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Author Topic: Q&A with Bruce Tanner (IS-BASIC writer) (Read 47088 times)

Offline BruceTanner

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Re: Q&A with Bruce Tanner (IS-BASIC writer)
« Reply #45 on: 2013.February.14. 00:58:37 »
Quote from: Zozosoft
I think it is the third most popular 8 bit machine after the C64 and Zx Spectrum!
Enterprise launch in Hungary at 1987 May 19.
And there is our cake at the 20th anniversary :-D
It is very interesting you not heard about the Enterprise Computers Gmbh!
It is started at 1985 August 13. the news is in the Private Enterprise magazine Issue 2 at page 5.
And it is still alive after the UK Enterprise bankrupt. Currently don't know when closed, but in the early 90's years is still working. It is continued the developing. We heard about a new Enterprise model is under development but never see :-( talked about a PC like case with separated keyboard, Hitachi Super Z80, EXOS 3.0 with EGI (Enterprise Graphical Interface), onboard EXDOS, etc...

The German company never call the original developers for continuing the work?

If the German keyboard is new for you, what do you think about these? :-)
Do you looking for own one? I can send one if you want!
Wow! Love that cake! Looks like that joystick might be more robust than the original! :)

It is possible I did a version of IS-BASIC with German error messages but I can't remember doing it. I didn't know Enterprise Gmbh continued after Enterprise UK collapsed, that is a surprise! That new Enterprise model would have been awesome!

It just goes to show how insulated we were in IS from what Enterprise Computers were doing.

I'm sure we had nothing more to do with the Enterprise after the collapse of IS and Enterprise UK...we were very busy with our next venture! I have often thought how few software iterations there were - normally there is a continual cycle of bug fixes and releases with software. In my memory it just didn't happen much, I always assumed because it just ended at the collapse. There is a huge amount of hand-written assembly in IS-BASIC, EXOS and EXDOS - there must be loads of bugs!

And I definitely have never seen that Arabic keyboard! Does it print from right to left on the screen?

That is very kind of you to offer to send me an Enterprise - thank you very much - I will get back to you about that. I have just bid on one on Ebay that also has a FORTH cartridge which is the first I have seen since I have been looking, so I will wait to see what happens. I am more proud of the FORTH than the BASIC - it was way faster than the other FORTHs around at the time, even the FORTH-only Jupiter ACE. IS-BASIC has a lot of good features, but speed is not one of them!

Offline Zozosoft

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Re: Q&A with Bruce Tanner (IS-BASIC writer)
« Reply #46 on: 2013.February.14. 10:47:31 »
Quote from: BruceTanner
It is possible I did a version of IS-BASIC with German error messages but I can't remember doing it.
Your memory is good! The German messages are in the language expansion ROM, this also contains a new KEYBOARD device and character set, and EXOS command and variables for switching the language. Later Hungarian, Spanish and Danish versions were made.

But what your team did: built in the capabilities into the EXOS and BASIC for the extension programs can handle the messages.
This is the miracle of the Enterprise: everything can be expanded!
« Last Edit: 2013.February.14. 12:12:29 by szipucsu »

Offline Zozosoft

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Re: Q&A with Bruce Tanner (IS-BASIC writer)
« Reply #47 on: 2013.February.14. 12:08:43 »
Quote from: BruceTanner
There is a huge amount of hand-written assembly in IS-BASIC, EXOS and EXDOS - there must be loads of bugs!
Yes we know some bugs but there are surprisingly few! I fixed some of them.
The funniest one is in the EXDOS:
8589-0
8591-1
8593-2
:-D

In the EXOS 2.0 there is a very spectacular bug at the startup: at the power on the Nick registers filled with random values, and the EXOS 2.0 not set the border to black before the RAM test. This means most of the screen is filled with random border color.
This bug is fixed in the EXOS 2.1 but I don't understand why it had not been noticed previously by the developers.
But now when you talked about the wired prototypes I got a idea: it is possible the wired prototype started with zero filled registers and the problem became visible only after the real Nick chips had arrived?

