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Black Cardinal

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  1. Hi, my name is Matt, I'm an engineering manager from Albany, Oregon. I just came across the Commander X16 effort recently, and it really piqued my interest as building my own 8-bit computer from scratch and writing the firmware and interface has been a dream hobby activity of mine for a long time. My background is in electrical engineering. I have experience from designing and laying out PCBs to developing FPGA code to writing assembly language and application software. I used to be lucky enough to have a job where I designed and built prototype systems around some new R&D invention and could use whatever technologies I wanted to develop them with, and I got to touch every part of the system. That role eventually ended and now I'm in management so they don't let me touch the hardware anymore. For my own 8-bit project, 15 years ago I'd gotten as far as some preliminary schematics and purchasing of main components, but then life happened and it's been sitting on the shelf ever since. These days, between my four kids and work I just don't have the spare time to put into it, but this effort is so similar in ethos to what I wanted to do that I'm hoping to contribute by writing software for it. My own idea was more modest, essentially a single-board 6502 computer similar to an Apple I but with better graphics implemented in an FPGA, without a fancy case, sound, or any modern peripherals such as SD cards or game ports. My own computer history started with the Apple ][+ back in 2nd grade; I was part of a group of kids that took a bus to a nearby school to see the one computer in the district and try it out. My first program was in Applesoft BASIC, handwritten on paper, and its purpose was to draw my name in low-res graphics. We ran out of time and I didn't get my chance to type it in and try it on that computer, but I was hooked anyway. My school got its own Apple ][+ a few months later and I was required to use my computer time on boring educational "games" but I really wanted to write programs in BASIC. I tried to talk my parents into buying one for home but it wasn't until 6th grade that my dad bought us an IBM PC. I learned to program it (in IBM BASICA followed by Turbo Pascal) and kept it with me through most of college, and it still functions to this day. I collect and tinker with a variety of vintage computers, such as the Apple IIe, VIC-20, Atari 1040STF, my dad's old PC, various Sharp pocket computers, and a few HP and Sharp calculators. I also own and often use two SGI workstations: an Indigo 2 IMPACT 10K, and an Onyx2 deskside with InfiniteReality3 graphics. I used to be a semi-active member of the Nekochan forum when it existed, a community for SGI enthusiasts. I've done development in 6502 assembler, mostly for the Apple IIe, but I've also written an incomplete-but-functional game for the Atari 2600 that I'll finish "some day." I'm looking forward to the X16. I don't have a lot of experience with the C64 so I'm currently learning how the BASIC and memory layout differs from what I'm used to in the Apple ][. 6502 assembler basics will come back to me quickly, I'm sure. Getting the emulator running on my Mac with OS 10.14 Mojave was a little challenging, requiring me to compile both SDL2 and the emulator myself, but I'm up and running now so I'm ready to dive in!
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