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Seattle, WA, USA

Posted Thu Feb 22, 2024 2:45 pm

Kind of a funny experience happened to me today. First, some context.

Back on June 8, 2019, I gave a presentation at the Living Computer Museum. I gave two short presentations. One was a show-and-tell of my recently acquired Amiga Development System. The other covered two of the exciting Commodore 64 motherboard replacement options: the Ultimate64 and C64 Reloaded.

After I was done an older man (I say this with affection) in a white beard wearing denim overalls came up to me. He introduced himself as Jim Bosley from Gig Harbor, WA, and proceeded to explain how back in the day he’d bought an Amiga when they were first released. He taught himself how to program in Amiga Basic and created several of his own custom programs. He was not a programmer by trade; he did this all on his own.

Impressed, I asked if he stuck with technology as a result of his experiences with Amiga. He replied that at the time his wife preferred strongly that he spend his time on other things so the Amiga wound up being put into storage. And no, he did not follow a career path in tech.

One of the programs he was most proud of was a game he called Master Mind. He'd actually brought his original disk with him and handed it to me.

He wondered if I could:
  1. See if his disk still worked.
  2. If so, make a new copy of it and mail it to him.
  3. Send him some photos of my screen if I got things working.
How and why he was at LCM the day I was there and why he brought his old disk I’ve no idea. Perhaps he thought he might be able to use it with a working Amiga demo machine out on the museum floor. I’m not sure. If that were the case my being there must have felt like pure serendipity from Jim's standpoint.

Anyway I got his email address and took the disk home with me.

I wasn’t able to use the disk on my Amiga 3000 because its version of OS (1.3.2) lacked Amiga Basic. Double-clicking the game’s icon made the screen flash and nothing else. However, after moving the disk over to my Amiga 1000 the game fired right up!

I didn’t know how to play so he emailed me very detailed instructions. Here’s how it worked:

Jim Bosley:
Simply clicking on the Master Mind icon should bring up the program. From there use the keyboard to enter the number of columns, then colors you want the game to use.  

You will then see a graph of as many columns you requested and a column of numbered colors. The Amiga will create a hidden random selection of colors of as many as needed for each of the number of columns you have selected.

The computer may duplicate a selected color or not use one at all, but it will not use a color that you did not select. Using the keyboard numbers associated with the colors in the column, tell the Amiga what color you guess is in each position in the bottom row, beginning left to right.

After you have filled out the row,the computer will give you one of three responses for that row: 
* a white oval for each color put in the same column as the computer selected,
* a black oval if in you have selected a color also selected by the computer, but in an incorrect column,
* no response for an unused color.

The order of the feedback responses is always the same: white ovals first, then black ovals. The total number of ovals displayed tells you how many correct colors you have selected, not which are in correct position.

If the computer selected to duplicate a color you will only get a feedback oval for each of the correct number of that color you picked.


Suppose the hidden color sequence for an array of four columns is: red, red, black, green. Your trial sequence is: white, yellow, red, green.
The feedback will be: a white oval (green in the last column is correct) , and a black oval (the red color is correct but in the wrong column)

Your task is to deduce from the computer's responses the correct order of the colors as originally generated by the computer. Continue to fill in the next row of colors.

Use the change of the computer's feedback to improve your guess each time.
If you guess the color sequence correctly before you fill up the columns you win.
I made copies of his files and wrote them to a brand new disk and eventually mailed both disks back to him.

That was in October of 2019.

Fast-forward to 2024. Today, out of the blue, I heard from Jim again! For some weird reason our email thread from back then got his attention somehow and he reached out to me.

I’d forgotten to send him photos of my screen of his game!

Feeling horrible, I looked through my stacks of Amiga floppy disks and even read a few unlabeled disks looking for Mastermind. No luck. I don’t think I kept a copy for myself. If I did it was on the Amiga 3000 which hasn't worked in over 2 years and is currently a sad pile of parts.

Well, thank goodness for modern “phones”. I started scrolling through my photos first by year then by month and ultimately down to days (I take a lot of photos, usually a few every single day) and got to the timeframe when I mailed the disks back.

Lo and behold, I had taken photos of Jim’s Mastermind game! I emailed them to him today. He was very pleased to receive them.

Hello Dr. Falken. Would you like to play a game?

:check: <3

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Zippy Zapp

Posted Mon Feb 26, 2024 9:52 am

Nice story! Another disk saved from the bits of death.

Good old Mastermind. The first time I played MasterMind I think was on the Atari 2600. In fact I didn't know that it was an old Parker Brothers board game from the 70s until I looked in the closet some years later and found it in with the other board games that we hardly ever played. Atari and later C64 took the place of that stuff, mostly.

I do remember I used to like to play it when I was a kid so it's cool that someone made a version in BASIC on the Amiga.

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