Quote
And I definitely have never seen that Arabic keyboard! Does it print from right to left on the screen?
Unfortunately we only know: 4000 EP64 went to Egypt. Lately one English man worked in Egypt and bought old computers in flea market and sold in Ebay. These arabic EP-s are from him. The machine works as a normal English machine.
I asked him if he had ever seen Arabic sw for these but he said he had never found any EP sw.
Probably originally the Arabic expansion could be found on cassette tape (I think it's no problem to write "right-to-left" VIDEO device), and these tapes are lost during the long time. But it is also possible that the Arabic expansion was only a future plan...

But it any case, the Arabic keyboard looks very interesting :-)

We also know 3000 Enterprises went to Sovietunion, but don't know if these are cyrillic?

Quote
also has a FORTH cartridge which is the first I have seen since I have been looking, so I will wait to see what happens.
If you don't win it, then I also can make Forth EPROM, we have the ROM image. (And I also have an original tape version.)

Quote
I am more proud of the FORTH than the BASIC
Do you want to start an IS-FORTH course for the beginners? Unfortunately we know very little about the FORTH :-(


Quote
IS-BASIC has a lot of good features, but speed is not one of them!
Yes, some more Mhz make it better. In Hungary there are 6 and 7.12Mhz Turbo Enterprises, too :-)
But why was the Enterprise not released originaly with 6Mhz CPU? This design is originally ready for this!
Only the oscillator needed replacing, Z80B instead the Z80A, and modify only one bit in the EXOS (for Dave initialized with 6Mhz frequency). After the long delays this 50% extra speed was some compensation and some advantages over competitors.
« Last Edit: 2013.February.14. 15:00:34 by Zozosoft »

Offline BruceTanner

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Re: Q&A with Bruce Tanner (IS-BASIC writer)
« Reply #48 on: 2013.February.14. 20:53:51 »
Quote from: Zozosoft
 After the long delays this 50% extra speed was some compensation and some advantages over competitors.
:oops: but :lol: at the same time!

You may well be right about the border colour. Another possibility is either a different batch of Nick chips with the first batch happening to power up with the register at zero by accident, but not the later batch. Another possibility is just slightly different conditions as the Enterprise comes out of reset eg. different capacitor values on the reset line or different properties of the power supply. I have seen problems with this sort of thing since - it's easy to write a program that forgets to initialise a variable because it always powers up as zero, only for a production change to change that and break the sw.

I would probably need a manual for my own FORTH because I cannot remember enough about it from all those years ago! It's a very efficient language and in the hands of a skilled programmer can produce very readable code, but in the hands of an unskilled one produces a complete unintelligible mess! Large amounts of the US Space Shuttle was apparently written in FORTH (not mine!) :eek:

I can't answer your question about the Z80B. I can only imagine that it was either a cost or availability issue. As you say it might have partially compensated for all the delays. I am continually amazed and flattered by what you have done with the Enterprise and in how much depth you have researched it!
« Last Edit: 2013.February.15. 01:30:57 by MrPrise »

Offline BruceTanner

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Re: Q&A with Bruce Tanner (IS-BASIC writer)
« Reply #49 on: 2013.February.14. 21:05:28 »
Quote from: BruceTanner
...in general the TVC had to be cheaper than the Enterprise, which meant smaller ROMs so "cut down" versions of the software.
I have just remembered another reason (possibly the main reason) why the TVC had to be "cut down" - there were UK government restrictions on exports of high technology to Hungary at the time we were developing it. Low-tech was ok, so a 6845 video display chip would have been ok as they could tell it couldn't be used in a nuclear weapon, but a high-tech Nick chip would have been a no-no. Presumably things had changed by the time 20,000 Enterprises were shipped there! A sign of the times.

Offline Zozosoft

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Re: Q&A with Bruce Tanner (IS-BASIC writer)
« Reply #50 on: 2013.February.14. 21:21:42 »
Quote from: BruceTanner
:oops: but :lol: at the same time!
For the EXDOS bug? :-)
It is at the boot sector verification. At one point if the disk parameters are invalid, returned with error flag (NZ), but not loaded error code to the A register, it is contain garbage from the previous calculations. Later this garbage handled as error code. If you select right values for the invalid boot sector then you can select any error message :-)

Quote
Another possibility is just slightly different conditions as the Enterprise comes out of reset eg. different capacitor values on the reset line or different properties of the power supply.
At the final Enterprises the reset not reset the Nick only the Dave and Z80.

