Series Information

This episode is part of a series. You can read the entire series and view additional resources at:

Companion Disk Image (In Progress)

As I progress through the user’s manual, I enter and execute sample programs. The link below is to a .d81 image that contains every program from each episode. Currently, the image is not complete since we still have several chapters to go.

retroCombs User’s Manual Disk Image - UPDATED AS OF: 2020-11-01

I use the following file name convention to make it easy to locate specific programs:

Sample Program Name: 02 RCOMBS SCROLL.PRG

User’s Manual

As part of my Commodore Plus/4 YouTube series, I work through each chapter of the Plus/4 manual. I’ve taken the time to scan each chapter so you can read and follow along. Use the link below for this episode’s chapter:

User’s Manual Front Matter

YouTube Video: retroCombs: Commodore Plus/4 User’s Manual, Chapter 0 - Open the Box

The video below describes my background with Commodore computers, my intent for this new series, and an open the box on a Commodore Plus/4. Watch the video and then come back and read the additional material posted below the video.

Key to Keys

Because the Commodore Plus/4 keyboard is so different from modern keyboards, I devised a modern key nomenclature to identify keystroke combinations as shown in the table below:

Key Description Key Description
Caps Lock F1 Function 1
C= Commodore F2 Function 2
Control F3 Function 3
Escape F4 Function 4
Home F5 Function 5
Insert Delete F6 Function 6
Return F7 Function 7
RS Run/Stop F8 Help
Shift Space

Episode Errata

THANKS TO EVERYONE FOR THE FEEDBACK!!! It makes this project more fun and I’m (re)learning much. I will add video corrections or additions below.

Random Thoughts

I look forward to diving into the Commodore Plus/4. This 8-bit computer has eluded me for years. I know it is going to be a very different experience from my earlier VIC-20, 64, and 128. The lack of focus on gaming with an increased emphasis on business should be an interesting study. I’m excited to explore what appears to be a more functional basic programming language complete with dedicated graphics commands, file functions, and machine language monitor (all missing from the VIC-20 and C64).

NOTE: While writing this post, I found the Commodore Plus/4 Wiki. It will become an excellent resource during this series.

One experiment I will conduct, is to use the Plus/4’s keyboard and word processor to write a blog post. This will involve typing the post (in Markdown) on the Plus/4 and then finding a way to move the text to a modern PC. I’m open to ideas now if anyone has them!

I hope readers and watchers enjoy the series. I may not post as regularly as I like, and I may use YouTube Live on a whim to capture live experiences, so make sure you subscribe to my blog, Twitter feed, and YouTube channel if you want the full experience.

I want this to be a collaborative project. If you are an experienced Plus/4 aficionado, please share your ideas, thoughts on the content, and where I might easily (and inexpensively) locate peripherals for this device. I’d even appreciate if you have spares lying around, sending them my way.

If you are new to the device like I am, post your questions and ideas for what you would like to see. Also let me know if you are following along. Let’s make this a community project. For now, Leave your comments and thoughts below or in the comments under the YouTube video.

🕹️ retroCombs, OUT!

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