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Author Topic: Q&A with Bruce Tanner (IS-BASIC writer) (Read 47635 times)

Offline BruceTanner

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Re: Q&A with Bruce Tanner (IS-BASIC writer)
« Reply #75 on: 2013.February.17. 22:19:33 »
Quote from: Zozosoft
It is clear the 1.3 and 2.0 created by source code level modifications. Another example the Super WP 2.5 from the Gmbh. I'm sure the German company got all sources from UK. This is our last hope: somebody from the Enterprise Computer Gmbh find us and have these.
Because you wrote the sad story: the IS is closed suddenly, and you can't save anything.
Many years (about 15) I emailed with David Levy and he is also told he not has anything about the Enterprise.
Yes it is sad. If someone turned up with the source of EXDOS it would save you a lot of work!

Offline Zozosoft

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Re: Q&A with Bruce Tanner (IS-BASIC writer)
« Reply #76 on: 2013.February.17. 22:44:54 »
Quote from: BruceTanner
If someone turned up with the source of EXDOS
And the BASIC, EXOS, etc... :-)
I started with the EXDOS because I wanted to work my IDE controller.
Unfortunately EXDOS Technical Documents are missing! :cry:
My IDE hw and the low level routines are ready at about 1996. But at this time I thought totally new DOS needed...
Many years later when I started the disassembly then found: expanding the EXDOS with new disk handlers is a very-very-very simple thing! Few days later the IDE interface worked with EXDOS :-D

Quote
it would save you a lot of work!
This is not the only reason! The other is: possible newer versions what we never see!

The UK companies collapse when happened? The UK EP magazine say summer 1986.
What did you worked after the 2.1 BASIC and EXOS finished until the collapse? (The 2.1 manual are dated as Jan. 1985. The EP128 with this version released at May 1985. I think some time needed for testing and produce ROM chips, probably these 4 months enought.)
« Last Edit: 2013.February.17. 22:51:41 by Zozosoft »

Offline BruceTanner

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Re: Q&A with Bruce Tanner (IS-BASIC writer)
« Reply #77 on: 2013.February.18. 01:05:24 »
Quote from: Zozosoft
And the BASIC, EXOS, etc... :-)
I started with the EXDOS because I wanted to work my IDE controller.
Unfortunately EXDOS Technical Documents are missing! :cry:
My IDE hw and the low level routines are ready at about 1996. But at this time I thought totally new DOS needed...
Many years later when I started the disassembly then found: expanding the EXDOS with new disk handlers is a very-very-very simple thing! Few days later the IDE interface worked with EXDOS :-D
This is not the only reason! The other is: possible newer versions what we never see!

The UK companies collapse when happened? The UK EP magazine say summer 1986.
What did you worked after the 2.1 BASIC and EXOS finished until the collapse? (The 2.1 manual are dated as Jan. 1985. The EP128 with this version released at May 1985. I think some time needed for testing and produce ROM chips, probably these 4 months enought.)
Yes I think summer 1986 is correct - that photo you found with the tree was taken that summer too. It's difficult to remember dates but the order was IS-BASIC, EXDOS, FORTH, then the Videoton TVC (although I started FORTH in my own time it took some paid time to turn it into a proper product).

I continued to work on VT-DOS for a while after the collapse.

I've just remembered another project that I was working on at some time towards the end of IS - I'm not sure how it fits in with the above order! Possibly after TVC BASIC but before VT-DOS. It was a game involving two real "robots". One was controlled by the user with a hand-held remote control unit, and the other was intelligent and could roam around on its own. It had ultrasonic sensors for mapping the room, contact sensors around the edge and floor sensors underneath to stop it falling down stairs! It had algorithms for avoiding obstacles and getting itself free if it did contact something. They both made lots of noises with an AY-3-9810 sound chip. The idea of the game was for the robots to "shoot" each other - the "guns" being LED light beams at the end of tubes. Sadly it was never finished or put into production :( but it was a fun project to work on :smt069!

