Saturday Jan 05, 2013

Firebee Developer Diary 1

On the last day of 2012, Stefan (aka Beetle) brought me the FireBee machine that we both share. I've been programming Atari 8bit machines for over 25 years now, but this is the first time that I enter the realm of the Atari ST family with a 68K or now ColdFire. There is much to learn.

My FireBee Development setup

The FireBee is a modern incarnation of the Atari ST computer line, including Ethernet, USB, CF-Card and SD-Card interfaces. A modern computer. And it still runs Atari TOS programs. Or almost ...

The ColdFire CPU is a somewhat CISC morphed to RISC system, where some "not so often used" CPU instructions have been removed to make the CPU core simpler but faster. The "not so often used" does refer to common compilers, mostly C compilers. It does not seem true for Forth. The Atari ST VolksForth refuses to work on the FireBee. It probably uses some M68K instructions not available on the FireBee.

That will be my first target on the FireBee system: getting VolksForth to run. After that is done, VolksForth ST needs a log due overhaul. The last version was from around 1988, before Atari TT and Falcon and all the new GEM API. The old version does not know about MiNT or EmuTOS. That has to change.

The FireBee board

I will report my progress here. The sourcecode can be found, along with the developer documentation in the repository over at

Books to read ...


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