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Seattle, WA, USA

Posted Thu Jan 14, 2021 9:02 pm

"The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog."

That sentence right there probably looks and sounds very familiar to many of you, doesn't it? If you're ancient (or, at least over 40 like me) you might have been forced to type that sentence if you ever took an official typing class in high school, junior college or some sort of technical training course. Or, you might have been asked to do it as part of a tutorial for learning a word processor.

"The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog" is an English-language pangram—a sentence that contains all of the letters of the English alphabet. Owing to its brevity and coherence, it has become widely known. The phrase is commonly used for touch-typing practice, testing typewriters and computer keyboards, displaying examples of fonts, and other applications involving text where the use of all letters in the alphabet is desired.
Taking its queue from that history of clattering typewriter classes, Quick Brown Fox is also the name of a very cute and very early word processor for the VIC-20 and Commodore 64. It came out way back in 1982, and was provided originally in cassette or cartridge form.

A friend of mine came into possession of an original boxed version but didn't want it. So, I happily took it off his hands. I was stunned when it arrived in the mail. the box is huge! It's not thick or heavy, but it's really quite large. What a strange form factor, I thought.
See hand for scale (and yes, I have men's L sized hands, in case you were wondering).

Back in 1982, sucker wasn't cheap, either. That's the equivalent of apx $175 US in today's dollars. Did I hear you complaining about the cost of that game you just bought?

I soon learned why the box was so big. The manual was a thin 3-ring binder!

For all this packaging, my program came on this little quaint brown cartridge. With a twist.

Frankly, the manual is very charming and reeks of the 80s. In a good way.

Something about this cartridge is really odd. In fact, there a few things about it that are rather unique. The first, and most bizarre, is that it won't actually fit onto the cartridge port. The brown plastic will fit in the hole, but the cartridge board's pins are vastly misaligned and won't actually seat into the receiver.

When compared to a regular working cartridge, the Quick Brown Fox's board is several millimeters out of alignment.
The black cart is normal. And no, you shouldn't try to angle it in there. Weird, right?

It made me wonder if the 64C/Kickstarter case was different than the breadbin which I'd never actually contemplated before, so I tested it on both.

But nope. This cartridge just wouldn't work. And no - you don't flip the cartridge upside down to make it work. As stated in the instruction manual, the logo is to face upwards. It's just a totally jank cart.

However... the other weird thing about this little thing is it can be very easily taken apart. You can gently pry it apart. There's no glue, no screws - just a light pressure fit on some stems.

So I took the board out and plugged it in.


Overall, it's a very nice program. Is it the most powerful, full featured Word Processor for the C64? Hardly. But it is quite user friendly and to the point.

And quick. And brown.

User avatar
New Orleans, LA, USA

Posted Thu Jan 14, 2021 9:33 pm

You have brought back memories of banging the keys on an IBM Selectric typewriter in high school junior year Typing/Computer Science class for me....and my hijinks with the IBM PS/2 Model 30 in the computer lab (which would have gotten me expelled if I had been found to be behind it!).

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Seattle, WA, USA

Posted Thu Jan 14, 2021 11:22 pm

and my hijinks
Come on now, statute of limitations and all. Let's hear it!

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Lexington VA

Posted Fri Jan 15, 2021 7:45 am

makes me wonder what people did with it if it didnt fit in the cart slot but, at that price back then, i bet few kids actually bought it.

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Zippy Zapp

Posted Fri Jan 15, 2021 11:12 am

That is so odd. Do you have an early 64 with 5-pin video, so the very first 1982 board 64? Because if this really was made in 1982, then that is the only model that was out until 1983 when they revised the board and changed a few things, including better video with an 8-pin video port for proper LCA.

They usually have a green cartridge connector and the earlier slightly taller case that was in line with the VIC-20. I wonder if it fits those? I have one but all the cartridges I have are nothing like that weird one. I will have to measure the cart connector on my first revision 64 and see if it is different some how.

User avatar
Seattle, WA, USA

Posted Fri Jan 15, 2021 11:17 am

slightly taller case that was in line with the VIC-20. I wonder if it fits those?

I bet that's the deal. Something like that makes sense to me. I don't have any of the uber early models, nor a Vic, to test.

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Posted Fri Jan 15, 2021 1:48 pm

Very little known fact - Quick Brown Fox was based on an earlier word processor called WP6502 for the Ohio Scientific line of computers. It was later renamed and adapted for the VIC-20 and C64. The author’s name was: Duo Quong Fok Lok Sow.

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