Matrix Digital Rain On The IBM PC With A High Persistence Monitor

Matrix Digital Rain On The IBM PC With A High Persistence Monitor
By Dave Rowntree

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last 20-odd years, you will have come across The Matrix series of movies, and the cool green ‘digital rain’ effect used frequently. This inspired [Oli Wright] to wonder what it would look like if instead of running the animation on a modern display, using a digitally produced phosphor persistence effect, it was implemented on some retro PC hardware, using an actual high-persistence phosphor Green Monochrome monitor. (Video embedded, below) As luck would have it, [Oli] owns a 40-year-old IBM PC 5150 as well as the matching IBM 5151 monitor, so it was a simple matter to implement the effect in 8088 assembler to create falling sequences of characters. The final binary is less than 256 bytes!

The IBM 5151’s long display persistence was intended to reduce the visibility of display flicker due to the low scan rate, but has the unfortunate side effect of smearing horribly when the image changes. This is exactly what [Oli] needed to implement this effect and we think it looks jolly fine.

[Oli] made use of the excellent PCjs browser-based emulator written by [Jeff Parsons] to demonstrate what the software is doing, without the effect being evident. If you like, you can try it out for yourselves, as the assembly listing is available on the project GitHub.

Of course, we’ve covered the digital rain effect many. many times before, for example, with this Arduino Library, and here’s a custom PC case side panel from way back in December 2021, if you can remember those days.

January 3, 2022 at 08:30PM
via Blog – Hackaday


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