Quote
I would probably need a manual for my own FORTH because I cannot remember enough about it from all those years ago!
I got the original English user manul few months ago (previously we never have it :-( ), I will scan it shortly! Today I leafed through the book, it is look a very interesting programing language!

First question: it is talking separately about the IS-FORTH and then the Enterprise specific FORTH things.
The IS-FORTH is released for other systems? Or it is planned for later but not happened because the collapse?

Quote
I can't answer your question about the Z80B. I can only imagine that it was either a cost or availability issue.
I hope one day somebody from the Enterprise Computers will find us and can answer for this and many other questions!

Offline NoP

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Re: Q&A with Bruce Tanner (IS-BASIC writer)
« Reply #51 on: 2013.February.14. 21:42:25 »
Good evening, Bruce! It's really cool to have someone onboard who contributed as much to the Enterprise computer as you have! Your posts are quite entertaining, and they bring back a lot of fond memories... for all of us, as it seems. :) The Enterprise was so much better than any of the toys of that era... I mean... it really was intelligent. ;) I'm still laughing at console windows these days that don't wrap around words so nicely at the end of a line as the Enterprise editor did... sure, CP/M and MS-DOS have existed quite a few years before _our_ computer, but come on, this is the 2010s now, and they still don't do it - or am I missing something?

Could you share some information about EXOS versions prior to 2.x? Or was 1.x simply what we would call an 0.x alpha/beta build today?
« Last Edit: 2013.February.14. 21:47:04 by NoP »

Offline Zozosoft

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Re: Q&A with Bruce Tanner (IS-BASIC writer)
« Reply #52 on: 2013.February.14. 21:55:57 »
Quote from: BruceTanner
there were UK government restrictions on exports of high technology to Hungary
It is not only the UK, generally the West countries made a technology embargo against the Eastern block.
We called it as COCOM lista. For example the C64, IBM PC, etc also couldn't be exported to Hungary in these years. These were  bought in Wien and hidden in the car and hoping the Customs officer won't find it...

Quote
Low-tech was ok, so a 6845 video display chip would have been ok
Up to now we know the story: The Videoton bought the early version of the Enterprise.
You say this is false story (probably at that time the Hungarian management told this), it is not an early version, it is a cut version which meet the technical embargo?

How did the TVC developement happen at the IS? Is it another wired prototype? Or you got a real machine?
« Last Edit: 2013.February.15. 23:09:07 by szipucsu »

Offline Zozosoft

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Re: Q&A with Bruce Tanner (IS-BASIC writer)
« Reply #53 on: 2013.February.14. 22:05:08 »
Quote from: NoP
Could you share some information about EXOS versions prior to 2.x? Or was 1.x simply what we would call an 0.x alpha/beta build today?
We have a EXOS 1 Technical Manual! And there is the Hungarian summary about the found differences

For help refreshing Bruce memory I will write summary what we know about the early versions, and I hope Bruce can add more information pieces for the history.

Offline BruceTanner

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Re: Q&A with Bruce Tanner (IS-BASIC writer)
« Reply #54 on: 2013.February.14. 22:48:44 »
Quote from: NoP
Good evening, Bruce! It's really cool to have someone onboard who contributed as much to the Enterprise computer as you have! Your posts are quite entertaining, and they bring back a lot of fond memories... for all of us, as it seems. :) The Enterprise was so much better than any of the toys of that era... I mean... it really was intelligent. ;) I'm still laughing at console windows these days that don't wrap around words so nicely at the end of a line as the Enterprise editor did... sure, CP/M and MS-DOS have existed quite a few years before _our_ computer, but come on, this is the 2010s now, and they still don't do it - or am I missing something?

Could you share some information about EXOS versions prior to 2.x? Or was 1.x simply what we would call an 0.x alpha/beta build today?
Thank you; now you mention it I do remember having long discussions about word wrapping and what a "word" is, and yes I agree with you there are many editors and word processors that still do not get it right, it drives me mad too! It's not difficult, it just needs thought and attention to detail.

