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Author Topic: Q&A with Bruce Tanner (IS-BASIC writer) (Read 47090 times)

Offline BruceTanner

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Q&A with Bruce Tanner (IS-BASIC writer)
« on: 2013.February.11. 00:11:59 »
Hello,

I have just discovered your forum and thought I would introduce myself.

Nearly 30 years ago I worked as a programmer at Intelligent Software in the UK, and I wrote the IS-BASIC for the Enterprise. I then went on to write large parts of EXDOS and IS-DOS, and then moved on to BASIC and VT-DOS for the Videoton TVC. I also wrote FORTH for the Enterprise - does anyone still have that?

I am amazed to find the Enterprise still living on!

Unfortunately I never got to keep any source code, or even an Enterprise computer. What's more, it was so long ago I cannot remember many technical details - reading through your forum has brought back many things I had forgotten. By all means ask questions but I don't think I will be able to answer them - you lot know more it than me now!

Keep up the good work!

Edit 2013-03-11: changed topic title to be more meaningful
« Last Edit: 2013.March.11. 14:53:35 by BruceTanner »

Online endi

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Re: Q&A with Bruce Tanner (IS-BASIC writer)
« Reply #1 on: 2013.February.11. 00:31:21 »
wow, welcome!
isbasic is a very very good thing

Offline PiotrSoft

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Re: Q&A with Bruce Tanner (IS-BASIC writer)
« Reply #2 on: 2013.February.11. 06:31:39 »
i thank my old friend the best eight-bit basic!
Medgyesegyháza s Mezõkovácsháza után, Budapestre vetett a sors.Itt tanultam, dolgoztam mígnem megházasodtam s Budakalászra költöztem.Voltam programozó, jármû-villamossági szerelõ,jelenleg látványtechnikus és tûzoltó, de ami a legfontosabb 3 gyermek apja!

Offline PiotrSoft

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Re: Q&A with Bruce Tanner (IS-BASIC writer)
« Reply #3 on: 2013.February.11. 06:38:02 »
Ohhh!
STOP ! 
STOP!

I understand the spirit of TVC is not developed in Hungary?
Medgyesegyháza s Mezõkovácsháza után, Budapestre vetett a sors.Itt tanultam, dolgoztam mígnem megházasodtam s Budakalászra költöztem.Voltam programozó, jármû-villamossági szerelõ,jelenleg látványtechnikus és tûzoltó, de ami a legfontosabb 3 gyermek apja!

Offline geco

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Re: Q&A with Bruce Tanner (IS-BASIC writer)
« Reply #4 on: 2013.February.11. 08:50:37 »
Welcome here :)
That is very strange you could not keep the source codes :(, or you did not get an Enterprise at least.
Why did you give this name to the topic? :)

Offline Zozosoft

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Re: Q&A with Bruce Tanner (IS-BASIC writer)
« Reply #5 on: 2013.February.11. 09:06:41 »
Quote from: PiotrSoft
I understand the spirit of TVC is not developed in Hungary?
You not know it previously? The Videoton bought the licence from the Enterprise company. The TVC is the "Socialist Enterprise" :-D

Offline PiotrSoft

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Re: Q&A with Bruce Tanner (IS-BASIC writer)
« Reply #6 on: 2013.February.11. 09:17:39 »
Zozo ok! I'ts clean. surprised that genuine. :ds_icon_cheesygrin:
Medgyesegyháza s Mezõkovácsháza után, Budapestre vetett a sors.Itt tanultam, dolgoztam mígnem megházasodtam s Budakalászra költöztem.Voltam programozó, jármû-villamossági szerelõ,jelenleg látványtechnikus és tûzoltó, de ami a legfontosabb 3 gyermek apja!

Offline Zozosoft

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Re: Q&A with Bruce Tanner (IS-BASIC writer)
« Reply #7 on: 2013.February.11. 09:30:43 »
Welcome Bruce!

It's great to meet one of the developers who is made this fantastic computer!

Quote
Unfortunately I never got to keep any source code, or even an Enterprise computer.
:-(
It is possible you have any Enterprise related relics? (Documents, letters, advertisments, anything else)

Quote
By all means ask questions but I don't think I will be able to answer them - you lot know more it than me now!
I think in historical questions you know more than we! We are very interested how born our favorite computer (and the Hungarian brother)! I hope you can add lot of valuable informations to the Enterprise history!

