There are two reasons. First of all, it comes free with CP/M, and as yet DRI
have not seen fit to supply a free WordStar or GEMPEN. Secondly, it is not
slow, and (rareity of rareities) can be driven from a SUBMIT file for most of
its functions. I know no other editor which will allow that. Unimpressed cries
of “So?”. Let me tell you a story.
It was a dark and stormy night – sorry, I forgot I wasn’t Snoopy. Some
time ago, I needed to transfer a suite of programs and data from an Osborne.
This was due to the ridiculous disc capacity of that machine, making it unable
to cope with the amount of information without major revision of the program.
So, as a simple expedient, we thought, “Send it all down to Rory’s
which has 800k drives attached, and let it get on with it”. We (naturally) did
not have a modem transfer program, and even if we had, we could not at that
time access the status port on the Osborne RS232 line, which modem programs
always require. So we broke the programs and data up into 4k blocks, converted
to Intel Hex format, and pipped them out through the PIP:. The
them through the RDR:. 25 files! We did the entire transmission under a SUBMIT
file. Similarly at the receiving end, we used another SUBMIT file. We
discovered that PIP and the PTP: add 40 nulls to the start of each
transmission, and we had to get these off before LOADing the files back to
using the [H] option will clear the nulls), we added a few lines to the SUBMIT
file to call up ED, strip off 40 nulls from the file in question, exit ED and
LOAD the file. Including transmission, the whole job took about one hour,
which we spent watching ‘Yes Minister’ on TV, keeping an eye on the computers
every ten minutes or so.
Anyway, enough of a digression. Back to our muttons. This book also deals
with assembly language and CP/M. I should stress that it doesn’t do this as
80-BUS News, Vol 2, No. 4), nor for that matter does
the last book, but well enough (apart from 8080
mnemonics) to get you started
in the right direction. It has an interesting final chapter giving patches to
cure some of the bugs in the standard CP/M transients (the patch for PIP is
already available in the HR Utilities disc). If you know a bit about CP/M, and
are a computer enthusiast, then this is probably the book for you.
Z80 Assembly Language Subroutines by Leventhal and Saville, published
Osborne/McGraw-Hill is of the usual high standard of Leventhal’s works. It
treats Assembly language programming on the assumption that the reader will
have had experience in some form of assembly language – it is by way of a
conversion manual to the Z80 from other machines. The authors deal with
methods of getting the addressing modes not supported in the Z80, which makes
for very interesting reading. They include a discussion of common programming
errors, and 58 fully commented listings of useful subroutines such as
HEX/ASCII conversion, array addressing etc. These are fully commented, with
details of the calling conventions, registers used, and times taken. If only
we had had this book four years ago! As an added bonus, it uses Z80 mnemonics!
SuperCalc! The Book by D.H. Beil, published Reston (distr. Prentice-Hall) is
concerned with taking the reader through the facilities of SuperCalc. It is
very clear and easy to follow, although you have to follow the route the
author maps out, for easiest reading. It contains a full description of the
SuperCale commands, with detailed examples. I’m using it in conjunction with
SC – SC has a good help level, but often one needs the explanation expanded
somewhat. For this I refer to Beil. It also contains a full bibliography of
articles and books on SuperCalc and other spreadsheets.