Unfortunately my memory is rather hazy on how EXOS went from 1.x to 2.x but I will read zozo's documents and see if it jogs any memories.

Offline BruceTanner

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Re: Q&A with Bruce Tanner (IS-BASIC writer)
« Reply #55 on: 2013.February.14. 23:15:59 »
Quote from: Zozosoft
It is not only the UK, generally the West countries made a technology embargo against the Eastern block.
We called it as COCOM lista. For example the C64, IBM PC, etc also cannot be exported to Hungary in these years. These are bought in Wien and hidden in the car and hopping the Customs officer don't find it...
Up to now we know the story: The Videoton bought the early version of the Enterprise.
You say, this is false story (probably at that time the Hungarian management told this), it is not a early version, it is a cutted version which is meet with the technical embargo?

The TVC developement how happened at the IS? It is a another wired prototype? Or you got a real machine?
Ah COCOM...that rings a bell!

I'm pretty sure the TVC was a new hw design put together by Videoton, not IS. I do remember having to wait for the hw to be shipped to us from Hungary. But they may have bought the Enterprise design and used some ideas (like the built-in joystick). There's certainly no Nick or Dave chip on the circuit board! It is possible IS's hw engineers were involved with the design but I don't recall seeing or using a prototype in the UK.

The video is completely different (no Nick), the sound is different (no Dave) and the memory paging is less flexible (again, no Dave). As far as I know there was never an early Enterprise without Nick and Dave - I certainly never saw one and we didn't use one for sw development. And the TVC software was definitely written after the Enterprise software. The BASIC was written from scratch but I can't remember what happened about the OS - it might have had the EXOS calls etc or it might have been completely different - you probably know more than me!
« Last Edit: 2013.February.15. 01:34:32 by MrPrise, Reason: Fixed link »

Offline Zozosoft

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Re: Q&A with Bruce Tanner (IS-BASIC writer)
« Reply #56 on: 2013.February.14. 23:46:19 »
In Hungary all sold machine is Enterprise 128 with EXOS 2.1 and IS-BASIC 2.1.
We were thinking about for a long time why 2.1?
Later at the internet time when firstly contacted with English users get the surprise: the Enterprise 64 have a EXOS 2.0 and IS-BASIC 2.0.
Ok, it is a earlier version... but why 2.0??, where is the 1.x?


In the last few years I got some documents which are from the pre 2.0 times!
Sorted by release date:
- 1983 Danish Setup Guide for ELAN(!) Enterprise 64
- 1984 March Technical Answers from the Enterprise Computers

- 1984 Sept EXOS 1 Technical Manual (subversion unknow :-( ) originaly come with the 000043. machine to a sw developer. But the machine have a 2.0 ROMs (but in EPROM not a ROM).

Early Function key labels, this is shown on many books on the cover Enteprise 64 photo.
8595-0


The ELAN Setup Guide from 1983 is very amazing! The Enterprise Computers thought the launch is very near and printed out the books? And later the English ELAN books smashed, but the somebody thinked the Danish version not too important, enought good the old version. (I asked the owner, the machine and the Programming Guide is a normal English version.)


The interesting things from this book:
No cartridge at the accessories!
8597-1
Later it is talking about the cartridge as expansion capatibilities.


Startup screen is very different than the well known!
8599-2
This is the normal, from the final Setup Guide:
8601-3


The Technical Answers 19. also say 58K free memory what we see at the ELAN startup screen.

On the early Function Label we see a very interesting commands ECHO, COPY...
The answer 42. talking about these: this is a word processing function.


And differences from the EXOS 1 Technical manual:
- no time/date functions
- some EXOS variables are missing. The most important the CRDISP_FLAG (this can enable/disable the blinking ENTERPRISE start up screen)
- no EXOS file format. This means machine code program can't loaded directly. Some very early machine code games (for example Beatcha) using BASIC loaders for loading the code. I think this is the reason.
The loadable EXOS extensions are also missing.
- for the ROM extension no RAM area allocating, and no initialization CALL
- video device using 256 characters set, the 128 characters are doubled as default. Later 128 characters set used, this is reduced the memory usage with 1152 bytes.