Offline Zozosoft

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Re: Q&A with Bruce Tanner (IS-BASIC writer)
« Reply #78 on: 2013.February.18. 09:29:37 »
Quote from: BruceTanner
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.
Do you won it? (I'm not bid, before you wrote I thought about bidding.)

Offline BruceTanner

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Re: Q&A with Bruce Tanner (IS-BASIC writer)
« Reply #79 on: 2013.February.18. 09:41:20 »
Quote from: Zozosoft
Do you won it? (I'm not bid, before you wrote I thought about bidding.)
:smt023

Offline Zozosoft

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Re: Q&A with Bruce Tanner (IS-BASIC writer)
« Reply #80 on: 2013.February.18. 10:21:16 »
Quote from: BruceTanner
It's difficult to remember dates but the order was IS-BASIC, EXDOS,
I guessed, EXDOS is then the EXOS+BASIC (mostly) finished.
The EXDOS developed with real machine? The first EXDOS card is looks like the real or it is a another wired prototype?


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it was a fun project to work on :smt069!
It sounds like a very interesting project! This is also in the IS?

Offline BruceTanner

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Re: Q&A with Bruce Tanner (IS-BASIC writer)
« Reply #81 on: 2013.February.18. 12:00:19 »
Quote from: Zozosoft
I guessed, EXDOS is then the EXOS+BASIC (mostly) finished.
The EXDOS developed with real machine? The first EXDOS card is looks like the real or it is a another wired prototype?

It sounds like a very interesting project! This is also in the IS?
I think we had real hw for the EXDOS card - it's a relatively simple design (with no custom chips!). But I can't remember if we used the disk hw on a real Enterprise or on our prototype.

Yes the robot project was at IS but near the end. I think it was a speculative development ie. we weren't approached by a customer asking for it. But the end of IS marked the end of the project!

Offline Zozosoft

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Re: Q&A with Bruce Tanner (IS-BASIC writer)
« Reply #82 on: 2013.February.18. 12:33:37 »
About TVC DOS: what you known about UPM disk controller for the TVC?
The disk controller card is same with the VT-DOS. With additional UPM cartridge can run CP/M programs.
It is have own disk format, not a FAT standard. And under the BASIC just only used for LOAD/SAVE. For disk formating needed a system disk...

This come from the IS-DOS project? Or it is own project of the Videoton? If it is a Videoton project then they see the EXDOS is much better and ordered the VTDOS for the existing disk controller card?

It is clear the UPM is the older it is works on the TVC 32/64 models, the VT-DOS is only on the TVC 64+ (older computers can be modified by adding plus one IC to the paging circuit, then the VT-DOS will work).
« Last Edit: 2013.February.18. 12:37:09 by Zozosoft »

Offline BruceTanner

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Re: Q&A with Bruce Tanner (IS-BASIC writer)
« Reply #83 on: 2013.February.18. 12:42:57 »
Quote from: Zozosoft
About TVC DOS: what you known about UPM disk controller for the TVC?
The disk controller card is same with the VT-DOS. With additional UPM cartridge can run CP/M programs.
It is have own disk format, not a FAT standard. And under the BASIC just only used for LOAD/SAVE. For disk formating needed a system disk...

This come from the IS-DOS project? Or it is own project of the Videoton? If it is a Videoton project then they see the EXDOS is much better and ordered the VTDOS for the existing disk controller card?

It is clear the UPM is the older it is works on the TVC 32/64 models, the VT-DOS is only on the TVC 64+ (older computers can be modified by adding plus one IC to the paging circuit, then the VT-DOS will work).
Yes I think you are right. We didn't work on any disk formats other than 12-bit FAT, and I was working on VTDOS quite a bit later than the rest of the Enterprise & TVC projects (ie. after IS's collapse).

