Deutsche Version der C128-Story

Aus dem 64'er Magazin Ausgabe Januar und Februar 1994

Die Sache mit der Dreht├╝r

Commodore 128

The C128 inside story

This funny story tells about the development of the C128. It was written by Bil Herd, leader of the design- and hardware-developing-team!

It is my pleasure to publish the story on my homepage. Thanks Bil! The story was originally online on the Commodore 8 bit section of Compuserve. The dates and times are the ones when Bil posted the several parts.

But first, do you know what happens, when you type SYS 32800,123,45,6 on a C128? Have a look!

So let's read now about the 'herdware'...

 

 

03-Jan-93  00:09:52

Ya interested in history??? Ever hear of the Chuck Peddal Special pin ?  If
you pull out the ORIGINAL (HANDRAWN!) schematics of tthe 6502 there is an
unusual pad marked CPS. This later went on to be the Set Overflow (SO) pin of
renowned 1541 use.

VIC modes of operation are actually fairly well documented in places like the
C64 and C128 programmers reference guide.  Do you mean memory maps or VIC
Modes of operation like the Famous
Multi-Color-Character-Except-every-fourth-Thursday mode?  (I.E. those
semi-silly modes that give the VIC chip its versatilty).  There arn't really
any unsupported modes as if there was a hidden mode, meaning one the
designers didn't know about, it was usually exploited by the ingenious crowd
of developers.

Bil

P.S. Have you come across any mention of the 8510-HERD?  Special run chip (48
pin) that was like gold to developers during C128 development.



12-Jan-93  19:28:05

Coming soon to a terminal near you... the gruesome story of the chip that
almost ruined CES (and the C128 along with it)

EXPERIENCE the shame and horror of being a Chip Designer at Commodore during
the Witch hunts!

SEE the expresions on Managers faces when they realize that their Bonuses are
at stake!

HEAR the woeful lamenting of the programers as they are beaten for no
apparent reason!

SHARE the experience of being a Hardware Engineer... stalking the halls in
search of programmers to beat (for no apparent reason).

LEARN how to say "THIS CHIP ONE SICK PUP" in Japanese.

Find out just how badly busted up the 80 column chip was and how many DIRTY
fixes were needed to make that all crucial show in Vegas on January 6.
(Christmas, what Christmas). .

<Said rather coyly in an attempt to elicit any positive responses> Unless of
course no one is interested..... :) Bil


14-Jan-93  15:37:59

This is the first of many parts as this thing went round and round during our
mad dash to make the CES show. I don't even remember what year it was. The
8563 was a holdover from the Z8000 based C900 (the "Z" machine as we called
it). The people who worked on it were called the "Z" people, the place they
hung out was called the "Z" lounge and well.... you get the idea.

The most interesting thing that came out of that group besides a disk
controller that prompted you for what sector and cylinder you'd like to write
to on every access, was one day they stole the furniture out of the lobby and
made their own lounge disguising it as a VAX repair depot. We were so
amused by this that we stopped teasing them for a week.  (But I become
distracted....)

Now the very very very early concept of the C128 was based on the D128, a
6509 based creature (boo... hiss).  The engineers on the project had tacked a
VIC chip onto the otherwise monchrome (6845 based) in an effort to add some
color to an otherwise drab machine. No one dreamed that C64 compatibility was
possible so no one thought along those lines. I was just coming off of
finishing the PLUS 4 (before they added that AWFUL built in software to it)
and even though I had done exactly what I was told to do I was not happy with
the end result and had decided to make the next machine compatible with
_something_ instead of yet another incompatible CBM machine. (I won't go into
the "yes Virginia there is Compatibility" memo that I wrote that had the
lawyers many years later still chuckling, suffice it to say I made some
fairly brash statements regarding my opinion of product strategy)
Consequently, I was allowed/forced to put my money where my mouth was and I
took over the C128 project.