What we think about these:
Originaly the EXOS and the BASIC still in one ROM chip on the motherboard, no cartridge needed! The machine is directly started with the BASIC, no ENTERPRISE copyright display.
Programs can be LOAD-ed by the BASIC such as other machines.
No WP, but the BASIC have some primitive word processing (type and print) capatibilities.


When the release is delayed because the custom chip problems, the programmers used the time for made whole software better and better and better...
When run out the ROM space, then the decision: BASIC will going to the cartridge! Then the EXOS got a lot of free space, added the EXOS module format, loadable system extensions, etc. Plus added the normal Word Processor program, and in the remaining space the blinking ENTERPRISE startup screen.

Probably the BASIC is also extended, but currently don't know about it :-(
Some parts of the BASIC still remain in the onboard ROM, if I know right then the mathematical routines. Other languages (LISP, FORTH) use these routines?



And it is very interesting: the EXOS 1 manual from 1984 September. The EXOS 2.0 from 1984 November.
All of these enhacements writed in these few months?

Offline Zozosoft

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Re: Q&A with Bruce Tanner (IS-BASIC writer)
« Reply #57 on: 2013.February.15. 00:05:28 »
Quote from: BruceTanner
I certainly never saw one and we didn't use one for sw development.
It is very interesting! The sw how tested? You send to Hungary, and go back a bug list, fixing, send a new version...?

Quote
what happened about the OS - it might have had the EXOS calls etc or it might have been completely different - you probably know more than me!
It is different but the principles are very similar! I think it is reduced version of the EXOS for the simplier hw.

Offline BruceTanner

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Re: Q&A with Bruce Tanner (IS-BASIC writer)
« Reply #58 on: 2013.February.15. 00:10:15 »
Quote from: Zozosoft
What we think about these:
Originaly the EXOS and the BASIC still in one ROM chip on the motherboard, no cartridge needed! The machine is directly started with the BASIC, no ENTERPRISE copyright display.
Programs can be LOAD-ed by the BASIC such as other machines.
No WP, but the BASIC have some primitive word processing (type and print) capatibilities.


When the release is delayed because the custom chip problems, the programmers used the time for made whole software better and better and better...
When run out the ROM space, then the decision: BASIC will going to the cartridge! Then the EXOS got a lot of free space, added the EXOS module format, loadable system extensions, etc. Plus added the normal Word Processor program, and in the remaining space the blinking ENTERPRISE startup screen.

Probably the BASIC is also extended, but currently don't know about it :-(
Some parts of the BASIC still remain in the onboard ROM, if I know right then the mathematical routines. Other languages (LISP, FORTH) use these routines?



And it is very interesting: the EXOS 1 manual from 1984 September. The EXOS 2.0 from 1984 November.
All of these enhacements writed in these few months?
Once again zozo I think you have worked out the situation perfectly. So am I right in thinking 1.x is Elan, 2.x is Enterprise? I think we just carried on developing until the hw was nearly ready to ship! And you are quite right the original intention was for everything to fit in the internal ROM with no BASIC cartridge, but we ended up having to split BASIC between a cartridge and the internal ROM. There was no plan to allow other cartridges to access the BASIC floating point in the internal ROM - I don't know if it would work or not and I wouldn't be surprised if it didn't! I'm not even sure what would happen if you used the "wrong" version of the BASIC cartridge for the internal ROM.

I'm not sure about those manual dates - possibly we just edited the EXOS 1 manual a bit to make it suitable for external publication, and changed the date at the same time!

Offline BruceTanner

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Re: Q&A with Bruce Tanner (IS-BASIC writer)
« Reply #59 on: 2013.February.15. 00:16:02 »
Quote from: Zozosoft
It is very interesting! The sw how tested? You send to Hungary, and go back a bug list, fixing, send a new version...?
It is different but the principles are very similar! I think it is reduced version of the EXOS for the simplier hw.
No, I think they sent us a machine from Hungary. I remember waiting for it to clear customs. I may have done one or two revisions but they had everything they needed to fix bugs themselves, and I remember them pinpointing a particularly difficult bug at one point. They were pretty smart and lived up to the reputation Hungarians have here in that respect!