CP/M Suggestions

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bushnrvn's picture
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So I'm always trying to find new things to do with my Apple II. I was talking with a friend about the Microsoft Softcard and I figured it was time I started to explore CP/M. My question is this - Is the MS Softcard good enough for a solid CP/M experience? Anyone have any experience with a CP/M native machine (preference?) Emulator suggestions?

Thanks.

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Re: CP/M Suggestions

There's nothing wrong with a Softcard. I think I've read that it was the most popular CP/M platform. The Applicard/Starcard is a bit more capable, so also a worthy choice, but Softcards and Softcard clones are really easy to find.

The world of CP/M computers is complicated, without a lot of standards, leaving you to piece together computer, terminal, and disk units, and needing to find the right versions of software for that system. Fully integrated systems like Kaypros are a good place to start since they eliminate some of those complexities.

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Re: CP/M Suggestions

CP/M is a milestone operating system and a frequently underestimated predecessor to MS/DOS. There a several good reasons for using a Softcard (or clone) in your Apple II, the first being the fast amount of software available. Just think about Wordstar, Turbo Pascal and all the other famous CP/M programs from the 1980s running on your trusty II.

Even more important, CP/M bridges the gap to other computer systems of that era. That is, not only to "native" CP/M systems like the Kaypro, but also to many home computers of the second part of the 1980s - the Amstrad CPC and PCW ranges or the Commodore 128, for example. Although not disk-compatible, an Apple II with a Softcard offers most of what is available for these machines without having to buy/find another piece of hardware.

However, there are a few things to take into account. For a bigger TPA (transient program area), you'll need 128 k of RAM. An 80 Colums Card is highly recommended, too. Any accelerator you might have installed probably won't support the Softcard und has to be switched off (which can be done in software, using the appropriate poke).

In a nutshell: Go for it! And smile when you see the Microsoft-Copyright on the bootup screen for the first time Smile

-Carsten

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Re: CP/M Suggestions

There are several arguments to explore CPM besides those listed above....

One of the reasons i switched to CPM, was the access to a large variety of compilers and interpreters
that have never been availiable at the "bare" Apple II.

For example if you want to explore history of software,
some of the very early programming languages like
PL1 or FORTRAN are availiable to CPM.
Or if you want to start exploring the world of "artificial intelligence", then it
a good idea to examine LISP.
For fans of mathematics in programming MODULA will be an interesting alternative choice.
Writing programms for business then COBOL will be a excellent choice....
and there are dozends of other languages availiable too for specialized purposes.....

Another reason nowadays might be, to learn about better programming habits....
due to the fact that in former days memory was precious and expensive compilers were small
and with only very small libraries availiable....
comparing with todays language systems programs of the former days have been handy and small....

todays programs are often overloaded with giant "multi purpose libraries" where at the one hand
less than 5 % of that library is really requested at runtime wasting up to 95% of the memoryspace
with unused "programed library crap" !

Todays "general library algorythms" are overfreighted with tons of unused routines -
with that old language systems you will be forced to think about the algorythems themselves.....
analyzing what a program shall really do with some data instead of depending to other guys "brainware"....

of course that arguments can also be viewed just the opposite way:
If you prefer to stay lazy.... well then it´s better to stay off from former programming systems....

And just also another argument:
If you use habit of modularized progra, then there is a large variety of platforms to access...
you may for example push Basic, C, C++, Pascal, Fortran or Forth sources of programs
by communication programs like Kermit, Xtalk or similar from Apple II to Kaypro or even to PC then
change local parameters and localized hardware libs to the programm recompile and get the same program
running at the Apple II also running at any other computer that is able to run with CPM or CPM86 or CPM 68k !
This was called in former days "independent coding"
later changing to the term "crossplatform" .....

so at least CPM bears a lot of different challenges....
it´s up to your choice, to accept them or turn away...

speedyG

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bushnrvn's picture
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Re: CP/M Suggestions

Thanks, everyone. One more question - is the original card compatible with the IIgs? Last night, I was up a little later than usual and I was a little too succinct. I wish I had a II, but I've got a Iic and IIgs so...only one choice really.

My assumption is that if the Microsoft card did work, it would have to run in 1Mhz mode. Can anyone confirm?

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Re: CP/M Suggestions

I think so. I am using a Softcard and a Softcard clone in a GS and in a IIe, respectively. In order to work, I have to set the GS to "normal speed" (haha) and I have to disable the Ultrawarp in the IIe.

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Re: CP/M Suggestions

These cards generally add the processor required to run CP/M on your Apple ii. Depending on which card you choose, you can get that CPU running at faster speeds. The Microsoft Softcard was the most popular card to do this but as time went on, cards were produced which offered more capability.

For example, the advertising for the one from Applied Engineering: http://apple2info.net/index.php?title=Z-80_Plus

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Re: CP/M Suggestions

insanitor wrote:

These cards generally add the processor required to run CP/M on your Apple ii. Depending on which card you choose, you can get that CPU running at faster speeds. The Microsoft Softcard was the most popular card to do this but as time went on, cards were produced which offered more capability.

For example, the advertising for the one from Applied Engineering: http://apple2info.net/index.php?title=Z-80_Plus

Good to know. I love ads like this. I find it interesting that it has no qualms throwing out the Franklin/Laser names without any specific allegiance to Apple. Smile

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Re: CP/M Suggestions

Allegiance is about loyalty and nothing else in an ideal world. But with patents and lawsuits, the only one who gets the credit from producing something is the one who has enough money to protect an idea whether it be taken from someone else or not.

I know what you mean but it's a shame that things are the way they are. Why invent something if it can be taken from you when someone else wants it?

This is why all my inventions, poems and music will only be released to the public if I choose to do so or when after or slightly before my demise.

Conversely, just look at China. They just drive me insane.

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Re: CP/M Suggestions

theart02 wrote:

I think so. I am using a Softcard and a Softcard clone in a GS and in a IIe, respectively. In order to work, I have to set the GS to "normal speed" (haha) and I have to disable the Ultrawarp in the IIe.

What ROM is your GS?

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Re: CP/M Suggestions

It's a ROM 03. The Softcard Clone is in #4.

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Re: CP/M Suggestions

Is there any sense in plugging a CTC timer in the applicard's empty socket?

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Re: CP/M Suggestions

georgel wrote:

Is there any sense in plugging a CTC timer in the applicard's empty socket?

How is the relevant? Maybe you can start a new thread to discus the merits of adding a CTC chip.

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Re: CP/M Suggestions

Oh, you are irrelevant, too, my little fellow Wink

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Re: CP/M Suggestions

georgel wrote:

my little fellow Wink

Well, if your not mine, I'm not yours.

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Re: CP/M Suggestions

I am not your fool but you are my fellow Wink You missed the logic as always.

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Re: CP/M Suggestions

georgel wrote:

You missed the logic as always.

Must have been lost in translation.

Now we are completely irrelevant.

As to the CTC in an Applicard, I seem to recall there used to be a thing called a Klein Serial Card, or some such thing, that used it. The card plugged into the expansion connector. I'm not aware of any other hardware that required the CTC. As for software, I know a friend of mine in the physics department at the University of Toronto wrote his own code for the CTC on the Applicard to time events in an experiment he was conducting. I've never come across anything else that used it, but that's not to say nothing else did.

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