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Microchess for the Kim-1 (2006) (benlo.com)
79 points by jonbaer 13 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 18 comments

The Wikipedia page for Microchess [1] (which the page for the better known Sinclair ZX81 1K Chess [2] links to; would be fun to see a game between these two), contains more interesting tidbits:

> Microchess was sold for $10 per copy, in either US or Canadian currency; $12 for a copy that included a paper tape; and $13 for a copy on cassette tape.[9]

> Chuck Peddle, president of MOS Technology, offered to buy the rights to the game for $1,000, but Jennings refused to sell, believing his mail-order sales would make more.

> Over 1,000 copies of the game were sold by mid-1977, leading Jennings to quit his job and run Micro-Ware full-time. The game's success grew as Jennings released it for more microcomputer systems and the overall microcomputer market expanded. The game made Micro-Ware over $1 million by 1978, and was claimed in 1981 by Personal Software to have been the first computer program of any kind to do so.

> Microchess led to the creation of Micro-Ware, possibly the first software publishing company. In 1978, Micro-Ware merged with software publisher Personal Software, operated by Dan Fylstra, who had seen the game at the November 1976 show and bought the third-ever sold copy, with Fylstra and Jennings as co-owners. The resulting company, still named Personal Software, paid royalties to Jennings for Microchess, but Jennings soon funneled that money into funding the development of VisiCalc (1979), the first spreadsheet software. This led the company to rebrand as VisiCorp in 1982.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microchess

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1K_ZX_Chess

> The program and data required all of the Kim-1's memory ... 1K. How things have changed in the past quarter century.

What hasn't changed is software taking up all the available memory!

"It was necessary to enter the program into the Kim from this hex dump using the Kim's hexadecimal keypad. If any mistakes were made, the program would probably not work."

I remember tying in hex during the 80s. What a relief when they started to add checksums and you knew you've made a typo in that hex data line.

My brother helped proof read for me. It was super useful.

My sister was reading and I was typing :-)

If you are interested in the source (and can read 6502 assembler):


Crazy in this age to look at that hex dump and realize that it is a chess playing program. One way of thinking about it: the first image on the web page is 27 times the size of the program.

As computers became more capable, it must have been a fine line between making a better 'game' and making a more powerful chess engine.

Ha ha, I feature towards the bottom of this article, for an early (for me) venture into retro chess software. I really should revisit it (must be getting up towards 20 years) and see how badly or nots the bits have rotted.

"....[6502 and 8080] simulators were written in APL".

Now THAT would be software to behold. No mention by the author as to whether the code of these emulators still exist.

It's incredible that Amazon affiliate links from 2006 still work. People built things to last back in the day!

> Xerox Sigma IX Time Sharing computer

The thing appears to have 128KB RAM and it can do time sharing... Impressive!

The SDS Sigma 7 was one of the first computers sold commercially with the hardware to support memory virtualization and user/supervisor modes. It got some early time-sharing use. SDS later got bought by Xerox, and carried the business forward into the 1980s, where they eventually got squeezed out, IIRC.

They were a big player for a while, but mostly for pragmatic factory installations, online calculator services, library catalog lookup, stuff like that, not the associated programmer/hacker culture, so the machines are now mostly forgotten.

The LCM apparently had one? https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:LCM_-_Xerox_Sigma_9_...

Yes and they used to offer online access to it as well.

Back in those days, that was quite a lot of memory. An entire megabyte was an amazing luxury. My high school's PDP-11/34 was maxed out with 128Kwords (256 KB), and it was configured for at least 12 (maybe 16) users, with up to 56 KB user memory + 8 KB of run-time system per user and swapping handling the overload. But, back then, memory was an expensive luxury - that KIM-1 had all of 1K, so you had to make every byte count.

Does anyone know the model of the cassette recorder in the article photo?

Did some googling, looks like a: Marantz Superscope C-105?

Oh wow, a second person who connected a Baudot teleprinter to a KIM-1!

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