Microsoft open sources GWBASIC

Liam Proven lproven at
Mon May 25 09:17:25 CDT 2020

On Sat, 23 May 2020 at 22:24, Fred Cisin via cctalk
<cctalk at> wrote:
> On Sat, 23 May 2020, Liam Proven via cctalk wrote:
> > It is pretty much the *same* BASIC in the PET, VIC-20 and C64. It got
> > trivial adjustments for the hardware, but bear in mind: the PET had no
> > graphics,
> PETSCII/PETASCII character graphics were almost as good as TRS80 character
> graphics!    :-)

The first microcomputer I ever touched was a PET 4032 running what was
called a "Tic-Tac-Toe" program.

Since we don't have anything called Tic-tac-toe in the UK -- the game
is called "Noughts and Crosses" -- it took me a little while to work
out what it was and what it was doing, but once I did, I could play
against it. On a 9x9 grid the game is less trivial.

So, yes, PETSCII lets you draw some stuff, but I was only about 12. It
really wasn't enough to grab me for long, not for the price of a car.

American computers were all super-expensive in Europe: apparently, in
the USA, people felt that a $1000 computer was affordable. As Peter
Corlett notes, that wasn't even a joke in 1980s Britain. A computer
1/4 of that price was something a rich family could consider, but a
computer for the masses over here had to be a tenth of that price.

I never saw a single working Apple ][ when they were current. I never
saw a working TRS-anything except in Tandy shops (we didn't have
"Radio Shacks" because "shack" isn't a commonly-used word here, I
suppose, and has negative connotations.

Atari 8-bits penetrated a little but were pricey.

TI-99/4As did OK after the price cut, but they were poor machines, and
the upgrades weren't available over here much.

All the machines that the American magazines talked about were unknown
to $REST_OF_WORLD, basically.

So...  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

> That was a keyboard??
> I thought that it was just a picture of a keyboard glued on, as a
> suggestion of a possible accessory to purchase.   :-)
> Besides, the bottom of the door scrapes it.

In your joke, you highlight what I mean.

You're thinking of a ZX-81. It had a flat keyboard (i.e. just like an
Atari 400) and was wedge-shaped.

US version:

I wasn't talking about that.

I was talking about the ZX Spectrum, a totally different, later machine.

ZX81: 1KB RAM, no sound, no graphics, mono text, membrane keyboard.

ZX Spectrum: 16/48KB RAM, 1-bit sound, 16 colour graphics, calculator keyboard.

There was no similar US version of the Spectrum. The Timex machine
looks totally different, has a hard keyboard, a cartridge slot, much
better graphics with 2 additional modes, a 3-channel sound chip -- and
was thus almost totally incompatible.

This total ignorance of $REST_OF_WORLD's computers is sadly typical in
a mainly-US community like this, but come on, Fred, I know you can do
better. You sadden me, sir.

You're doing the same as Timex did: "hey, dumb little island, doesn't
matter. We'll make it better and it'll sell better." Ignoring that
this was probably the single-most-cloned 8-bit computer in history:

With one of the biggest 3rd party software catalogues in computing
history until the IBM PC.

Basically none of which worked on the Timex machine.

This is _huge_ piece of the development of the home computer. More
versions and more variants than every 8-bit machine ever shipped by
Commodore, Atari, Apple and Tandy Radio Shack *put together*.

But it the American variant flopped and didn't sell, so hey, let's
jokingly say that a TS1000 and a TS2068 are the same machine?

It's like me saying "Heh, dumb DEC nerds, all the PDP series were the
same. Why do they pretend to care? The PDP-8 was 8-bit, the PDP-16 was
16-bit, that's all that matters!"


> BUT, if any ever achieve stability, support is discontinued, to try
> to force purchase of a newer, even less reliable one.

No, you're thinking of Windows.

The thing that pays for the Linux world to exist is RH & SUSE charging
millions to keep decade-old distros working.

> > CBM apparently still had no real clue _why_ the C64 was a massive hit,
> > or who was buying it, or why.
> I was tempted to get one of Jeri Ellsworth's knock-offs.

I have one. Cost me £10 on clearance. Very clever little device.

Liam Proven – Profile:
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