Scor­pio News


October–December 1987 – Volume 1. Issue 4.

Page 11 of 55

Letters to the Editor

In my opinion

Dear Sir,

With due regard for those of the old Nascom/80-BUS congregation who have ‘defected’ (evocative word, that) to the IBM style camp, I feel I must finally rouse myself to air my views on some of the points raised, and state my views on the future direction of this magazine.

I have come up through the full (10 years say?!) from hand-built Nascom 1 running Nasbug T2 and tapes without either reliability or named files (let alone a directory), up to Nascom 2 running CP/M 2.2 and CP/M Plus with dual floppies and 512K RAM. OK, so that’s not a lot nowadays, but I have come to appreciate both the general quality of the hardware / software and the fact that information is actually available on the products – e.g. circuits and listings – at least from Nascom, Gemini and Map-80. This has allowed me to both repair the system, and also modify it to my own needs. This ain’t generally possible with IBM or compatibles.

CP/M was written off years ago by the pundits – before I could actually afford it – and it is still criticised today as being unfriendly. This can be laid firmly at the door of the relevant CBIOS author, BUT Gemini and Map-80 CBIOSs are excellent. I wish others were half as good. Even so, if CP/M is unfriendly, these critics have never lived !!! In comparison to some alternative OSs it is worth its weight in gold not to overwrite the next file on disk without warning because saving a longer file with is old name results in a rewrite..... or require that a disk be ‘compacted’ to remove ‘holes’ between files because files must be saved contiguously. With CP/Ms security and the added friendliness of the Map-80 or Gemini CBIOSs, it’s great!

Whether or not the Amstrad CP/M machines are any good or act I cannot say, except that their effect has been to reinject life into CP/M. This can do nothing but good. I have a large (for me) investment in Z80 (ask the wife!) and CP/M in particular, and do not see any reason why I should scrap my investment in hardware, software, time and knowledge while it can do 90% of what I require. The other 10% unfortunately has to be done on the office IBM-XT (256K) – I don’t have dBASE II – and experience has shown that it will require an awful lot of work and money to ‘upgrade’ to IBM and be able to do the same things. I know it’s supposed to be faster, it needs to be with the overheads.

By all means (if there is no alternative), let us include details of how MS-DOS etc. works (we may all have to go that way one day) but why stop there? MS-DOS is from Microsoft, but IBM has announced the advent of OS/2 which will carry their PCs into the future. Will MS-DOS emulate the Dodo ? Whatever is decided in the editorial ivory halls – well ceramic anyway – PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE DON’T let it become a foot in the door to out coverage (in depth) of 80-BUS products, systems and software (especially CP/M) from any manufacturer. The Scorpio News is the latest in a long line of Nascom/80-BUS related publications, and I, for one, would be most sorry to see it die.

I would alsa like to see more mention of other 80-BUS manufacturers in your pages – Map-80 for instance have always given me most courteous and helpful service, but in the previous publications it seems that their name has only appeared almost by accident… are they in from the cold at last??

So much for the past and the future. As for the present, it is a refreshing change to get a regular magazine, with hard information not waffle – Mr. Waters series on disk directories is excellent, plus the notes on ZCPR3 installation. Try finding that lot in any book with such detail!!!

As you say, the magazine can only survive if more material is contributed by others. To this end, please find a couple of enclosures for your consideration. Please keep up the high standards and don’ desert the Z80 / CP/M population – even if I AM biased. I would be prepared (just!) to pay more for a magazine which suits my requirements, but only if more loot results in more info…? It seems that the previous experiment, printing two pages on one was not popular, but I didn’t find it any problem – as long as the print quality remains high. (It could have been printed slightly larger if the surrounding picture were narrowed.) The publication frequency is OK. Don’t fail into the trap of over-extension and trying to compete with ‘weeklies’ – disaster lies down that path. Quality counts. But keep it regular (More prunes, vicar?).

Michael Newson, Banbury, Oxon.

Page 11 of 55