I looked at the existing schematics once and then started with a new design
based on C64ness. The manager of the chip group approached me and said they
had a color version of the 6845 if I was interested in using it it would
deffinately be done in time having been worked on already for a year and a
half...... And so the story begins..... (to be continued)



16-Jan-93  19:06:28

Looking back I realize that the source of a lot of the problems with the 8563
is that it wasn't designed FOR the C128 and that the IC designers did not
take part in the application of their chip the way the other designers did.
The VIC and MMU designers took an active interest in how their chip was used
and how the system design worked in relation to their chip. I overlooked
ramifications of how the 8563 was spec'ed to work that came back to haunt me
later. For example, it was explained to me how there was this block transfer
feature for transferring characters for things like scrolling.  Cool.... we
need that. Later it would turn out when this feature finally did work
correctly that it only was good for 256 characters at a time. 256 characters
at a time. 256 characters at a time?? I never stopped to think to ask if the
feature was semi-useless because it could only block move 3 and 1/3 lines at
a time. Did I mention the block move was only good for 256 characters.  Later
a bug in this feature would almost prove a show stopper with a serious
problem showing up in Vegas the night of setup before the CES show. But I get
ahead of myself. It was also my understanding that this part had the same
operating parameters as the 6845, a VERY common graphics adapter.  Not
scrutinizing the chip for timing differences the way I normally did any new
chip was another mistake I made.  The major timings indicated what speed
class it was in and I didn't check them all. I blame myself as this really is
the type of mistake an amateur makes.  I wonder if I was in a hurry that day.
:)


16-Jan-93  19:06:39

It turns out that a major change had been made to the way the Read/Write line
was handled. When I asked about this, VERY late in the design cycle, like in
Production when this problem turned up, I was told "remember,, this was
designed to work in the Z8000 machine." ???!!!! ????!!!! Shoulda seen the
look on my face! Even though the Z8000 machine was long dead and we had been
TRYING for 6 months to use this damm thing in the C128 I'm being told NOW
that you didn't design it to work the way we've been using it for 6 months?
Shoulda asked.... it was my fault, shoulda asked "is this meant to work".....
:/

Looking back I realize that the source of a lot of the problems with the 8563
is that it wasn't designed FOR the C128 and that the IC designers did not
take part in the application of their chip the way the other designers did.
The VIC and MMU designers took an active interest in how their chip was used
and how the system design worked in relation to their chip. I overlooked
ramifications of how the 8563 was spec'ed to work that came back to haunt me
later.  For example, it was explained to me how there was this block transfer
feature for transferring characters for things like scrolling. Cool.... we
need that. Later it would turn out when this feature finally did work
correctly that it only was good for 256 characters at a time. 256 characters
at a time. 256 characters at a time?? I never stopped to think to ask if the
feature was semi-useless because it could only block move 3 and 1/3 lines at
a time. Did I mention the block move was only good for 256 characters.  Later
a bug in this feature would almost prove a show stopper with a serious
problem showing up in Vegas the night of setup before the CES show. But I get
ahead of myself.


16-Jan-93  19:06:50

It was also my understanding that this part had the same operating parameters
as the 6845, a VERY common graphics adapter. Not scrutinizing the chip for
timing differences the way I normally did any new chip was another mistake I
made.  The major timings indicated what speed class it was in and I didn't
check them all. I blame myself as this really is the type of mistake an
amateur makes.  I wonder if I was in a hurry that day. :) It turns out that a
major change had been made to the way the Read/Write line was handled.  When
I asked about this, VERY late in the design cycle, like in Production when
this problem turned up, I was told "remember,, this was designed to work in
the Z8000 machine." ???!!!! ????!!!! Shoulda seen the look on my face!
Even though the Z8000 machine was long dead and we had been TRYING for 6
months to use this damm thing in the C128 I'm being told NOW that you didn't
design it to work the way we've been using it for 6 months? Shoulda asked....
it was my fault, shoulda asked "is this meant to work the way were using it?"
:/

Don't get me wrong, the designer was VERY bright, he held patents for some of
the "cells" in the Motorla 68000. It just that chip had to work in
conjunction with other chips and thats where some ofd the problems lay.  Our
story opens as Rev 0 of the chip.... (whats that..... doesn't work.... OK,)
Our story opens as Rev 1 of the chip makes its debut and ......(pardon me a
moment.....) Our story opens as Rev 2 of the chip makes it debut..... <to be
continued>


