al). Nor for that matter am I child psychologist, or at least no more of a
child psychologist than the average father of three daughters who wishes to
retain some self-respect in his own household needs to be. Perhaps the matter
of the suitability from an educational point of view of this particular
version of BASIC ought to be left to those far more qualified to judge. I
suspect they’ll still be thrashing that one around even when we achieve
biological computers which don’t require languages.
As to the BBC language itself. Yes I am well aware of the Z80 CP/M
version of it, having had an early copy for about eighteen months. I agree
entirely with Mr. Hellens quoted comment (above), and particularly like the 10
digit maths precision for normal use. It is also comparitively cheap. The
onboard assembler (Z80 mnemonics in the CP/M version) gets round the sort of
problems encountered with video cards as discussed in my last piece, very
neatly. However, I still have reservations about the way in which it uses
procedures as well as (and/or) subroutines. This sort of structure is very
‘unBASIC’ and far more reminiscent of Pascal and ‘C’ hence my renaming the
language. This is not intended to be derogatory, simply an expression of the
fact that I feel the language to be a hybrid calling upon the better bits of
others and therefore justifying a new name. After all, Comal has been
recognised as a separate language, and yet is not as radical as BBC BASIC.
As a language, I find it easy to program (when thought of as simply
BASIC), and a little bit harder when some of the clever frills are used, which
in turn promote the use of structures in programming which are both compact
and easy to read. Its most commendable feature is that it is very fast indeed.
At some point I must persuade Steve Hanselmann to publish his BBC tape reading
and writing programs which he has written to transfer stuff to and from a
BEEB, as the BEEB at least uses the Kansas City (CUTS) tape interface as do
the Gemini and Nascom 2. BBC BASIC is available in Gemini and Nascom CP/M
formats from OFF RECORDS of Battersea.
Not to me at work!!
On the subject of letters addressed to me, please send them to 80-BUS or
my home address. Please DO NOT send them to me at work, I get embarrassed when
I have to explain to the boss why my personal mail is larger than his!!
Paddy Coker’s article on erasing EPROMs was very good, but I note a
couple of variations from a chat I had with a guy from TI a long time ago, and
that I seem to remember were published. Firstly keeping EPROMs cool during
erasure. Now this fella told me that EPROMs slow up as they are repeatedly
erased and reprogrammed, and that the trick here was to cook them for about 20
minutes at 100 deg C, this brought them back to speed. There was a time when
we used an 80 watt quartz sun ray lamp tube (you know the type, those cheap
heat & light type sun ray lamps with the heater elements removed and replace
by a 80 watt fluorescent light choke) at about an inch from the EPROMs. They
got darned hot, but didn’t seem to suffer any fatalities (either short or long
term), so I don’t know. These days we use an 8 watt 12″ fluorescent tube
specially made for EPROM erasure. This keeps the chips nice and cool, and I go
along with that, but Paddy is right about TI chips, they take ages. Perhaps TI
ones need the heat?
One other point, safety. I must re-emphasize Paddy’s remarks. UV light is
dangerous!!! It is carsinogenic, that is, it is known to be a contributory
cause of cancers. I have a friend who has recently undergone operations for
cataracts in both eyes and the attributable cause is UV light. He used to work
for a PC production company exposing the resist coated boards. He was in the