GEMPEN, then his registration document will have been returned to Gemini, who
as far as I know have not circularized the owners of GEMPEN. This is probably
because they are more interested in supporting WORDSTAR than later versions of
DISKPEN, see the WORDSTAR commercial on
vol 2 iss 5 p 24 in the middle of the
unsolicited appraisal of DISKPEN. [Ed. – Unsolicited?? Well, I believe you!
But the reason that the comment (not commercial) was added was to make sure
that anyone reading the article was aware that the ‘equal space justification’
that the article was printed in is a feature of WordStar, and that PEN output
would be visually different. You wouldn’t like anyone to be mis-led, would
you?] What the Editor omitted to say was they he has a conversion program
that turns PEN text into WORDSTAR text, so that either is equally acceptable.
Mr Davies also asks about COMAL-80 and the disappearance of the tape
based version. The simple answer is that although it existed, it didn’t work
properly in tape based form. The trouble stems from the way in which it tries
to save a file to tape and the simplfied workings of RP/M compared with CP/M.
I don’t remember exactly what was wrong, but it was to do with COMAL checking
to see if a file existed and RP/M faking an answer which implied it did, at
this point COMAL tried to delete the file and found it couldn’t. That doesn’t
look right, but it was something on those lines, resulting in COMAL getting in
a knot. As far as I know no-one has attempted to cure the problem.
Mr. Piper of Sheffield writes complaining of the disk based content of
the mag, understanding that we publish what we’re sent. He goes on to write
that he’d like disks, but lack of pennies prohibits this, “Could someone
provide bare pcbs, etc, to allow these facilities to be provided as pocket
money allows.” The simple answer is yes, a few of the early
single density controllers are still available in both ‘pcb plus
circuits’ form, and in complete kit form at much reduced prices. Disk drives
are still a problem, but drives are becoming cheaper and can be bought new for
about £170 each by reading the small ads. Secondly, there are few second hand
knocking around which have been taken as ‘trade in’s’ for the
controller at about £70.00, likewise some dealers have second hand
drives, traded in for the same reasons, at prices between £100 and £150
depending upon condition. So it’s worth phoneing around. The last pricey thing
on the list is an operating system. This I’m afraid is going to hurt the
pocket whatever you opt for. One dealer has a few old CP/M 1.4’s for the
available, but CP/M 2.2 for most other permutations will cost about £120.
Polydos is a viable alternative for the Nascom owner, and cheaper, but will
cost about £103. The answer is that you won’t get much change out of £300 to
put a disk system together, but I’ll bet that’s a lot cheaper than you
thought. The above prices include VAT.
Mr Piper also comes up with a permutation problem with NASPEN. He says he
can’t do a Read or a Join with Nascom 1 running NAS-SYS 3. Now this is one I
haven’t heard of. As far as I know, it works, which suggests the EPROMs are
corrupt. Get them reprogrammed by Henry’s, but check which version, there was
a NASPEN VN.1 and a NASPEN VN:1 (subtle difference), the VN:1 version was
later. As I said, as far as I know, they should both work as neither Read nor
Join was monitor dependant.