80-Bus News


January–February 1983, Volume 2, Issue 1

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machine code onto a different processor then a Cross-Assembler package is an extra. Printer spooling is also supported and a turtlegraphics package is available. A special utility to read and write CP/M files is also available enabling the transfer of data and text files from one operating system to another. This utility even goes one up on PIP by allowing you to reconfigure the block size, disk capacity, directory length, etc. for different disks. (With PIP you are stuck with the parameters specified in your BIOS.)

On the commercial side, UCSD still lags a little behind CP/M (in terms of the amount of applications software available), but that situation is changing rapidly.

Although originally developed for a university/​educational environment, it was commercial interest which led to the setting up of SoftTech Microsystems to market the UCSD p-System. When implementations of UCSD for the Apple and SuperBrain became available – the Apple adaptation, in particular, proving very popular (outselling even Visicalc) they were the motivation for a wide range of business software. More recently, Sirius, IBM and Osborne have adopted UCSD. The latest state-of-the-art business micro, the Sage II, based on the Motorola 68000 and streets ahead of the other 16-bit micros, has adopted UCSD as its favoured operating system. In addition, many universities (including Oxford, Cardiff, Bath and Edinburgh) run UCSD as their favoured environment for micros. The portability and adaptability of the system means that it can run on even cheaper micros (e.g. Nascom/​Gemini) and the price advantage must surely make UCSD on these micros a very attractive proposition.

A considerable amount of business software is now on the market (a brief list is available from me if you send an SAE (get my address from my Ad.)) for UCSD, including the most advanced accounting, modelling, word processing and database packages. (Some of these have even received the unprecedented bouquet of approval by IBM for their Displaywriter and Personal Computer.) Most of these packages were originally developed on an Apple. They were thus designed to run in limited memory. The demand for them to run on IBM, Sirius, Sage, etc. has now required that any hardware dependent features be removed and only the standard portable I/O facilities be used. There should, therefore, be no problems in running them straight away on a Nascom with 64K and some may run in 48K.

Nascom Implementation

When I set about implementing UCSD on my Nascom I was unemployed and desperately looking for some way to earn some pennies. From the beginning, therefore, I had my eye on the possibility of making the system available for sale.

I was immediately faced with the prospect of lots of different 80-Bus compatible disk controllers, video controllers, and printers, several different types of drives and several different disk formats. Since I had 8″ drives (which I got cheap because they had been discontinued) I obviously had to write my own disk drivers anyway and so I decided to write a new boot ROM which would contain the drivers for virtually any mix of controllers, drives and formats. This is called AllBoot and more information can be had by sending an SAE to me. (I decided not to bother with the old Henelec controller which used the PIO and was thus too limited and incompatible with the Gemini GM809 and Lucas Logic FDC to make it worth my while. I have not yet looked at the new Gemini GM829 FDC/​hard disk card either [Ed. – from a 5.25″ point of view it is 100 per cent compatible with the GM809])

Now for the actual implementation:

The version provided for the Nascom (and planned for Gemini) will be an implementation of the latest (version IV.1) Z80 Adaptable System. This allows for future extension of the SBIOS to accommodate a hard disk and provides a versatile

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