Fontraption (a VGA Text Mode Font Editor)

Fontraption (a VGA Text Mode Font Editor)

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Shots (click to zoom): There are many VGA text mode font editors out in the wild: the "classic" one is FONTEDIT, published in PC Magazine all the way back in 1988.  They're all functional, but either lack some niceties or have certain annoyances, so here's yet another go at the concept. I've always been used to FONTEDIT (when our household's XT clone got a shiny new EGA upgrade, I actually typed the program in from the magazine article), so Fontraption is based on a similar interface, which I tried to keep as simple and intuitive as possible. ...
De-uglifying 40-Column Text Games for VGA

De-uglifying 40-Column Text Games for VGA

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The Problem (?) Let's have a look at a typical DOS game using 40-column text mode, and compare its appearance on CGA vs. VGA: 40-column mode - left: CGA, right: VGA [click] Granted, VGA text is sharper.  But for 40-column text, I'd rather be staring at those blocky CGA characters: VGA's 40-column mode has a wonky squashed pixel aspect ratio, which distorts ASCII art and decreases legibility. ...
TVCGAFIX Utilities - Adjust CGA Output for TV

TVCGAFIX Utilities - Adjust CGA Output for TV

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Here's a bunch of simple tools I put together mostly for my own use really, but some others may find them helpful. These programs allow you to adjust/optimize the video output of a CGA card (or 100% register-compatible) for a (CRT) television set. You can use them to align the screen position horizontally, fix various issues related to 80-column text display, and make the adjustments "stick" while running programs and games -- even booters. ...
Taking Decent Photos of your CRT TV Screen

Taking Decent Photos of your CRT TV Screen

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Recently I was prompted to try taking photos of the TV which currently serves as a monitor for my XT, because reasons (which may be made clearer in the future if I'm not lazy and/or distracted by other things).  After much trial and error, I think my current results provide an accurate representation of what's actually visible on the screen. Getting there wasn't exactly a walk in the park, so perhaps this post could prove useful for someone. ...
Flexi IBM VGA Font: a Scalable Take on Text Mode

Flexi IBM VGA Font: a Scalable Take on Text Mode

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The VGA ROM font has to be the most recognizable text-mode character set, whether you spent the 1990s as an ANSI artist or as a POS cashier.  Naturally it's all bitmap, but I've seen a few attempts to shape it into a truly scalable font, with a 'smart' contoured outline that would theoretically look good at any size.  For instance, there's Nouveau IBM (previously used for titles on this blog) or Codepage Mono. ...
So Long, Blogspot

So Long, Blogspot

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Finished migrating this blog from Blogspot/Blogger to my own domain.  Instead of a bloated, plodding, XHTML/JS-driven piece of crap hosted on a restrictive external service -- this is now a self-hosted, static site delivered straight to you without the need of a database or any client/server-side scripting (thanks go to Hugo for making it easy).  This means I get to control my own content, and you get a much leaner and meaner site. ...
Steel Survivor: an IBM XT Tale

Steel Survivor: an IBM XT Tale

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This month actually marks the IBM 5160's 35th birthday, so why not show off my working (and pretty much complete) specimen.  This is one of the later models: half-height floppy drive + ST-225 hard drive, 640K motherboard (fully populated), last BIOS revision (05/86).  The latest date code on the chips is 8649, so this machine was made shortly before the XT was discontinued altogether.  I received this from Trixter, truly a gentleman and a scholar, along with a separate box of stuff to round it out: an IBM PC/XT keyboard, a joystick, some software/games (including a boxed IBM PC-DOS 3. ...
Happy 35th birthday, IBM PC!

Happy 35th birthday, IBM PC!

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August 12, 1981 introduced us to the IBM PC, and to PC-DOS along with it. The latter included extensions for the machine's ROM BASIC, plus a slew of demonstration programs proudly showing off these indispensable capabilities: 4-color graphics and 1-bit beeper sound. One of them in particular went on to live in certain infamy as Bill Gates' first (and only) direct personal contribution to video game history: the inimitable DONKEY. ...