Desktop Publishing on C64 with Pagefox

Pagefox of the company Scanntronik from Munich

As is well known, the great success of the C64 from the mid-80s onwards was based on its revolutionary sound and graphics capabilities, making it the ideal gaming console. Due to its low price, which was based on the philosophy of Jack Tramiel, founder and head of the company Commodore Business Machines (CBM) (quote: “We need to build computers for the masses, not the classes.“), the Commodore C64 – or as its fans soon affectionately called it – bread box, achieved very strong distribution and thus became the best-selling home computer.

So it was obvious to offer “serious” application software as well. Despite its very limited memory of 64 kB RAM, there were also many word processing programs, spreadsheet, database or financial software, which were mostly designed for the private sector or the “small office”. From the beginning of the 80’s the first IBM PC’s came on the market, but they were simply too expensive for most home users. Therefore, the C64 had to be used for correspondence at home.

Pagefox for C64 and C128

An extremely powerful application software was Pagefox from the German company Scanntronik near Munich. However, Pagefox is actually more than just a word processor. The software is already considered as a so-called desktop publishing software, which could be used for layouting magazines or print templates. It offers free design options for page layout and combines text and graphics into a single unit, the so-called page layout, which could then be printed out on a standard dot-matrix printer.

conclusion of Happy computer 1988:

“All in all Pagefox is highly recommended despite its high price of just under 250 Marks the best DTP program for the C64.”

Pagefox was developed by German programmer Hans Haberl, who had previously attracted some attention with Printfox and Hi-Eddi. The software came onto the market in 1987 for around 250 DM.

Curious? Then I want to introduce Pagefox to you a bit closer.

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My Commodore C64

A picture of my new toy from Christmas 1985

What do a breadbox and an elephant foot have in common? If you say “nothing” here, then you are either not a child of the 80s, or you had nothing at all to do with computers at that time 😉

Indeed, the legendary C64 was lovingly referred to as a breadbox by its fans because of the shape of the computer. And the elephant’s foot was the C64’s external power supply, which actually perhaps reminded a bit of an elephant’s foot, but was in any case very heavy. At least if you dropped it on your own foot. Then you could maybe grow such an elephant foot yourself 😉

Anyway, back in the mid-1980s – like so many kids back then – the Commodore C64 was also my very first own computer! After more than 30 years I found it by surprise in the attic of my parents – including a 1541II floppy drive and a floppy box full of games. And what can I say: It still worked like on the first day and I could even load the old games from floppy disk!

My C64 with grey function keys and the elephant foot power supply.

Since then, a few years have passed and I was caught by the retro or vintage computer fever. In the meantime I have a small collection of “old boxes”, which I always wanted to have, but could not get them. The result of my collecting passion and the experiences with the old boxes you can read among other things here on my website.

But back to the C64, more precisely to MY C64! Because he remains of course always something special. Here I want to introduce you a little bit to the computer, which has then also decisively shaped my life.

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Tandy TRS-80 Model I Level II

My new love … the Tandy TRS-80 Model I Level II from 1981 🙂

My Tandy TRS-80 Model I with Level II BASIC, expansion interface, green monitor and double floppy.

At the beginning, however, we had a somewhat bumpy start – but more on that later.

The history

Tandy … what? Such a question you only hear in Germany. Yes, indeed, the computers of the company Tandy Radio Shack were less common in Germany and are therefore hardly known today. In contrast, every child in this country knows Apple and Commodore. However, the TRS-80 Model I belongs to the so-called “1977 Trinity”, as byte Magazine called it. At that time, three manufacturers launched the first home computer for the mass market in the USA at relatively the same time: Apple with the Apple II is certainly the most famous representative, Commodore brought out the PET 2001 and Tandy put a cheaper alternative on the market, the TRS-80 (TRS stands for Tandy Radio Shack and the number 80 points to the Z80 CPU).

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EPSON HX-20: The first true laptop computer

German advertising for the HX-20

The EPSON HX-20 was the first “true” laptop to hit the market in the early 1980s. With its dimensions of the size of a DIN A4 sheet and the built-in rechargeable battery, it was revolutionary at the time. It was easy to carry in any briefcase and could run for many hours without an external power supply.

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EPSON HX-20 unleashed: More characters and graphics for the laptop

flashx20 by Norbert Kehrer extends the screen of the HX-20 and adds a floppy emulation.

The EPSON HX-20 was the world’s first real laptop in the early 80s. I have already presented this exceptionally interesting device in another article.

However, those who want to work longer or more seriously with the EPSON HX-20 will surely miss a decent screen the most. The 4 x 20 characters of the LCD quickly make you lose track when you have to deal with larger listings. In addition, the graphic capabilities of the LCD are very limited. Fortunately, Norbert Kehrer has a simple and very practical solution with his tool flashx20. It simulates an external monitor for the HX-20 on a standard PC under Windows. On top of that there is a helpful floppy emulation, with which it is possible to load HX-20 programs directly from the PC.

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