19-Jan-93  20:50:41

Forgive the sporadic nature of these additions.  Now where was I .... oh
yeah.... It was sometime in September when we got 8563 Silicon (or so memory
serves) good enough to stick in a system. I can't remember what all was wrong
with the Chip but one concern we had was it occasionally (no spell checker
tonight, bear with me) blew up.... big time.... turn over die and then smell
bad..... But then all of the C128 prototypes did that on a semi regular basis
as there wasn't really any custom silicon yet, just big circuit boards
plugged in where custom chips would later go... but you can't wait for a
system to be completed before starting software development.   I don't think
any of the Animals really gave it a thought until when the next rev of the
chip came out and now with less other problems the blowing up 'seemed' more
pronounced.  Also the protoypes got more solid _almost_ every day.  (I knew
to go check on the programer's prototype whenever I heard the sound of cold
spray coming out of their office.... later it turned out they usually weren't
spraying the boards just using their "Hardware Engineer" call.  Sometimes all
I had to do was touch the board in a mystical way and then back out slowly
sometimes accompanied by ritual like chanting and humming.  This became know
as the "laying of hands".  This worked every time execpt one, and that time
it turned out I had stolen the power supply myself without telling them....
If anybody else got caught "messing with my guys" they'd get duct taped to a
locker and then the box kicked out from under them leaving them stuck until
they could peel themselves down, but thats another story.)  ANYWAY, when this
problem still existed on Rev 4 (I think it was) we got concerned.  It was at
this time that the single most scariest statement came out of the IC Design
section in charge of the '63.  This statement amounted to "you'll always have
some chance statistically that any read or write cycle will fail due to
(synchronicity)".


19-Jan-93  21:12:05

Synchronicity problems occur when two devices run off of two separate clocks,
the VIC chip hence the rest of the system, runs off of a 14.318Mhz crystal
and the 8563 runs off of a 16Mhz Oscillator. Now picture walking towrds a
revolving door with your arms full of packages and not looking up before
launching yourself into the doorway. You may get through unscathed if your
timing was accidentally just right, or you may fumble through losing some
packages (synonymous to losing Data) in the process or if things REALLY foul
up some of the packages may make it through and you're left stranded on the
other side of the door (synonymous to a completely blown write cycle). What I
didn't realize that he meant was that since theres always a chance for a bad
cycle to slip through, he didn't take even the most rudimentary protection
against bad synchronising. IT's MY FAULT I didn't ask, "what do you mean
fully by that statement" because I'd of found out early that there was NO
protection. As it turns out the 8563 instead of failing every 3 years or so
(VERY livable by Commodore standards) it failed about 3 times a second.  In
other words if you tried to load the font all in one shot it would blow up
every time!  The IC designers refused to believe this up until mid December
(CES in 2-3 weeks!) because "their unit in the lab didn't do it."  Finally I
said "show us" and they led the whole rabble (pitch forks, torches, ugly
scene) down to the lab.  It turns out they wern't EVEN TESTING THE CURRENT
REV of the chip, (TWO revs old), they were testing it from Basic because it
"blew up" every time they ran it at system speeds (No %^$#%$# sherlock.
That's what we're trying to tell you) and even then it screwed up once and
the designer reached for the reset switch saying that something does
occasionally go wrong.  Being one of the Animals with my reflexes highly
tuned by Programer Abusing I was able to snatch his arm in mid-air before he
got to the reset switch, with blatant evidence there on the test screen.


19-Jan-93  21:12:15

One of the rabble was their boss and (I have been speaking about two
designers interchangeably, but then they were interchangeable,) the word
Finally came down "FIX IT".  Hollow Victory as there was only two weeks till
we packed for the show, and there were 4 or 5 other major problems (I'll say
more later) with the chip and NO time to do another pass. It was obvious that
if we were going to make CES something had to give. As Josey Wales said,
"Thats when ya gotta get Mean.... I mean downright plumb crazy Loco Mean".
And we knew we had to.


