2020-04-21 A Different Topic – “Game Of Life”

John Horton Conway passed away recently. He created the original “Game Of LifeCellular Automation system. In response to his passing I’ve created a version in DOSBOX, using Microsoft QuickC 2.5 With Assembler (not that I used the assembler portion here).

It is a simple program that randomly fills 20% (roughly) of the cells with the ON bit. The rest are set to OFF. A set of rules are applied in successive generations that control which cells turn on, which turn off, and which stay the way they are. This creates an interesting evolving pattern on the screen. In this case I used the standard 25 line by 80 columns of the old style monitors (generally called 80 column displays), including MS-DOS PCs of the late 1980s.

I used QuickC because it included library functions to control the cursor position and screen clearing. It is entirely text mode, with the ON cells represented by an asterisk character. The OFF cells are space characters. I added a display at the bottom of the screen to indicate which generation is showing. They tick off at the amazing speed of a 1980s PC. DOSBOX emulates a 4.77 MHz clock rate generally, though you can make adjustments. Mostly it uses the slow clock speed so that games of that era will run properly rather than insanely fast.

Video of the program running. Running time 2.52 minutes, rendered to 1280x720p.