As I only use Mac computers nowadays, I went in a search for Spectrum emulators for macOS, mainly to play games and type in some BASIC listings. I first tried Fuse, which is multi-platform and has virtually everything one needs to revive the feeling of using a Spectrum.
However, a few weeks later I came across the Retro Virtual Machine, or RVM for short, by Juan Carlos González Amestoy. RVM has a different spin compared to other emulators as it has a multi-architecture engine, allowing to emulate different machines concurrently. Besides, RVM has some unique features like the Virtual Tape Recorder and Virtual Disk Drives, that provide an immersive experience of loading games from tapes or disks. Oh, and you load tapes and disks by just dragging files onto the virtual devices. The simulation of the tape player and disk driver is nearly perfect. Totally amazing!
Other noteworthy features are analog video simulation, with effects like scanlines, noise and displacement, customizable keyboards, where each machine may have its own keyboard config, and Z80 timing accuracy, that includes bugs like the “snow effect”. And on top of that, RVM is like any other native macOS app, respecting all user interface conventions and providing a natural feeling for Mac users.
The only con I have found so far is that RVM doesn’t have an assembly debugger, preventing it from being used in a developer tool chain. I hope this may change soon, as many people are planning to develop again for the Spectrum, as well as emulation for the new Spectrum Next be included.
In summary, I find RVM really impressive and if you are a Mac user looking for nothing than a great Spectrum emulation with the best user interface out there, go all-in for the Retro Virtual Machine. And if you really enjoy it, make a donation to the developer as an incentive for him to keep improving it.
Well, here I am ready to go back to the good times of my teenage years, when I learnt digital electronics, microprocessors and took the first steps into computing. What sparked the desire to revive the glory of the past was a series of events that culminated with the launch of the ZX Spectrum Next on Kickstarter. As I am writing this, the project has already achieved as much as twice the inicial goal of ￡250,000, with still 7 days to go.
A vibrant community got together in the Next Facebook group, which has motivated me to study Z80 programming and even learn the novelties, to me at least, of FPGA programming. And as I started to read some old books I also decided to start this blog, as a way to take notes to myself and share them to anyone who is in the same process of going back to this wonderful retro computing world. This blog has also been inspired by the initiative of Paul Land with his Speccy Virgins site, which I recommend anyone to take a look, and the personal blog of Steve Hill, who has also started to learn Z80 assembly on a Mac.
My first personal computer was a TK-90X, a ZX Spectrum clone available in Brazil in the 80’s. But before that I had learnt BASIC programming in a CP500, a brazilian TRS-80 clone. After a period playing games and typing listings from magazines, especially from INPUT, I moved on to an MSX computer. In the early 90’s, I went to college to study computer science and got onboard the IBM PC wagon, leaving behind several years of awe and pleasure as I discovered the wonders of those 8-bit machines, especially the Spectrum.
Thus, with lots of ideas in my head and joy to revive those times, I now begin this journey back to the 8-bit worlds and hope you may join me along the way, so we may help each other in rediscovering the past and, who knows, in pushing it forward. Cheers!