22-Jan-93  14:17:32

Memory flash, I just remebered when we found out there was no interrupt
facility built in to the 8563.  I remember how patient the designer was when
he sat me down to explain to me that you don't need an interrupt from the
8563 indicating that an operation is complete because you can check the
status ANY TIME mearly by stopping what you're doing (over and over) and
looking at the appropriate register, (even if this means banking in I/O) or
better yet sit in a loop watching watching the register that indicates when
an operation is done (what else could be going on in the system besides
talking to the 8563 ???)  Our running gag became not needing a ringer on the
phone because you can pick it up ANY TIME and check to see if someone's on
it, or better yet, sit at your desk all day picking the phone up.   Even in
the hottest discussions someone would suddenly stop, excuse himself, and pick
up the nearest phone just to see if there was someone on it.  This utterly
failed to get the point across but provided hours of amusement.  The owners
at the local bar wondered what fixation the guys from Commodore had with the
pay phone.

Any ways.... To back up to the other problems that plauged the 8563.  Going
into December a couple of things happened.  The design had been changed to
support a "back-bias generator".  This thing is generally used to reduce
power consumption and speed the chip up.  Well, something was not quite right
somewhere in the design because the chip got worse.  The second thing that
happened was that both designers took vacation.  Nothing against that from my
point of view here 8-9 years in the future, but right then we couldn't
understand what these people were doing working on a critical project.


22-Jan-93  14:17:37

Or maybe I was just getting to used to eating Thanksgiving Dinner out of
aluminum foil off of a Lab Bench.  Christmas consisted of stopping at
someone's house who lived in the area for a couple of hours on the way home
from work.  Anyways, the chips could no longer display a solid screen.  The
first couple of characters on each line were either missing or tearing, until
the thing heated up, then they were just missing.  Also, the yield of chips
that even worked this good fell to where they only got 3 or 4 working chips
the last run.  A run is a Half-Lot at MOS and costs between $40,000 and
$120,000 to run.  Pretty expensive couple of chips.

The other problem takes a second to explain, but first a story.....  Back
when TED (the Plus four) had been mutilated decimated and defecated upon,
managment decided to kick the body one last time.  "TED shall Talk" came the
decree and the best minds in the industry were sought... We actually did have
two of the most noted consumer speech people at the time, the guys who
designed the "TI Speak an Spell" worked out of the Commodore Dallas office.
They did a custom chip to interface a speech chip set to the processor.
Operating open loop, in other words without feedback from any of the system
design people (US) they defined the command registers.  There was a register
that you wrote to to request a transfere.  To REALLY request the transfer you
wrote the same value a second time. We refered to this as the "do it, do it
now" register or the "come on pretty please" request, or my favorite, "those
#$%&@ Texans" register. ANYWAYS, the 8563 also had a problem where the 256
'bite' transfer didn't always take place properly, leaving a character
behind. This ended up having the effect of characters scrolling upwards
randomly.


22-Jan-93  14:17:45

So to recap, going into December we had a chip with .001% yield, the left
columns didn't work, anytime there was one pixel by itself you couldn't see
it, the semi useless block transfer didn't work right, the power supply had
to be adjusted for each chip, and it blew up before you loaded all of the
fonts unless you took 10 seconds to load the fonts in which case it blew up
only sometimes. Finger pointing was in High swing, (the systems guys should
have said they wanted WORKING silicon) with one department pitted against the
other, which was sad because the other hardworking chip designers had
preformed small miracles in getting their stuff done on time. Managers
started getting that look rabbits get in the headlights of onrushing Mack
trucks,  some started drinking, some reading poetry aloud and the worst were
commonly seen doing both. Our favorite behaviour was where they hid in their
offices.  It was rumored that the potted plant in the lobby was in line for
one of the key middle managment positions. Programmer beatings had hit a new
high only to fall off to almost nothing overnight as even this no longer
quelled the growing tension. A sprinkler head busted and rained all over
computer equipment stored in the hallway. Engineering gathered as a whole and
watched on as a $100,000 worth of equipment became waterlogged, their
expressions much like the bystanders at a grisly accident who can't tear
their attention away from the ensuing carnage.  I can honestly say that it
didn't seriously occur to me that we wouldn't be ready for CES, for if it
had, I might have succumbed to the temptation to go hide in my office
(checking the telephone).  There were just too many problems to stop and
think what if.  Next time (hopefully) I'll try and bring all the problems and
answers together and explain why I stopped to tell that rather out of place
TED story.


