I am a software engineer at Google on the Android project and the creator of the Java testing framework TestNG. When I'm not updating this weblog with various software-related posts or speaking at conferences, I am busy snowboarding, playing squash, tennis, golf or volleyball or scuba diving. Cedric is a DZone MVB and is not an employee of DZone and has posted 90 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile

Amiga, MUI and code nostalgia

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A session of link hopping caused me to hunt down a program I wrote for the Amiga in 1994. I didn’t really think I would be able to locate it, but once again, I underestimated the power of the Internet.

Not only did I find it but Aminet, the entire archive where I published it, is actually online!. The software is an accounting program called Banker which featured a fairly complex user interface. I was actually using a GUI toolkit called MUI (Magic User Interface) which was extremely impressive for its time. It featured complex widgets with support for a lot of listeners, on the fly reloading of resources and skins, localization, etc…

The only problem with MUI is that it was a bit ahead of its time processor-wise, so user interfaces written with it tended to be a bit sluggish. But it was totally worth it.

Back to Banker, I realized while browsing its entry on Aminet that the archive contained its source, so I suddenly became very eager to see the kind of code that I was writing sixteen years ago. The archive is a .lha, another format that was popular on the Amiga, and for which I was quickly able to find a decompressor running on Mac called DropUnLha.

I was bracing myself, expecting the worst, but… well, it’s actually not that bad. I uploaded the whole project to github.com for posterity, and here is one of the sources. Check out this cute comment ASCII art at the top of the file, neat, uh?


My only regret is that I wasn’t able to come up with any screen shot of Banker, even in this review of my program from a German magazine, so I would need to run the the Amiga emulator to really see what it looked like.

How about you, dear readers: what’s the oldest piece of code you’ve been able to dig up?



Published at DZone with permission of Cedric Beust, author and DZone MVB. (source)

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Wujek Srujek replied on Wed, 2010/03/17 - 5:11am

It is actually a Dutch text <smartass> :D

My oldest piece of code is a Snake game in Pascal for programming intruduction course that dates back to smashing... 4 years ago. Now this was really a bad piece of software :D

Fab Mars replied on Wed, 2010/03/17 - 4:57am

...may not be obvious for those who didn't learn German in school.

I know I did some Basic on a Atari 800XL when I was a kid, then some Atari/Amiga programming, but I couldn't find any of these back.

The oldest piece of code I could find was some game I wrote for the HP48 calculator 15 years ago. Written with the <external> language. It's quite well written, but it's not a OO language either.

I also dug my first attempt at Java. In my engineer school, we had a "Compared Programming Languages" course and the teacher asked us to write a game(!) in Java for the end of the year. I wrote a Tetris game in Java 1.1. It worked, but that's a shameful piece of crap!

Ben Courliss replied on Thu, 2010/03/18 - 12:51pm

Awesome!  My only programming on the Amiga was in BASIC and prior to that, BASIC on a Commodore Plus/4.  It wasn't until I got to college that I did any real programming. 

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