80-Bus News


January–February 1984, Volume 3, Issue 1

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Letters to the Editor

Please note that occasionally there may be a considerable interval between the receipt of a letter and the time that it materialises in this column. Consequently events that have occurred in the meantime may make the letter out of date. If this is the case we apologise for any inconvenience thus caused.

MBASIC, 16 bit, & other bits

I was pleased to find that at least one 80-BUS user had read my article on disk MBASIC (Letters – 80-BUS News Vol.2, Iss.4).

The version of MBASIC that I use is 5.21 (July 1981) and it really is possible to include comments on the same line as program statements without, as Mr Stuckey suggests, the obligatory colon before the apostrophe. This appears in all manuals I have seen which have been issued after 1977 and applies to both Disk and ‘Extended’ versions only. It is also available in a number of mainframe BASICs (such as PDP and DEC – which I have used for more than 10 years).

It will be very interesting to see what transpires in the way of high level languages and operating system(s) as support for the promised 80-bus 16 bit CPU card (from Gemini, I understand, although they denied having any such revolutionary ideas a few months ago!). I suspect that Pascal will be available, and possibly Fortran as well (since Prospero Software already have a 16-bit PASCAL available and it would be useful to have a 16-bit version of their excellent implementation of FORTRAN when they get round to it); it would be a pity if some form of BASIC will not be supported, but it seems probable that its use will be confined to 8-bit machines, to die a lingering death. Will we need to spend lots of money on CP/M-86 or will MSDOS be the preferred operating system – and will our 8-bit CP/Ms be totally redundant? What about compatibility with our AVCs, MAP RAM cards and colour cards? I look forward to hearing more about it – price, estimated launch date, etc.

Does anyone actually use COMAL-80? I noticed that Atherton’s book was mentioned in the last issue of 80-BUS News – and having used the aforementioned text, I rapidly came to the conclusion that it was better to learn PASCAL and forget that COMAL ever existed since it is, in reality, only a “souped-up” and rather poor subset of BASIC with vaguely Pascal-like structuring. A comparison between interpreted “MBASIC and COMAL-80 using the PCW benchmark programs showed that COMAL was significantly slower on almost all the programs apart from BM8 (which involved some work with intrinsic functions) where it was twice as fast as the BASIC, taking 27 seconds to carry out a 1000 times loop with log, sine and exponentiation.

Yours sincerely, P D Coker, Farnborough, Kent

[Ed. – I note from a magazine that Prospero are advertising their Pascal and Fortran in both 8 and 16 bit forms – it is to be hoped that the 16 bit versions are not just code conversions of the 8 bit versions, if this is the case they are likely to be slower!]

Angry at Nascom

I am writing to you to air my anger and frustration at Lucas Logic. I have been a faithful supporter of Nascom for 5 years, but Lucas Logic’s absence from the PCW Computer Show was the final straw.

With the launching of two new products – the LX Printer and the LX80 MicroComputer – it was the ideal platform to advertise. Obviously they couldn’t give a damn!

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