30-Jan-93  19:27:11

No single custom chip was working completely as we went into December with
the possible exception of the 8510 CPU.  The MMU had a problem where data was
"bleeding through" from the upper 64K bank into the lower.  This was in part
due to a mixup in the different revision of "layers" that are used to make
chips. This chip essentially had one of the older layers magically appear
bring old problems with it.  Unfortunately, this older layer had been used to
fix newer problems so we didn't have a way to combine existing layers to fix
ALL problems. Dave D'Orio (start telling ya some of the names of a few of the
unsung types here) did a GREAT job of bringing most of the IC design efforts
together.  I was sitting with Dave in a bar, we were of course discussing
work, when he suddenly figured out what the problem was.  He had looked at
the bad MMU chip under a microscope that day.  Later that night, under the
influence of a few Michelobs, his brain "developed" the picture his eyes had
taken earlier and he realized that an earlier layer had gotten into the
design.


30-Jan-93  19:49:06

This would not be the first time a problem would be addressed at this
particular bar.  (The Courtyard.... If you ever saw the David Letterman where
the guy stops the fan with his tongue, he was a bartender there). The PLA had
a problem where my group had made a typo in specifying the hundred some terms
that comprised the different operating parameters. Well the designer in
charge of the PLA took this rev as an opportunity to sneak a change into the
chip without really going public with the fact he was making a change.  When
the change went through it caused one of the layers to shift towards one side
and effectively shorted the input pins together. Ya should've seen the seen
where the designer's boss was loudly proclaiming that Hardware must of
screwed up because his engineer DIDN't make any changes (that would've been
like admitting that something had been "broken"). You could tell by the way
the designer's face was slowly turning red that he hadn't yet found a way of
telling his boss that he had made a change. Talk about giving someone enough
rope to hang themselves, we just kept paying it out yard by yard.


30-Jan-93  19:53:45

Anyways back to the 8563.  The first problem was relatively easy to fix,
providing you didn't give a hang about your own self respect.  The 8563
designer mentioned that the block copy seemed to work better when you wrote
the same command twice in a row.  I made him explain this to me in public,
mostly due to the mean streak I was starting to develop when it came to this
particular subject.  He calmly explained that you mearly wrote to this
register and then wrote to it again.  I asked "you mean do it and do it now?"
"Exactly", the designer exclaimed figuring he was on the home stretch  to
understanding (Intel, at last his eyes unfurled), "kinda like a 'come on
pretty please register' I asked with my best innocent expression, "Well sort
of" he replied doubt creeping in to his voice, "you wouldn't be from Texas
would you", I asked my face the definition of sincerity, (said in the voice
of the wanna-be HBO director on the HBO made for TV commercial) "why yes....
yes I am" he replied. Mind you a crowd had formed by this time, that poor guy
never understood what was so funny about being from Texas or what a 'Damm
Texan' register was.


30-Jan-93  19:53:50

This 'fix' actually did work some what, the only problem was that noone told
the guy (Von Ertwine) who was developing CP/M at home (consultant). Von had
wisely chosen not to try to follow all of the current Revs of the 8563,
instead he latched onto a somewhat working Rev4 and kept if for software
development.  Later we would find out that Von, to make the 8563 work
properly, was taking the little metal cup that came with his hot air popcorn
popper (it was a buttercup to be exact) and would put an Ice cube in it and
set it on the 8563.  He got about 1/2 hour of operation per cube. On our side
there was talk of rigging cans of cold spray with foot switches for the CES
show, "sparkle??? I don't <pissshhh> see any sparkle <pissshhh>". Anyways,
no-one told Von.... but don't worry, he would find out the day before CES
during setup in 'Vegas.


    23-Oct-93  16:57:43
Sb: C128, The Final Chapter

Thought I'd finish what I'd started back in January of this year. I had been
talkin 'bout how busted up the 8563, now we get to the part about how it got
fixed... well fixed good enough... well patched good enough to give every
possible attempt at the appearance of maybe passably working...

