I was researching a blog post for next week when I came across a nice surprise. John Walker – the founder and former CEO of Autodesk, whom I had the pleasure of interviewing for this blog more than a decade ago – published some programs he wrote for the Commodore 64 and 128 when he was exploring the capabilities of this platform back in the late 1980s.
John had published two of them, Key Clicker and Rainy Day Moon – in Compute! and Commodore Magazine respectively – but the third, BrainSim, was just too far ahead of its time. John had implemented a crude – but functional – neural network on a Commodore 64 in less than 250 lines of code!
Here’s this week’s Floppy Friday episode, which shows each program in action:
If you want to try them for yourself, you can either go “old school” and type them in from the listings (oh yeah), or you can take the easy option and try the .d64 files John kindly posted via the above pages using an emulator such as VICE.
From my side I ended up combining these programs onto a single .d64 using DirMaster which I transferred onto a physical floppy disk using a ZoomFloppy connected to a 1541 drive, and then loaded into a physical C64 and C128. Certainly much easier than typing them in by hand, of course.
John kindly clarified by Twitter that the problem with recognising characters was from over-training the network. It can apparently only handle 2 to 3 distinct patterns, something I missed by only skimming John’s extensive write-up.