80-Bus News


January–February 1983 · Volume 2 · Issue 1

Page 4 of 56

Letters To The Editor.

Right of Reply.

May I claim the accused’s right of reply to Mr Perkins review of HS-1N (80-BUS Vol. 1, Issue 4)? But first, congratulations on a very thorough piece of detective work on the hardware and firmware!

We designed HS-1N for our own use in mid 1980, because we had Philips DCRs and Nascom 2s, and no prospect of ‘official’ disk drives. Following a demonstration of the system at the Scottish Amateur Computer Society in Dec ’80, we were approached by Microspares and we negotiated a license for them to manufacture the product. We accept now that further work should have been done on the design at that stage, but we simply passed the prototype designs to Microspares and let them deal with the PCB, manufacture, manuals etc.

Design bugs:– We had already implemented NASIO on our N2s, and did not need DBDR, and hence did not implement these on-board in our prototype. They are implemented on current boards. The conflict between the SIO and Page Mode memory arose because we received assurance from Nascom in mid 1980 that no existing or planned product would use ports F8-FF. Current boards are supplied using ports 78-7F.

Firmware bugs:– The bugs in ‘Initialise’ are real – no excuse is available, except that if the system is properly used, and no tape is removed without ‘eXiting’, the bugs remain hidden! The criticism of the error handling routines (which use the HS-1N warm start after issuing the error message) applies equally to Nascom ROM BASIC when used by machine code calls, but the revised operating system (HS-1N+) avoids this by using a RAM vector, which can be patched to divert error routine calls back to a user’s program.

I accept the criticisms of the absolute calls to Nas-Sys, and the use of address 0 to discard unwanted data. It takes several months of use to be reasonably sure that there are no major bugs in a system, and in this case pragmatism defeated the desire to rewrite the program and and purge its impurities!

ZEAP files were not directly supported simply because we do not use ZEAP, but the faster but apparently no longer obtainable Z2, which we have patched to allow direct access to HS-1N+. Relocation of files as they are loaded is supported by HS-1N+, and is an essential feature of HS-Kit, the toolkit for Xtal BASIC and HS-1N+ which Mr Perkins referred to in his review. This allows access to files by name from Xtal BASIC, but the additional code for this is just too much to be incorporated into a 2K operating system ROM. In our initial specification we deliberately chose access by number, not by name.

Yours sincerely,
Dr M.D. Hendry, HS Design Ltd.,
Linley, East Rd., Cupar, Fife. KY15 4HR.

Pascal facilities and PIO ports

Please allow me to comment on some items that cropped up in the Nov/​Dec ’82 issue.

Dr. Dark raised a couple of queries with regard to Pascal. He claimed that Pascal does not have the same simple string-handling facilities that BASIC

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