One of the things that got worse instead of better was something called the
back bias generator.  Now as much as I admired the blind ambition (as opposed
to unmitigated gall... no one ever said it was unmitigated gall and I am not
saying that here and now) of slipping in a major change like that right
before a CES show, it became obvious that it needed fixed.  Now the back-bias
generator connects to the substrate of the chip and if you've ever seen the
ceramic versions of the 40 and 48 pin chips you would notice that the pin 1
indicator notch is gold colored.  That is actually a contact to the
substrate.  I have never heard of anyone ever soldering to the pin 1
indicator notch but I had little to lose.  At this point all I did have to
lose was a HUGE jar of bad 8563's. (One night a sign in my handwriting
"appeared" on this jar asking "Guess how many working 8563's there are in the
jar and win a prize."  Of course if the number you guessed was a positive
real number you were wrong.) I soldered a wire between this tab and the
closet ground pin.  The left column reappeared though still a little broken
up!  The EADY prompt now proudly stated that the machine was READY and not
really proclaiming it's desire to be known as the shortened version of
Edward.  To  fix the remaining tearing we put 330 ohm pullups on the outputs
and adjusted the power supply to 5.3 volts.  This is the equivalent of
letting Tim-the-Tool-Man-Taylor soup up your blender with a chainsaw motor
but it worked.  The side effect was that it would limit the useful life of
the part to days instead of weeks as was the normal Commodore Quality
Standard.  I was afraid that this fix might be deemed worthy for production.
(said with the kind of sardonic cynical smile that makes parole officers
really hate their jobs)

Remember the syncronicity problem?  Remember the revolving door analogy?  We
built a tower for the VIC chip that had something called a Phase Lock Loop on
it which basically acted as a frequency doubler.  This took the 8.18 Mhz Dot
Clock (I think it was 8.18 Mhz.... been too long and too many other dot clock
frequencies since then) and doubled it.  We then ran a wire over to the 8563
and used this new frequency in place of its own 16 Mhz clock.  Now this is
equivalent to putting a revolving door at the other end of the room from the
first door and synchronizing them so that they turn at the same rate.  Now if
you get through the first door and walk at the right speed every time towards
the second door you will probably get through.  This tower working amounted
to a True Miracle and was accompanied by the sound of Hell Freezing over, the
Rabbit getting the Trix, and several instances of Cats and Dogs sleeping
together. This was the first time that making CES became a near possibility.
We laughed, we cried, we got drunk.  So much in hurry were we that the little
3" X 3" PCB was produced in 12 hours (a new record) and cost us about $1000
each.

A new problem cropped up with sparkle in multi-colored character mode when
used for one of the C64 game modes.  Getting all too used to this type of
crises, I try a few things including adjusting the power supply to 4.75
volts.  Total time-to-fix, 2 minutes 18 seconds, course now the 80 column
display was tearing again. Machines are marked as to whether they can do 40
column mode, 80 column mode or both. We averaged 1-3 of these crises a day
the last two weeks before CES.  Several of us suffered withdrawal symptoms if
the pressure laxed for even a few minutes.  The contracted security guards
accidentally started locking the door to one of the development labs during
this time.  A hole accidentally appeared in the wall allowing you to reach
through and unlock it.  They continued to lock it anyways even though the
gaping hole stood silent witness to the ineffectiveness of trying to lock us
out of our own lab during a critical design phase.  We admired this
singleness of purpose and considered changing professions.

We finished getting ready for CES about 2:00 in the morning of the day we
were to leave at 6:00.  On the way to catch the couple of hours sleep I hear
the Live version of Solsbury Hill by Peter Gabriel, the theme song of the
C128 Animals and take this as a good omen. Several hapless Programmers are
spared the ritual sacrifice this night... little do they know they owe their
lives to some unknown disc jockey.

Advertisements in the Las Vegas airport and again on a billboard enroute from
the airport inform us that the C128 has craftily been designed to be
expandable to 512K.  Now it had been designed to be expandable originally and
had been respecified by management so as to not be expandable in case next
year's computer needed the expendability as the "New" reason to buy a
Commodore computer. That's like not putting brakes on this years model of car
so that next year you can tote the New model as reducing those annoying
head-on crashes.

Upon arriving at the hotel we find that out hotel reservations have been
canceled by someone who fits the description of an Atari employee.  Three
things occur in rapid succession.  First I find the nearest person owning a
credit card and briskly escort her to the desk were I rented a room for all
available days, second, a phone call is placed to another nearby hotel
canceling the room reservations for Jack Trameil and company, third, several
of those C64's with built in monitors (C64DX's??? man it's been too long) are
brought out and left laying around the hotel shift supervisors path
accompanied by statements such as "My my, who left this nifty computer laying
here... I'd bet they wouldn't miss it too much".