Offline Zozosoft

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Re: Q&A with Bruce Tanner (IS-BASIC writer)
« Reply #84 on: 2013.February.18. 13:18:02 »
Quote from: BruceTanner
We didn't work on any disk formats other than 12-bit FAT
The FAT standard is selected at the first step for the EXDOS? Did you see the future? :-)
This selection made our disk life very easy! Especially now! When you download programs from the internet. Users of other systems (Spectrum, CPC, Commodore, Amiga, etc) have a hard work for creating disks for the real machines. But we just copy the files to standard disks and enjoy it on real EP!

And I can say: the EXDOS's FAT implementation probably the best on the world! I wrote many details about this to the Hungarian EXDOS topic.
Many times I saved damaged PC disks on the Enterprise just using simple COPY command... the EXDOS can really handle backup FAT copies!

Quote
, and I was working on VTDOS quite a bit later than the rest of the Enterprise & TVC projects (ie. after IS's collapse).
After the collapse where you worked on the VTDOS? At home? Or the Videoton have own office in UK?
From the Videoton things you could have save anything?

Offline BruceTanner

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Re: Q&A with Bruce Tanner (IS-BASIC writer)
« Reply #85 on: 2013.February.18. 13:58:18 »
Quote from: Zozosoft
The FAT standard is selected at the first step for the EXDOS? Did you see the future? :-)
This selection made our disk life very easy! Especially now! When you download programs from the internet. Users of other systems (Spectrum, CPC, Commodore, Amiga, etc) have a hard work for creating disks for the real machines. But we just copy the files to standard disks and enjoy it on real EP!

And I can say: the EXDOS's FAT implementation probably the best on the world! I wrote many details about this to the Hungarian EXDOS topic.
Many times I saved damaged PC disks on the Enterprise just using simple COPY command... the EXDOS can really handle backup FAT copies!
After the collapse where you worked on the VTDOS? At home? Or the Videoton have own office in UK?
From the Videoton things you could have save anything?
Yes, I think the original IBM PC and Microsoft MS-DOS were around by then so we used that disk format. MS-DOS 1.x did not have sub-directories if I recall correctly, so we must have been on at least MS-DOS 2.x by then because we had sub-directories from the start!

Thank you, quite a lot of effort when into the backup FAT tables, and it is difficult to test. I always suspected some other implementations were a bit sloppy, it's good to hear it was worthwhile!

After IS's collapse, we set up Madge Networks on Robert Madge's mother's farm on the outskirts of London, and it was here that I finished (& maybe started?) VTDOS, and here that photo with the tree was taken in summer '86. I don't know how they sorted out the legal contracts which would have been with IS - I did not get involved with that side of things. The farm was not actually a working farm any more - Janet Madge (RIP) just had a few horses. But as Madge Networks gradually grew she had the old farm buildings and barns converted into offices one by one. Eventually we ran out of barns, and the sales and marketing group had to move out into proper offices, leaving just the developers again :smt041!

Offline Zozosoft

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Re: Q&A with Bruce Tanner (IS-BASIC writer)
« Reply #86 on: 2013.February.18. 20:46:17 »
Quote from: BruceTanner
MS-DOS 1.x did not have sub-directories if I recall correctly, so we must have been on at least MS-DOS 2.x by then because we had sub-directories from the start!
And the MS-DOS 1.x not using standard boot sector (only type byte used), but the EXDOS also can read these disks. And also can read the non standard Apricot disks! I thought lot of in the disassembly at the boot sector analyzer part: what a crazy disks supported there??? Later found this is for early non standard MS-DOS what used by Apricot PCs.
You are used some Apricot machnies?


Quote
 it's good to hear it was worthwhile!
Absolutely yes!
Another great thing: at the Retry/Abort/Ignore case only the faulty sector rereaded. For example the MSDOS reread the whole sector group what used for the I/O operation. If more than one uncertain sectors in the group you probably never ending pressing the Retry in MSDOS because after the second error goto again to the first...
On Enterprise these disks usually copied with only few retries!

