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Interview With Mr.Fiz
by Cactus/Oxyron

Having the +60k section in our magazine would be nothing without an interview with its inventor. So here it is: my little chat with Mr.Fiz relating mainly to the +60k features. I'm pretty sure that no one else than this man could explain all the things behind the +60k. Enjoy this interview, which was done in the middle of July 2003...

C: Cactus/Oxyron
M: Mr.Fiz/Samar

C: Hello Mr.Fiz! How are you?

M: Fine, Thanks. :)

C: A few words about yourself...?

M: I've been interested in computers since my childhood (approx. since being 11 years old). My first computer was MERITUM, Polish clone of TRS-80. Back then it was my first lesson about computers and electronics... One day that computer got damaged and I had to repair it myself. Commodore - the climax of my dreams - I bought in the year 1991. Quickly I got bored with games and I started learning Basic and Assembler. In the year 1993 I joined the new rising group SAMAR as a coder and that's how I started my experience with the C-64 scene...

C: And how was your scene career going on then?

M: Well, for a few years we've been developing really great productions in SAMAR group. After finishing the secondary school I started studying, then I went to work and this caused that I haven't really had much time for my scene activities. To be honest I must admit it was how my scene experience ended.

C: What's your opinion about the current situation in the C-64 scene?

M: Part of my friends from SAMAR group are still alive and they keep on releasing new wares. It seems that the rest has no time for having fun with the C-64 (studying, work, family, hunting for money - these might be the reasons). The similar situation is probably in the whole scene. Many people simply forgot they have been in the C-64 scene, and there are so few newcomers. I really admire those people who stayed loyal to the C-64. Anyway the scene is not only about creating new wares. It's also keeping in touch with old friends. I think that's one of the good causes for the C-64 scene to stay alive for long, long time yet.

C: This interview is supposed to relate mainly to the +60k RAM expansion for the C-64. So the first real question is: what was the idea behind creating it?

M: Well, the idea of creating +60k came to my head when I entered the C-64 scene. In SAMAR group we were creating bigger and bigger productions, and there was a problem. When I wanted to test my source code, I had to assemble it, then save the sources to disk, then load the data from disk (f.e. graphics and music), and at last run the program. If my program was bad, I had to load "Turbo Assembler", and then load my source code, and again harping on one string. Just add slowness of 1541 disk drive to that... It was terrible, it was something awful. That's why I've invented +60k: to have an extra memory for a "Turbo Assembler" and a source code.

C: It seems that necessity is the mother of invention. :) Who was the first person who installed the +60k RAM expansion in his computer? And what were the first reactions about it?

M: I don't really remember who was the first, but it surely had been someone from SAMAR group. People liked the idea very much, because it helped them a lot working with the C-64.

C: Could you please say a few words about main specifications of the +60k? What are its specific features, which could be described to the person, who haven't heard anything about the +60k?

M: The technical data are as follows... Amount of an additional memory: 60 kbytes (the name says it). Where do we install expansion: it's permanent, inside the computer. Application: tools, demos, etc. That's it.

C: Now we know what is it. Another important question is: can anyone install the +60k in his C-64? I'm asking if common user will be hard put to it to do that himself?

M: Actually everyone can do it. But if someone is not familiar with a soldering iron and electronic components, I would advise him to ask a friend, who could install the +60k for him.

C: What about +60k service? Is it hard?

M: From an average user's point of view the answer goes no... Anyway for a typical programmer, who wants to use expansion in his programs, it isn't also really hard.

C: How does it work? I mean how do we enter values into +60k memory in comparison to the standard memory?

M: In some sense the expansion is the second memory bank, and it is serviced just like a standard C-64 memory. If a processor should be using this second memory bank, we modify $D100 location by entering $80 value there (and we're inside the extra RAM). Enter $00 there and you're back to the standard memory...

C: Why +60k is so popular in Poland? Why do you think +60k became the most popular RAM expansion among C-64 users in our country, even though there were some other RAM expansions available?

M: Theoretically in Poland there were some types of RAM expansions available, but in fact it wasn't easy to buy them. The most popular expansion outside the Polish borders (17xx) was difficult to get in Poland, and expansions being produced in Poland was used by too few programs. Another advantage of the +60k is the fact it's installed inside the computer and it doesn't block the cartridge port. You're still able to use your favourite Action Replay or Final Cartridge together with the RAM expansion.

C: What can we do to make +60k more popular outside Poland?

M: I suppose that most of people interested in C-64 use emulators these days... So I think that we should convince their authors of including +60k in their applications...

C: Are there any problems with installing +60k on the old C-64 board?

M: Yes. The problems might occur when installing the expansion on the old board, because it has different RAM organisation. Those boards have eight 4164 IC's instead of two 4464 IC's. Probably it's possible to adapt +60k to this board, but I haven't had an occassion to check it out.

C: I've heard that there's possibility of installing +60k in C128. How is it detected there and does it act simultaneously with C-128 memory?

M: Yes. In my C-128D I've got +60k installed. Actually it's not the real RAM expansion, but making it possible to access the memory for programs using +60k. I've heard that someone has already created the +60k for C-128, but I haven't seen a scheme, so I don't know how does it work...

C: Now we know about good points of +60k. Does it have any defects?

M: Oh, yes... Things without any defect don't exist. So certain programs that are referring to VIC through $D1xx location might not work (to enable them, there's a switcher to turn off the +60k). Another defect is that +60k has relatively low possibilities (for example no access to VIC), but these possibilities are the result of compromises between functionality and simplicity of construction.

C: One thing which seems very strange to me: when installing +60k we are soldering 64 kbytes of RAM. Where are those missing 4 kbytes?

M: Well, we can forget about them. RAM expansion contains memory from $1000 to $FFFF (after switching bank in $D100 location). If we are referring to the memory $0002-$0FFF, we will always use the standard C-64 memory. Such a solution has this advantage that we're able to put there our procedures for switching between banks. And by the way... Even the creators of Commodore 64 have soldered in 64 kbytes of memory, and in fact we have no access to bytes $0 and $1. :)

C: What's your opnion about +60k application? Can it be also used for creating exclusive demos, games, or rather stay tools only?

M: In my opinion the +60k is so popular in the C-64 scene that new demos for it could be simply created. If it comes to games... Well, I doubt there's someone still making C-64 games, and we're not quite sure if anyone outside the scene has +60k installed in his computer.

C: Any last words?

M: Yeah, I'd really like to thank all of you people who are still active in the C-64 scene, especially guys from SAMAR group. It's really fantastic that you're still able to find time for scene and C-64 activities for all that what's happening in Poland and in the world. The power of C-64 scene stands on keeping friendship between us!

C: Thank you for this nice interview.

M: Thanks.

Interview by...

CACTUS/OXYRON

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