Google Translate not problem, it is works usable, and the English speaking members can correct for the non English speaking others.

Offline Zozosoft

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Re: Q&A with Bruce Tanner (IS-BASIC writer)
« Reply #8 on: 2013.February.11. 09:43:25 »
There is the first question, I hope it is easy :-)

In the EXOS is a Easter egg: if you set the Status Line system variable to 42 then the developers initials are displayed in the status line.
8579-0

Now we know who is the 'BT' :-)
Do you know the names for the other initials?

(And why 42? The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy? :-) )
« Last Edit: 2013.February.12. 00:02:06 by MrPrise »

Offline BruceTanner

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Re: Q&A with Bruce Tanner (IS-BASIC writer)
« Reply #9 on: 2013.February.11. 11:44:54 »
> Why did you give this name to the topic?

Attempt at humour - maybe lost in translation or cultures!

>Ohhh!
>STOP !
>STOP!

>I understand the spirit of TVC is not developed in Hungary?

You can sleep easy - the spirit was developed in Hungary - just not the code! I just wrote what what Videoton asked for. TVC BASIC was a complete re-write to be smaller and faster but it "borrowed" parts from IS-BASIC, such as the BCD maths routines. I wanted to re-write those too to use the smaller and faster floating point formats that other machines of the time used, but I was not allowed!

It is a strange twist of fate that someone working in a small company in the UK ended up writing much of the software for Hungary's two best-selling computers at the time!


>It is possible you have any Enterprise related relics? (Documents, letters, advertisments, anything else)

Sadly no, the only thing I have is a copy of "Your Computer" that you already have at the top of this page http://enterprise.iko.hu/articles.htm. In the photo on the 4th page of the article I am at the top left (a bit older now!). We had worked all through the night getting things ready for the launch so are not looking our best!

Intelligent Software was a separate company to Enterprise Computers, and when Enterprise Computers got into difficulties they didn't pay IS what they owed, and IS went bankrupt. There was no warning - one day we turned up for work as usual, the next we were told not to go in. No chance to "save" anything!


>SET STATUS 42

Ha ha I had forgotten about that! And yes you are quite right 42 is the answer to life, the universe and everything from The Hithiker's Guide! Yes I am BT, the other main one is MrL who is Martin Lea. He wrote EXOS and also the low-level and File System (FISH) parts of EXDOS. GNH is probably Gavin who wrote the graphics routines in his summer holidays from university. Sorry I can't remember the others! In the "Your Computer" photo Martin is on the bottom row 4th from the left, and Gavin with long hair is next to him.

EDIT: I now think GNH's name is Gary, not Gavin!

I will attempt to write some memories of the time and post them here, but you will have to give me a few days to find time.

Edit 2012-03-11: Have change topic title to be more meaningful
« Last Edit: 2013.March.11. 14:55:13 by BruceTanner »

Offline Zozosoft

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Re: Q&A with Bruce Tanner (IS-BASIC writer)
« Reply #10 on: 2013.February.11. 12:20:21 »
Quote from: BruceTanner
TVC BASIC was a complete re-write to be smaller and faster but it "borrowed" parts from IS-BASIC
What is the situation with the EXDOS and VTDOS? About how many percentage of the code is same?

When the EXDOS accesses the disk for the first time, you hear a special sound effect by the head stepping (it is because checking for double stepping). Other systems don't do the same, only the EXDOS and VTDOS! For the first hearing you know these are brother systems :-)

Quote
It is a strange twist of fate that someone working in a small company in the UK ended up writing much of the software for Hungary's two best-selling computers at the time!

Have you ever been to Hungary?

Quote
Intelligent Software was a separate company to Enterprise Computers
Did the Enterprise Computers make the hw and did it order the sw from the Intelligent Software?

How and when did the sw development begin? Did you get a prototype computer or just the specifications?

