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    $50 is hardly low-cost for a microcomputer/microcontroller, not when you can get a RPi Zero for US$5. (With a significantly higher clock speed than 18MHz…)

    Clearly I’m not the target market for this. But wouldn’t a true retro fetishist be taken aback that this board has an ESP32 (32-bit SoC) on it, running the display? Sort of like the dad holding the baby on his lap letting it pretend to drive…

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      from https://www.thebyteattic.com/p/about.html

      I focus on 8-bit computers because my kick is innovative, elegant computer architecture, not performance. Therefore, the number of bits is rather irrelevant to me, and I choose 8 bits because the architecture and design effort aren’t smothered by massive data and address buses.


      I’ve found that only now, as a hobbyist, did I finally manage to do the kind of creative engineering work I dreamed of as a 17-year-old freshman in engineering school.

      so this is about passion, not efficiency

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        I’m not sure why they conflate the two categories. $50 is okay for a microcomputer – they really are selling something that is more like a ZX Spectrum, and I’d definitely pay $50 for that – but definitely not… anywhere near okay for a microcontroller. I’m pretty sure you can get a $50 development board for a microcontroller.

        The Pi Zero is one tenth of that but you basically get an underpowered phone running Linux in some mysterious manner. $50 for an open source board with open source software (no idea if these claims are true, mind you!) that’s basically a beefed up Sinclair isn’t bad.

        I can’t say I ever fell in love with the Pis for small hacks – it always felt like I spent two days putting a cool hack together, and another day or so dealing with systemd, Samba or NFS shennanigans, and God knows what else. I’d gladly pay $50 for something that takes me to a BASIC prompt and lets me peek and poke things instead of asking me to install some weird Python library with fifty Github stars which only works on Python 3.4.2. I’ve given up on cool ideas I had in an afternoon more than once just because, by the time I managed to put together a working image, it was eight in the evening and I had boring grown-up shit to do.

        The true retro fetishist will probably scoff at things like Flash memory, too, but then again, if they’re tru retro, they can just get an actual ZX Sinclair :-).

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          $20 ESP32 boards are nice if you don’t want a big OS getting in your way. They can be coded either like Arduinos or in full C/++ with a bigger library.

          If you want a friendlier language there are a lot of boards that have MicroPython built in, making them super easy to start writing code for. Installing other Python libs can be annoying but that’s not a fair comparison with BASIC, where you’re limited to the features and commands that come with it.

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            ESP32 is not floss.

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              I am proooobably not the best person to talk to about the ESP32, either :-(. Maybe it’s because I come from an embedded background – working with these things is kind of my job, so I don’t have a lot of patience when doing it as a hobby. I love things that are either really good embedded development platforms – good documentation including schematics, lots of pins and few hoops to jump through for interfacing, lots of test pads, hardware that’s easy to debug, good cross-compiler support that shield you as little as possible from the underlying hardware, good JTAG interfacing etc. – or really good computers, like, I dunno, the Mega65.

              In my experience – but admittedly, that was years ago, when it was far less popular – the ESP32s were neither. It took a lot of fiddling to get them to work, and when they didn’t, you had to dig through a lot of magic to figure out why. Lots of times it boiled down to libraries stepping on each others’ toes, or to bugs in their HAL.

              I don’t mind a large language or OS However, I would really love a hobby platform that requires less fiddling than a “pro” platform, with the understanding that, sure, it’s not going to be as flexible, or maybe really not as capable. Most “maker”-category boards I tried require a comparable amount of fiddling, for about the same capabilities (if you’re willing to forgo the Arduino or MicroPython bits) or less, modulo weird design choices made in order to meet specific size requirements or manufacturing constraints.

              Mind you, I haven’t tried this board. But I’ve often seen the Pi marketed from a similar angle – something supposed to make computing fun again, something you can just plug in and use, like you could do with the BBC Micro or the Spectrum decades ago. Frankly, if the Spectrum, my first computer, would’ve been as annoying as a Pi or an ESP32, I probably would’ve chosen a very different career path :-D. From the specs, this looks far closer to the “modern reinterpretation of classical microcomputers” view.

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                Yeah, MicroPython (and its for fork CircuitPython) really blew me away with how immediate & accessible it is, and reminded me a lot of the BASIC days. A Raspberry Pi Pico can boot directly into python, and that seems like a better, smaller, cheaper equivalent to this Agon.

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            I’m impressed but also can’t work out why I’d want this. Raspberry pi picos cost less than half as much, and z80 systems (especially compatible clones of classic systems) have access to way more software.