Signetics 2650 & 2636 programming/Introduction
This book is a guide to programming a family of video game consoles based on the Signetics 2650 microprocessor and 2636 Programmable Video Interface. These consoles were manufactured and marketed in the late 1970s and early 1980s by numerous companies in Europe, Australia and New Zealand. They are largely software-compatible, though there are physical differences in the games cartridges. Some of the joysticks are self-centering while others are not. The audio effects circuitry and colour circuitry may vary too.
This book will initially concentrate on the Videomaster / Voltmace Database, as that is the console I have to work with. When differences are documented from reliable sources, they will be discussed here where appropriate. I stress reliable as there seems to be a lot of badly sourced misinformation about these consoles on the web.
Readers should have some basic knowledge of assembler level programming, perhaps with processors of a similar vintage such as the 6502 or Z80. A little background in digital and analogue electronics would be helpful too. The glossary and bibliography will include basic information and links to further reading to fill in gaps in knowledge concerning these fundamentals.
This book starts with a description of the hardware of the console, and information about the microprocessor and programmable video interface. The intent is to keep these sections concise yet detailed so that they serve as a handy reference for programmers. This is followed by a series of tutorials showing how to program the various elements of the console so that eventually the reader will have enough knowledge to build their own games. Code for these tutorials will be found in the appendices. It is intended that this code will not only make it easy for the reader to gain hands-on experience, but will also provide useful chunks of code that can be built upon to create more useful programs. A second set of tutorials will delve further into code that combines these basic elements into something more interactive.
My objective in starting this book is to encourage the creation of new games for these consoles.