Offline BruceTanner

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Re: Q&A with Bruce Tanner (IS-BASIC writer)
« Reply #87 on: 2013.February.18. 22:00:47 »
Quote from: Zozosoft
And the MS-DOS 1.x not using standard boot sector (only type byte used), but the EXDOS also can read these disks. And also can read the non standard Apricot disks! I thought lot of in the disassembly at the boot sector analyzer part: what a crazy disks supported there??? Later found this is for early non standard MS-DOS what used by Apricot PCs.
You are used some Apricot machnies?

Absolutely yes!
Another great thing: at the Retry/Abort/Ignore case only the faulty sector rereaded. For example the MSDOS reread the whole sector group what used for the I/O operation. If more than one uncertain sectors in the group you probably never ending pressing the Retry in MSDOS because after the second error goto again to the first...
On Enterprise these disks usually copied with only few retries!
Someone in the office did have an ACT Sirius 1 which was really Apricot before they called themselves that. As I remember it was a good machine (for the day!) with a very nice non-reflective screen, and ran MS-DOS (1.x) - so we probably looked at a disk from that. We were also aware that MSX Computers were being developed in Japan and they used MS-DOS (1.x) format disks, but I don't think we had actually seen one at the time.

I wasn't aware of the A/R/I differences! Definitely the right way to do it though and your description of endless Retries certainly brings back memories! Another thing we had to pay lots of attention to is large reads of consecutive blocks (sector groups) - if you are too slow after reading the last sector one track, you miss the first sector of the next track as the disk rotates, so then you have to wait for an extra rotation of the disk, which slows reading of files down. You should get a satisfying "chug-chug-chug-chug" noise from the head on a large read (assuming the disk isn't too fragmented).

Maybe the Enterprise sector-level A/R/I is better for ignore too? Only ignore one sector instead of one block?

Offline Zozosoft

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Re: Q&A with Bruce Tanner (IS-BASIC writer)
« Reply #88 on: 2013.February.18. 22:49:12 »
Quote from: BruceTanner
We were also aware that MSX Computers were being developed in Japan and they used MS-DOS (1.x) format disks, but I don't think we had actually seen one at the time.
The IS-DOS manual also talking about MSX compatibility at the function calls. Probably some MSX programs can working on IS-DOS?

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You should get a satisfying "chug-chug-chug-chug" noise from the head on a large read
Yes this is worked well! Only problem when we made 11 sectors/track format. At this situation very minimal gaps between the sectors then needed a new rotation for every sectors, worked very-very slow... In my formater program I renumbered the sectors, every second is the next, with this method the track can be readed under two rotations, it is enought good. Later I found this idea called as interleave and commonly used at PCs with MFM hard disks.

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Maybe the Enterprise sector-level A/R/I is better for ignore too? Only ignore one sector instead of one block?
Yes! And you got the damaged data, if it is in text or graphics file probably you can correct it.

Offline BruceTanner

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Re: Q&A with Bruce Tanner (IS-BASIC writer)
« Reply #89 on: 2013.February.19. 02:49:21 »
Quote from: Zozosoft
The IS-DOS manual also talking about MSX compatibility at the function calls. Probably some MSX programs can working on IS-DOS?
Yes this is worked well! Only problem when we made 11 sectors/track format. At this situation very minimal gaps between the sectors then needed a new rotation for every sectors, worked very-very slow... In my formater program I renumbered the sectors, every second is the next, with this method the track can be readed under two rotations, it is enought good. Later I found this idea called as interleave and commonly used at PCs with MFM hard disks.
Yes! And you got the damaged data, if it is in text or graphics file probably you can correct it.
Yes MSX-DOS was another CP/M compatible system so it will be very similar and I think IS-DOS is meant to run MSX-DOS programs too. I've just read on page 49 of the IS-DOS manual, "...Neither feature is present in MSX-DOS 1.0 (although the documentation claims that they are)..." so it looks as though, contrary to what I said before, we did have an MSX-DOS computer around!