Which system was used to develope software? Another - for example - CP/M computer?
« Last Edit: 2013.February.12. 00:07:09 by MrPrise »

Offline MrPrise

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Re: Q&A with Bruce Tanner (IS-BASIC writer)
« Reply #11 on: 2013.February.11. 12:25:12 »
Hey Bruce,
You did not mention you had worked on the Enterprise when asked me to create your account.
Of course stating your profession is not a requirement to have an account :-)
I'm just surprised and glad to read someone's posts here who actually worked on the Enterprise!
Welcome and thank you for the work you have done for the Enterprise!
« Last Edit: 2013.February.11. 13:02:00 by szipucsu »

Offline BruceTanner

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Re: Q&A with Bruce Tanner (IS-BASIC writer)
« Reply #12 on: 2013.February.11. 14:15:32 »
Quote from: Zozosoft
What is the situation with the EXDOS and VTDOS? About how many percentage of the code is same?
When the EXDOS accesses the disk for the first time, you hear a special sound effect by the head stepping (it is because checking for double stepping). Other systems don't do the same, only the EXDOS and VTDOS! For the first hearing you know these are brother systems :-)

Quite a large percentage, as you have guessed! As much as possible in fact. I can't remember the differences between EXDOS and VTDOS but in general the TVC had to be cheaper than the Enterprise, which meant smaller ROMs so "cut down" versions of the software. I remember working on VTDOS after Enterprise and IS had collapsed; 5 of us from IS had set up a new company Madge Networks to do token ring networking in the IBM PC world, but I carried on with the TVC for a while longer.

Quote
Have you ever been to Hungary?

No, I had never had anything to do with Hungary before! Obviously I knew the TVC was for Hungary but it was only some years later that I discovered that the Enterprise had been sold in Hungary too.

Quote
Did the Enterprise Computers make the hw and did it order the sw from the Intelligent Software?

IS was a design company, so we generally handed over hw schematics and ROM chips and the customer dealt with the manufacturing and marketing. Before the Enterprise all IS's work had been for chess computers of various sorts for various customers. The Enterprise was a complicated piece of hardware because it included the Nick and Dave chips of course but it was still up to Enterprise to get it into production. Things like Entersoft and the application tips were all organised by Enterprise, I don't remember even knowing about them at the time.

Quote
How and when did the sw development begin? Did you get a prototype computer or just the specifications?

I will answer that when I write my memories of the time if you don't mind because it is more complicated than you'd think!

Quote
Which system was used to develope software? Another - for example - CP/M computer?

I remember using an original IBM PC to keep the source files on 5 1/4" disks and do the Z80 cross-assembly but I don't remember what Z80 system we used. Possibly a Z80 card that went into the IBM PC. We must have had CP/M systems around too, especially when we did IS-DOS, but I can't remember what they were. BASIC development was underway long before we had prototypes bacause the Nick and Dave chip were quite late arriving. For quite a while we were writing software just by blowing EPROMs...not many debugging facilities! Maybe that was when we first got prototypes, which were big wire-wrap crates about 30cm cubed. Shhhh....at the "launch" (when the Your Computer photo was taken) there was the Enterprise on a desk and a big screen with some fancy graphics demos...but one of these big prototypes hidden under the desk!
« Last Edit: 2013.February.12. 00:11:55 by MrPrise »

Offline BruceTanner

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Re: Q&A with Bruce Tanner (IS-BASIC writer)
« Reply #13 on: 2013.February.11. 14:17:38 »
Quote from: MrPrise
Hey Bruce,
You did not mention you had worked on the Enterprise when asked me to create your account.
Of course stating your profession is not a requirement to have an account :-)
I'm just surprised and glad to read someone's posts here who actually worked on the Enterprise!
Welcome and thank you for the work you have done for the Enterprise!
No I didn't...surprise! :) I didn't want to say everything to you and then say it all over again on the forum!

Thank you for the warm welcome, and thank you everyone for the good comments about the Enterprise.
« Last Edit: 2013.February.12. 00:18:37 by MrPrise »

Offline MrPrise

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Re: Q&A with Bruce Tanner (IS-BASIC writer)
« Reply #14 on: 2013.February.11. 15:23:00 »
Quote from: BruceTanner
No I didn't...surprise! :)
It was a pleasant surprise, thanks!
« Last Edit: 2013.February.12. 00:18:30 by MrPrise »