9AP: Pretty Kitty

Canon Cat emulation? For real? It's just amazing the things you'll find if you bother to look.

About a year ago I tried out a software called Archy which was a ...well, to call it a word processor is sort-of like calling Emacs a text editor. I really dug it, but it seemed a bit buggy at the time so I uninstalled it and decided to wait for a revision or two before taking another crack at it. A mistake, apparently, because my recently rekindled interest in the software led me to learn that the project's been canned, and the software is nowhere to be found. (if you have the last build, I'd love a copy,) Update: after multiple failed attempts, the download link on Wikipedia suddenly sprang to life. For good measure, I saved another copy on drop.io: Archy build 124 download.

Anyhoo, what's that got to do with the attached image? Well, Archy was built on the ideas of Jef Raskin (yes, the Mac daddy), and many of those ideas saw commercial application in the Canon Cat, which was an interesting special-purpose computer of the late 1980s. I got curious tonight to see if the Cat had been emulated, and after swimming through some Google flotsam I found the blog of a fellow named Micko. It appears that Mr. Milanović, in true Balkan bad-ass fashion, managed to resurrect the Cat in MESS a few months ago.

The trouble with emulators is, of course, getting hold of ROMs, but Micko mentioned the dumps being in a Google group, so after a little searching I manged to find them myself. Of course, they're in Motorola S-record format, and MESS needs them to be binary images to run, so the first order of business after retrieving the files was for me to learn what the hell Motorola S-record format was, and locate a tool to convert it to raw binary. To my great relief, Peter Miller wrote a tool easy enough for slobs like me to use, and 'fore long I was gazing adoringly at the blinking black-and-white cursor of the Canon Cat. The left and right Alt keys appear to function as the Leap keys (I remembered that much from using Archy), but beyond that, I'll either need to locate a manual, or just start pressing a lot of keys to figure out what the heck else is going on. Fun fun fun.

In art news, I did a couple hours of work today.

In other news, I can't stop listening to the Sound of Wonder.

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