Entertainment Computer System

Currently, this document is a place-holder until I get more info here.

Quick rundown of what I know:

Here's an email I received from John Dullea explaining certain aspects of the ECS. I've interjected comments in italics in a few places, either to correct or to clarify.

Here's what I found out, through experimentation:

The ECS has ROMs at 2000-2FFFh, 7000-7FFFh, and E000-EFFFh, but there are some wrinkles:

  1. You can plug your ECS directly into your reader and get the "2" and "7" ROMs, but the "E" ROM isn't directly accessible. There is a bankswitching mechanism that can disable it, and you can't get to it unelss the ECS is powered up. I had to perform a really dicey maneuver like "power-down the reader, insert a powered-down ECS, power on the ECS, wait two seconds, read the ROM, power off the ECS, remove the ECS", or something like that. If you try this, BE CAREFUL! It may be easy to fry the ECS (it's easier if I simply send you the ROM dump, which is, of course, legal, since you're writing an emulator and need them for educational purposes :) ). Let me know if you want them... [ See my notes on bankswitching at the top of the page. --JZ ]

  2. World Series Major League Baseball, an ECS game, also has a ROM at E000-EFFFh! Here's where the bankswitching comes in. You have to trap writes to memory location EFFFh. Writng EA50h to that location loads the ROM from the GAME into E000-EFFF (that is, it disables the ECS ROM there and allows the cart's ROM to take over). Writing EA51h to that location overrides the cart's ROM at E000-EFFF and places the ECS's ROM there. I don't know why Mattel chose those numbers to perform the bankswitching; I found this out by analyzing the ROM code in the game and ECS. In the emulator I save the ECS "E" ROM and any game "E" ROM and act accordingly when a write to EFFFh occurs. [ See my notes on bankswitching at the top of the page. --JZ ]

  3. The ECS has 8-bit RAM at 4700h-47FFh. [ Actually, this RAM is from $4000 to $47FF. Locations $4000 - $403F are usually unused since they alias the STIC. --JZ ] This is important when dealing with World Cup Soccer, which I found out is ENHANCED when plugged into the ECS--it supports four simultaneous players. World Cup Soccer stores a byte of information at 47CDh (don't ask me why). If you are NOT emulating the ECS, you have to trap this write (or any writes to the ECS RAM range) and force those locations to hold 0000h. [ Actually, you want unimplemented memory to always read as $FFFF. --JZ ] If you ARE emulating the ECS, allow the write but force the high 8 bits to zero (i.e. writing D5B2h results in 00B2h being stored there).

  4. The ECS's PSG resides at F0-FFh, and must be treated accordingly.

  5. The ECS controllers are read from 00FEh and 00FFh, BUT the high eight bits muct be 0FFh at all times (I don't know why). [ I suspect other problems in his code. For me the PSG on the ECS always forces the upper 8 bits low. --JZ ]

  6. The ECS keyboard is only active if bits 7,6 of 00F8h are 0,1--that is, if (00F8h & 0xC0) == 0x40 (I don't know why). [ This places one of the PSG's 8-bit I/O ports into output mode, so that the ECS can matrix-scan the keyboard. --JZ ]

  7. The ECS keyboard table is:

      00FEh|                  00FFh bits
      bits |   0       1    2  3  4    5        6      7
        0  | left,   comma, n, v, x, space,   [n/a], [n/a]
        1  | period, m,     b, c, z, down,    [n/a], [n/a]
        2  | scolon, k,     h, f, s, up,      [n/a], [n/a]
        3  | p,      i,     y, r, w, q,       [n/a], [n/a]
        4  | esc,    9,     7, 5, 3, 1,       [n/a], [n/a]
        5  | 0,      8,     6, 4, 2, right,   [n/a], [n/a]
        6  | enter,  o,     u, t, e, ctl,     [n/a], [n/a]
        7  | [n/a],  l,     j, g, d, a,       shift, [n/a]

Basically you scan the bits and consult the table to see if a key is pressed...

I think that's everything I know regarding the ECS. I don't know if anyone's still updating the Intellivision FAQ, but perhaps this stuff should be included...

Here's some additional information on the ECS's cassette interface from some other email discussions:

> Joe, $e0-$e2 seems to control the casette recorder.  Here is the data I
> collected on it:
>     08 07 06 05 04 03 02 01 00
>      ?  ?  ?  ?  ?  ?  ?  w  r
>     where:
>       r = data is available for reading
>       w = data is ok to write
> Carl

Cool.  As for $E2, it is some sort of configuration register.
Among its duties are selecting between printer and cassette.  It
also turns the cassette motor on an off via a relay.  If you listen
closely, the ECS makes a 'click' when doing a CSAV/CLOD.  I just
ran an experiment with my own ECS, and the relay is controlled by
bit 4 in location $E2.

John Dullea sent me some information on these registers as well.
It said basically the same thing, although it had a little more to
say about $E2.  The ECS writes $39 to it when saving to cassette,
and $23 when printing.  Otherwise, he just looks at accesses to
$E0 and $E1 to figure out what's going on.  (By so doing, he makes
a few assumptions about how the ECS BASIC code accesses these

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