Review of 12K BASIC for Nascoms
by G.S. Murray
Pascals have, rightly, been the subject of much favourable review,
put I have yet to see any comment on their 12K BASIC. Having had this BASIC
for over two years and used it extensively during that time, the following
comments may be of interest, particularly for those readers who still use
cassette tapes rather than disks.
Hisoft supply their 12K BASIC on tape at 300 baud in the format required
by their (4K) Nasmon monitor. That it needs the latter monitor has probably
been a limiting factor in BAS12K’s popularity. I was drawn to it by my need
for greater arithmetical capability for payroll and similar programs that I
was wanting to write in the days before there was a double precision package
for Nascom ROM BASIC.
The Nasmon monitor occupies addresses 0000H to 07FFH and 1000H to 17FFH.
I overcame the problem of ‘abandoning’ Nas-Sys by using a dual monitor board
on my Nascom 1. The dual monitor board allows switching between the first half
of Nasmon and Nas-Sys and, by using a double-pole switch, I am able to select
between the monitors on the Nascom and between RAM and EPROM at 1000H to
17FFH on one of my RAM ‘A’ boards. My basic system, incidentally, consists of
Nascom 1 and Buffer board with two RAM ‘A’ boards running at 4MHz without wait
states; 64K RAM except where disabled by EPROM.
And what delights does BAS12K bring to justify all this trouble? Well, of
course, it does calculations to 12 decimal places with up to 11 places
displayed. The numeric display may be controlled by a PRECISION command which
sets the number of places following the decimal point or by the sophisticated
PRINT USING command. Its other commands, apart from those which it shares in
common with most 8K BASICs, are somewhat similar to those recently described
as being in the Microsoft disk BASIC, MBASIC, apart, that is, from the file
But before commenting on those, I want to mention one feature which has
proved extremely useful; the ability to use MID$ on the left-hand side of an
assignment statement. This means that a slice of a string can easily be
altered. Because, if the string is one read from a DATA statement incorporated
in a program, the computer in READing the data merely creates a pointer to the
program line in question, any amendment of the string concerned alters the
DATA statement in the program. This will be SAVEd when the program itself is
SAVEd and thus one has a ready means of amending stored data in the absence of
formal file handling routines. If blank DATA lines of appropriate length are
incorporated in the program they can be READ as blank strings which can later
have necessary data put in them by the left-hand MID$(....) statement. Data
are incorporated in program lines in a continuous string and chopped up by
string manipulation rather than by using comma separators in DATA lines.
Programs are SAVEd and LOADed by name, which may be up to 10 characters
long. An adverse feature attaches to SAVE command and that is that it is
necessary to start the tape before pressing Enter to commence saving; the tape
autostart doesn’t operate before the name is sent to tape.
As well as the normal SAVE and LOAD commands, which use tokens for
reserved words, there are the ASAVE and ALOAD commands which keep reserved
words in their full ASCII form. Along with these two commands comes an AMERGE