The next day we meet up with the guy who developed CPM (Von) for the C128.
As I mentioned earlier, someone forgot to tell him about the silly little
ramifications of an 8563 bug.  His 'puter didn't do it as he had stopped
upgrading 8563s on his development machine somewhere around Rev 4 and the
problem appeared somewhere around Rev 6.  As Von didn't carry all the
machinery to do a CPM rebuild to fix the bug in software, it looked like CPM
might not be showable.  One third of the booth's design and advertising was
based on showing CPM.  In TRUE Animal fashion Von sat down with a disk editor
and found every occurrence of bad writes to the 8563 and hand patched them.
Bear in mind that CPM is stored with the bytes backwards in sectors that are
stored themselves in reverse order. Also bear in mind that he could neither
increase or decrease the number of instructions, he could only exchange them
for different ones.  Did I mention hand calculating the new checksums for the
sectors?  All this with a Disk Editor. I was impressed.

Everything else went pretty smooth, every supply was adjusted at the last
moment for best performance for that particular demo.  One application has
reverse green (black on green) and the 330 ohm pullups won't allow the
monitor to turn off fast enough for the black characters.  I had had
alternate pullup packs made up back in West Chester and put them in to
service.  On the average,2 almost working 8563's would appear each day, hand
carried by poeple coming to Vegas. Another crisis, no problem, this was
getting too easy.  If a machine started to sparkle during the demo, I would
pull out my ever present tweak tool and give a little demonstration as to the
adjustability of the New Commodore power supplies.  People were amazed by
Commodore supplies that worked, much less had a voltage adjustment and an
externally accessible fuse.  I explained (and meant it) that real bad power
supplies with inaccessible fuses were a thing of Commodore's past and that
the New design philosophy meant increased quality and common sense.

I'm told they removed the fuse access from production units the month after I
left Commodore.


The C128 design team: SYS32800,123,45,6

Bil Herd       Original design and Hardware team leader.
Dave Haynie    Integration, timing analysis, and all those dirty
              jobs involving computer analysis which was something
              totally new for CBM.
Frank Palaia   One of three people in the world who honestly knows

              how to make a Z80 and a 6502 live peacefully with
              each other in a synchronous, dual video controller,
              time sliced, DRAM based system.
Fred Bowen     Kernal and all system like things.  Dangerous when
              cornered.  Has been known to  brandish common sense
              when trapped.
Terry Ryan     Brought structure to Basic and got in trouble for
              it. Threatened with the loss of his job if he ever
              did anything that made as much sense again.  Has
              been know to use cynicism in ways that violate most
              Nuclear Ban Treaties.
Von Ertwine    CPM.  Sacrificed his family's popcorn maker in the
              search of a better machine.
Dave DiOrio    VIC chip mods and IC team leader.  Ruined the theory
              that most chip designers were from Pluto.
Victor         MMU integration. Caused much dissention by being one
              of the nicest guys you'd ever meet.
Greg Berlin    1571 Disk Drive design.  Originator of Berlin-Speak.
              I think of Greg every night.  He separated my
              shoulder in a friendly brawl in a bar parking lot
              and I still cant sleep on that side.
Dave Siracusa  1571 Software.  Aka "The Butcher"

Not to mention the 8563 designers who made this story possible.


The names of the people who worked on the PCB layout can be found on
the bottom of the PCB.

"RIP: HERD, FISH, RUBINO"

The syntax refers to an inside joke where we supposedly gave our lives in an
effort to get the FCC production board done in time, after being informed
just the week before by a middle manager that all the work on the C128 must
stop as this project has gone on far too long.  After the head of Engineering
got back from his business trip and inquired as to why the C128 had been put
on hold, the middle manger nimbly spoke expounding the virtues of getting
right on the job immediately and someone else, _his_ boss perhaps, had made
such an ill suited decision.  The bottom line was we lived in the PCB layout
area for the next several day.  I slept there on an airmatress or was
otherwise available 24 hours a day to answer any layout questions.  The
computer room was so cold that the Egg Mcmuffins we bought the first day were
still good 3 days later.